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Hands-on review: Xiaomi Mi 11 5G Dual Sim Smartphone

By Owen McCarthy, 11 Jun 2021

Since unpacking Xiaomi’s Mi 11, I’ve been impressed by the feel, the quality, the quad curved Gorilla-glass body and the sophisticated tools that are remarkably easy to master.

I was surprised to discover that there is an even higher-spec model called the Ultra, but that will be for another day. The Mi 11 will appeal to video makers and photographers that want to create stunning productions. That you can do all this “in-camera” is a bonus. However, I’m getting ahead of myself 

Setting up the Mi 11 was a simple matter. I could choose the “clone” function or download already existing specs saved earlier on Google Drive. To date, the most difficult task has been breaking the tape seal.

I’m quite enamoured of the Harman Kardon sound system. I felt tingles down my spinal column as I watched the opening of Stowaway as the astronauts launched and eventually inserted themselves into Mars Insertion Transition, or MIT. I hope I got that acronym correct! 

The screen is amazing, with the quad-curved glass body giving a bezel-free feel to the Xiaomi Mi. The smooth but tough Gorilla Glass-covered screen has a very nice feel. 

Moving onto the screen itself, I’m already in love with the crystal-clear colours and the sharp details. Boasting WQHD+ ultra-high resolution (3200x 1400) the Mi provides almost 1.8 times higher pixel counts than FHD+ screens, says Xiaomi.

 In its own words, Xiaomi claims this is “a display without compromises,” possessing immaculate clarity, colour, and smoothness. I could happily throw away my television after watching my movie opening on the Mi. Xiaomi boasts a doubling of video quality, and I believe it. With a 120Hz refresh rate, gamers will disappear into their virtual worlds.

Xiaomi goes on to say that the 480Hz touch sampling rate is their fastest screen response speed to date. I’ll be killing me some zombies (or is that re-killing) later and expect I’ll be able to report smooth transitions and next to no lag. 

I’m familiar with Harman Kardon sounds from my own laptop and other products that have passed over my desk. Xiaomi says it worked collaboratively “to enhance the acoustics of the dual speakers, providing exquisite and crisp high-end sound quality.” All I can add is, yes, Xiaomi got it right. Whether listening to my favourite tunes on Spotify or watching Stowaway, I felt as immersed as I would sitting in a movie theatre or at a live concert. 

The still camera is equally impressive. Living in the gorgeous Waikato, I’ve become enamoured of the sweeping landscapes and amazing cloud formations, all screaming for a camera with decent wide-angle functions. However, it was raining so I began indoors. I started shooting photos of my work area and every speck of dust on my laptop stood out in sharp relief. It was almost enough to make me reach for the isopropyl and microfibre cloth. 

The gloomy day, I decided, would be the perfect setting for my version of the famous Taken phone call. Xiaomi states that “The Mi 11 camera is made for movie lovers,” and I was determined to use its lenses as well as the “cutting edge” cinematic software to bring out my inner Campion or Waititi.

I’m shooting a soliloquy taken from Taken. Some time ago I adapted it as my hook when applying for a long-since forgotten job. In retrospect, I am convinced that with the Mi 11, I would now most likely be the CEO. My decision to leave in the line, “I will find you and I will kill you,” was dramatic but in hindsight ill-advised. 

With the Mi 11’s HDR10+ video recording, my clever use of dark and shade (mostly to accentuate my designer stubble) shows off as Xiaomi promise, “every bright and dark detail with a picture quality closer to reality.” Then there are the A1 filters and special effects that I have barely scratched the surface. I have used the “parallel screen” filter which adds a rather kaleidoscopic effect, but there are more. You can freeze-frame part of the action or add time-lapse features. To see a sample clip from Xiaomi click on this link. 

From adding captions to sound clips, the Xiaomi Mi 11 has all the features you will need to produce your own stunning product. The quality of the video is brilliant. Currently, I am working on “ducking” in some mood sound effects to add dramatic emphasis to my clip. 

When I review a product, I tend to think of the features in parallel with how easy they are to use. Don’t laugh, but I felt slightly abashed when I discovered that all the editing and SFX features were built into the camera software, and no add-ons. This was after scrolling through looking for what I was sure would be supporting apps. Red was the colour of your reviewer’s cheeks. Trust Xiaomi to make things simpler to use. 

The build consists of a thin metal frame with Corning Gorilla Glass to make the screen tougher and more durable. Technically, it’s also speedier than its Mi M10 predecessor, with an internet speed 106% faster, according to Xiaomi.

Pricewise, the Xiaomi is well placed to give its pricier high-end competitors a bit of a scare. The Mi 11 is designed for the visual creatives out there who will love its “on the fly” brilliance.

Back in the editing room, you’ll be equally impressed with the tools you need for that professional presentation you’re working on. I’d have loved more time to explore all the features like Ultra Night Video, but I am looking forward to playing with the macro capabilities.

I was so busy raving about cinematic this and photographic that, I almost neglected to mention the Mi 11’s dual-sim capability. Then there’s the 30W wireless turbo charging. You can even reverse charge other devices that need a quick top-up.

Finally, I must draw attention to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5nm processor, the flagship mobile processor according to Xiaomi. It promises a 35% upgrade on the GPU, a 25% upgrade on the CPU, and a 70% AI performance upgrade, meaning the ability to process 26 trillion operations per second.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 is a 5G powerhouse with features that will keep all movie-makers and photographers happily creating for the foreseeable future. 

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