Up for review today we have the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite, a 4G variant of another handset that bears a strikingly similar name, the Mi 11 Lite 5G. Indeed, both are siblings to the standard flagship that is the Mi 11.

For users working with a budget it puts forth a compelling argument, one that promises plenty of horsepower and capability as well as a sleek and attractive design. How does it fare in our testing? Read on to learn what we thought about the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite.

Before going further let’s take a look at what the Mi 11 Lite looks like in terms of general specifications.

Specifications At-a-Glance

  • Android 11 with MIUI 12
  • 6.55-inch 2400 x 1080 display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB/128GB storage
  • 64-megapixel, 8-megapixel (ultra-wide), and 5-megapixel telephoto cameras
  • 4,250mAh battery with fast charging
  • Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, fingerprint reader built into power button, NFC, microSD card slot, IR port.

Design

The first thing that we noticed about the Mi 11 Lite upon taking it out of the box was its attractive and sleek design. It’s striking stuff and was a welcome surprise considering its price point. We’ve seen plenty of more expensive phones with half the character of this one.

The Mi 11 Lite is incredibly thin (6.8mm), lightweight, and easy to hold. It has generally tight edges and hard lines but its corners are rounded and very modern looking.

Five minutes into handling the phone we saw the folly of the Boba Black’s glossy back as it was enveloped in smudges and fingerprints. Yeah, it’s really sexy stuff but just for a few moments. We couldn’t get this into a protective case quick enough which is sad because it truly does deserve to be seen.

The Mi 11 Lite is available in other colors, and they come with a smudge-free frosted finish. Without seeing them we would recommend considering either the Bubblegum Blue or Peach Pink.

When it comes to notable missing features, there are two that immediately come to mind. For one, it does not have any ingress protection or IP rating against water and/or dust. That’s not a deal breaker for a lot of people, but it is rather common among today’s devices.

The other one that should be pointed out is the lack of wireless charging. Again, that may matter little to some users. The Pixel 4a, for instance, is one of our favorite phones of the last few years but it lacks wireless charging, too.

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The front of the Mi 11 Lite is consumed almost entirely of the 6.55-inch 90Hz OLED display. The bezels on all edges are minimal and it truly feels like an edge-to-edge screen. There’s a small cutout hole for the 16-megapixel front-facing camera in the top left corner.

Although the phone does not have an indication light, users can enable a breathing effect that glows for notifications.

The fingerprint reader is located on the side of the phone and is integrated into the power button. It’s very sensitive and reacts quickly. Our muscle memory from holding phones makes it so that our fingers and thumb grab the device in a way that we automatically locate the button. Our suggestion is to set the Mi 11 Lite so that you must press the button physically so that you’re not accidentally unlocking by an errant touch.

Software

The Mi 11 Lite runs an Android 11-based MIUI 12 which means it has a custom skin and extra features. Indeed, it comes with plenty of customization options and user-defined settings.

The software features the app drawer that most users are accustomed to seeing, but it also arranges apps into categories like Communication, Entertainment, Photography, and others. Users can rename or remove these categories if they don’t want them, but we think they’re helpful for new smartphone users.

The pull-down notification shade is split into two sections, one for notifications, and the other for control settings. Simply pull down from the left side for notifications or swipe down from the right to jump to controls. This can also be toggled back to the standard stuff if you’re not a fan.

Themes are a very big component of the MIUI experience as the phone provides access to tons of them. Additionally, it has a simple portal for getting new ringtones, icons, and wallpapers as well. If adjusting icons and styles are your bag, you’ll love what the Mi 11 Lite lets you do.

MIUI also comes with a Security app that can check your phone for malware, manage a contact blacklist, control data usage, configure battery settings, and free up some memory. It’s also here where you can manage your apps permissions and decide how the battery behaves with titles.

We tend to give extra points to phones for having stock Android as the platform but have warmed to custom skins and UI’s over the years. Phones have more hardware, software is more optimized, and batteries have improved, all of which lead to a smoother user experience. With that said, the MIUI 12 is a welcoming way of learning smartphones and their capabilities.

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Performance

Given its middle-of-the-pack hardware specifications we anticipated a generally smooth experience and that’s exactly what we got. Daily tasks like email, social media, and messaging are rarely a problem for current devices and the Mi 11 Lite further cements the idea that a mid-range phone is more than enough for most people.

Turning to casual and moderate games we found the phone still fares well and titles with higher frames per second look good on the 90Hz refresh rate. This is a space that’s really just starting to take off so you may not even take advantage of it with typical usage. Everything looks great, even text and photos, on that big OLED screen thanks to the HDR10 and 10-bit color support.

Videos and music sound loud on the stereo speakers and calls sound just fine in our testing. There’s more oomph happening here than we expected as the speakers do not look at that big.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite has a triple-camera system that features a 64-megapixel main shooter bolstered by a 13-megapixel ultrawide and 5-megapixel tandem.

The main camera saves 16-megapixel images by default and we found them to be really quite impressive. Images are clear, crisp, and balanced and we found little traces of unwanted or unexpected noise.

White balance and overall color was great; we didn’t have the urge to run any images through a photo editor ahead of social media sharing.

Camera Samples


Switching things to 64-megapixels had the Mi 11 Lite saving files that were on the order of 25MBs and larger. That is to say that they take a few moments to capture and save, slowing the time between shots. And truth be told, we didn’t see any real reason to stick with the setting so we were back to 16-megapixel pretty quickly.

Playing with the ultrawide and macro cameras delivered results that we anticipated, meaning good contrast and color balance. Close-up shots were tricky to get in the wild with a breeze causing flowers and foliage to end up blurry. A steady hand, patience, and still life subjects should be just fine for most.

We appreciate having a number of shooting modes to play with and figuring out which works best in various scenarios. Night Mode, for instance, was much better than we expected and we came to love pairing it with ultrawide shots.

Conclusion

Given that our daily lifestyle doesn’t call for a high-end phone we like it when we’re attracted to a particular model. We’ve seen more than our share of devices over the years and a vast majority of them can handle our needs. But when a phone stands out, we love it.

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The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite stands out. From the moment you lay eyes on it to the time you start playing with themes and customizing to photos and overall performance, we suspect you’d be happy with the device.

It’s not a perfect phone, of course, and it’s easy to look for what a handset doesn’t offer instead of what it does. That being said, there is no water resistance, it doesn’t offer wireless charging, and it doesn’t have 5G connectivity. For some, two of the three are incredibly important or hard to learn to live without.

As 5G networks are still growing and expanding, support is not a top priority… yet. Another year or two could make a big difference in your carrier’s offering and the topic of 5G will need to be revisited. Until then, this unlocked 4G phone should be more than enough to satisfy the masses.

As we see it the biggest hurdle the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite faces is availability and awareness. The brand’s name has not taken off in the US but it’s increasingly making its presence felt. And as such, you won’t find the phone as readily available as others in this price range.

You’ll have to know more than the average person when it comes to shopping for a phone to discover and buy this one. This is a tough situation because the target demographic and user is not all that plugged into the space. They prefer to find their phone at a wireless carrier’s store or through a retail outlet.

No matter the case, if you ended up here, and are considering a new phone in the mid-range, you’d be wise to consider the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite.

Availability

You can learn more about Xiaomi and its devices at the brand’s global website. There you’ll find plenty of information on the Mi 11 Lite, including a 5G counterpart. As far as purchasing one goes, you can find it at Amazon where it currently lists for $400 in Boba Black and Bubblegum Blue.



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