Mi 11 Lite Review: Lite but Loaded
The Mi 11 Lite is not your typical mid-range Android smartphone. It focuses on the design and in-hand feel, an aspect that’s largely ignored by most other smartphones.
- Brand: Xiaomi
- Storage: 128GB
- CPU: Snapdragon 732G
- Memory: 8GB
- Operating System: MIUI 12 (based on Android 11)
- Battery: 4250mAh, 33W fast charging
- Ports: USB-C
- Camera (Rear, Front): Triple camera: 64MP f/1.79, 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 5MP f/2.4 telemacro
- Display (Size, Resolution): 6.55-inch FHD+ 90Hz 10-bit AMOLED
- Compact and lightweight
- Sleek and slim design
- Excellent display
- Laggy MIUI 12
- Below-par camera performance
Xiaomi smartphones are known for offering excellent value for money and packing impressive specs over everything else. With the Mi 11 Lite, though, the company is taking a different approach as it wants to sell a phone that caters to an audience that values the design and in-hand feel over specs and performance.
Xiaomi has also cleaned up its software offering to deliver a good user experience. So, is the Mi 11 Lite a successful attempt at a lifestyle phone from Xiaomi, or does it make too many compromises to reach that point? Let’s find out in our review.
Mi 11 Lite Design and Display
Xiaomi markets the Mi 11 Lite as a lifestyle phone. This means the phone’s design is its key highlight rather than its specs, performance, or camera.
Covered with Gorilla Glass on both the front and rear, the Mi 11 Lite features a plastic chassis. The phone has a flat design, with the chassis slightly curved to help with in-hand ergonomics. At 0.26 inches (6.81mm), the Mi 11 Lite is as thin as a pencil. What’s impressive is that the camera hump barely protrudes from the phone’s body despite the thin body.
Pick up the Mi 11 Lite, and you will then be impressed with how light it is (5.53oz/157g). The Mi 11 Lite comes as a breath of fresh air in a world where the iPhones and Galaxies weigh around 200gms. This is further complemented by its compact size, thanks largely due to the 6.55-inch display at the front.
Despite the focus on thinness, the Mi 11 Lite features dual speakers and an IP53 rating making it dust and splash-resistant. The fingerprint sensor is integrated into the power button. I had no qualms with its accuracy or unlocking speed.
The 6.55-inch AMOLED display on the Mi 11 Lite won’t get any awards for its brightness levels or color accuracy. However, the 10-bit panel offers more than adequate brightness levels, supports HDR10, and its colors and contrast are also on point. Keeping in mind an average user, the Mi 11 Lite’s display is excellent from every angle.
The display also supports 90Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling, which further helps with overall smoothness.
Dig into the Mi 11 Lite settings, and you will see there’s Always-On Display support. However, this is not true Always-On Display as the display only remains on for 10 seconds after you tap on it. If anything, this is more like an Ambient display rather than Always-On Display.
A few years ago, the Mi 11 Lite’s display would have been regarded as flagship quality. Now, you get the same panel in a premium budget smartphone. If anything, this shows the rapid pace of growth of the smartphone market.
The Mi 11 Lite feels excellent in hand, thanks to its lightweight design. This is an attribute of a phone that you will most likely not give much value to unless you pick up the phone and start using it. The compact size also means that using the phone with one hand was relatively easy.
MI 11 Lite Camera
The Mi 11 Lite features a triple-camera setup at the rear, including a 64MP f/1.79 primary shooter, an 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and a 5MP f/2.4 telemacro camera. A 20MP f/2.45 shooter does the selfie duty at the front.
The hardware is further complemented by a barrage of camera features, including Movie Effects like Time Freeze, Slow Shutter, six Long Exposure modes, and more.
A special mention of the Pro mode, which is as detailed as it can get. You can control almost every aspect of the camera, including the shutter speed, white balance, focus peaking, and more. What’s impressive is that the Pro mode is available for all three camera lenses, and it even works while recording videos.
The Mi 11 Lite’s camera performance is definitely its Achilles’ Heel. The phone can take some great shots as long as there’s enough light around. But once the amount of light diminishes, image quality takes a massive hit. The photos come out with a decent amount of details in ample light, with the colors and contrast being boosted slightly to make things pop a bit.
In low light, the Mi 11 Lite tends to capture photos with a warmer temperature and muddy details. Night mode does help improve the overall brightness of shots taken in low light but does not help much with detail retention.
As for the ultra-wide camera, the less said about it, the better. At 8MP, I feel its resolution is a bit on the lower side, leading to sharpness issues. It can capture somewhat okay photos in daylight but falls completely flat in low-light.
The 5MP telemacro camera might seem like a gimmick, but it is actually useful. You can use it to take close-up macro shots that can look quite stunning. If anything, the camera lets you capture photos with a completely different perspective. If you like photography, you can use the telemacro camera to capture some really amazing photos.
The front camera is strictly okay at best. It can capture good selfies in daylight, but it takes very soft photos in low light or indoor conditions.
Mi 11 Lite Performance and Battery Life
With a Snapdragon 732G chipset, up to 8GB RAM, and a speedy UFS 2.2 storage, the Mi 11 Lite will not win any awards for its performance. The 8nm-based Snapdragon 732G is not a new chipset as well. It is basically an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 730G, which Qualcomm first announced in 2019.
Nonetheless, the Mi 11 Lite offers more than adequate performance for most users. You can happily use WhatsApp, Messenger, surf the web on Chrome, and play an odd game or two of Temple Run 2 or Call of Duty Mobile without any issues.
However, don’t expect the Mi 11 Lite to run games at the highest possible graphical settings or smoothly multitask between a lot of heavy apps. As long as you keep your expectations in check and don’t demand too much from the phone, it will serve you just fine.
There are a few jitters and janks that you will come across while using the Mi 11 Lite. This has more to do with MIUI 12, though. Xiaomi aims to fix these performance issues with the MIUI 12.5 update, which promises to improve the CPU and GPU performance by over 20% and improve general system navigation.
Other Xiaomi phones have seen a noticeable improvement in their general smoothness post the MIUI 12.5 update, so expect the Mi 11 Lite to deliver the same in this regard.
One thing to note about the Mi 11 Lite’s performance is that it does tend to heat up a bit when pushed hard. I was using the camera app continuously outside in direct sunlight, and the phone’s back got hot. This, in turn, led to the CPU throttling turning the camera app into a laggy mess.
In general use cases, the Mi 11 Lite won’t easily overheat, but if you live in an area with a particularly high ambient temperature, this might be a cause of concern for you.
If you want a device with more performance, you can look at the 5G version of the Mi 11 Lite. It ships with a more powerful Snapdragon 780G chipset, with all other specs between the 4G and 5G variants remaining the same.
However, since the Snapdragon 780G is a more powerful chipset than the Snapdragon 732G, I expect the 5G variant of the device to heat up even more since it retains the same thickness and cooling system as its 4G sibling.
One of the downsides of the Mi 11 Lite’s thin body is that it “only” comes with a 4250mAh battery. Most mid-range Android smartphones nowadays come with 5,000mAh+ batteries allowing them to last nearly two days on a single charge.
The Mi 11 Lite is definitely not a phone that can last two days on a single charge. However, it regularly lasted for well over a day during my testing with moderate usage. I am not a heavy gamer, but even with some PUBG or Call of Duty Mobile thrown in, the phone lasted for a day.
For my use case that primarily involved a lot of browsing, emails, and Slack/Telegram, I found the battery life of the Mi 11 Lite more than adequate. The phone regularly lasted over a day of heavy use, with the display set to 90Hz refresh rate.
The Mi 11 Lite supports 33W fast charging, and thankfully the company bundles a fast charger in the box. The 33W charger is good enough to charge the Mi 11 Lite from 0-100% in just over 60 minutes. Not the fastest, but even a 20-minute charge late in the day was enough for the phone to last for a few additional hours.
The Mi 11 Lite misses out on wireless charging, which is understandable given its focus on slimness and pricing.
The Mi 11 Lite runs on MIUI 12 based on Android 11. MIUI 12 offers an experience that’s nowhere close to stock Android. Every part of the UI has been skinned, with Xiaomi leaving its mark everywhere. MIUI is a heavy skin that packs a lot of customization options and features. You can customize almost every aspect of the UI, including the notification shade, the system theme, font, and more.
In its early days, MIUI was known for being an iOS clone. That’s no longer the case, as Xiaomi has done a good job of developing the skin with its own character. However, the iOS influence cannot be denied in some cases, especially when one looks at the new Control Center in MIUI 12 that looks like the iPhone’s Control Center rip-off.
To deliver a better user experience, Xiaomi has switched to Google’s Phone and Messages app as the default clients on the Mi 11 Lite. MIUI was also known for being pre-loaded with a lot of bloatware, system ads, and spam notifications. However, Xiaomi has heavily cut down on bloatware and completely done away with system ads. The result is that the Mi 11 Lite offers a clean MIUI experience than previous Xiaomi phones.
Despite the heavy skin, Xiaomi has optimized MIUI 12 to ensure the system performance is not affected. Yes, there are a few stutters and frame drops, as I mentioned above, but they should also go away once the MIUI 12.5 update is available.
If you are a fan of stock Android, you are not going to like the MIUI experience. However, if you just want a feature-packed Android skin with plenty of customization options, MIUI 12 won’t disappoint you.
Is the Mi 11 Lite for You?
You don’t judge a book by its cover. Similarly, you should not judge the Mi 11 Lite purely based on its specs. This is a phone that you must hold in your hand before you form an opinion about it.
If you just want an Android phone that’s not too expensive but still stands out from a sea of other monolith glass slabs out there, the Mi 11 Lite will be an ideal choice for you. The Mi 11 Lite is ideal for someone who values in-hand feel and experience more than the overall specs.
The 4G variant of the Mi 11 Lite definitely won’t please power users. For them, Xiaomi does offer the Mi 11 Lite 5G, with a more powerful Snapdragon 780G chipset. The additional horsepower does come with a higher price tag as well, though.
Depending on where you live, Xiaomi’s own Redmi Note 10 series will be an excellent alternative for the Mi 11 Lite if you don’t care much about the in-hand feel and the weight of your phone.
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