The Mi 11 Ultra is Xiaomi’s most important phone to this day. It promises a camera supposedly comparable to a DSLR, and that’s not a claim phones should make that light. Of course, it has all of the high-end specs expected from a flagship in 2021. However, it also has some unique design aspects like a ceramic body and a secondary display on the back. It’s also the most expensive Xiaomi phone in India to date, with a starting price of Rs 69,999. But how does it all translate into performance? And is this Xiaomi’s strongest pitch so far in the ‘premium segment’ here? Here is our rating.
Mi 11 Ultra review: what’s different?
The Mi 11 Ultra has a ceramic housing and this camera hump on the back is hard to miss. The ceramic case also means this is a pretty bulky phone. If you are looking for a sleek, slim, flagship model, this phone may not be for you. Also, due to the shape of this camera bump, finding a third-party cover is not that easy and you will have to rely on Xiaomi’s options.
The phone also has a secondary display on the back that can show notifications, battery details, date, time and other notifications. You can go to the settings to adjust them further.
Users can also rely on this rear display to take a selfie shot with the rear camera. The option for this is in the camera app’s settings, and it took me some time to find it. I would say that the selfies with the rear camera are more punchy given the superior camera on the back. But I had some problems taking these selfies as it is not easy to use the phone with one hand.
Mi 11 Ultra review: camera
The highlight of the Mi 11 Ultra is the camera on the back, which offers many functions. The rear camera contains a custom Samsung GN2 sensor at 50 MP, an ultra-wide sensor at 48 MP (128 degree field of view) and a telephoto sensor at 48 MP. The focal length range from 12 mm to 120 mm is unique, especially due to the additional 120x AI super zoom and the 5x optical zoom.
The camera can also record 8K resolution video for up to 6 minutes. The phone also supports multi-camera mode, which allows you to record with each camera at the same time.
When it comes to camera performance, this is hands down one of the most superior Xiaomi phones out there. It really delivers the flagship-level performance in the camera department. Photos taken by the rear camera are sharp, have lots of detail even when you zoom in, and the colors are punchy without looking saturated.
Portraits taken with the Mi 11 Ultra are impressive and the camera separates the subject and the background very well. Edge detection was also accurate for most portraits.
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I really enjoyed the 5x zoom option because it gives some of the best results on photos. This despite the fact that the objects in question are some distance away and my hands are sometimes very shaky. The 5x zoom and even the 10x zoom provide excellent results. If you go beyond that number, things don’t look that good.
I still don’t see the point of a 120x zoom and this also applies to the Mi 11 Ultra. The images are just too grainy and require a tripod and very steady hands to get accurate focus on everything when shooting at this high zoom.
The camera’s night mode is undoubtedly impressive. But is it the best night mode I’ve seen compared to other flagship models I’ve used recently? I am not entirely convinced. For one, the Mi 11 Ultra’s night mode tends to saturate colors, especially when you’re shooting in very little light. Some shots, like the white flower, look really good. I also tried to photograph a statue in complete darkness and I have a hard time delivering it, but that was also expected. Most night modes require a light source.
For me, the most disappointing aspect of the camera on the Mi 11 Ultra would be the macro camera. The performance was too flawed. I could never get too close to an object and it just didn’t deliver the kind of detail I was expecting.
Overall, I would say that the Mi 11 Ultra’s greatest strength is its ability to produce great results just when you take it out for shooting, regardless of all the fancy features. And that is exactly what most of the users want from their phone.
Mi 11 Ultra: performance, battery and the rest
The Mi 11 Ultra has a 6.81-inch display with a resolution of 3200 x 1440 p. This display is clear and sharp regardless of the task at hand. I played Genshin Impact for over an hour and the game looked excellent on this screen. It works very well even in bright sunlight and the screen is easy to read.
The highest refresh rate supported is 120 Hz. However, you can keep it at 60 Hz to conserve battery life. I had the setting at 120 Hz during my review period. It also supports a higher sample rate of 480 Hz, which means a faster and smoother response from a gaming perspective.
The phone runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Performance is not really an issue with this device, and it is not expected to be either. What I noticed was that long gaming sessions like Genshin Impact or even long photo sessions left the phone quite warm. It got pretty hot after playing for a long time so keep that in mind.
The device is also equipped with stereo speakers with sound from Harman Kardon. Is this the best quality audio you can get on a phone? I’m not entirely convinced because at times I felt like I had to turn up the audio levels in order for some of the content to be audible.
The Mi 11 Ultra has a 5000mAh battery and supports 67W charging, although Xiaomi currently includes a 55W charger in the box. With the current charger, you can get it to 100 percent in just over an hour. With moderate use, you can get a battery life of more than a day. With heavy use, a service life of a little more than a day can be expected.
Mi 11 Ultra: should you buy?
For Xiaomi, the challenge isn’t that it built a great phone. The Mi 11 Ultra is spot on when it comes to performance and the camera is superb. In the camera department, the Mi 11 Ultra is almost a top-class flagship, although it is not entirely flawless. But this camera can definitely hold its own against other premium devices on the market, be it the OnePlus 9 Pro or even the iPhone 12 series.
The challenge for Xiaomi is to convince users in India that they should pay the highest price for a flagship they make. This is an image that the company is slowly trying to change. It remains to be seen whether the Mi 11 Ultra can help to further change this perception.