The Xiaomi's Mi 11 Lite 5G is an easily likable smartphone for a couple of reasons - it's noticeably thinner and lighter compared to most of its competitors, a bit on the small side, too. The frosted rear glass is an enjoyable look. The screen frame may stick out a bit too much, but, in fact, it helps the overall handling.
The Mi 11 Lite 5G has the usual dual-glass build - there is a flat Gorilla Glass 6 front and a flat anti-glare glass on the back. Between these two is a thin and curved plastic frame with a glossy finish, but that's not all. The screen's outer frame is not only readily visible but very much perceptible by touch as its height is almost a third of the Mi 11 Lite 5G profile.
At first, we thought of this as an awkward, maybe even bad design move. But we grew to love it for the additional grip it gave, and eventually, we thought the Mi 11 Lite 5G feels a lot better for having that part jutting out on top of the regular frame.
The Mi 11 Lite 5G isn't rated as water-resistant, it's not even splash-proof. And while we noticed a rubber gasket on the SIM tray, there is no official word for any type of ingress protection.
Update, Apr. 23: Xiaomi issued an official confirmation that Mi 11 Lite 5G is IP53-certified for dust and splash resistance.
So, the 6.55" AMOLED screen with rounded corners is filling almost the entire front part of the Mi 11 Lite 5G. It has quite balanced bezels - not the thinnest ones around, but the chin is slimmer than what we usually get in this price range, and the whole black frame seems, well, fitting for the device.
The screen supports 10-bit color and 90Hz refresh rate, and it looked quite bright and punchy when we took the phone out of its box. There is one small punch-hole for the selfie camera at the top left corner - it's reasonably small and doesn't get in the way of the content most of the time.
There is one barely noticeable grille above the screen - it hides one of the stereo speakers, which also doubles as an earpiece. The other one is at the bottom of the phone, and both sound equally loud and are balanced well.
There is no notification LED light on the Mi 11 Lite 5G, but you can opt for AOD and/or side breathing light for when you've missed important notifications.
The back of the Mi 11 Lite is also flat, and the anti-glare finish is basically a frosted glass. It feels very pleasant when you touch it, and while fingerprints and smudges do stick - they aren't as visible as on a glossy glass. But they are tough to clean up - they aren't a swipe or ten away, more like find a proper clean piece of microfiber and try again.
The (glossy) camera island is one of our current favorites and the same we first saw on the Mi 11 - hence the lookalike designs. It's a two-step glass - the larger piece is thinner and houses the 8MP ultrawide camera and the dual-LED flash, while the smaller but thicker glass contains the 64MP primary and the 5MP macro snappers.
The frame of the Mi 11 Lite 5G is made of plastic and has a glossy finish. Contrary to our expectations, smudges aren't as prominent, and it does provide some grip. Combine that with the rather sharp outer screen frame, and we got some nice handling experience.
There is nothing on the left-hand side, while the volume rocker and the power key are on the right. The power/lock button's surface is also an always-on fingerprint scanner. While its position is quite helpful, it could also lead to many misreads while handling the phone. If this becomes an issue - we recommend changing the fingerprint trigger within Settings from Touch to Press.
There is an IR blaster and secondary mic on top of the Mi 11 Lite 5G.
The bottom has the primary mic (mouthpiece), the USB-C port, the dual-SIM hybrid tray, and the other stereo speaker. The phone supports either Dual SIM set up or a SIM card + microSD card.
The Mi 11 Lite measures 160.5 x 75.7 x 6.8 mm and weighs 159 grams - this is 4mm shorter, 1.3mm thinner and 37 grams lighter than the Mi 11 flagship (or the Redmi Note 10 Pro).
We like the Mi 11 Lite 5G a lot because of its traditional flat sides and the frosted rear glass. The good-looking OLED screen helped a lot, too. The frame wasn't our favorite at first, but it makes for a good and grippy handling experience, and we had no issues using the Mi 11 Lite case-free. And it turns out, it's IP53-rated, too!