This phone is available now in China, and though it’s widely rumoured to launch internationally, it’s unlikely it will ever come to the UK. Design Xiaomi is a big fan of making ultra-thin smartphones, but the Mi 11 Ultra isn’t exactly the slimmest Android phone around. At 7.8mm thick, it’s at least 100g heavier than the 8.3mm Apple iPhone XR, and a fair bit thicker than the flagship Samsung Galaxy Note 9. That said, the Mi 11 has a fairly stylish body that’s reminiscent of the iPhone XR, and the ceramic back feels premium. It’s a fair bit heavier than the iPhone XR (175g vs 148g), but it’s not much more uncomfortable to hold and it’s easy to take it in your pocket.
Camera performance on phones with a notch is an ongoing concern, and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is no exception. It uses a horizontally-aligned dual camera system on the back, with a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens. Images from both cameras looked OK in well-lit conditions, but texture was muddied up by what was clearly a lack of depth information from the smaller sensors. Low-light performance wasn’t great either, with images being blurrier than in well-lit conditions and the white balance being muddier, making the Mi 11 Ultra look over-processed. We also noticed that the Mi 8 Pro’s AI images, which is also found on the Mi 11, were over-sharpened a bit when enlarged, which means the output is grainier than the real-life shot.
Xiaomi’s Mi 11 sports a 6.4-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, making it a more expensive variant than the 6.4-inch panel on the Redmi Note 7. But the screen on the Mi 11 doesn’t fare much better than the display on the Redmi Note 7: not only is it not punchy, it’s also barely visible in direct sunlight. We’d opt for Xiaomi’s new notch-less display on the Mi MIX 3 instead. Performance The Mi 11 is powered by the Snapdragon 710, which is the first mobile processor from Qualcomm built on a 10nm process. The 10nm process is supposedly more energy-efficient than the 14nm process, and speeds up the ability to handle multiple workloads at once. The Snapdragon 710 is also supposed to support 5G cellular connections, which are expected to be commonplace by next year.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra costs $470 (€430), and we’re glad that the new Redmi flagship is now the world’s first device to sport the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset. Compared to the 2018 flagship A12 Bionic (Snapdragon 845) chipset, the Snapdragon 855 takes top honours in terms of processing power and AI, and even though the smartphone’s 8GB of RAM makes it feel sluggish, we were pretty much able to play games at 60fps at full HD resolution. That’s a good improvement, and we’re glad that Xiaomi has chosen to stick with the Snapdragon 845 rather than jump to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710. At the same time, the $470 price is much higher than the Redmi Note 6 Pro. So, should you go for the Redmi phone or the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra?
The good: There is much to like about the Mi 11 Pro. The design looks sharp and modern, the screen is a step up from the earlier Mi 8 Pro, the dual camera is capable and the display is one of the best you’ll find on a phone in this segment. These things make it a great buy for most people. However, while the display is stunning, the design of the phone is a bit too rugged and the camera bump is a pain, and it feels quite large. Xiaomi is releasing the phone in a slew of variants, but the default Mi 11 model does not seem to be the best. Xiaomi claims that the 6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage variant (7GB of RAM + 128GB storage), that we’ve reviewed, is the best model to buy, and we have no reason to disagree, but the 6GB RAM + 64GB storage option seems like a better buy.