Home » Is Xiaomi MI 11 Ultra the Samsung killer?

Is Xiaomi MI 11 Ultra the Samsung killer?

My Thoughts 2 weeks later

Introduction

The MI 11 Ultra is not trying to be a good phone but it’s trying to be the best phone money can buy.

And from the box its nothing extra ordinary but the good thing is it comes with everything inside the box. This not something normal these days with flagship smartphones. With a 67W fast charger and 67W wireless charging.

Okay let’s make it clear this design is not going to be acceptable by everyone, and Xiaomi knows that and have shown the phone to some people and the answer ranges from

“this the coolest smartphone have ever seen to instead of having the biggest camera bump why not increase the battery size”

With all that said this review is more about comparing the best against the ‘best’ it is the Samsung Galaxy S21 ultra 5G vs Xiaomi MI 11 Ultra

Xiaomi finds itself at a point where it must fill into Huawei shoes and satisfy the market gap caused by US burn on Huawei.

Either way I test these phones comparing side by side 5 features

  1. Price
  2. Display
  3. Battery
  4. Performance  
  5. Camera

And at the end we are going to crown one as the winner and know who is trying to kill who.

Let’s start by comparing major features of the phones.

Key Features/ Specifications

SpecificationsXiaomi MI 11 UltraSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Body 164.3×74.6×8.4mm, 234g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), ceramic back, aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins). 165.1×75.6×8.9mm, 227g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins), Stylus support.
Display 6.81″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 900 nits, 1700 nits (peak), 1440x3200px resolution, 20;9 aspect ratio, 515ppi. 6.80″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1500 nits (peak), 1440x3200px resolution, 209 aspect ratio, 515ppi; Always-on display.
Chipset Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm); Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660. Exynos 2100 Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G78 MP14 Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm) Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680; Adreno 660.
Memory 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.128GB 12GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 16GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
OS/Software Android 11, MIUI 12.5. Android 11, One UI 3.1.
Rear camera Wide (main); 50 MP, f/2.0, 24mm, 1/1.12″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Ultra wide angle; 48 MP, f/2.2, 12mm, 128˚, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF; Telephoto; 48 MP, f/4.1, 120mm, 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom.Wide (main) 108 MP, f/1.8, 24mm, 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Ultra-wide angle  12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, Super Steady video; Telephoto  10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom;
Front camera 20 MP, f/2.2, 27mm (wide), 1/3.4″, 0.8µm. 40 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.7µm, PDAF.
Video capture Rear camera 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps, gyro-EIS, HDR10+ rec;  Rear camera 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS;
Video capture Front camera 1080p@30/60fps, 720p@120fps, gyro-EIS. Front camera 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30fps.
Battery 5000mAh; Fast charging 67W, 100% in 36 min (advertised), Fast wireless charging 67W, 100% in 39 min (advertised), Reverse wireless charging 10W, Quick Charge 4+, Power Delivery 3.0. 5000mAh; Fast charging 25W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W.
Misc Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; Infrared port. Fingerprint reader (under display, ultrasonic); Stereo speakers; NFC; FM radio (Snapdragon model only; market/operator dependent); Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support), ANT+, Bixby natural language commands and dictation, Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified), Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support.

Price

Both start at the same price that is

Xiaomi: aliexpress

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Samsung:  aliexpress

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Design, Display

Design

A mobile camera device capable of producing its own gravitational field? If there is one, it has to be this one – it’s that massive.

Unquestionably polarizing, the massive hump on the back of the Mi 11 Ultra would be the first thing you notice about it, and you won’t be able to look away for a while.

The black window spans almost the entire width of the phone and houses three cameras: two with (large) traditional optics and a periscope for the telephoto. It wouldn’t be a particularly effective use of space if it was the only hardware in there; there’s also laser autofocusing, triple LED light, and, most notably, a little rear-facing display.

The width of the assembly was most likely determined by the display, which, while being just 1.1 inches in diagonal size, takes up space. The thickness, on the other hand, is something we’re able to blame on the camera modules themselves – big-sensor systems with even relatively bright lenses can be very dense. The bump protruded from the back panel by around 3.7mm, according to our measurements.

There is no doubt that we’ve seen other formidable sensor clusters. Last year’s Mi 10 Ultra, for example, had its four modules lined up vertically, almost touching the device’s midpoint on the back. It’s a good thing we had that one in Transparent Edition, so the camera didn’t get all the publicity.

Meanwhile, Samsung has gone beyond and beyond this year to incorporate the cameras into the build, rendering the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s four units almost invisible, especially in the Phantom Black colorway shown here.

Moving on from the camera setup, it’s worth noting that the Mi 11 Ultra’s back panel is ceramic. That is true for both our (beautiful) white analysis unit and the black alternative. And, regardless of  style, this Mi is IP68 scored, which few Mis are.

It’s shiny and attracts stains, but it’s not as bad as glass-backed phones and, due to the white paintjob, it doesn’t draw attention to the smudges. We believe the black one will make them more visible.

The extra detail below the Xiaomi logo in the bottom half is maybe the only eyesore on the Mi 11 Ultra in this colorway – we’ve always been big fans of the dumpster in particular.

On the outside, the Mi 11 Ultra is almost similar to the standard Mi 11. This includes the angled Gorilla Glass Victus slab that covers the 6.81-inch AMOLED display.

Display

The Mi 11 Ultra has a 6.81-inch AMOLED display, which is likely to be the best smartphone display on the market, period. It checks almost every box – high resolution, high refresh rate, intense peak brightness, HDR quality, color fidelity – and it’s nearly difficult to find anything to worry about.

The Mi 11 Ultra’s screen has a 1440x3200px resolution in a 20:9 aspect ratio, with a pixel density of 515ppi. Key competitors at this stage, such as the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Oppo Find X3 Pro, all have 1440p displays.

The Mi 11 Ultra’s screen has a 1440x3200px resolution in a 20:9 aspect ratio, with a pixel density of 515ppi. Key competitors at this stage, such as the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Find X3 Pro, all have 1440p displays that are comparable.

The Mi 11 Ultra’s refresh rate can be set to either High or Standard. The norm is 60Hz mode, in which the phone does not try to adapt to content or operation and instead remains fixed at 60Hz.

According to the press materials, the Mi 11 Ultra is capable of dynamically flipping between 30, 60, 90, and 120Hz, based on what’s shown and how you communicate with the phone.  The phone also features a 480Hz touch sampling rate for blazing-fast registering of touch input.

We couldn’t see a 30Hz reading with the instruments we had – Android 11’s native refresh rate counter and an in-house app we’ve had since HRR became a thing. We’ve been trying to figure out what’s up with the auto-refresh rate switching, but we wouldn’t call our attempts fruitful. Anyway, we did get 90Hz in two very unique situations: the mission switcher and PiP-style video playback in a browser.

Aside from that, in High mode, you’d get 120Hz through the UI and all device apps as long as you touched the display. Otherwise, it reverts to 60Hz as the image becomes static to save battery life.  That’s not a switch you can see with your eyes, but you can observe it if you’ve enabled the Android 11’s FPS counter.

Video-playing applications, such as Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and the in-house Mi Video player, would almost definitely switch to 60Hz as soon as you launch them. A more complex solution we’ve seen on other devices is to retain the HRR for the app’s UI and just turn down to 60Hz while watching the individual video in Fullscreen mode, although this isn’t the case on the Mi.

Different applications and sports, on the other hand, appear to differ greatly from phone to phone. On the Mi 11 Ultra, social apps usually follow the 120-60Hz behavior, which means they’ll stay at 120Hz while you’re swiping around and drop to 60Hz when you’re idling. We tried Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest; all of them did the same thing.

There were games all over the place. For a variety of games known to endorse high frame rates, the Android tool would record 120Hz for the monitor while the MIUI Game Turbo tool would remain stuck at 60fps – meaning that the Game Turbo tool was not reporting accurately, which we checked by running GFXBench. Other games that we’ve seen run at 120Hz on other phones will be held at 60Hz on the Mi Ultra.

The monitor on the Mi 11 Ultra supports HDR10+ as well as Dolby Vision, which the Mi 11 does not. HDR content is available on the Mi 11 Ultra through streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. The phone has native support for 10bit color, which means it can display 1.07 billion colors vs 16 million on most other models, resulting in the smoothest tonal gradients possible with no banding and such.

Xiaomi claims that the Mi 11 Ultra’s visibility is exceptional, with a peak value of 1700nits in HDR material compared to the Mi 11’s mere 1500nits. In general, the high brightness mode (or when the phone is in direct sunlight) should be able to reach 900nits.

The second number was verified by our testing, which yielded 943nits. The screen of the Mi 11 Ultra was fine for up to 514nits in normal atmospheric conditions and with auto boost turned off.

Irrespective of 1700 nits display its still hard to see the difference hence a draw Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G vs Xiaomi MI 11 Ultra.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra battery life

The Mi 11 Ultra has a 5,000mAh battery inside, which is an improvement over the 4,500mAh size of last year’s edition. In this regard, the Mi 11 Ultra is comparable to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, with each having larger cells than the Find X3 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro, both of which have 4,500mAh.

On the Mi 11 Ultra, we got almost 11 hours of Wi-Fi web access, which is about the same as on the Mi 11. We received the same voice call longevity of 28 hours. Offline video replay on the Mi 11 Ultra lasted 15 hours, an hour longer than on the Mi 11. Finally, the Mi 11 Ultra’s longevity was 95 hours – not as good as the Galaxy, but higher than the Find X3 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro.

Note: The web test was carried in 120Hz refresh rate, while video playback – at 60Hz as most video apps, including the Mi Video player, always default to 60Hz no matter what.

Courtesy GsmArena

Charging speed

The packaged 67W charger could be less powerful than the Mi 10 Ultra’s 120W unit in terms of overall peak capacity, but how much wattage is too much wattage? In our checking, the Mi 11 Ultra took 37 minutes to charge from flat to max, with the battery indicator showing 89 percent at the half-hour mark, which we consider to be anything but sluggish.

The OnePlus 9 Pro and Find X3 Pro are also marginally faster in both tests, as is the Mi 10 Ultra. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra falls far short of the Mi’s results.

User Interface and Performance

MIUI 12 AND ANDROID 11

The Mi 11 Ultra runs Android 11 with MIUI 12 on top – a slew of upgrades came after we received the handset, taking the version we tested to 12.0.6.0. The MIUI 12 launcher has been around for a while, and while it does use a newer Android 11 platform, you can’t say because it skins everything thoroughly.

The Mi 11 Ultra supports an Always-on view, which can be completely always on, scheduled to appear on a calendar, or only appear for 10 seconds after you summon it. There are a plethora of AOD themes online, all of which can be more customized to make it your own.

Themes are an essential feature of MIUI, and they are still available in MIUI 12. You can get new ones from the Themes shop, and they can change your wallpapers, ringtones, device icons, and even the look of your always-on show.

Xiaomi improved MIUI 12 with a couple of new privacy options. When uploading items such as images and videos, you can now choose to delete location information and/or other metadata (including device information) to help protect your privacy. It would ask you the first time you want to share something, but the option is available in the menu if you change your mind later.

MIUI also has a Security app. It can search your phone for ransomware, monitor your blacklist, control, or limit your data use, customize battery activity, and free up some RAM. It also helps you to control the permissions of your installed applications, specify the battery behavior of selected apps, and apply limitations only to the apps you choose.

There is a proprietary Gallery, Audio, and Video player included, and the music and video apps which have paying subscription options in certain regions. Mi Remote for the IR blaster is also available.

The Notes app now has even more Job checklists and subtask options.

Performance and Benchmark

The Mi 11 Ultra features the Snapdragon 888 chipset, the go-to silicon for a flagship in 2021. Manufactured on a 5nm process, Qualcomm’s latest high-end effort has an octa-core CPU in a 1+3+4 configuration (25 percent performance increase over last year’s), a powerful GPU (35 percent YoY bump), latest-gen AI engine and a built-in 5G-capable modem (yay).

Storage options on the Mi 11 Ultra are 256GB or 512GB (UFS 3.1) with the ‘base’ version being available with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, while the 512GB variant is 12GB only. We have the 12GB/256GB version for review.

Test are courtesy of GsmArena

Camera

The triple camera is impressively equipped, but the display is underutilized.

The primary camera marks the debut of Samsung’s latest high-end sensor, GN2. Thanks to this substantial 1/1.12″ imager, the Mi 11 Ultra dethrones the Nokia 808 PureView for biggest sensor on a smartphone (finally), though depending on where you stand, that title may still be held by the Panasonic Lumix LC1

A Tetra pixel color filter array on top (or Quad Bayer in Sony speak) means you get 4-in-1 binning, big 2.8m resultant pixels, and 12.5MP images by contrast. The sensor has bi-directional Dual Pixel autofocus, which can track variations in patterns both horizontally and vertically, something we first saw on the Find X2 Pro. (omni-directional AF Oppo called it, and in this context omni- is indeed bi-).

The lens in front of the GN2 has 8 components and a focal length equal to 24mm. The aperture is f/1.95, which can seem a little too dim when compared to the f/1.8 lenses on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Oppo Find X3 Pro, and OnePlus 9 Pro, but 1) having a faster lens on this massive sensor would certainly have moved physical measurements into what is now a doubtful condition, and 2) depth of field with a sharper lens on a sensor of these sizes would be impractically small. Over all, Xiaomi did manage to squeeze in optical stabilization, which is cool.

To some extent xiaomi isn consistent with its colours at times it’s the best at times its beaten by S21 Ultra 5G

Conclusion

The MI 11 Ultra has a lot of competition.

The Mi 11 Ultra isn’t priced to sell, with a forecast list price of €1,200 for a 12GB/256GB variant in Europe, but it’s still not completely unfair. A Galaxy S21 Ultra can be purchased for as little as €1000, though matching the Mi’s storage will cost an additional €100. The OnePlus 9 Pro costs slightly more than €1000 for the 12GB/256GB model, whilst the Oppo Find X3 Pro costs about €1150.

At INR70,000, the Mi 11 Ultra looks a lot better in India, particularly when compared to the Galaxy, which is a whopping 50% more expensive. The OnePlus 9 Pro is similarly priced – INR70K for 12GB/256GB – as is the vivo X60 Pro+, another camera-focused offering.

The Mi takes better pictures and video than the Galaxy in almost all situations in this war of the Ultras. The Galaxy has the stronger selfie camera, but the Mi’s rear monitor makes it a moot question. The S21 Ultra’s monitor is slightly more adaptive and slightly lighter than the Mi 11 Ultra’s, although this is not a deciding factor. Perhaps more importantly, the Galaxy easily outperforms the Mi in terms of durability. Still, all of that sounds like a straightforward win for the Xiaomi in India; in Europe, it’ll take a little more thought, but we’re still leaning towards the Xiaomi.

Realistically, none of the others will deal with the Mi 11 Ultra’s camera prowess, but the OnePlus 9 Pro might make a case for itself if you’re looking to save €200 or more. It’s roughly on par with the Mi in all ways except the camera, and because its configuration isn’t half bad in its own right, it’s essentially a matter of whether you want to pay more for the Mi’s photographic chops or not. Now, if they’re priced the same (as they are in India), we believe the Mi would comfortably win.

The Oppo Find X3 Pro has a microscope camera to help guide you in the right way, and it’s an impressive contrast to the Mi in terms of distant and close-up photography. The Find is still divisive in terms of design, but you might find its fluid camera bump more appealing than the Mi’s… less sleek approach. As a result, this one settles on architecture and camera preferences.

In India, the vivo X60 Pro+ is an intriguing alternative to the Mi 11 Ultra. This one, too, has a sizable camera hump on the rear, and although it isn’t quite as capable as the Mi, it rarely disappoints. The leatherette back contrasts well with the cooler ceramic Mi, and the X60 Pro+ is the most ‘compact’ of the bunch. However, the vivo lacks stereo speakers and an IP grade, which are common on all of the other devices on this list.

Gallery with title and button

Verdict

From our title it is did Xiaomi kill Samsung?

If the shapely camera assembly on the back wasn’t enough of a giveaway, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is the ultimate camera phone. It takes images and video as well as or better than any rival and will only improve if Xiaomi unlocks the full capacity of the rear display.

It’s not just the camera, however. Perhaps the phone’s sheer size is the deciding factor, because the rest is hard to blame – a fantastic monitor, some of the best speakers, decent battery life and quick charging, and a posh ceramic construction ensure there is no room for compromise. Depending on where you live, the Mi 11 Ultra is either a true bargain or a good value for money at sale.  We’d recommend it either way.

From the test it prove xiaomi is winning and its not just winning its in need of that market gap.

Pros

  • Attractive curved-screen design, premium build with a ceramic back, and IP68 rating.
  • The 6.81″ OLED is thoroughly impressive – 1440p 120Hz, bright and color accurate.
  • The rear display has great potential.
  • Battery endurance is good for the class, blazing-fast charging.
  • Great stereo speakers.
  • MIUI 12 is one refined UI.
  • Industry-leading photo and video quality across the board.

Cons

  • It’s one of the heaviest handsets on the market, the camera bump isn’t exactly handsome.
  • Under-utilized rear display – seemingly arbitrary restrictions limit its usefulness.
  • Has a tendency to overheat under stress testing (not so much in real-world use).

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