The Xiaomi Mi 11 has been made by the book, the one about modern flagships anyway. The front is a curved piece of Gorilla Glass, the back is a curved piece of Gorilla Glass, and an aluminum chassis holds everything together.
If you are tired of the glass phones, Xiaomi will be also selling the Mi 11 with eco-leather back in two colors - Gold and Violet. We have the dual-glass model, but that's a good alternative and one we would gladly choose to spice up our smartphone experience.
We haven't seen a waterproofed Xiaomi phone yet, not officially, at least. And the Mi 11 isn't the one to break the cycle. But various teardowns revealed water sealing around the speakers and the SIM slot, meaning the Mi 11 does feature some ingress protection. It will surely do well on rainy days, but we are not sure about underwater selfies. So, don't go swimming with it.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 we have here is your typical dual-glass phone with a thin metal frame. It is curved around the long sides, making the device look impressively thin. It is, in fact, 1mm thinner than the Mi 10 but feels even thinner than that. We appreciate the Gorilla Glass Victus screen protection, and we are happy with the Gorilla Glass 5 choice for the rear panel.
The Mi 10 and Mi 11 look the same at the front, but that's completely normal - they are both packing nearly bezel-less AMOLEDs. The one on the Mi 11 is of a more premium breed, though - it's a 6.81" 1440p OLED with 1B colors and a 120Hz refresh rate. That's a notable upgrade over the 6.67" 1080p OLED of 16M colors and 90Hz refresh on the Mi 10.
The punch-hole around the top left corner is the same, and so is the 20MP selfie camera that resides there.
That seems to be the case with the under-screen fingerprint scanner, too. It's quite fast, but our experience wasn't ideal - it either read slow or did not recognize our finger 2 out of 6 times we tried unlocking it. The scanner uses a square sensor without any lens, and this could be why its reliability isn't stellar.
The fingerprint reader is a 2-in-1 scanner that can also act as heart-rate sensor. This functionality will be enabled with a firmware update later this year.
One thing we were very impressed with is the earpiece - its front cutout is so thin that it is almost invisible! But that's because there is another grille at the top of the phone, on the frame. This is also where you'd see the Harman/Kardon inscription.
The Mi 11 has a dual-speaker system tuned by the popular speaker maker, and it is supposed to be symmetric. There are indeed two grilles - top and bottom - and the sound is stereo. The bottom speaker is louder, while the top one is, well, weird. You can hear sound coming from both cutouts - top and earpiece - and yet you can't really say where it's actually coming from. That's because the speaker is mounted below the screen, about 1 cm below and sideways the said holes, and they are venting its directional sound. The important thing is that the output sounds quite nice and loud.
A curved Gorilla Glass Victus covers the whole front part, and we are glad to see Xaiomi's opted for the best glass on the market. Its side curves aren't that steep but aren't subtle either. We think the maker has hit the sweet spot between reasonable and unusable curvature. We are mostly happy with the experience despite the couple of ghost touch issues we experienced when shooting videos. We think Xiaomi needs to work on mistouch prevention within its camera app.
The back uses Gorilla Glass 5 and is as curved as the front Victus piece. Xiaomi is selling the Mi 11 in Horizon Blue (ours) and Midnight Black in most markets, though limited stock of Cloud White, Special Edition Blue, Gold Eco-Leather, and Violet Eco-Leather should be available here and there.
The Horizon Blue has an aurora-like effect going from silver towards light blue and has this cool yet subtle shimmer when light reflections are in play. We like this version, and we surely love seeing the back though given this Mi 11 is quite slippery, we eventually covered it with the bundled silicone case.
The triple camera is on the back, sitting on top of an aluminum piece, which is then covered in glass. It's not that large and thick and doesn't hurt the Mi 11 captivating looks. The triple camera contains the 108MP primary, below is the 13MP ultrawide shooter, and on the right are the 5MP macro snapper and the dual-LED dual-tone flash.
The Mi 11 may have a similar camera setup to the Mi 10, but it looks completely different. The Mi 10 had its snappers aligned vertically, while the new Mi 11 has them on a square. We can't say which is the better-looking, but neither of those is bad.
The frame is quite thin around the long sides and flat on the top and bottom. It's made of polished aluminum, and smudges do stick, but since it's painted with the same color as the back, it looks terrific on the phone.
The top of the phone houses one of the speakers, one of the mics and the IR blaster. The bottom has the other speaker, the USB-C port, the mouthpiece, and the SIM slot. Everything has been sealed against water, as was revealed by the recent teardowns.
There is nothing on the left, whereas on the right side is where you'd find the volume key and the power/lock button.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is a well-built and good-looking phone. The curves and the glossy frame make the Mi 11 look like a premium device, a nice accessory to your style. And while it is not officially IP-rated, it seems to be packing a lot of what is needed to ensure protection.
The Mi 11 feels very well in hand, though the thin frame and overall glossiness completely destroy any chance for a secure grip. We always felt like we were just about to drop the Mi 11, and it did happen once while we were shooting video and decided to swap hands. This applies to most of the glass phones, sure, but the Mi 11, with its curves, skinny frame and glossy body, make for especially troubled handling.