The era in which the most powerful and glamorous phones from Xiaomi cost half that of Samsung or Apple is over, but at least they are still very good phones
Xiaomi is the company whose phones I recommend 80% of the time when someone asks me for a good cheap phone: they already know the brand, the phones are capable enough and they are still a bit cheaper than what the competition does.
But in the last two years, those who would like to continue saving money when buying more powerful mobile phones and almost as capable as Samsung or Apple in photography have had to realize a problem: just where Xiaomi was previously the undisputed king and it gave you high-end mobiles for just 500 euros, now that costs you 800.
Here comes the Xiaomi Mi 11, its new aspirational mobile, the phone that is the best the company has to offer for the first half of 2021. Its price in the most economical configuration: 750 euros with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you want the slightly better version, with 256GB of space, 800 euros. Looking back, the Mi 8 cost 500 euros.
What has changed so that Xiaomi has raised prices? It may be justified by the best cameras, which this year are incredible; or by the best design; or due to the fact that Qualcomm processors and chips cost the manufacturer more expensive and, therefore, the end user must reduce this difference; Or simply Xiaomi has already established itself as a brand, it has a large number of fans, a dominant position in the market and they have decided to do what every company in that situation does: expand their profit margins now that they can.
Whatever the reason, the only thing that matters to the user is that if he wants the best of Xiaomi, now he must pay a third more, practically. Is it worth making that investment in the M11? It depends on what you are looking for in a phone.
What has impressed me the most in two weeks of daily use of the Mi 11 is that the battery lasts a lot and that the cameras have improved a lot compared to the last few years. While I still prefer the more natural result that other brands offer, the versatility of their cameras.
THE CAMERA IS A STRONG POINT
Xiaomi should know that the photographic section is one of its pending subjects and where Samsung and Apple always bet to sell their phones. The Mi 11 has three cameras, being the main one of 108 megapixels (developed together with Samsung) its main asset. She is not the best in any field, but she does well enough in all of them.
The size of the sensor allows you to take sharp images with great detail in advantageous light situations, because as soon as a shadow appears or the light is missing, you can see that Xiaomi’s software is not so advanced. Fortunately, the night mode works properly and does not force too much the brightness or the strange effects: it takes correct photos and they do not seem to have been taken artificially. Where it does fail a bit is in the photos in portrait mode, where exactly that ‘falseness’ of the effect is obvious.
To its main camera we must add another two. On the one hand, the lens to take pictures at a very short distance, which may have that one and that, if you have pets, helps to take photos of them very closely without losing any detail of fur or texture. On the other, a wide angle for panoramic photos that, confined at home, the truth is that it has not gotten as much performance.
Indeed, Xiaomi has dispensed with a telephoto camera on this occasion, something strange when it has been the bet of many other manufacturers. At least, having a good main camera, the rest are secondary add-ons for very specific situations.
They could have already dispensed with the ‘beauty’ mode that is activated by default in the front camera for selfies, because I am still psychologically recovering from the mess that it made me the first time I tried it. With that crap removed, it is a correct camera, which takes out good details and whose night mode works well.
When it comes to making videos, it is also noticeable that Xiaomi has raised a bar in its software and in the capabilities of its phone. For starters, it has a very good stabilization as standard and can even record in 8K mode, although the best videos are those that you record at 4K and during the day. At night, the limitations of the phone are very noticeable, but it is not something that I can blame because most of the competitors are also sad when recording without light.
A REFINED DESIGN
Like all high-end mobile phones, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is very beautiful. It’s not my ideal type of phone, because I prefer flat, bezel-less screens, but it’s true that its curvature makes its gigantic 6.8-inch screen easier to grasp with one hand. Still, you will need both to write comfortably or use it normally. If you don’t like big phones, this one is huge.
At least, in that great body it integrates components that will keep the phone at its peak performance for years. The Snapdragon 888 processor is the most powerful that can be integrated into an Android phone right now. The 8GB of RAM may seem few when other high-end competitors integrate up to 12GB, but in standard use, it is not necessary to have more.
In storage, perhaps the 128GB of the default model is a more problematic limit, but at least I am still unable to fill so much space on any phone that I use, of course I also do not use Netflix movies to cholón and I usually use Spotify streaming.
But at least its screen is a joy. The OLED panel achieves QHD + resolutions and refresh rates of 120hz, which pushes the 4,600mAh battery to its limit. But even with the highest resolution and fluency activated, the Mi 11 can last for many hours of use. We are already at a point where having 120hz is going to stop being a problem for battery consumption. Of course, if you prefer that the mobile last more hours, when using it in FHD + resolution, you will extend almost a quarter more the life of its battery.
Xiaomi includes a 55-watt charger with the mobile phone to, on the one hand, boast of doing something that neither Samsung nor Apple does anymore; and, on the other hand, fully charge your mobile in just one hour. In fact, in 20 minutes, it is normal to recharge more than half of it. The faster fast charge is one of the hallmarks of the manufacturer and will continue to be for a while, it seems.
HIGH RANGE SOMETHING CHEAPER
In the end, the price increase of the Xiaomi Mi 11 seems justified by the good performance of the mobile. There are still weak points, such as its terrible interface full of options in which to do something in particular can take you minutes to navigate through different menus, but in general, we are facing a very complete phone.
Samsung and Apple offer similar results for between 100 and 200 euros more per mobile and do some things better and others worse than the Mi 11, so in the end it is a matter of the tastes of each one to decide if they prefer a Galaxy S21, an iPhone 11 or a Xiaomi Mi 11.
In the event that you opt for the latter, you can rest assured with its performance, the duration of its battery and the quality of its screen. Their cameras are also very good, but I think there are better ones … if you pay the difference, of course, which may not compensate you as much.
That Xiaomi is disputed in the field of the two most popular companies in the world is good because in the end there is more competition and there is more to choose from if you want to spend between 700 and 1,000 euros on your mobile. If this is not the case, nothing happens, that Xiaomi continues to make very cheap and decent mobiles and Samsung and Realme and many others, too.