Xiaomi has confused even us with the sheer number of mid-priced smartphones it’s released over the past 12 to 18 months. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the Xiaomi Poco F3 all lurk around the $400 / £300 price point.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G might represent a small jump up in price, but it could be the classiest mid-ranger of the lot. Well, it was for six months, until the Mi 11 Lite 5G NE came out. This device has a better chipset, comes in a new color, and has a few more camera modes – and that’s it.
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As an affordable alternative to the flagship Xiaomi Mi 11 (and the luxury yacht that is the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra), the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite is meant to reflect the line’s bold 2021 design refresh, as well as gesture at some of its technical advancements, but for a far more pocket-friendly price tag.
It manages to do just that with a sleek design that’s as skinny as it is light. It might have a plastic frame, but the Mi 11 Lite 5G’s glass back looks and feels reassuringly expensive.
We’re also impressed at how fast the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G proves to be. By using a new Snapdragon 780G chip, the phone approaches 2020 flagship levels of speed. Mobile gamers on a budget will want to take note.
While a 90Hz display might seem like yesterday’s specs, closer inspection reveals the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G to have a splendidly vibrant AMOLED panel. It comfortably outdoes entry-level 120Hz displays.
The Mi 11 Lite 5G’s camera system doesn’t perform any Pixel-like miracles, but it is led by a capable 64MP main sensor. Xiaomi’s smart image processing ensures bright, balanced shots in good lighting, and passable night shots. It’s a shame the 8MP ultra-wide is so mediocre, though.
Elsewhere, the Mi 11 Lite 5G’s stamina is solid rather than spectacular, while MIUI continues to impress with its customization options and frustrate with its bloat.
Overall, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G is a significant step forward from the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite and Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite in three key areas: performance, design, and display. This automatically makes it one of the best phones available at the price.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G price and release date
- Announced March 29, 2021, released April 16
- Only out in the UK – unlikely to come to US or Australia
- Pricing £399 (roughly $550 / AU$755)
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G was announced on March 29, 2021, and it landed in UK shops in April after a fair degree of delay and uncertainty.
It costs £399 (around $550 / AU$755) for the sole model, which gives you 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
This places the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G into direct competition with the OnePlus Nord range, as well as the Pixel 5a / Pixel 4a, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, and even Xiaomi’s own Poco F3. It’s a competitive field alright.
- Shiny plastic rim and bold, visually appealing glass rear
- Extremely thin and light at 6.8mm/159g
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G’s design is a considerable improvement over the generic Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite, while it wisely keeps a couple of the bolder elements of the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite.
Xiaomi has smartly done away with the dated teardrop selfie camera of the Mi 10 Lite, and has shifted its punch-hole alternative over to the left hand corner, like the full-fat Xiaomi Mi 11. The surrounding bezels are fairly minimal, albeit slightly thicker around the chin, which is a telltale sign of a more affordable phone.
Another indicator of the phone’s lower price tag is the thick black plastic buffer between the flat screen glass and the shiny plastic rim. The latter seems like less of a compromise than ever, given that even so-called flagship phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the OnePlus 9 are rediscovering the cost-cutting joys of plastic.
It’s when you flip the phone onto its front that the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G really makes its statement though. The satin-finish glass rear, bold colors (our Mint Green model looks suitably fresh), subtle yet reflective logo, and distinctive camera module look and feel like they belong to a much more expensive phone.
This is a seriously easy phone to live with too. At just 6.8mm thick and weighing a scant 159g, it’s blissfully unassuming when sat in a trouser pocket. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not a truly small phone like the iPhone 12 mini. You’re still getting a large 6.55-inch display, and the full-sized footprint that entails. But it feels like sweet relief after the heft of the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite.
Like that latter phone you’ll have to accept a fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button on the right hand edge. It’s a less overtly premium option than the in-display solutions usually favored for flagship and mid-range phones, but to this writer’s mind it’s preferable to the rear-mounted budget alternative. You can access the phone without picking it up, for one thing.
Xiaomi’s implementation is suitably fast and reliable, even if we prefer the recessed button of the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite and Sony’s Xperia range.
- 6.55-inch 1080 x 2400 AMOLED screen
- 90Hz refresh rate
- 800 nits peak brightness, 500 nits typical
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G packs a 6.55-inch display with a 1080 x 2400 resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate.
That’s smaller and technically less fluid than the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite before it (which was 6.67-inches and 120Hz), not to mention the much cheaper Poco X3 NFC. But the Mi 11 Lite has the added benefit of being an AMOLED panel. And not just any AMOLED, but one with 10-bit color depth support, which is capable of outputting 1.07 billion colors (64 times more than its predecessor).
You also get the usual AMOLED benefit of being able to output true blacks, which really comes into its own with the always-on display and subtle edge notification lighting animations.
On balance, we’d take this more comprehensive combination over the seemingly faster LCD alternative. 90Hz is still plenty smooth enough, and you won’t even notice the shortfall unless you have a 120Hz phone to hand for a direct comparison. In fact, side by side, we found the Mi 11 Lite’s display to feel more responsive than the 10T Lite’s, at least in part thanks to its 240Hz touch sampling rate.
A peak brightness of 800 nits tells you that this isn’t a top level OLED (you can almost double that with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra), but a typical brightness of 500 nits makes for comfortable viewing. It’s ready for HDR10+ content too.
This is a dead flat display, which again hints towards a lower price tag, but it does benefit from Corning Gorilla Glass 6 for extra toughness. Some considerably more expensive phones, like the Oppo Find X3 Neo, are still using Gorilla Glass 5.
- 64MP main sensor takes good shots in daylight
- 8MP ultra-wide is pretty bad
- 2x zoom shots crop in, but look quite good
- Night mode a mixed bag compared to predecessor
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G has a triple camera setup on the back, which is one fewer than both the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite and the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite before it.
Not that we’re complaining – in both cases, two of those were nigh-on useless depth and macro sensors. Here you just have the single 5MP macro sensor to ignore.
Your main attention will be on the 1/1.97-inch 64MP wide sensor, which features an f/1.79 aperture and a 6-element lens system. By default, this captures 16MP shots through using a 4-in-1 pixel binning technique.
These shots can look great in good lighting. On a couple of sunny spring days, we were able to capture some genuinely striking shots of flowers bursting with vibrant color, with that wide aperture yielding buckets of natural bokeh.
Xiaomi’s AI assistant generally does well at picking out the appropriate scene profile, and the color balance – while on the punchier side of natural – rarely rings false. The company’s image processing game is strong.
The 8MP 1/4-inch ultra-wide sensor really isn’t up to anything like the same standard, whether you’re talking about detail levels or color balance. Shots taken with this secondary sensor tend to look murky and distinctly lacking in detail, with bags of mushy noise towards the edges.
Any zoom you apply will be entirely cropped from that main sensor, with no dedicated telephoto lens to speak of. 2x shots actually look pretty good here, however, thanks to the abundance of pixels at its disposal.
There’s a portrait mode, but it’s not the most convincing example we’ve ever used. The defocused background effect looks ever so slightly weird, almost like a painting, and our subjects failed to pop like they do on more expensive phones.
Xiaomi’s 20MP selfie camera isn’t too bad, however, with a fair amount of detail in good lighting.
Night mode is a bit of a mixed bag here. We’re not expecting great results from an affordable phone, but when we took a handful of identical low light shots on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G and the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite, we often preferred the cooler results of the latter. The Mi 11 Lite’s shots looked sickly yellow by comparison.
However, the darkest – and thus most challenging – shot of the bunch was much brighter and better exposed on the Mi 11 Lite. Make of that what you will.
The phone’s video offering is pretty strong for an affordable phone, with 4K at 30fps or 1080p at up to 120fps. The 4K footage we took looked nice and stable, with electronic image stabilization (EIS) readily applied, unlike on the Mi 10T Lite.