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Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra revisited: Is it still worth buying?

Is Xiaomi's 2021 ultra-flagship worth it more than half a year after launch?
By
October 30, 2021
A photo of the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on table
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

“The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is overpriced for what it delivers.” That was our verdict on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra at launch. Now, over half a year later, how well does Xiaomi’s premium flagship stand up? Turns out, there’s still a lot to like about the Mi 11 Ultra, especially now the price has dropped to a more reasonable level.

Find out what’s good and what’s not so good about Xiaomi’s top-tier flagship over six months later in this Mi 11 Ultra review revisited.

Check out: The original Android Authority Mi 11 Ultra review


The good

Design

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on a desk
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

There’s no denying that the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is an interestingly designed phone, to say the least. While some have knocked the phone for its large footprint and unwieldy camera bump, there’s no denying that the hardware is beautifully crafted. The ceramic and metal combination stands out next to phones from brands sticking with all glass and aluminum frames. Admittedly, the device is large and heavy, coming in at a whopping 234g, but the phone makes up for this with its rounded edges, making it quite comfortable to hold. Xiaomi shipped this phone with stereo Harman Kardon speakers that sound great and a beautiful 6.8-inch AMOLED display (more on that next).

Still, the design isn’t without its quirks, and that ginormous camera bump results in a very top-heavy design. Personally, I did not experience any issues with the phone falling forward. On the plus side, the camera module features a 1.1-inch secondary screen that primarily serves as an always-on display — though you can also use it as a selfie screen to take portraits using the phone’s primary camera.

While the design footprint is large, the overall fit and finish are extremely well crafted.

Apart from the large camera bump, the only other downside to this design is the finish of the ceramic back. Its glossy flare looks good clean, but after only a few minutes of using this phone, the device will look like a sloppy crime scene with fingerprints everywhere.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra standing up on table showing screen
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

The panel on the Mi 11 Ultra looks beautiful. While it’s no surprise that this device features a 120Hz WQHD+ display, it might surprise some to find that this screen pumps out a whopping 1,700 nits of peak brightness. The device also ships with the latest glass from Corning, Gorilla Glass Victus, ensuring a good level of durability for the display.

Read more: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review second opinion

Marry all this with plenty of software features to tweak colors and sharpness, and you have a beautiful, dynamic panel that challenges the very best.

Cameras

While a familiar setup, Xiaomi’s implementation of a triple-lens camera module produces some of the highest-quality images on the market right now. All three sensors rival the competition in sharpness, detail, lowlight images, and more. But where the Mi 11 Ultra aims to compete for a step above the rest is in the zoom range.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra can shoot up to 5x optical zoom and up to 120x digital zoom. The 5x images look excellent, with outstanding sharpness and detail and no considerable amount of noise; however, the 120x doesn’t fare as well. Similar to Samsung’s 100x Space Zoom, Xiaomi’s 120x digital zoom is a cool party trick at best. Images are just too muddy, and it’s hard to make out any reasonably usable detail.

Related: The best camera phones you can get

That said, as a whole, the combination of the long zoom range and 128-degree field of view ultra-wide camera gives the user a whole lot of room to play with. Couple this with the handy rear display for selfies, and you’ve got a versatile camera setup that can happily go toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Pixel 6 Pro, or iPhone 13 Pro.

Here are some additional recent samples for you to take a look at:

 

Battery and charging

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra’s battery life continues to perform well even six months after release. With its larger than average 5,000mAh battery, I had a difficult time killing this device even during heavy testing. With stock settings and Full HD+ at 60Hz, I easily averaged about a day and a half with a medium load. This included heavy social media and video consumption, about an hour or so of gaming, and some light photography. Set to WQHD+ at 120Hz, I averaged about a full day of usage. In fact, the only thing that really kills this phone is the cameras. Unfortunately, using the cameras for an extended period results in a drastic decrease in battery life ranging from 20-30%. This poses an obvious conflict. If you can’t use the amazing cameras on this phone without worrying about battery life, then what’s the point?

That’s where the 67W fast charger comes in. I was able to power up this phone from dead to full in just over 30 minutes. This is on par with results from both the OnePlus 9 Pro and the Oppo Find X3 Pro, which are two of the fastest charging mainstream phones out there.


The not so good

Long-term software support

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra in man's hand showing screen
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Xiaomi doesn’t have an excellent record when it comes to software support. The company has historically provided two years of system updates to its flagships, though that changed to three with the Xiaomi 11T series. As of now, there’s still no word on if the Mi 11 Ultra will receive equal support. As noted in our original review, when asked about a commitment, the company simply stated: “The updates cycles of our devices are in accordance with our agreements with Google and comply with corresponding policies.”

Xiaomi does officially have plans to update the Mi 11 Ultra to Android 12 and will support security updates through 2024, but there’s no telling if the phone will receive Android 13.

This uncertainty makes the higher price pretty tough to swallow, and if you’re going to spend that much money on a device, it would be nice to have a better software guarantee.

Price

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra rear view on table
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

There’s no getting around it: the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is still expensive, especially for a phone with an uncertain future for software updates. At £1,199 in the UK, €1,199 in the rest of Europe, and ~$1,099 for US importers, the Mi 11 Ultra is competing with the Galaxy S21 Ultra ($1,199), the iPhone 13 Pro Max ($1,099), the OnePlus 9 Pro ($1,069), and the Google Pixel 6 Pro ($899) — all of which have confirmed software support, and at rival the Mi 11 Ultra in the specs race.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is great, but I'd wait for a price drop before purchasing.

A slight price drop would have equalized the market a bit; but unless you live in India, where the Mi 11 Ultra undercuts the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Mi 11 Ultra isn’t the best deal you can get.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review revisited: The verdict

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on table showing screen
Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Xiaomi released an exceptionally well-designed and feature-rich device with the Mi 11 Ultra. Software support aside, the Mi 11 Ultra really holds up well over half a year later. It’s easy to see why buyers like the device. It has some great cameras, a gorgeous display, rapid fast charging, and top-tier performance. Still, it’s not easy to compete with the other ultra-premium flagships in the market, and ultimately its high price point combined with the lack of a software support guarantee is its downfall.

Is the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra still worth buying?

1850 votes

That said, if you can stomach the price and the uncertainty around updates, then the Mi 11 Ultra offers a lot of features in a well-designed body and will be sure to impress any future buyer down the road.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra splash
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra ups the ante for Xiaomi's 2021 flagship series with faster charging, more base RAM and storage, and an upgraded camera with a 48MP periscope zoom lens and a huge 1/1.12-inch main sensor.