The troika is complete. In more ways than one. Xiaomi, with the Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11X Pro and the Mi 11X, has the Android flagship line-up completely in place. In width of range as well as ticking off the newness bit. That was needed, to be fair, as the competition with OnePlus and Samsung continues to get tougher. With a line-up of the latest flagship phones any smaller than this, Xiaomi may have been at a handicap. But they aren’t, as they compete against the OnePlus’ latest OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9R as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21. Three phone makers battling it out for your attention and your money. With three phones each as part of the 2021 refreshes. If you thought there would be any sort of hangover from 2020, that isn’t happening.
Let us look at the pricing of the Mi 11X in particular, since that’s the matter at hand at this time. The Mi 11X is the most affordable of the three new phones, which simply adds all the more pressure on its shoulders to succeed. There are two specs of the Mi 11X currently on sale in India. There is the 6GB RAM and 128GB option that is priced at Rs 29,999 while the higher spec 8GB + 128GB is priced just a bit more at Rs 31,999. To be fair, if you aren’t really taken in by the pricing of the first variant that it sits just under Rs 30,000 at this time, I’d really recommend you get the 8GB RAM variant purely for futureproofing your purchase. Always remember, in due course of time, your requirements with apps will increase and that extra RAM will come in handy with multitasking. In terms of how the competition stacks up, Mi India’s pricing should be a worry for OnePlus and Samsung. The OnePlus 9R with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor is priced Rs 39,999 onwards. And while the Samsung Galaxy S21 starts off by default with a significantly higher price tag of Rs 73,999, it still remains considerably pricier than the Mi 11X even after various cashback and discount offers. Great start then, for the Mi 11X.
There is just something with the design of phones that emerge from the house of Mi India, particularly since the turn of the year. incredibly attractive, each has their own unique personality traits, and these will most certainly get you attention. The Xiaomi Mi 11X is no different. And that is fantastic news. From the outset, what you get are three colour options—Celestial Silver which at least what the photos indicate dabbles with a dash of blue as well, the more conventional Cosmic Black as well as the chirpy Lunar White. For a phone that’s positioned as an alternative to the more expensive flagship phones. The Xiaomi Mi 11X plays the part well with a glass and metal design. It is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and back along with a metal frame to give the phone a proper premium in-hand feel. To be fair, I’m quite amazed by how well Xiaomi have managed to keep the thickness down and this measured just 7.8mm thick. That’s thinner than the 8.4mm of the OnePlus 9R. The Mi 11X tips the scales at 196 grams, just a tad heavier than the perceptibly lighter OnePlus 9R at 189 grams. Looks good, feels premium to hold and the subtle branding on the back adds class. One thing that I must note though, the Cosmic Black isn’t what you should pick if you lose your bearings seeing a phone that has dust, smudges or fingerprints, because all three show up generously on this finish. I’d expect the white to be significantly better in that regard.
The 6.67-inch display is a Super AMOLED panel, specifically the E4 AMOLED which uses different materials to reduce the power consumption by as much as 15%. Any little measure that reduces battery drain is always welcome in a smartphone. It is a pretty bright display and that really helps content come across without any interruptions because of reflections or ambient lighting changes. Ticks off the features list too as you’d expect, with 120Hz refresh rate, 360Hz touch sampling rate for better touch response particularly while gaming, HDR10+, AI HDR image enhancement for content as well as MEMC that smoothens the transitions and videos, depending on requirement. There really isn’t anything to complain about the Xiaomi Mi 11X’s screen. It does well on most fronts—brightness, viewing angles and richness of colours. Speaking of brightness for a bit, the Xiaomi Mi 11X gets the Sunlight Mode. This pushes the brightness closer to the peak 1300nits rating to ensure that sunlight or really bright ambient light doesn’t make your phone’s screen look uncomfortably dark. While these may be rare situations when auto brightness isn’t able to handle it, remember that for the sunlight mode to work, you’ll need to manually enable it.
Under the hood is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor. The variant that I’m testing here has 8GB RAM and the performance that comes across consistently is one that works very well for the expectations you’ll have from a flagship-esque phone. You should be fairly well stocked on the futureproofing aspect even with 8GB RAM, as I have already mentioned, yet I’d have expected a 12GB RAM option as well just to tick off the competition requirements. Maybe that’ll become a reality later, maybe it won’t—but the Mi 11X as it is delivers on the performance bit without any issues at all. What also helps is the really fast UFS 3.1 storage standard, which offers really fast data read and write speeds, all of which translates into really slick app performance. And if you intend to do some gaming on the Mi 11X, there is the Game Turbo option that lets you further tweak the performance and reduce notification distractions. For the first couple of days, the Mi 11X did intermittently heat up as I stressed it with multitasking and camera usage in particular, but once the phone settled in and all data was synced over time, the Mi 11X didn’t exhibit any signs of heating even when leaving a bunch of apps open and switching to the camera. It is a large battery, at 4250mAh and the Mi 11X gets 33-watt fast charging. Fast enough, but not as fast as the OnePlus 9R’s 65-watt fast charging. But then again, I’d say it is extremely unlikely that your finally choice would really be swayed by this difference anyway.
The Mi 11X, at the time of writing this review, is running the MIUI 12.0.3 global stable version. We have been noticing this change with MIUI and Xiaomi phones off late, across all price points, that there seems to be a greater push for including Google’s own apps as well. The Phone app, Messages, Calendar and Chrome, for instance. These apps don’t get duplicates, which is great. The interface, if you already use a Xiaomi phone, will have that warmth of familiarity. Yet, the same slickness doesn’t always apply—there is Google Photos and MIUI’s own Gallery app as well as Google’s Files app and also MIUI’s File Manager app. There is significantly lesser preloaded app clutter too but the GetApps app notifications still really annoy me. Maybe there are too many of those, and maybe I don’t like to be prompted that much. If you can call those adverts, there’s that bit too. That being said, I turned off the Personalized Ad Recommendations, an option that is buried in Settings -> Passwords & Security -> Privacy -> Ad Services. I didn’t see any ads interfere with the notification bar after I explicitly turned them off. There are still recommendations all over the place, including the App Vault screen (that’s -1 on your home screen), which serves up a lot of ‘popular videos’, ‘utilities’ which are basically app and task suggestions that lead to an app or “recommended” apps.
For the photography side of things, you’ll get a 48-megapixel wide camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 5-megapixel telephoto camera. It is a triple camera setup that seems well prepared for the tasks at hand, though you could always complain that this doesn’t have a depth sensor or a monochrome sensor like the OnePlus 9R. For what it has, the Xiaomi Mi 11X does pretty well on the camera front. And that is particularly true for daytime and good light photos. My takeaways would have to be that this camera delivers really good colours, which are punchy yet never overdone. Well exposed frames without any inconsistent lighting making it stumble. That being said, in certain pics, it does look like the shadow areas could have been a tad less exposed, which perhaps is a fallout of the overall need for nicely lit photos—and this is something a software tweak can fix. You can choose to take photos in the 48-megapixel mode if you want to do with extra finer details, but I didn’t see a way of leaving that mode as the default mode—it has to be manually invoked every time you close and the open the camera app. You’ll need to be a bit patient with the night mode photos, for that extra second that the camera needs for the different exposures that’ll then be stitched together. Those photos largely turn out nice and crisp, though there are some frames and scenarios where there is still considerable noise noticeable when you zoom in. It may not matter for most Instagram posts, but if you want detailing, it’ll be a safer bet to take a couple of pokes at the shutter button for an extra option.
The Last Word: There Is Undeniable Consistency That The Xiaomi Mi 11X Delivers
At a price tag of under Rs 30,000 as the entry point to the Mi 11X line-up, Xiaomi has indeed done a really good job of putting forward its response to the OnePlus 9R. And undercuts that by a significant margin too. There are a lot of similarities on the spec sheet, and power is something that is in abundance in the Xiaomi Mi 11X as well. This has a really attractive design that immediately gives the impression of a phone more expensive than it actually is, a display that really bumps things up when need be and remains a very consistent canvas all through while the cameras also deliver the expected photography results. The thing is, the Xiaomi Mi11X sits under the Rs 30,000 price point, and that is a huge psychological advantage too.