come for the specs, stay for the design

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Companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus are producing flagship phones with the aim of overtaking or at least moving closer to other established flagships such as Samsung’s Galaxy S series or Huawei’s P series.

This year, with the Mi 11, Xiaomi is banking on a curved design, a beautiful AMOLED screen and a main sensor of 108 megapixels to beat its competition.

The company unveiled this phone last December in China and launched it worldwide in February. I have been using this device for the past few weeks and its design and main camera have impressed me.

The Mi 11 could be a good phone for anyone looking to spend less than $ 800. Before we talk more about the phone, let’s take a look at its wonderful spec sheet.

Characteristics

  • Screen: 6.81 inch WQHD + AMOLED display
  • Refresh rate: 120 Hz
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Rear camera: 108-megapixel wide sensor with f / 1.85 aperture + 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor with f / 2.4 aperture (123-degree field of view) + 5-megapixel f / 2.4 telemacro camera
  • Front camera: 20 megapixels with f / 2.2 aperture
  • Internal storage: 128 GB / 256 GB
  • Security: Fingerprint sensor integrated into the screen; face unlock
  • Drums: 4,600 mAh
  • Charging: 55W wired fast charge; 50W wireless fast charging

What is good?

While a lot of people hate curved screens, I think it adds to a phone’s appeal. And the Mi 11’s four-curve design makes it look stunning. The screen is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus – also used in Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series. Thus, the phone is strong and scratch resistant.

On the back, the combination of frosted glass and skyline blue color looks stunning. I might have been disappointed if I had received a Midnight Gray or White unit.

The phone is big and sleek, which means it’s easy to hold and use with one hand. You might not reach the top of the screen every time, but you can easily adjust your grip or use your second hand for that.

Xiaomi has improved its screen play over the past few years and the Mi 11’s screen looks stunning. The colors are vibrant without being overly saturated, which makes everyday use and watching videos fun. Additionally, the 120Hz refresh rate improves the overall experience. The company says the screen could reach 1,500 nits of brightness. I didn’t have the equipment to test these numbers, but found the screen to be bright enough for outdoor use.

The Snapdragon 888 delivers great performance, and it makes multitasking, taking photos, using social media, and gaming easy. I played Call of Duty Mobile without any lag, and the two speakers powered by Harman-Kardon improved the gameplay – and of course the videos -.

Often times, 108-megapixel cameras are only good for supplementing statistics in company marketing materials. However, Xiaomi’s 108-megapixel snapper does its job well. Daylight images are crisp, detailed and impactful. If you’re taking landscape photos without focusing on a particular subject, you can switch to 108-megapixel mode for slightly better color and object detail.

However, if you take pictures of trees, you might notice that on occasion the camera misses the mark on the dynamic range – but it’s not horrible. Portrait photos are good, but a dedicated depth sensor would have added a bit more pizzazz to them.

Nighttime performance is commendable – but not as good as iPhones or pixels. The camera captures decent detail, but we could also see a lot of noise in these photos. There’s also a supermoon mode, which is slightly nifty, but fun.

The wide-angle camera loses color, but it can be used for nature-themed landscapes.

What could be improved?

One of my biggest complaints about this phone is the inconsistent fingerprint sensor. It has failed many times in my use and it makes unlocking – one of the most mundane tasks of using a phone – a hassle. Xiaomi needs to put a better sensor in the phone for its next device.

While MIUI 12 looks sleek, it’s certainly not bug-free. Most notably, many apps, including Nova Launcher, don’t play with the hole-punch camera placed on the side and we have a strange black spot on the screen staring at us. The buttons for quick response under notifications were also misaligned, and it was just annoying. And of course, since this is MIUI, there are still a few out-of-the-box bloatware apps – but you can get rid of them.