The Mi 11 Ultra. This is a phone that I’ve been using for quite some time and in this review today, it’s going to be very long.
This review is still going to follow our usual 6 points of a smartphone but we’re going to mix in some other elements inside.
We’ll first start off with the feature that everyone is talking about – the cameras.
I won’t talk much about the camera specs – so I’ll just show everything here.
We have an in-depth test of the cameras of the Mi 11 Ultra, but it’s all in the video, and commentaries are included in that video too. We also have video a video test alongside comparisons with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
By the way, 8K video recording on the Mi 11 Ultra also got a downgrade compared to the Mi 10T Pro. For some reason, the Mi 10T Pro can shoot at 8K 30fps but the Mi 11 Ultra is locked at 8K 24fps only.
All in all, the Mi 11 Ultra has pretty good camera hardware, but there are some inconsistencies in terms of colors from all 3 cameras. Issuing a software update can fix this issue.
As for the 120x zoom, it’s a completely useless and pointless gimmick. The pictures already look bad at 100x zoom, so I have no idea why Xiaomi wants to enlarge an already-bad image.
One thing is for sure, though – these two phones take good pictures without having the need to have a big camera brand names slapped onto the back of the phone.
Okay, enough about the cameras. The screen on this Mi 11 Ultra is actually the same as the Mi 11 that we reviewed not long ago.
It’s the same 6.81-inch AMOLED screen, same 120Hz, and same resolution as well. But I realized a new unwelcomed addition. The Mi 11 Ultra also has the dimming issue as seen on the POCO F3, whereby the display suddenly goes dimmer even though the brightness setting didn’t change.
This happens because the phone got hot – and this time, it happened while I was testing out the selfie camera too. And that is why I mentioned that the Mi 11 Ultra’s screen suddenly got dimmer and you can also see that the video flickered in exposure for a moment.
I have also verified that this screen dimming issue is indeed happening to other reviewers as well.
That tiny display
And let’s not forget about that tiny display at the back of the phone. And by tiny I mean really tiny. It’s a nice idea to utilize the extra space at the back of the phone – but it does feel very first-gen because of the thick bezels around this tiny screen.
We can use it to take pictures, yes – but not videos. But, it does work well as an auxiliary display to see the battery, time, and if there’s any notification.
There is too much untapped potential surrounding this tiny little rear display, and there are many limitations right now. Honestly, I think ZTE did it better with the Nubia Z20.
Because of the camera hardware in the Mi 11 Ultra, it comes with a rather thick body with an even thicker camera bump. That is to be expected since the thicker camera bump means it can have more space between the lens and the sensor.
One thing I have to point out is that the Mi 11 Ultra is a fingerprint magnet. Xiaomi should’ve gone with a matte finish and it’ll look a lot better.
Not going to talk about it much here. Snapdragon 888, 12GB RAM, 256GB of internal storage. It still heats up badly which is why there’s the dimming issue, and it performs the same as the Mi 11 that we reviewed earlier – so check that out instead.
And to juice up everything, the Mi 11 Ultra comes with a 5,000mAh battery. Unfortunately though, the battery life is quite bad through our battery life test. At 120Hz, the Mi 11 Ultra can last throughout a single day if we’re thrifty.
Fortunately, the charging time of the included 67W proprietary charger juice up the phone in less than an hour. But, if you have a 120W charger that is compatible with Xiaomi’s proprietary standard, then you can charge it from 15% to 100% in just 35 minutes.
Software – MIUI 12
I mean, MIUI 12 is still a mess. We talked about it in-depth in our Mi 11 review, so check that review out instead. One new addition to the mess here is the configuration for the rear display.
At first instinct, I thought it’ll be under the “display” menu. But no, it’s actually under the “special features” menu. There’s no recommendation to hop into that menu under “display”, too. I just ended up searching for the option using the search bar most of the time, honestly.
But, I discovered something even more problematic – MIUI 12 is even messier than I thought. Recently, I wanted to do some screen recording on MI 11 Ultra to show off some stuff but I realized this issue.
The screen recorder app has 3 resolutions to be chosen. The first one is depending on whatever resolution the Mi 11 Ultra is currently using – like this screenshot here, it’s at 1440p so it’s at 1440p only and there’s no 1080p option. That’s a tiny issue.
But look at the frame rate. It’s only available at 30fps maximum no matter whatever resolution is selected. What the heck? Both the Mi 9 and also the Mi 10T Pro – all running MIUI 12, can record at 60fps at 1080p. Why can’t the Mi 11 Ultra?????
We also have a few other miscellaneous stuff to point out about the Mi 11 Ultra. This phone has an IR blaster, which I really like – but transferring files like pictures and videos over its USB-C port is stupidly slow because the Mi 11 Ultra is still using USB 2.0.
The Mi 11 Ultra also does not have HDMI output over its USB-C port, which also means no desktop mode like Samsung DeX.
And speaking of the Samsung again, both the Mi 11 Ultra and the Galaxy S21 Ultra also do not have micro SD card slot and also no audio jack as well.
So, finally – the Mi 11 Ultra. At the price of RM4,299 – I think Xiaomi is asking too much for what it has to offer. Sure, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has a fantastic set of hardware but the lack of proper software and integration with other devices or ecosystems makes it a difficult recommendation.
Take the Galaxy S21 Ultra for example – on top of just having a fantastic UI with timely updates monthly, it also has Samsung Pay, Samsung DeX, lots of integration with Microsoft, and also S Pen support – as a separate purchase, of course.
In many ways, the Mi 11 Ultra is the first generation of the company’s “ultra” lineup of smartphones and it feels a lot like the Galaxy S20 Ultra from last year. In the case of the Mi 11 Ultra, the hardware is solid – but the software is the problem and where it ultimately fell short.
But at the end of the day, I’m still glad that Xiaomi is entering the premium smartphone market because currently, it’s a bit boring with only Samsung and Apple at the top.