What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Xiaomi’? A brand known for churning out some of the best performers in the smartphone industry? Right. But, things seem to be changing at Xiaomi as the brand announced one of the most confusing offerings in India, the Mi 11 Lite, which doesn’t sit along with the brand’s other offerings.
Undoubtedly it’s the most lightweight smartphone in the market, but what’s so different with the Mi 11 Lite? First of all, it’s not your typical specced up Xiaomi smartphone, and it’s not trying to win the title of “most powerful smartphone” or “best performer”. Instead, it’s here to claim the title of “best looking smartphone”, and let me tell you it’s definitely on the way to get it and the title of “lightest smartphone in the town”. But does being lightweight makes it any less of a performer? Well, we are going to find that out in our full review.
Design and Build – It Couldn’t Get More Premium
We are going to talk a lot about design here because that’s what makes the Mi 11 Lite different from the heard. So as the name suggests, the Mi 11 Lite is lightweight. Moreover, it is one of the lightest smartphones of 2021, just weighing 157 grams. But being lightweight doesn’t mean that it’s a compact smartphone, and it’s not small anyhow. It comes with a 6.55-inch AMOLED panel, which sits in line with most other smartphones. However, it’s slim, very slim, a fun fact, it’s the slimmest smartphone of 2021 with a thickness of just 6.99mm. Plus, it comes with IP 53 dust and water resistance rating.
Those were quite some numbers, but what does it mean in real-life usage? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s light and impressively thin. Believe me; you won’t even remember that it’s there in your pocket after few minutes. There was an instance when I forgot where I kept it, after which I searched my whole room until my mother told me to check my pockets, and strangely, it was there all along. So moral of the story, always listen to your mother.
Now you know that the Mi 11 Lite is light and slim, but where’s the style quotient that Xiaomi is talking about? The Mi 11 Lite comes in three different colours. One of them is the usual black with a gloss finish, while the other two, the Tuscany Coral and Jazz Blue, are on a stylish side. No, they don’t change colours, but they look pretty elegant whenever you look at them. If you want to experience the premium feel this phone offers, then for god’s sake, don’t put that plastic cover on or any (this is strictly for the people who know how to handle their phones or who can afford to lose one). Plus, the front and back are protected by the Gorilla Glass 5, while the frame is carved out of magnesium alloy.
Turning around the Mi 11 Lite, you can find the camera module in line with the rest of the Mi 11 series except the Ultra and a slick ‘Xiaomi’ branding. This time around, Xiaomi has let go of those silly camera brandings, and it’s highly appreciated. The anti-glare matte design on our Jazzy Blue unit does a decent job keeping the neat and clean.
There’s an unspoken problem with the phones with flat profiles that they are uncomfortable to hold, which was an issue with the whole iPhone 12 lineup. Xiaomi tried to imitate that design, but it made a wise decision to go with more rounded edges rather than opting for chamfered edges. Contrary to iPhone 12, the Mi 11 Lite is quite comfortable to hold, even for prolonged durations.
I didn’t know how heavy 200 grams is until I picked up Mi 11 Lite. Now every phone I pick feels like a slab of brick, and I don’t have a clue how I am going to switch back to my old phone.
Display – It’s Smooth
Upfront, the Mi 11 Lite features a 6.55-inch AMOLED panel with FHD+ resolution. If you don’t know, the Mi 11 Lite packs in the same E4 AMOLED found on its bigger siblings, and a fun fact, it is the cheapest smartphone to offer Samsung’s E4 panel. The punch-hole cutout at the top left corner isn’t as small as the one’s found on other Xiaomi smartphones, but it’s not much distractive either.
The display offers a 90Hz refresh rate, but it is set to 60Hz out of the box to save up some juice though you can turn on the 90hz from settings. Many would complain that a much cheaper Redmi Note 10 offers a 120Hz refresh rate than 90Hz on Mi 11 Lite. Well, it’s for better; first of all, you will save up the battery life, and second, the chipset would be able to render 90Hz much smoothly, and you can barely feel the difference between 90Hz and 120Hz on both of these devices since both offers the same touch sampling rate of 240Hz.
The fact that this is a 10-bit panel doesn’t change things much as there’s not much compatible content available online to enjoy. Still, it’s one of the first smartphones in this segment to offer a 10-bit display, and who knows, Youtube might start supporting 10-bit videos in future, and this feature could come in handy. The display also comes with HDR10+ and Widevine L1 certification, so that means you won’t be facing any issues streaming HDR content on Netflix, Prime and Youtube.
The display shows vivid colours with deep blacks, which comes in handy when viewing videos with big black bars. There’s not much to complain about this display, the brightness levels are adequate, and it gets bright enough even when you’re out there in bright sunlight. Well, without any hesitation, I can say it’s among one of the best displays I have ever used, and Xiaomi has delivered once again.
Performance – Not it’s Forte
The Mi 11 Lite comes with rather modest internals – Snapdragon 888 chipset, 6/8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128/256GB of UFS 2.2 onboard storage. The SoC might not be the best in its segment, which isn’t the case with Xiaomi. However, the performance is good enough for day to day tasks but don’t expect it to be your gaming companion. You can game, but it won’t be delivering that smooth experience you expect from a smartphone of its segment.
Yes, Snapdragon 732G is a mid-tier chipset, but it couldn’t be entirely blamed for Mi 11 Lite’s mediocre performance. Instead, it’s the MIUI 12. It does come with many features, but it’s a pretty bloated skin that slows down things a bit. There’s not much that can be done, but MIUI 12.5 has shown promising results, and maybe the update can get the performance on track here. In the meantime, you can read more about our experience with MIUI 12 in our Redmi Note 10 Pro Max review.
Slim phones come with poor battery life. But that isn’t the case with Mi 11 Lite. Well, Xiaomi needs to be lauded for how they managed to put inside a 4250mAh battery while also killing it with the looks. The battery life is much better than you’d be expecting. It can easily last you a day of regular use at 90 Hz, while 60Hz will add few more hours to it. Moreover, the 33W charger will juice it up in almost an hour and ten minutes. Also, considering how thin Mi 11 Lite is, heating could have been a serious issue, but at any instance, it didn’t cross the 40-degree mark.
Camera – The Three Musketeers
The Mi 11 Lite comes with a pretty helpful trio of cameras – a 64MP primary camera, an 8 megapixel ultrawide, and a 5-megapixel telemacro camera. Under adequate lighting, the three musketeers click well-detailed shots with a decent dynamic range and pleasing colours. However, the pictures from the primary camera turned out to be a little oversaturated for my likeness, but it could be pleasing for some, so it depends upon your taste. As always, the 5MP tele-macro camera is the star of the show, and every manufacturer needs to take note of Xiaomi when it comes to macro cameras in smartphones.
That being said, things go awry as you enter a dim lighting zone or as the sun sets down. The camera struggles to preserve details at times, while sometimes clicks become much noisy than it shows on the feed. The Night Mode does help out, but you can’t always depend on it.
So the Mi 11 Lite is targeted towards the young gen Z audience or influencers. Xiaomi has given a bunch of shooting modes, eliminating the need to edit videos every time. Being tried a few of them, I can say that these video modes work perfectly and could be of great help when you to want shoot and upload. The camera app also offers the Pro Mode, which allows you to deep dive and adjust different parameters before clicking a picture.
The 16MP camera on the front is a decent one, and it gets the job done like most other smartphones. The pictures come out to be great if there’s a good amount of light, but picture quality takes a toll as soon as it gets dark. The portrait mode here is a great addition, and it works well enough in most situations.
Mi 11 Lite Final Verdict – Minimiliast Yet Satisfying Experience
So the question here is whether should you get it or skip it? For Rs. 21,999, the Mi 11 Lite is quite a good phone to get, but it’s not made for those looking out for a phone with the best hardware. Xiaomi’s own Mi 10i offers more competent hardware, while the OnePlus Nord CE and iQoo Z3 are quite ahead in the league. Instead, it’s a phone for those who are bored of heavy and beefy smartphones and wants to try out something new. So, if you’re someone who’s looking for a slim and trim phone without much compromise, then you both are a pair made in heaven.
Among the crowd of big and beefy smartphones, Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite comes as a breeze of fresh air with a minimalistic yet fulfilling approach. It does trim down on the weight and thickness, but most importantly, it gets the basics right.