Mi 11 Lite quick review: A rare lean machine from Xiaomiwith awkward market positioning

Mi 11 Lite competes with the iQOO Z3, OnePlus Nord CE 5G, Poco X3 Pro and also, Xiaomi's own Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Here are some first impressions.

The Mi 11 Lite is comfortable to hold and use. The Mi 11 Lite is comfortable to hold and use.
Story highlights
  • Mi 11 Lite has an excellent AMOLED panel.
  • The smartphone uses an old Snapdragon 732G SoC.
  • The camera quality looks promising as well.

Xiaomi's not so secret recipe for success has been to provide reasonably good hardware at an extremely competitive price. It is with the Mi 11 Lite that it has stepped out of its comfort zone and has launched a device that focuses more on the looks. Mi 11 Lite ditches the 5G chipset, has a modest battery pack and still uses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner. Instead, you get a compact form factor, glass back panel and a trendy design largely properties you otherwise associate with Vivo smartphones. By now, you might already know that it is the slimmest and lightest smartphone of 2021 as well.

It is the fourth smartphone in this premium series and sits under the Mi 11X, Mi 11X Pro and Mi 11 Ultra. The smartphone is priced at Rs 21,999 for the base variant. This puts the Mi 11 Lite in direct competition with the iQOO Z3, OnePlus Nord CE 5G, Poco X3 Pro and also, Xiaomi's own Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. I have been using the Mi 11 Lite for about 48 hours now and have mixed feelings about it. Here are some first impressions.

Mi 11 Lite quick review: Design

I don't remember the last time I held a smartphone which was this sleek and lightweight. The Mi 11 Lite is just 6.8mm thick and weighs around 157grams. The Vivo X60 Pro, which was probably one of the slimmest smartphones of this year, was 7.67mm thick. The 0.87mm difference in thickness might not have a huge impact on your daily usage but it is that weight which can be a real game changer here.

The Mi 11 Lite is comfortable to hold and use. It comes in three colour variants - Jazz Blue, Tuscany Coral, and Vinyl Black. I had the Tuscany Coral colour variant for review, and it looks stunning. In fact, all three colour variants look good in pictures. The only other Android smartphones that probably come also are Vivo's X and V series devices. The rear panel doesn't catch too many fingerprint smudges and Xiaomi has used a side mounted fingerprint scanner on this phone.

Mi 11 Lite quick review: Display

Xiaomi has tried to compensate for other things with a excellent display on the Mi 11 Lite. The smartphone features a 6.55-inch full-HD+ AMOLED 10-bit display with 20:9 aspect ratio and 90Hz refresh rate. The display also comes with 240Hz of touch sampling rate and has a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on top.

You can get 120Hz screens on both Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (AMOLED) and iQOO Z3 (LCD) for around the same price but, the 10-bit panel used by Xiaomi here genuinely makes a difference in your viewing experience. The colours look good on Mi 11 Lite. The panel doesn't saturate them much and the contrast level also remain good in most cases.

The display has a small hole-punch cut out to house the selfie camera and is also HDR10-capable.

Mi 11 Lite quick review: Camera

You don't really get anything extraordinary in the camera department. The setup is very similar to the Redmi Note 10 Pro. The Mi 11 Lite features a 64-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel and a 5-megapixel telemacro sensor. The camera setup supports up to 4K video recording at 30fps frame rate. On the front, you get a 16-megapixel selfie shooter.

I have spent limited time with the phone but, took few pictures. The colours and detailing was very impressive. The images from the main camera were sharp. The portrait shots were also good but, the colours were slightly over saturated. It's the macro camera that impressed me the most on Mi 11 Lite.

The camera app has a lot of options for photography enthusiasts. There are usual options like Photo, Video, Portrait, Pro and Night modes. Xiaomi has also equipped the Mi 11 Lite with 23 director modes for vloggers and users who like shooting videos on the phone.

I will be testing the Mi 11 Lite's camera over the next few days in detail and will talk about its performance during our full review of Mi 11 Lite.

Mi 11 Lite quick review: Performance

There are two reasons to raise a few eyebrows when it comes to the performance on the Mi 11 Lite. Firstly, the smartphone lacks 5G support, which is disappointing to see as the Mi smartphones are essentially the more premium smartphones. Xiaomi said that it can bring the 5G variant to India later if the network rolls out or if there is enough demand, But, there are too many ifs and buts involved.

Secondly, Xiaomi has used Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor on the Mi 11 Lite. It is the same processor used on the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Note 10 Pro Max as well as last year's Poco X3. At least two of those smartphones cost Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 less than the Mi 11 Lite. So, Xiaomi has left its customers with an exceedingly difficult decision to make.

Any, the Mi 11 Lite comes in two variants. It costs Rs 21,999 for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage configuration while the 6GB RAM and 128GB storage variant is priced at Rs 23,999. Both the variants will be available for Rs 1500 less as part of an early bird offer, Also, there will be Rs 1500 discount on purchase through HDFC Bank debit and credit cards.

I am yet to play a lot of games on the phone so stay tuned for India Today Tech's full review of the Mi 11 Lite to know more about the performance.

The review unit I have was running MIUI 12.0.3 on top of Android 11 while a MIUI 12.0.4 update was already waiting to be downloaded. The software experience is similar to other Xiaomi smartphones.

Mi 11 Lite quick review: Battery

Xiaomi has packed a 4250mAh battery on the Mi 11 Lite despite keeping the phone so thin. This is of course not huge by the current standards but, some of the more premium smartphones like OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro pack 4500mAh battery packs. In comparison, Xiaomi hasn't done that bad either. The smartphone ships with a 33W fast charger.

Mi 11 Lite: First impressions

There is no doubt that Xiaomi has taken a gamble by launching a smartphone that you would not usually associate with it. Some thought that the Mi 11 Lite will probably fight a lost battle in India. Yet, I feel that this smartphone has few things going for it and if successful, it may start a trend of its own. The design, form fact, in-hand feel, display and cameras are all excellent, The processor and battery leave you asking for more, especially because of the current standards. More than anything else, it's the positioning of Mi 11 Lite that may go against it. For more thoughts and our final verdict, stay tuned to India Today Tech. A