Xiaomi has had one of the more interesting years so far, and we don’t mean that in a bad way. The company was the first on the scene with the Snapdragon 888-powered Xiaomi Mi 11, and the company has since followed that up with even more options from the Mi 11 series including the Mi 11 Ultra and the Mi 11 Lite.
The Mi 11 Ultra is the flagship of flagships, designed and powerful enough to directly compete, if not overtake, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. But the Mi 11 Lite is a Xiaomi of a different beast, with just enough of the Mi 11 DNA to be included in the family.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite Specs
|Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite|
|Price||€369 / $379|
|Resolution||2400 x 1080|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G|
|RAM||6GB / 8GB|
|Storage||64GB / 128GB (expandable)|
|OS||Android 11 / MIUI 12|
|Rear camera||Triple cameras:
64MP, PDAF, f/1.8, 0.7 μm (main)
8MP, f/2.2, 119˚ FoV, 1.12 µm (ultra-wide)
|Front camera||16MP, f/2.5, 1.0 μm|
|Bluetooth||v5.1 LE, A2DP|
|Dimensions||160.5 x 75.7 x 6.8mm|
|Special features||33W fast charging, side-mounted fingerprint sensor, 90Hz refresh rate, Hybrid Dual SIM|
While many phones, including the Mi 11 Ultra continue to get larger and thicker, the Mi 11 Lite throws all that to the way-side with its ultra-sleek and thin design. The phone is just 6.8mm thick, which is quite a stark difference from the 8.4mm of its Ultra brethren. Instead of rounded edges and curves everywhere, essentially we have two flat pieces of glass sandwiched by a slightly curved and plastic frame.
These curves help the phone rest in the palm of your hand just that much easier, providing enough grip to avoid any potential damages from falling out. Even with the 6.55-inch display, it’s not too much to handle, which just goes to show that Xiaomi struck a pretty good balance here.
Unlike the Ultra, the Mi 11 Lite has a subtle camera bump that doesn’t protrude further than any of the other mid-range or entry-level flagship devices. This helps to keep things balanced overall while using the Mi 11 Lite throughout the day.
In the box, Xiaomi includes a clear and basic TPU case, which you’re likely going to want to slap on as soon as you can. That’s because the glossy finish on the back is one of the most egregious offenders of being a fingerprint magnet that we’ve seen in a while. It’s reminiscent of the glossy finish on the back of the Black Galaxy Z Fold 2, which was promptly covered by a dbrand skin.
Putting those qualms aside, the Mi 11 Lite really doesn’t feel like a budget device, even with the plastic frame keeping everything in place. On the right side, we have the volume rocker and power button, which doubles as a super-fast fingerprint scanner. This is something we’ve been seeing more and more of from different phone makers, and a trend that I hope we continue to see. It’s much better than dealing with the inconsistency found when using the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanners.
Moving to the top, there’s nothing more than a microphone cut out and IR blaster, which is another feature that I didn’t know that I missed until now. At the bottom, you’ll find the SIM tray, USB-C charging port, and speaker grille on the right-side. While the left frame of the phone is completely uninterrupted by any buttons or anything else.
I have to admit that switching from Samsung’s One UI 3.1 on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or stock Android on the Pixel 5, to Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 takes a bit of getting used to. Despite being a mid-range phone, Xiaomi packed the Mi 11 Lite to the gills with software features to tweak, including the ability to use a more traditional layout in the notification panel, or you can switch to the iOS-like gestures. This means swiping down from the top left of the phone reveals your notifications while swiping down from the top right reveals your quick settings toggles.
It really shouldn’t come as much surprise, but there were quite a few non-Xiaomi apps pre-installed on the Mi 11 Lite. There were a few games that I’ll never play, placed neatly in a folder on the Home Screen, along with some other usual suspects. These include Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, LinkedIn, and WPS Office. Opening that folder, named “More apps”, shows some additional suggested games for you to download. There’s even a “promoted apps” section at the bottom of this folder, but thankfully, nothing else was pre-installed.
So how did the Mi 11 Lite actually perform on a daily basis? Like you would expect it too. Only a few times after the initial setup process did I experience any stuttering, and that was because I was still downloading apps to the phone from the Play Store. But this also brings us to our next gripe, and that’s the “App Scanner” that’s included with the Mi 11 Lite. This scans every single app that you try to download while throwing an ad up on the screen while the downloaded app is being “scanned”. This was quickly turned off, as you can imagine my frustration seeing this scanner reappear every time an app was being installed.
One of my biggest concerns when using a device this slim was how the battery was going to stand up. Even with the 4,250mAh cell that was crammed into here, I was still worried that the Mi 11 Lite wouldn’t make it through an entire day. So to say I was pleasantly surprised that even with the 90Hz refresh rate enabled, the Mi 11 Lite actually lasted throughout the day, and then some. I found myself forgetting to put it on the charger, heading to bed with around 30% left and waking up to see that just a couple of percentage points had ticked off overnight.
Part of this has to do with the version of the Mi 11 Lite that we received for review. This is the standard LTE variant, as the Mi 11 Lite 5G is a little bit different, but does not support the necessary bands to provide a solid 5G experience here in the US.
Although we miss being able to use a wireless charger with the Mi 11 Lite, Xiaomi made up for it by bringing fast-charging support. Included in the box is a 33W fast-charging brick, along with a USB-C cable, and that’s what really made the difference for me. Having wireless charging matters much less if you can plug your phone in for 15 minutes and get a 30% recharge, plenty enough to get you through the rest of the day.
On the camera front, the Mi 11 Lite is equipped with a triple camera array, headlined by the primary 64MP lens, and flanked by an 8MP ultrawide sensor and 5MP tele-macro camera. When snapping pictures, you’ll find plenty of different options to choose from, including Pro Mode, Portrait mode, and tapping the More button shows off even more modes to choose from. At the top of the page, even when shooting in the default mode, there are options to toggle things like HDR on or off, along with the flash, and the ability to apply filters before even taking a picture.
I must say that in my time using the Mi 11 Lite, the camera was one of the best parts. All three sensors are quite serviceable, if not downright great. The main camera provides color-accurate images with ease, but if you want something to really “pop” (a la Samsung-ish), you can tap the AI button at the top of the viewfinder. Truth be told, I never once felt the need to do that, as I was more than satisfied with the results from the Mi 11 Lite’s camera. Xiaomi knocked it out of the park with this one.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite is one of the most intriguing devices to come across my desk so far in 2021. It’s a phone that’s not readily available here in the U.S., but the company is expanding its lineup from China, as the Mi 11 lineup has landed in Europe. Surprisingly, you can grab the Mi 11 Lite from Amazon and will get the 6GB/128GB variant for around $379 with free Prime shipping. This is a great deal if you want something different, don’t have Verizon, and are intrigued by one of Xiaomi’s latest offerings.
My biggest problem with the Mi 11 Lite has nothing to do with the device itself, as it was an enjoyable experience through and through. Instead, my biggest problem is that having the opportunity to use the Mi 11 Lite has left me wanting to see what Xiaomi has done with the Mi 11 Ultra and its flagship specs and unique camera system.
Nevertheless, if you’re in the market for a new phone and don’t want to empty your wallet, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Mi 11 Lite.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_50 (4.5/ 5)
- Extremely lightweight and comfortable to use
- Cameras are much better than you might expect at this price
- Xiaomi’s software is extremely customizable
- Power button/fingerprint scanner combination should be the default
- Glossy finish is annoying
- Too many pre-installed useless games
- App scanner is enabled by default and scans Play Store apps
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot to like about the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite, even if you end up with the non-5G variant. From an ultra-slim design to some pretty impressive cameras, you definitely won’t be disappointed. But be prepared for the adjustment to using MIUI 12.5 if you live in the West.