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March 30, 2021
☕ Good morning! It's the warmest day of the year here, and people will be buying icecream because that's the German way.
Mi 11 Ultra launch plus Xiaomi EV
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra back event
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Xiaomi had a big launch yesterday, unveiling the Mi 11 Ultra, China-only Mi 11 Pro, the Mi 11i, Mi 11 Lite series, Mi Band 6, and a charging pad with 19 coils that looks very much like what Apple hoped the AirPower might be.

Mi 11 Ultra — what matters:

  • This is probably Xiaomi’s most serious phone yet, a full flagship model with everything on the table — all the top early 2021 specs like Snapdragon 888 SoC, 6.81-inch 120Hz QHD+ OLED screen with Gorilla Glass Victus and Dolby Vision, IP68 rating, 67W wired and wireless charging, Harman Kardon-tuned speakers, and a ceramic body.
  • It has two main features unique to it over rivals like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro: a huge camera sensor (and camera bump) via the 50MP Samsung GN2, which is a 1/1.12″ optical format sensor. 
  • All things being equal, a bigger sensor is better, and with a pixel size of 1.4µm, it should offer great low-light performance. The last time we saw a sensor this big was the Nokia 808 PureView and the slightly smaller Lumia 1020 from the 2012-2013 era. 
  • In brief, there is also a 48MP ultra-wide snapper and a 48MP periscope lens, both IMX586 sensors.
  • The other feature is a rear display. Yes, we’ve seen this secondary display a few times in other devices, and here it’s a small 1.1-inch rear OLED screen on the back, aiming to help take better selfies by adding all the rear camera lenses into the mix, including the ultra-wide and standard cameras for more of a range of selfie takes.
  • That’s housed in one of the biggest camera bumps we’ve seen, taking up most of the back.
  • Xiaomi also talked up the 5,000 mAh battery with its silicon-oxygen (Si-O2) anode, but didn’t really detail how the new formula provided benefits. 
  • The only European option is the 12GB/256GB variant for €1,199 (~$1,415). The same spec S21 Ultra goes for €1,299 (~$1526), for what it’s worth.
  • No reviews yet: Xiaomi didn’t sprinkle reviewers with early access to the Mi 11 Ultra so we’ll wait to see how performance lines up with the hardware, and how MIUI 12 performs too. And if the camera bump is too big, or fine.

Mi 11 Pro, 11i, 11 Lite:

  • The Mi 11 Pro offers most of the same specs with a camera downgrade, and comes in at 6.67-inches. Regardless, you can’t get it outside of China, so moving on.
  • Xiaomi revealed the Mi 11i as well, and it’s effectively a Redmi K40 Pro Plus with a new name, and it’ll start at €649.
  • The Mi 11 Lite range steps out with two options 4G only and 5G, the latter the first phone with the new Snapdragon 780G processor. Both models offer a 6.55-inch FHD+ 90Hz OLED screen, 4,250mAh battery, and the 5G model starts at €369 (~$435) for the 6GB/128GB, and €299 (~$352) for the 6GB/64GB Mi 11 Lite 4G.
  • And don’t forget the Mi 11 has been on sale for some time, too.

There was also the Xiaomi Mi Band 6, the update to the low-cost Mi Band 5 which still leaves out NFC for some reason but offers a bigger 1.56-inch display for €44.99 (~$50), while the new 80W wireless charging pad with 19 coils goes for 599 yuan (~$91).

Thought bubble:

  • This is good for the Android ecosystem and looks like real competition to the top players like Samsung and OnePlus, if you can get the phone that is — North America still misses out.
mi 11 bump
  • The intrigue will be if this path towards bigger camera sensors plays out. 
  • Big sensors need more room. That means bigger protrusions and modules on the back of the phone — just look at what Xiaomi has on the back of this.
  • But the problem is that we want better photos, and manufacturers need to keep showing progression if they’re going to convince us to upgrade.

Also: Xiaomi didn’t touch on its potential foldable smartphone, but it did announce today (Twitter) it would establish a new EV subsidiary, with plans to invest $US1.5 billion, with a further $US10 billion to be spent over the next 10 years. CEO Lei Jun will head up the new unit.

  • More will be announced tonight.

🔎 Hints that Samsung already has a Galaxy Buds Pro successor in the works (Android Authority).

📲 New T-Mobile deal puts Google services front and center: YouTube TV, RCS, and more (Android Authority).

🔊 Using your phone speaker more than ever? Cirrus Logic has some new amplifier tech aiming to extract more (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple’s repair store verification program is rolling out worldwide, providing genuine parts and tools for out-of-warranty repairs (Apple).

💳 This feels like big news: PayPal has launched a crypto checkout service — “Customers who hold bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash and litecoin in PayPal digital wallets will now be able to convert their holdings at checkouts to make purchases” (Reuters).

🥽 Niantic Labs CEO posts a teaser image of some AR glasses, follows Niantic’s posting of a job listing for a Head of AR OS Engineering (TechCrunch).

⚡ Volkswagen will reportedly rebrand its US operation to ‘Voltswagen of America(Engadget).

🔋 Kia’s EV6 is a small electric car with big dreams for Kia and Hyundai (The Verge).

🧬 Stanford scientists post entire mRNA sequence for Moderna vaccine on Github (Gizmodo).

🛰️ It’s finally time to take out the space trash: tidying up in orbit (Wired).

🚢 Try out steering through the Suez Canal (CNN). (I made it, am I the captain now?)

🤔 “What’s the most favorite thing you had to give up because you grew too old for it?” (r/askreddit).

Chart Tuesday

Here’s a fun one for you: the tallest rollercoaster in each country!

  • Obviously, you thrillseekers will want to scrutinize this data, so jump into the bigger image and full details on r/dataisbeautiful.
  • The Kingda Ka (458 ft) at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey is the word’s tallest and fastest, though a Saudi Arabian Six Flags might top that at Six Flags Qiddiya, where a 500 ft coaster is supposed to be built by 2023.

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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