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Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Review – You Do Not Have To Be All-Rounder To Be The Best

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By Akhil Kapoor - 
1st May 2021
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Review Summary

The almighty Mi 11 Ultra is the ultimate smartphone for photography hands down. Both videos and photos captured on Mi 11 Ultra are something even better than Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max which are currently top-of-the-line smartphones when it comes to performance and camera. As always, you get two sides of a coin. The device has a vibrant and giant display at 6.81-inch and has a great stereo speaker setup, well-built, the battery is great but it is heavy. The device did overheat at times. Notably, there are a few cons when compared with pros. Perhaps, it is finally up to you to decide whether to go for it or not.

PROS
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Superfast 5G connectivity
  • 12GB RAM + 256GB internal storage
  • 67W fast charging/67W Wireless charging
  • 120Hz refresh rate display
  • Dual-Display
  • SOUND BY Harman Kardon
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
CONS
  • Bulky with 234 grams of weight
  • No storage expansion
Key Specs
Battery Capacity
Battery Capacity
5000 mAh
Operating System
Operating System
Android v11
Screen Size
Screen Size
6.81 inches
Highlights:
  • No
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
  • 5000 mAh
  • Android v11
Introduction - This is Premium by Xiaomi

Limited to its home country last year, Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has made a huge bang with its release in India and elsewhere. It has one of the best specifications and the pricing is cut-throat making it the next big thing after Mi 11 Pro made a bang in India some time ago. It takes the capabilities of Mi 11 Pro including top-notched specifications, a giant rear camera setup, a 120Hz QHD+ display, a 67W wired and wireless charging as well as adding a few of its own.

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Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is a giant ship sailing towards crushing its competitors in the flagship race and here’s a hands-on review that you would love to read.

Prices in India, Variants, Availability

Xiaomi has released a single storage variant of Mi 11 Ultra in India with two colour options. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is available in 12GB+256GB in Ceramic Black and Ceramic White at Rs 69,999/- in India. It will soon go for sale on both Mi.com and Amazon. with exclusive offers, deals, and discounts including exchange offers.

Box Contents

The package contents of the premium Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra include:

  • Mi 11 Ultra
  • Charging Adapter
  • Protective Case
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Type-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Adapter
  • SIM Eject Tool
  • User Guide & Warranty Card
Specs at a glance

Before we talk in detail about the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?

  • Display: Quad curved 17.29cm (6.81-inch) AMOLED DotDisplay, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Storage:
  • Software: MIUI 12 based on Android 11
  • Rear cameras: 50MP (wide-angle) + 48MP (ultra-wide angle) + 48MP (telephoto)
  • Battery: 5000 mAh, 67W wired turbo charging, 67W wireless turbo charging
  • Weight: 234g
  • Dimensions: 164.30 x 74.60 x 8.38 mm

 

Design and Build - This is Something New

If the next phone you want to showcase could move heads, Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is probably the one. Clad in a ceramic back panel, the phone looks splendid, especially in white colour. I can’t just talk about the back ceramic panel and not talk about the enormous camera bump that extends 3.7mm above the back panel. Well, it houses two oversized optics and a periscope telephoto lens, a triple LED flash, and a 1.1” AMOLED display. Perhaps, it is huge but what you get keeping the device display-side up is that it doesn’t wobble.

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The ceramic back panel gave Mi 11 Ultra its modernistic and premium appearance for sure. It is a bit slippery so don’t mind if you have to hold it firmly. Perhaps ceramic back panels translate into fewer smudges and fingerprint marks which is a pro, to be honest. Also, it is heavy at 230 grams which put it 40 grams heavier than Oppo Find X3 Pro.

There are a few details at the bottom of the back panel that I think shouldn’t be there. The phone has an aluminium frame polished to the level of a shimmering mirror and it is slim thanks to the quad-curved Super AMOLED display which is huge in its senses. The bezels are minute and so is the chin and the forehead although there’s a tiny punch-hole cut-out on the top-left corner that doesn’t distract you.

The device is IP68 rated making it immune to submerging at 1.5m and for 30 minutes. Moreover, the display is protected with a Corning Gorilla Glass Victus that adds the level of protection a premium flagship smartphone would need.

Moving on, you get a USB-C port, a primary mic, a main loudspeaker, and a dual SIM card slot at the bottom. There’s a secondary loudspeaker on the top along with a secondary mic and an IR blaster. You get a power button and volume rockers on the left and that pretty sums up its peripherals.

Display - Could Not Get Any Better

How does a flagship smartphone with a 6.81-inch AMOLED panel with 10-bit, HDR10+, 120Hz refresh rate, and 1440×3200 pixels sounds to you? Well, it’s awesome and that goes without saying and that’s what Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra offers. The display is crisp and has an edge-to-edge form thanks to the quad-curved panel that makes it almost bezel-less.

It has a reach density of 515 PPI that makes it even crispier, colours come out lively and since the display is rated with 10-bit support, it can show 1.07-billion colours instead of the usual 16million colours on many other flagship devices. The device is rated with a 120Hz refresh rate that dynamically changes based on the nature of the content displayed. It can go as high as 120Hz or as low as 30Hz although I failed to register the latter and instead, got to test 120Hz, 90Hz, and 60Hz only.

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The UI is flat at 120Hz and the more you scroll and touch the display when using social media apps, you will get the smooth 120Hz HRR. When the display is idling or static, it dips down to 60Hz. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and any other video player apps are stuck at 60Hz whereas based on which game you play, you can enjoy 60Hz or higher frame rate.

You can watch HDR10+ content on the display with Dolby Vision that enhances the overall content. The display is as bright as 1,700 nits of peak value while the max brightness is at 643 nits which is absolutely great when viewing the display even in bright daylight.

The colour reproduction on the display on-point with multiple colour schemes to choose from. You can manually adjust the presets with the Advanced menu. The only thing that bugged me is that the display is almost the same as the Mi 11. Knowing this, the display is overwhelming.

Expect Ultra Performance

You can’t comprehend the prowess of the Snapdragon 888 SoC without using it. The chipset on-board Mi 11 Ultra comes with 12GB RAM, 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. When tested on Geekbench 5, the benchmarking platform returned scores of 1,136 and 3,724-points on single-core and multi-core respectively. This makes Mi 11 Ultra near to the scores achieved by the OnePlus 9 Pro while surpassing that of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra takes anything you can throw at it. A bunch of apps opened at once? No problem. Say playing PUBG Mobile on the highest settings possible? It’s just a piece of cake for the almighty Mi 11 Ultra. Multitasking is too easy on the device since you can literally keep 10 apps in the tab, toggle between them, and yet the system won’t crash.

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I ran a test on AnTuTu 8 as well to see how it fares and it did well with a score of 688720 points. This puts it ahead of its predecessor as well as the standard Mi 11, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon), and a few others albeit by a small margin by the odds of 20K points.

Software

About the software under the hood, you get MIUI 12 on top of Android 11. Now, to be honest, MIUI 12 is a heavy UI and a far cry from a stock Android experience although the upcoming MIUI 12.5 is expected to be much lighter. You get a tonne of features thanks to both Android 11 and MIUI 12 including Always-on Display, Google Discover integration, an app drawer that keeps apps organized in categories. But hey, don’t forget the string of bloatware that the MIUI 12 brings which is something I dislike about Xiaomi devices.

The software section is almost similar to the entire Xiaomi Mi 11 series except for that part where a new feature pops up on the screen that lets you control the rear display. You can set it up to show an image, clock, signature, calls, notifications, and more.

This Phone is Just About Cameras

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is truly a camera phone and it goes without saying. It has an instance triple camera rig at the back that houses a 50MP Samsung GN2 snapper with a Tetrapixel colour filter, a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor with a Quad-Bayer filter and periscope setup, and finally, a third 48MP Sony IMX586 ultrawide snapper with a 128-degree FoV and that’s at the back. The front houses a 20MP Samsung S5K3T2 sensor with a Quad-Bayer colour filter. That’s all about the hardware, now let’s see its performance.

Daylight photography on Mi 11 Ultra is bliss. The primary sensor captures 12MP shots by default and trust me, I was blown away with the details it retained even on random textures. Noise is almost non-existent in daytime shots. Colours pop up and the scenes look natural without much overexposure. When you compare Mi 11 Ultra shots with iPhone 12 Pro Max, the former is better in most cases capturing images that are true to life.

You can go to 2x shots and still take a better shot than the 5x zoom on the periscope telephoto sensor in some conditions and that doesn’t mean that the other lens is any bad. It captures images that have excellent detail retention at 5x zoom so that’s a good thing although you will get some amount of noise, but that’s negligible.

The ultrawide snapper mounted on Mi 11 Ultra captures images at 128-degree FoV which is wider than many. It has a class-leading performance without any doubt. The dynamic range is excellent and so are the details, exposure, and noise is non-existent. The sensor has an autofocusing feature to capture images with exaggerated perspective although taking the camera too close to the object may break the feature during the shot as it doesn’t have a macro mode.

Albeit the shots are awesome, there are some areas where the camera does tend to produce results different from reality. You can end up taking images that are underexposed and thus, the result will be a darker image which is not the case with Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Barrel distortion is something Mi 11 Ultra is battling with and it is nowhere apparent than shooting a subject that has straight lines since you can almost see the bulge at the edges. This is something Samsung has already fixed with its near-perfect distortion correction.

Talking about low-light photography on Mi 11 Ultra, set the setting to “Enhance image quality” and viola. It captures shots that are almost as if capturing using a night mode but you are actually using the regular Photo mode. The highlights are well-preserved and the shots have a wide dynamic range. The shots are pretty detailed and engaging night mode takes it even further.

The night mode addresses issues with the dynamic range to pull up better shots with extreme details that will seriously blow your mind.

The 20MP front camera uses tetrapixel binning technology to churn out decently detailed images. Subject isolation in the portrait mode is okay and the dynamic range is good as well. But thanks to the secondary display at the back panel, you can literally use all three sensors at the back to capture selfies for sure.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is capable of shooting videos at 8K24 resolution but you can still lower the resolution depending upon the requirements. Stabilization is available across all the resolutions and frame rates you choose so that’s a relief.

8K video resolution is the perfect one because it is while 4K capture takes away finer details but it is still 4K so expect both the resolutions to blow your mind. With that, be ready to handle extremely large file sizes if you are shooting on 4K and 8K resolutions but the quality is worth it.

Battery - Takes A Lot Of Power

Numbers speak for themselves. Surely an upgrade from last year’s 4,500 mAh battery, Mi 11 Ultra uses a larger 5,000 mAh one which is undoubtedly a one-and-a-half-day battery if used sparingly and in control. Max it up to 120Hz and use all those have apps and video streaming and more and you’ll get a one-day battery out of it. When tested, I found out that the device offers 11 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing, YouTube video streaming at 8hr and 7m, and so on. Apparently, the numbers are comparatively lower than Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the OnePlus 9 Pro.

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When it comes to charging, Mi 11 Ultra got a swift downgrade from 120W unit on Mi 10 Ultra to 67W but it gets its job done. It takes around 37 to 40 minutes to fully juice up and that’s not fast enough, to be honest. OnePlus 9 Pro reaches 100 per cent capacity on the 30-minutes mark while the Mi 11 Ultra reaches 89 per cent. At least you get a 67W fast wireless charging and 10W reverse wireless charging at your disposal.

Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics

One of the selling points of Mi 11 Ultra is its stereo speaker setup tuned by Harman/Kardon. Well, the placement of the speaker on top that acts as a left channel in the landscape is on top of the frame. This does give out high-quality sound but you would still have some sound spilling when taking up calls.

The right channel i.e. at the bottom is great as well and when combined, the stereo setup is on-point, loud, and crispy. The device managed to score -24.3 LUFS on the loudness scale that gives it a position ahead of both Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and Oppo Find X3 Pro among others. Overall, having a loud stereo speaker setup does make the Mi 11 Ultra a worthy device for the best sound experience.

Speaking about connectivity features on board, the device supports the top-most Wi-Fi 6e dual-band along with Bluetooth v5.2 with aptX HD, LE, and A2DP. The device supports NFC, tri-band GPS including QZSS, NavIC, Galileo, BDS, Glonass, and A-GPS systems. There’s a USB Type-C 2.0 port at the bottom. Unfortunately, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack with the device.

The in-display fingerprint scanner is located at just the right place as per convenience. It unlocks the phone in just a fraction of a second. I tested it several times and the result is, it is reliable and speedy even with constant tries. The FPS runs with an animation and a haptic feedback authentication and the latter part is something not everyone will like for sure. The facial recognition system is speedy as well and unlocks the phone just by pointing your phone to the camera although I would still prefer a UD FPS for its optimum reliability.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Superfast 5G connectivity
  • 12GB RAM + 256GB internal storage
  • 67W fast charging/67W Wireless charging
  • 120Hz refresh rate display
  • Dual-Display
  • SOUND BY Harman Kardon
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
  • IP68 dust and water resistance

Cons

  • Bulky with 234 grams of weight
  • No storage expansion
Verdict
The almighty Mi 11 Ultra is the ultimate smartphone for photography hands down. Both videos and photos captured on Mi 11 Ultra are something even better than Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max which are currently top-of-the-line smartphones when it comes to performance and camera. As always, you get two sides of a coin. The device has a vibrant and giant display at 6.81-inch and has a great stereo speaker setup, well-built, the battery is great but it is heavy. The device did overheat at times. Notably, there are a few cons when compared with pros. Perhaps, it is finally up to you to decide whether to go for it or not. Some of the alternatives you can have a look at our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, OnePlus 9 Pro, Oppo Find X3 Pro, Vivo X60 Pro+, and if you want to switch to iOS, check out Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.


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