Five months after the release of the Mi 11, Xiaomi presents the Mi 11i, a reworked version of the smartphone. More aggressive commercially, the Mi 11i is forced to make some concessions on the technical sheet. But has the brand kept the essence of the high-end experience? Are all the imperfections of the Mi 11 corrected? Answer in this comprehensive test.
In February 2021, we published the test of the Mi 11. A rather positive test, but who pointed out some weaknesses. Overheating in the Snapdragon 888, resulting in an unpleasant feeling in the palm when playing. An absent optical zoom, resulting in a reduction of the possibilities in terms of photo. And a price that remains much less aggressive than that of the Mi 9, despite a small price reduction compared to the Mi 10.
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In fact, this is the price that seemed to us to be the most disappointing in the Mi 11. Even though it was positioned below 750 euros in the 128 GB version, we long for Xiaomi’s commercial aggressiveness when the brand established itself in France and the value for money of its then catalog. The quality has not declined. But the price was strongly reassessed in 2020 without this being justified in the proposal. And the firm did not wish to go back.
The Mi 11 spec sheet suggested that this smartphone would only be the first in a long series. We suspected that the Mi 11 Pro or the Mi 11 Ultra would follow. It did. You can find the test of the second in our columns. And our opinion is very positive about it. And as in 2020, an “i” version was also unveiled along with the “Lite” versions. A Mi 11i which is also called Redmi K40 Pro + in China or Mi 11X Pro in India.
Not quite equivalent to the Mi 11, the Mi 11i does however take on a few strengths, including power and some of the technical equipment. And, above all, it is offered at a slightly more moderate price. For this, the Mi 11i must make some concessions on the technical sheet. Are they important? Is the experience still good? And above all, is the price-performance ratio better? We will answer all of these questions in this comprehensive test.
Our video test
|Xiaomi mi 11i|
|Dimensions and weight||163.7 x 76.4 x 7.8 mm
Full HD + (1080 x 2400 pixels)
395 pixels per inch
Gorilla Glass 5
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (5nm)|
|BONE||Android 11 + MIUI 12.5|
|Main sensor||Main: 108 MP, 26mm, f / 1.9, 0.7 µm, PDAF
Wide angle: 8 MP, f / 2.2, viewing angle 119˚
Macro: 5 MP, 50mm, f / 2.4, 1.12µm
|Selfie sensor||20 MP, f / 2.5, 27mm, 0.8µm|
33 watt wired fast charge
|Biometrics||Optical impression scanner on the edge|
|Water resistance||IP53 (dust and splash)|
Pricing and availability
The Mi 11i is marketed in France since May 26, 2021. You can buy it both from the official Xiaomi store, the Mi Store, as well as from many of the usual brands, such as Darty, Fnac, Boulanger, Auchan, etc. You will find it with the four French operators, Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR. And you can get an operator grant with some of them.
The Mi 11i is sold 699 euros. There is only one version with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage, without the possibility of expansion. It is therefore offered 100 euros cheaper than the classic Mi 11 in the 256 GB version, which makes it a pretty good deal, even if, as you will notice, their technical sheets are not equivalent either. Remember that the Mi 11 is also available in a 128 GB version at 749 euros.
How is the competition positioned against him? At OnePlus, the OnePlus 9 is offered at 719 euros in version 8/128. At Oppo, the Find X3 Neo is offered at 799 euros. At Asus, the ZenFone 8 is offered at 699 euros in 8/128 GB version (count 50 euros more to double the storage capacity). The Mi 11i is therefore rather well positioned… theoretically. But facing him, we also find the Poco F3, sold under the bar of 400 euros, and the Realme GT, sold from 449 euros. Ouch.
In the box you will find the phone, a 33 watt charger, a USB type-C to USB type-A cable, a soft plastic shell and a 3.5 mm jack to USB type-C adapter. You should also have a hands-free kit if you buy the smartphone in France. Unsurprisingly, our test unit does not.
Besides the Mi 11 Ultra, whose photographic equipment is very different from the other models offered by Xiaomi in 2021, the Mi 11 (11, 11 Pro, 11i, 11 Lite) have a family resemblance. You can also include the Poco F3, also called Redmi K40 in China. All stand out from the competition thanks to this staircase photo module that we first encountered with the Mi 11.
This module is rectangular. It looks more like that of the Poco F3 (and this is quite normal since both are Redmi at the base) than that of the Mi 11, which is square. The technical reason for this change is relatively simple: the Mi 11i incorporates some additional technical elements. The protuberance is quite pronounced here, so if you’re used to typing your texts with the phone on a table, the phone will keep moving.
On the first “step” of the module, you find the flash. And on the second step, you will find three photo sensors and a microphone. We will see in the photo (and audio) part the strengths of all these elements. There is no third step like in the Mi 11: the main sensor is not thicker than the ultra wide-angle sensor. On the other hand, you can still distinguish it thanks to a silver strapping.
The rest of the design of the smartphone is quite sober. The back is in mineral glass (Gorilla Glass 5) curved. The finish is shiny, mirror effect. It’s visually appealing, but it has two drawbacks. First, it removes fingerprints very easily and the phone is quite slippery. Do not hesitate to place the plastic shell supplied with the product to protect it and ensure a better grip.
The edges are made of polycarbonate (the lack of separation for the antennas is proof of this) with a double finish: glossy for the center of the lower and upper edges; mate for the rest. At first, we were rather surprised by this choice: plastic for a smartphone at 700 euros, that’s blah. But, in use, it does not change anything compared to aluminum. Of course, changing the material doesn’t just have an aesthetic consequence. We will see this in the section dedicated to performances …
Let us observe the visible technical elements: USB type-C port, drawer for the SIM, first speaker and telephone headset on the lower edge; second speaker, secondary microphone and infrared emitter (to control a television for example) on the upper edge; volume control and power button on the right, the latter also being a fingerprint reader. Notice the cutting of the glass which bypasses the buttons. A nice design work.
Up front, you’ll find a large, flat touchscreen, with rounded corners and edges that could have been wider. It is protected by glass Gorilla Glass 5, as in the back. A punch is visible in the center of the top edge of the screen. The selfie sensor integrated into it is, like the main photo sensor, surrounded by a silver border. An astonishing aesthetic choice when the builders are trying to make people forget this punch. Above the selfie sensor, you find the fairly discreet telephone earpiece, with an opening for the sound of the secondary speaker. The latter therefore has two outputs, which is not common.
Let’s continue to inspect the front panel of the smartphone. And more specifically the screen. This is a large slab of 6.67 inch. The screen is therefore a little smaller than that of the Mi 11 and a little bigger than that of the Mi 11 Lite. You will certainly have difficulty reaching the top of the screen if you are only using one hand. But luckily you’ll have access to a one-handed mode that allows you to downsize the interface to 3.5 inches, 4 inches, or 4.5 inches. This is a very convenient mode.
The definition of the screen is Full HD +, against QHD + for the Mi 11. The resolution therefore goes from 515 pixels per inch to 395 pixels per inch. The image is therefore less precise, or even less clear in some cases. But, in use, it is still very comfortable. This also has a huge advantage: a Full HD + display consumes less power than a QHD + display. We therefore expect better autonomy than the Mi 11.
The screen refresh rate is 120 Hz. But it is not always on 120 Hz. Like other Mi models, the panel also adapts to reduce the frequency and here too offer better battery life. You can of course choose to restrict the rate to 60 Hz. You will save even more the battery, but will lose a little in fluidity. The sample rate is 360Hz, which is three times the refresh rate. Usually the multiplier is 2.
The panel is compatible HDR10 +. The maximum advertised brightness is 1300 nits, a figure that you can reach locally and under certain conditions. The maximum manual brightness we measured is 580 nits. Which is really good. You can reach this figure with automatic mode, which is set by default when the smartphone starts up. The automatic mode will allow you, outdoors and in the sun to further increase the brightness.
The nature of the slab is AMOLED. This means that the blacks are very deep and the contrast ratio is very high. The panel offers four color display modes: automatic (by default), saturated, original and customizable. Xiaomi is the only brand to integrate in its interface all the tools to finely customize the color profile of the display. On this point, Xiaomi is still far ahead of all the competition. But its use is certainly reserved for the most experts.
Let’s talk more specifically about the three mainstream modes. The original mode is almost perfect. The average Delta E is only 2. The average gamma of 2.2. The temperature is 6523 °, what is excellent. And rare are the colors to exceed a Delta E of 4. The automatic and saturated modes offer almost the same results, except a higher Delta E for the saturated mode (5.1) and much more mastered for the automatic mode (2, 7). The average temperature is high. The average gamma is good (2.3). And many colors exceed a Delta E of 4.
In use, the Mi 11i’s display is pleasant to look at and to use. Even if some modes do not always respect the sRGB sample, it is possible to finely calibrate the screen to obtain an almost perfect result while enjoying a high contrast image. Here the choice of Full HD + is very reasonable.
Once the smartphone is on, we are therefore facing MIUI, the famous custom ROM from Xiaomi. Here it is the version 12 (and more precisely of the version 12.5.2, the latest), based on Android 11. Following the many releases at Xiaomi (whether in the Mi, Redmi or Poco ranges) in recent months, you are certainly familiar with this interface. You will find the same strengths … and the same flaws as usual.
For latecomers who haven’t yet taken a look at the Mi 11 Ultra, Redmi Note 10 5G or Poco X3 Pro tests, here’s a quick catch-up session. MIUI is therefore a ROM based on Android 11. You will find practically the same gestures as for all the other interfaces on the market. Two home screens for your applications, one screen for news (Google Discovery), one panel for notifications and quick settings, etc.
Unlike almost all other manufacturers, even Chinese (Oppo, Vivo, Realme, OnePlus …), Xiaomi continues to disable the app drawer by default (the gesture used to open the drawer is used to open a search page on Google). This means that all applications are installed on home screens, just like on an iPhone. These are not shortcuts you can remove to clean your screens. Some prefer as well. Others find the drawer essential for clearing up reception panels. For them, a slight turn in the parameter menu reactivates the drawer.
Another default setting, Xiaomi activates the Android navigation keys. But, here too, you can disable these keys and opt for gesture navigation. Finally, note that the multitasking menu is vertical and not horizontal. What changes habits. Once again, you can change the orientation. There are also some interesting buttons in this menu to clean the memory of the mobile and open a floating window to display another application. It’s very useful.
Among the other interesting ideas of MIUI 12, you will find in particular the Game Turbo (to manage performance and some parameters when a game is launched) and the Second Space (which serves to create a second environment to separate private and professional life, for example). You will finally find in the parameters a theme shop (also available from the reception) to change the aesthetics (but not the ergonomics) of the interface.
One of the big drawbacks of MIUI is this glut of preinstalled apps. You will find the usual Google software package, as well as the programs associated with the operating system (Weather, Clock, Calculator, Mi Video). In addition, there are partner applications: games, social networks, streaming services, online stores, etc. These are thus a twenty partner applications sales representatives who are thus integrated. It’s way, way too much.
And again, we are quite happy: unlike the Redmi, the Mi are not polluted by the ads that are embedded. There is therefore the best on the high end. But Xiaomi will have to modernize its commercial policy and considerably reduce the number of preinstalled applications, in particular by eliminating certain duplicates, such as Opera.
Fortunately, despite a proliferation of applications, the system remains fluid and pleasant to use. This is in part due to the integration of Snapdragon 888, famous high-end chipset from Qualcomm that you will find in all the premium models of this first part of 2021. Here the Snapdragon is accompanied by 8 GB RAM and, depending on the version, 128 or 256 GB of storage. This is a configuration quite close to that of the Mi 11. We therefore expect to observe the same behavior and the same results in our benchmarks.
You can see the results we got below. On Geekbench, the scores are very close to within a few dozen points in favor of the Mi 11i. The same goes for PC Mark, with a difference of 900 points, an increase of 9%. It seems considerable, but it remains close. The AnTuTu scores are not comparable since the Mi 11 was tested with version 8.5 of the benchmark and the Mi 11i with version 9.0. Facing the ZenFone 8 Flip, the Mi 11i sits very slightly behind. The difference is more marked with the ZenFone 8.
As for technical tests on the GPU, we observe standard scores. 3DMark’s Slingshot tests are outdated. WildLife and WildLife Extreme tests show that the Mi 11i is more careful with a lower score than the ZenFone. Finally, the Geekbench ML scores, which measure the performance of the mobile in applications related to artificial intelligence, are also below. And this while the ZenFones are not the most powerful premium smartphones.
How to explain the lower performance of the Mi 11i, at the same configuration? The answer is to be found on the side of AIDA64. We rarely post scores from this app. But, here it is necessary because we were not able to finish a 3DMark stress test (the famous WildLife Stress Test that we use regularly). On each attempt, the Mi 11i would shut down after about 15 minutes with a message which you can read in the screenshot below: ” your device is overheating “.
The temperature detected by AIDA64 is very high. Even higher than in the Mi 11. One of the processors exceeds the 80 ° C while the temperature of the other processors is between 65 ° and 75 °. Once the stress test is interrupted, the heat quickly drops to around 50 °. In our opinion, there are several reasons for this overheating. The inherent nature of the Snapdragon 888. Securities that have not been finely tuned. And the use of plastic, which dissipates heat less well to the outside. In fact, we feel a heat trapped on the upper part of the glass shell.
The stress test makes it possible to know whether a smartphone is capable of providing good performance over time. Which is useful for gamers. The answer here is no, Of course. After a quarter of an hour, it overheats. On the other hand, if the game is not greedy (unlike Genshin Impact), we have not experienced any problems. In addition, for all other uses, the Mi 11i behaves perfectly well.
Autonomy and recharging
With a 120 Hz screen, associated with a powerful processor with a fiery temperament, the Mi 11i must have a good battery to meet the energy needs of the whole. In this area, Xiaomi does not demerit. Despite a significant decrease in the screen size, and therefore the internal space of the phone, the Mi 11i benefits from a large battery. Its capacity is 4520 mAh very exactly. This represents a 80 mAh drop compared to Mi 11. That is 1.74%. So it’s not that significant.
Especially since, thanks to a mastered screen definition, adaptive brightness and the possibility of switching the refreshment to 60 Hz, the autonomy of the smartphone is good for all “classic” uses: audio and video streaming, surfing on Internet, social networks, messaging, audio and video calls, etc. We measured about a day and a half. This obviously depends on the intensity of use and the settings mentioned above. It’s a big day if the screen is 120Hz.
If you are a gamer, the battery life is bound to drop a lot. As always, we performed two 15-minute Genshin Impact sessions. The first with the default graphics settings. And the second with the best graphics possible. In our first session, we lost only 3% of the battery. For a theoretical autonomy of 8 hours and 20 minutes. This is a very good number. And during this whole session, the experience was good and the SoC did not overheat.
During the second session, the experience was not the same. We have lost 12% battery. It’s a lot. This means that the maximum theoretical autonomy is only 2 hours. And we obviously felt a rise in internal temperature. Fortunately, not as much as during the stress test. The Mi 11i is therefore not necessarily a very suitable smartphone for gaming, despite a platform that seems to indicate otherwise.
Once the battery is discharged, it is time to recharge it. The smartphone is compatible 33 watt fast charge. And Xiaomi obviously delivers an adequate charger to take advantage of this power. If you use the USB type-A to USB type-C cable and the charger supplied with the smartphone, you can fully charge the Mi 11i by less than 50 minutes. Correct performance taking into account the charging power and the battery capacity.
The following measurements were taken from a full charge cycle, after switching off the phone. The Mi 11i was not turned back on during this charge cycle and neither did it start up on its own. We have thus recharged 70% of the battery in half an hour. We have reached the 98% in 45 minutes exactly. It took us 4 more minutes to reach 100%. There is no wireless charging here, unlike the Mi 11. But it didn’t have to be.
Note that, unlike other brands (we are thinking in particular of Asus), Xiaomi does not offer any tools to maintain the battery. However, we believe that there is an automatic option that prevents the smartphone from being plugged into the mains for too long after reaching 100% of its capacity. This is already good, but it is no longer enough. This is an area where the brand can still improve.
On the audio side, the Mi 11i offers a rather positive experience. Not always better than that of the Mi 11. But not necessarily worse either. First of all, we find almost the same configuration as the Mi 11. So there is two almost identical speakers and opposed to each other. They offer a good quality stereo audio experience, with a nice balance between the two sources, even if the main speaker seems more powerful and richer than the secondary.
You will notice that the secondary speaker has two outputs. One on the top edge. And another at the earpiece. This compensates well for the difference in power between the two audio sources. This dual speaker offers quite a rich sound, with plenty of midrange and treble and some bass. We notice a slight saturation when you increase the volume above 50%. Note that the Mi 11i does not take advantage of Harman Kardon speakers, unlike the Mi 11. But the codec Dolby Atmos is supported.
This is a setup that should have been ideal for multimedia content. But it’s not always the case. For videos (movies, series, YouTube, social media content), that’s fine. When you gently hold the smartphone in portrait mode, or place it on a table, like a small TV, you don’t obstruct either of the two speakers.
When you play, it’s a different story: you hold the phone firmly. And there’s a good chance one of the speakers is obstructed, if not both. Our advice: hold the phone horizontally with the selfie sensor on the left. The primary speaker will not be obstructed (it will normally be placed over your index finger) and sound from the secondary speaker will come out through the earpiece.
Another solution: use headphones. Especially since Xiaomi provides a 3.5mm jack to USB type-C adapter in the box, while this was not the case with the Mi 11. We are aware that the USB type-C port is not extremely well placed (the cable will be placed between the middle and ring fingers) for play, but you will definitely have a better experience (although this of course depends a lot on your equipment).
Last point on the audio equipment: the microphones. The Mi 11i is equipped with three microphones. A first next to the SIM drawer to capture your voice during calls. A second next to the infrared emitter, in the dummy speaker grille, for active noise reduction. And a last one in the photo block. It is dedicated to sound recording during video capture. It’s a good idea to place one here. Especially since the Mi 11 did not take advantage of it.
Let’s finish this test with photography. The Mi 11i is equipped with three sensors in back. Two of them are the ones you find in the Mi 11. First there is the sensor 108 megapixels associated here with a phase detection autofocus and a lens opening at f / 1.8. By default, the sensor takes photos in 12 megapixelsbecause it combines 9 adjacent pixels to create a brighter, more contrasting photo. Each pixel is 0.7 microns square. That is a combined pixel of 2.1 microns. It’s pretty big.
The second sensor common with the Mi 11 is a model 5 megapixels dedicated to macro photos. It is associated with a lens opening at f / 2.4. And it has standard autofocus. The last sensor is a model 8 megapixels (replacing the 13 megapixel Mi 11) with wide-angle lens opening at f / 2.2. Its viewing angle is 119 °. This is a little less than the 123 ° of the Mi 11. Finally, the Mi 11i does not have neither optical zoom, like the Mi 11, nor optical stabilizer. And that is a real shame.
On the front, you will find the selfie sensor of the Mi 11, a model 20 megapixels with lens opening at f / 2.5. It is HDR compatible. In video, the Mi 11i captures in 8K at 30 frames per second. A priori, we should have results quite close to the Mi 11, except for the panoramas. And overall, this is confirmed with use. With some slightly different details.
The main sensor takes beautiful photos: balance, light, contrast, sharpness. The colors are slightly bluish. But it’s not very embarrassing. This was also the case with the Mi 11. So there is a certain consistency. As with the Mi 11, you can activate 108 megapixel mode and get some interesting results, with a lot of detail. You lose a little in brightness. Also, this mode is not compatible with night mode. As a result, 108 megapixel photos can be blurry, out of balance, or lacking in contrast.
The night mode, precisely, offers the possibility of revealing many details, while managing the light sources very well. Without night mode, it is impossible to read certain illuminated signs. With, it is quite possible. And the colors are fairly well reproduced. Be careful to remain stable during the shooting: without stabilizer, the shots are regularly blurred, whether with or without night mode.
The main sensor is obviously responsible for taking portraits. By day, the results are very contrasted, with a lot of colors, a beautiful clipping of the subjects. The background blur is, as often, overexposed, darkening the subject. You can adjust the intensity of the bokeh even after taking a life. Night mode is not compatible with portrait mode: it’s either one or the other. And without night mode, the portraits remain good, with good clipping.
As with the Mi 11, the Mi 11i only offers digital zoom. En revanche, contrairement au Mi 11 qui proposait un rapport maximal 30x, le Mi 11i se contente d’un rapport 10x. Mais la qualité jusqu’à 10x est très acceptable (de jour seulement), même si le bruit est très présent. Selon nous, c’est un meilleur compromis qu’avec le Mi 11. D’un côté, proposer plus de 10x, les résultats auraient été décevants. Et se limiter à moins aurait été frustrant. Nous pensons en revanche, qu’un zoom optique, associé à un capteur 12 mégapixels natif, aurait fait un meilleur travail.
Le mode nuit est compatible avec le zoom numérique. Il accepte de prendre des clichés jusqu’au rapport 10x, même si l’interface se contente de proposer le rapport 2x. Cependant, il n’est pas conseillé de zoomer plus que cela : les tremblements pendant le temps de pause prolongé rendent les photos difficiles à utiliser.
Passons au capteur grand-angle. Il offre des photos généralement bien équilibrées. Quelques détails sont perdus dans les zones d’ombre, parce que la photo n’est pas aussi lumineuse qu’avec le capteur principal. Nous observons également un lissage accentué et du flou désagréable dans les coins. Le capteur grand-angle est compatible avec le mode nuit. Et heureusement : sans lui, les panoramas qu’il produit sont inexploitables.
Le capteur macro n’est pas un équipement que vous utiliserez tous les jours, loin de là. Il produit cependant de bons résultats la journée. Pour l’activer, il faut passer par le mode Pro et choisir l’objectif macro. Même s’il profite d’une définition de 5 mégapixels (contre 2 mégapixels chez certains concurrents), ce n’est pas suffisant pour révéler tous les détails d’un objet. C’est dommage. En outre, il n’est pas compatible mode nuit : il est préférable d’utiliser le capteur principal dans ces cas-là.
Finissons avec le capteur selfie. Un capteur qui est compatible avec le mode portrait et le mode nuit, mais pas les deux en même temps. Il serait temps d’offrir un mode portrait nocturne ! De jour, ce capteur réalise de belles photos, très lumineuses. Parfois même un peu trop. Le réglage automatique des ISO est parfois un peu fantaisiste, notamment avec le mode portrait qui tend à éclairer plus que de raison l’arrière-plan. Le détourage ici aussi est bon. Et le lissage des détails sur les visages n’est pas trop accentué.
Le Mi 11i offre une expérience complète, comme son modèle, le Mi 11, dont il hérite de nombreuses qualités. Que ce soit la qualité de l’écran, la puissance de la plate-forme, le double haut-parleur symétrique, le capteur 108 mégapixels très lumineux, ou encore l’autonomie. Certains aimeront aussi le lecteur d’empreinte déporté dans le bouton de mise en marche (mais c’est une question de goût).
Il a aussi quelques défauts. Certains lui sont propres, comme ce capteur ultra grand-angle très moyen la nuit, la charge rapide qui n’est pas si rapide. N’oublions pas non plus l’absence de Harman Kardon du côté des haut-parleurs. D’autres points sombres lui viennent directement du Mi 11. D’abord au niveau photo où l’absence de stabilisateur se ressent et où un zoom optique n’aurait pas été de refus à la place du capteur macro quasi inutile. Ensuite au niveau de la gestion de la chaleur, encore plus approximative que celle du Mi 11. C’est l’un des plus gros points faibles du Mi 11i. Peut-être même le plus gros.
Il parvient aussi à rattraper quelques petites erreurs du Mi 11, comme l’ajout d’un troisième micro, bien pratique pour les vidéastes, ou l’inclusion d’un adaptateur jack 3,5 mm dans la boîte. Et, surtout, il est moins cher. 100 euros à configuration équivalente. Le Mi 11i est donc une bonne affaire parmi les Mi. Mais avec une fiche technique aussi proche de celle du Poco F3 (vendu quand même 300 euros moins chers), nous avons quelques difficultés à nous extasier. Oui le Mi 11i est un bon smartphone. Mais ce n’est pas encore la bonne affaire que nous attendions.