Design and workmanship
The Mi 11 Ultra has an interesting and new design. The front is already known from the Mi 11. The front camera sits in a “punch hole” on the left side of the display, the sides are slightly rounded. The volume rocker is on the right side of the device, underneath the on / off button. But it gets interesting on the back of the device. The camera “hump” is more of a camera “attachment”. The main camera and ultra-wide-angle camera are arranged horizontally, with a 120x zoom camera underneath. In the same “hump” next to the cameras there is a small second display, which is the identical 1,1 “display from the Mi Band 5.
The processing of the device is high quality in all respects. The back is made of ceramic, the front of the latest Gorilla Glass Victus. The frame is made of aluminum and also feels very high quality. The camera “attachment” has advantages and disadvantages. The device does not wobble when typing on the table. On the other hand, it slips when the display is on the table and is very clunky in everyday life. In summer with shorts it becomes very difficult to stow the device well and it is also heavy with 234g. The opinions on this design were very balanced in my environment. While some found the camera boom simply “ugly”, others were impressed by the size and felt it was a “real camera in a smartphone”.
Despite everything, I’m very impressed with the design and workmanship, Xiaomi has done a really good job here.
Let’s talk about the display, or rather the displays. Because the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has two of them, although only one is really useful. The 6,81 “display on the front is huge and the best I have ever seen in a smartphone. With a maximum resolution of WQHD + (1440 x 3200) and a refresh rate of 120 Hertz, it is really a very good OLED panel, and the device also achieves top values in terms of color fidelity in the DCI-P3 and sRGB + gray values color space.
Anyone who likes to watch films or series on their smartphone will be very satisfied with the display. Only the rounded corners are annoying in everyday life, but they have also partly become trademarks of Xiaomi flagships.
The second display
The second display disappointed me. What had I not imagined, battery indicator when charging with nice animation, a short overview of notifications or fitness values? What remains: the time and date. Xiaomi did not even begin to exhaust the potential. Much more would have been in here. There are currently three modes: date / time, an animation or a saying (which can be individualized). Notifications are also displayed upon receipt.
A nice feature of the second display is that it can be used as a viewfinder for the front camera. Selfie pictures can also be taken with the good sensors on the back. It’s a bit of a hassle, but the results are surprisingly good. I used the music player the most, but also hated it the most. Those who like to listen to a lot of music on the side will love the idea of a rotating record on a small display. Stopping the music for a moment or jumping forwards and backwards is a great thing and it worked well in everyday life if it weren’t for the incorrect entries. The second display is also activated from time to time in your pocket, which leads to unwanted jumps in the playlist. I got the problem solved by turning the device with the display “upwards” in my pocket, but it was still annoying.
When it comes to hardware, Xiaomi only relies on the latest and greatest, with one small exception. Qualcomm’s best SoC, the Snapdragon 888, is used as the processor, with 12 gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigabytes of internal memory. The device is the first Xiaomi smartphone with an official IP certification, the smartphone is IP68 waterproof. The storage is very fast with UFS 3.1, apps install pleasantly quickly. The modem enables WLAN 6e (ax), Bluetooth 5.2 and 5G, the current and future-proof cellular standards.
The speakers are located above and below in the frame of the device and are convincing across the board. Strong and loud sound, especially in the middle. Xiaomi has always set standards in the speaker area for smartphones, now one more time.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: cameras
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has four cameras installed, a 20 megapixel front camera and three cameras on the back. The main camera has a resolution of 50 megapixels and is a wide-angle camera. This works hand in hand with two 48 megapixel sensors for ultra-wide-angle shots and zoom shots. A 5x optical zoom is possible, probably the most frequently used for many in everyday life.
I had hoped a lot from the cameras from the Mi 11 Ultra. Did i get disappointed? No! Was I pleasantly surprised? Also no. I think the camera is good, one of the best in a smartphone so far. But is it the best ever? No.The pictures are really good, the colors (especially in daylight) are very clear and portraits are captured well. The large sensor pays off with bokeh. This is also the case with the Pixel 5, but it has two much more inconspicuous cameras. Zoom shots are where the Mi 11 Ultra really shines. 5x, 10x and even up to 120x zoom is possible. The latter usually doesn’t bring usable images, but it is really impressive to read small details or text. These are functions that I expect for an MSRP of 1199 euros. Night shots are good, but Huawei or Samsung are still superior.
Xiaomi really shines and surprises with its unique functions in the camera and gallery app. Xiaomi’s approach is clever: make complex effects as simple and user-friendly as possible. Regardless of whether people “clone” or supermod: the Xiaomi camera app offers many functions. They are rarely used in everyday life, but when they are needed, they are fun.
Another strength (which was very underrated for me) is the Xiaomi gallery app. Photos can be post-processed there in “Photoshop Style”. With one click, people disappear from pictures or the sky is subsequently exchanged. It works surprisingly easily and is currently out of competition.
Videos can be recorded in 4K at 60 frames per second or 8K and 24 frames per second. These look really nice and well stabilized. So if you like to film a lot in everyday life, you will like the Mi 11 Ultra very much.
Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 runs as software on the device, an update to MIUI 12.5 is available for direct download. This is based on Android 11, an update to Android 12 will follow at the end of summer / year. Unfortunately, Xiaomi does not make an update promise. At a price of 1199 euros, that’s a big point of criticism. There are usually two major updates, but manufacturers such as Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo and Google guarantee three major OS updates. Xiaomi definitely has to follow suit, especially at such a price.
The software itself has gotten a lot better (from my point of view) over the years. The apps and settings look tidy, the software looks smooth thanks to the many animations and there are many setting options. The “super wallpapers” are a real eye-catcher and are well integrated. I’ve already talked about the camera app in the camera section, the rest of the in-house apps also work well.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is one of the best smartphones out there, without question the best Xiaomi device ever. A great display, very good equipment and a very good camera, which can definitely keep up with Samsung and co. But you can tell that it is the first real “ultra flagship” from Xiaomi.