Xiaomi 11i review: Making one compromise too many

Xiaomi 11i review
(Image: © Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: The Xiaomi 11i has 120W fast charging, and it charges the 4500mAh battery fully in under 20 minutes. The internal hardware is also decent for gaming and daily use, and there's a 120Hz AMOLED screen, IP53 water resistance, and a 3.5mm jack. But the phone doesn't hold up to its rivals when it comes to low-light imagery, it runs Android 11 out of the box, and it won't get as many software updates.

Pros

  • +

    Vibrant 120Hz AMOLED panel

  • +

    Good hardware for the price

  • +

    Charges faster than any other phone in India

  • +

    Decent cameras for daylight use

  • +

    IP53 water resistance and 3.5mm jack

Cons

  • -

    Doesn't actually charge at 120W

  • -

    Cameras struggle in low-light situations

  • -

    Still on Android 11

  • -

    Lackluster software updates

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Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 10i in India back in January 2021, and the phone went to on to sell moderately well in the country. So the manufacturer did what it is known for and launched a lot of devices in the mid-range category. Between the Mi 11 Lite, 11 Lite NE 5G, Mi 11X, 11X Pro, and the POCO F3 GT, Xiaomi has more than enough options available.

To kick things off in 2022, Xiaomi is introducing the Xiaomi 11i, and it is positioning 120W fast charging as the differentiator. Now, this isn't the first Xiaomi phone to offer 120W wired charging — that honor belongs to the Xiaomi 11T Pro. But the 11i aims to bring the feature to a more mainstream audience, much like the Mi 10i did with its 108MP camera last year.

Xiaomi says the 11i takes just 15 minutes to fully charge its 4500mAh battery, and I'll be putting that to the test here. As you'd imagine from a Xiaomi phone, you get decent internal hardware, and the 11i is being positioned as a good value. With plenty of great options to pick from in this segment, should you buy the Xiaomi 11i for its 120W charging? Let's find out.

About this review

I used the Xiaomi 11i for four days before writing this review. The phone came with MIUI 12.5.1 out of the box and did not receive any software updates in that time. Xiaomi India furnished the unit to Android Central for review.

Xiaomi 11i: Price and availability

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Xiaomi unveiled the 11i series in India on January 6, with the phones going up for sale from January 12. The phone is sold in two models: the base version has 67W fast charging and a 5160mAh battery, and the Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge features 120W fast charging and a 4500mAh dual-cell battery. So you can get a larger battery or faster charging, but not both in the same phone.

The Xiaomi 11i is available in two variants: the 6GB/128GB model debuts at ₹26,999 ($365) while the 8GB/128GB version is at ₹28,999 ($390). This is for the 120W version of the device; if you're opting for the 67W model, you get to shave off ₹2,000 ($27) on either model. I'm testing the 120W model, but if I had to buy one for my own use, I'd go with the 67W variant — other than the charging tech and battery size, there's no difference between the two.

Like all Xiaomi phones, the 11i is sold via a flash sale model, with the first set of units selling out in under five minutes. So if you miss the sale, you will have to wait until the next one and cross your fingers that you can get your hands on the phone then. Or you can always pick up one of the alternatives I've highlighted at the end of the review — there's no shortage of value-focused phones in this category.

Xiaomi 11i: Design and display

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

If there's one constant about the design of Xiaomi's mid-range series, it's that it constantly changes. There's no overall design aesthetic that ties different generations together, with Xiaomi switching between various textures, finishes, and designs each year.

The 11i doesn't share any resemblance to earlier Xiaomi phones, but it is just as bulky and unwieldy.

The result is that the Xiaomi 11i has a rectangular chassis that doesn't conform to any design language that we've seen in the past. That said, I like the design, if only because there's some character to it — unlike the Xiaomi 11T. The phone has a glass front and back, and while you get Gorilla Glass 5 at the front, there's no such protection at the back; you will have to use a case if you're interested in picking up this phone.

The mid-frame itself is made out of polycarbonate, and it has a matte texture that feels good. The back looks intriguing thanks to the frosted glass finish, but you won't be able to show that off because it'll be under a case. Xiaomi sells the phone in four color options, but availability varies based on the color you choose.

Dominating the design at the back is the large camera housing that sees the main 108MP module sit within its own island, and it's joined by two auxiliary modules and LED flash that are housed in a grid underneath. The camera housing juts out considerably from the chassis of the device, and it leads to noticeable wobble when using the phone on a flat surface.

The phone has the power button and volume rocker on the right, and the fingerprint sensor is baked into the power button. You'll find the SIM card slot at the bottom next to the charging port, and it holds two SIM cards with an option to use a MicroSD card in the secondary SIM slot. Elsewhere, the Xiaomi 11i retains the IR blaster that Xiaomi has been adding on its devices for nearly a decade now.

As for usability, the 11i is considerably heavy at 204g, and it is fairly bulky as well, measuring 163.7 x 76.2 x 8.3mm. I'm using the phone alongside the Galaxy S21 FE, and while it also has the same 4500mAh battery, it is considerably lighter at 177g. I don't understand why the Xiaomi 11i gets all the extra heft, but if there's one brand that does needlessly bulky phones, it is Xiaomi. The result of that weight and bulk is that the 11i isn't the easiest phone to use in this category.

Xiaomi offers IP53 dust and water resistance as standard on its mid-range devices now, and you'll find the same on the Xiaomi 11i as well. While it isn't the same as the IP68 rating that you get on the Galaxy A52, it is a good move from Xiaomi to offer some protection against dust and water ingress.

There are more elegant designs in this category, and what the Xiaomi 11i lacks in style it makes up for in terms of features.

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

There's little to talk about the screen on the Xiaomi 11i. You get a 6.67-inch AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh rate, and it ticks all the right boxes: color vibrancy is great, there are no issues with brightness, and it has 360Hz touch polling. The cutout for the front camera is smaller than last year as well.

The 120Hz AMOLED and stereo sound make the Xiaomi11i a decent option for gaming.

The panel has HDR10, and it comes into its own when streaming videos or playing games. The Xiaomi 11i has stereo sound with identical channels located at both ends, and that makes a big difference. The phone brings back the 3.5mm jack, and while I'm glad that Xiaomi added the jack here, there doesn't seem to be any sort of consistency around what devices or segments where you'll find it. The Mi 11X and Mi 11 Lite/Lite NE omitted the jack, and although the 11i is sold in the same category, it gets the port.

You'll find a Gorilla Glass 5 layer for the screen, and there's plenty of customizability for the panel itself. You can adjust the color balance, set up always-on mode, and schedule dark mode with ease on the device. All things considered, I don't have any issues with the screen on the Xiaomi 11i.

Xiaomi 11i: Performance

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

More and more devices in this category are starting to use MediaTek-powered designs, and Xiaomi is getting on that bandwagon with the 11i. The phone features the Dimensity 920 platform with two Cortex A78 cores that do the heavy lifting and six Cortex A55 for energy-efficient tasks.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SpecsXiaomi 11i
SoftwareMIUI 12.5 based on Android 11
Display6.67-inch (2400x1080) 120Hz AMOLED
Chipset2.50GHz MediaTek Dimensity 920
RAM6GB/8GB
Storage128GB
Rear Camera 1108MP ƒ/1.9 (primary)
Rear Camera 28MP ƒ/2.2 (wide-angle)
Rear Camera 32MP ƒ/2.4 (macro)
Front Camera16MP ƒ/2.5
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, BT5.2
Battery4500mAh | 120W
SecuritySide-mounted fingerprint
ColorsGreen, Black, Blue
Dimensions163.7 x 76.2 x 8.3mm
Weight204g

The Mali-G68 isn't quite as powerful as the G77 that's featured in the Dimensity 1200, but it is decent enough for gaming. As for general use, I didn't see any slowdowns in the four days I used the device, and while I didn't game a lot, the few titles I tried out were lag-free.

Like other mid-range phones, the Xiaomi 11i has a decent selection of 5G bands: 1, 3, 5, 8, 28, 40, 77, and 78. You get dual 5G connectivity as well, but with 5G not set to kick off in India for another year or so, this is a feature you'll only need to care about in the future.

As for other connectivity, you get a Wi-Fi 6 modem, Bluetooth 5.2, and a vibration motor that delivers good feedback. What I find irritating about Xiaomi's phones in India is that most of the budget and mid-range options lack NFC, and that's the case here as well. I don't see why the brand refuses to add the feature; while NFC isn't used as widely in the country for payments, it is increasingly seeing utility for connecting to wireless earbuds with fast pair, and you miss out on that with the 11i.

In terms of memory, the Xiaomi 11i offers 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for the base model, and there's an 8GB model that also has 128GB of storage. There's no 256GB variant, and I feel like that's an omission considering other mid-range phones are configurable with additional storage and memory.

The side-mounted fingerprint reader works unerringly well and is fast to authenticate, and you get the ability to set up gesture actions for the sensor; just double-press the sensor to pull down the notification shade.

Xiaomi 11i: Battery life and charging

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Because Xiaomi is using 120W as the key marketing metric for the Xiaomi 11i, I decided to focus on this area a little bit more. Xiaomi offers a charger in the box that goes up to 120W, so you don't have to buy any other accessories to hit the full charging potential of the device.

One thing to note at this point is that the Xiaomi 11i doesn't actually charge at 120W. Although the charger itself is able to hit 120W (20V/6A), it does not deliver that to the device. Xiaomi clarified this during the briefing, and in my testing, I found that the maximum wattage that the charger was able to deliver was 95W.

Xiaomi doesn't even let you charge at 120W out of the box — you have to manually enable the feature.

In fact, 120W fast charging is disabled out of the box. The phone defaults to a 102W power profile that's introduced with the charger (17V/6A), and it relies on that in day-to-day use. To unlock the full charging speeds, you will have to go into the phone's settings, go to the battery section, and enable Boost charging mode.

It's interesting that Xiaomi added a 102W profile to the charger, because that's missing on the charger for the 11T Pro, which by default goes to 120W at 20V/6A. Xiaomi says it made the decision to limit the charging potential on the 11i to maintain thermal efficiency and not overheat the device. Basically, it tried to make sure the device doesn't go over 40 degrees Celsius when you're charging it — because you'll be able to feel that heat — and so it limited the charging mode out of the box.

This is a decidedly underhanded way of doing things, particularly when you consider that there's no way to enable the 120W mode when setting up the 11i. And while Xiaomi says it is making it clear on social media that the phone has a boost charging mode, regular customers walking into a retail store to pick up the phone will be unaware of the limitation. Basically, Xiaomi is using 120W charging in its marketing materials because the charger goes up to that wattage.

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

As for the battery itself, the Xiaomi 11i has a 4500mAh battery with a dual-cell design to maximize charging efficiency. The brand quotes a 15-minute time for charging the 4500mAh battery, but when I tried it out, it took just over 18 minutes to fully charge the device. I didn't see the charger go beyond 95W, and after it hit 30% it went down to 70W and maintained that wattage up to 75%.

You can get close to the 15-minute advertised figure, but there are a few caveats.

Although I didn't get close to Xiaomi's 15-minute figure, the 11i is able to charge in under 20 minutes. The inherent way that charging works is that you don't get the entire wattage; even on devices with 65W charging, the full charge isn't delivered at any time, instead hovering at the 55W figure.

With 120W charging tech, there's a more noticeable decrease in efficiency. Of course, there are other factors that will determine how effectively the 11i is able to handle the charge. My room was at 24 degrees Celsius when running the charging test, and to Xiaomi's credit I didn't see the phone go over 38.5 degrees Celsius. I had the screen off when testing the charge, and it will take longer if you're using the device while charging; it essentially falls back to a lower wattage to ensure it doesn't heat up too much.

Xiaomi says it has 34 safeguards to manage thermals and prevent overheating, and as for battery longevity, the brand notes that the phone will retain 80% of its charge level after 800 charges with boost mode enabled.

At the end of the day, Xiaomi's 120W solution is faster than other charging standards, so if you care about whether your phone takes under 20 minutes to fully charge, the 11i is a decent option. That said, the fact that Xiaomi intentionally limits the charging speeds on the phone without notifying users is inexcusable.

The standard Xiaomi 11i has 67W fast charging will fully charge the battery in just over 30 minutes, so you're looking at a difference of 10 minutes between the two variants.

Xiaomi 11i: Cameras

Xiaomi 11i review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Xiaomi has used the 108MP camera module on most of its phones last year, and the Xiaomi 11i gets the Samsung HM2 sensor with 2.1um pixel size and 9-to-1 pixel binning that delivers 12MP photos. There is the option to take full-res 108MP shots if you want to do so, and you get a decent number of shooting modes.

The 108MP camera is flanked by an 8MP wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view, and a 2MP macro lens that's only there to fill out the camera housing. The camera interface itself is unchanged from last year, so if you've used a Xiaomi phone recently, you will be very familiar with the layout of the buttons and toggles.

There's no OIS here, and that adversely affects the camera in low-light situations. Like most devices in this category, you don't get 4K video at 60fps either, and video recording itself isn't as detailed as its immediate rivals.