It’s that time of the year again for Xiaomi’s T series of phones — the Xiaomi 11T and Xiaomi 11T Pro. Xiaomi’s year-end T series is typically more affordable than the vanilla series released at the start of the year, which makes it, in my opinion, the more interesting of the two.
I have been reviewing the Xiaomi 11T (not the Pro) for the past couple of weeks. Being the cheaper alternative, some corners had to be cut. Let’s see if the trade-offs are worth it. As always, we start with the specs.
Xiaomi 11T Specifications
- 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8 mm, 203 g
- IP53, dust and splash protection
- 6.7″ 120Hz, HDR10+, 1080 x 2400 AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
- MediaTek Dimensity 1200
- 8/128GB (S$629), 8/256GB (S$649) RAM/UFS3.1 storage options
- 108 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF
- 8 MP, f/2.2, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/4″, 1.12µm
- 5 MP, f/2.4, 50mm (telephoto macro), 1/5.0″, 1.12µm, AF
- 16 MP, f/2.5, (front), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm
- Stereo speakers, no 3.5mm headphones jack
- Side-mounted fingerprint scanner on power button
- 5000mAh battery, 67W fast charging
- Dual SIM
- Colours: Meteorite Gray, Moonlight White, Celestial Blue
Design & Build
The design of the Xiaomi 11T is the same aluminium and glass sandwich design that we’ve seen from phones for years now. The phone is a large rectangular slab with slightly rounded corners and back that curves towards the edges. The bezels on the front of the device are minimal, and there’s a hole punch at the top-center of an otherwise uninterrupted display.
On the back you’ve got a large camera housing for the triple cameras. My Meterorite Gray review unit has a brushed metal look underneath the rear glass. On the bottom you’ve got USB-C, SIM tray, and speaker grilles. On the top you’ve got a microphone and IR blaster. The right side houses the volume rocker and fingerprint/power button. The left side is completely empty. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on this device.
The device feels well-built. It leans on the heavier side at 203g. For comparison, my OnePlus 6T weighs 185g and I already consider that to be a heavy phone. It’s a large device as well, being noticeably taller than my OnePlus 6T. Because of its height, it can feel a little top-heavy when held in my relatively small hands.
The weight and size of the device does make it a little cumbersome to use. I have to shift my grip or use my other hand to interact with elements on the top half of the display. I personally find the Xiaomi 11T a tad bit too large and heavy for my tastes, though your mileage my vary.
The fingerprint scanner on the side-mounted power button is a nice touch. It’s located in a convenient spot and quick to activate.
Overall, good albeit uninspiring design and build quality. I do wish it was smaller and lighter, but I guess there’s other devices for that — like the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE which was announced alongside the Xiaomi 11T and 11T Pro.
Display & Speakers
The Xiaomi 11T packs an excellent display for the price. It’s a large 6.67″ 120Hz, HDR10+ AMOLED panel with up to 800nits of brightness and 1000nits peak with HDR. That’s plenty bright for outdoors viewing.
It’s nice to see that quality high refresh AMOLEDs are making it to the mainstream midrange devices. As I’ve said before in every other smartphone review, once you use a phone with a 90Hz or 120Hz display, going back to a 60Hz phone is almost unbearable. Every time I review a new smartphone, my OnePlus 6T feels unbelievably sluggish in comparison even though the processor is still keeping up. High refresh rate just makes everything — animations, scrolling — smoother. It’s funny that Apple has only just included this feature in its latest iPhone 13 Pro, and only in its Pro phones. With iOS, 120Hz will set you back at least S$1649. With Android, it’s a thousand bucks less.
I didn’t notice any ghosting or jelly scrolling, which was prevalent in the high refresh displays of cheaper phones a couple years back. The colours are accurate too, with advanced options that allow you to choose from P3 and sRGB colour gamuts.
The display on the Xiaomi 11T is fantastic, on to the speakers.
Xiaomi has put stereo speakers in its 11T. They aren’t dual front-facing; the top speaker doubles as a earpiece while the bottom one fires out the bottom. Despite this, I found no issues with unbalanced audio.
The speakers get plenty loud for indoors listening without much distortion at max volume. Quality is decent. The mids are clear and warm, but bass and highs are rather recessed. While bass is not prominent, it can still be heard. Highs are a bit more tinny. Still, I think that this is in the range of what you’d expect from a smartphone of this class, and is perfectly acceptable for casual music listening and Netflix binging. It’s much better than the single bottom-firing speaker on my OnePlus 6T anyway.
Performance & Battery
The Xiaomi 11T is packing MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200 processor, which is MediaTek’s flagship processor. It’s not as powerful as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, but is close to the performance of the previous generation Snapdragon 865, making it a popular choice for upper-midrange devices like the Xiaomi 11T and OnePlus Nord 2.
I’ve had no issues with the device when it came to performance. Apps and animations run smoothly with no stutters. The 8GB of RAM was plenty enough to keep multiple apps running in the background. I didn’t test any intensive games with the device however, though the benchmarks below will give some indication as to its graphical performance. (It’s excellent.)
Benchmark results follow.
In Geekbench 5, the Xiaomi 11T’s single-core performance is just shy of the phones packing the Snapdragon 865. Multi-core performance, however, is around 15% lower.
In the Wild Life Stress Test — which loops the Wild Life test through 20 iterations — the Xiaomi 11T outperforms last year’s S865 flagships by about 10%. It also maintains a good stability of 90.3%, with the scores only dipping from the 17th iteration onwards. In practice, this puts its graphical performance closer to the realm of the latest Snapdragon 888, which produces impressive numbers north of 5000 on its first iteration, but immediately throttles right after.
What all these numbers mean is that the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor found on the Xiaomi 11T has slightly worse CPU performance than the S865, but better GPU performance. It sort of evens out, and you can basically expect the Xiaomi 11T to perform on par with last year’s flagships. That’s really quite a deal at this price point.
I found the battery life on the Xiaomi 11T to be excellent, which is to be expected from a 5000mAh battery. It also comes with a 67W fast charger in the box, which is advertised as being able to bring the battery from 0 to 100% in just 36min. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test this as I was given a 33W charger with my review unit. There’s also the caveat that I’ve been stuck indoors for the majority of my review period and I haven’t been able to properly test the battery, so I would recommend checking out some other reviews. My impressions from my incredibly unscientific testing has been positive however.
The Xiaomi 11T follows the trend of triple camera setups from other Chinese manufacturers. There’s a 108MP main sensor, a 8MP ultrawide, and a 5MP macro. I will not be going through the 5MP macro as I’ve articulated plenty of times in other reviews that I find it completely pointless.
While the 108MP number is more of a marketing gimmick than anything else, the main sensor does produce good images. Note that the images default to 12MP, as nine pixels are binned into one. You can manually enable the full 108MP as its own dedicated camera mode, but that means less light for each pixel and poorer image quality at the expense of (unnecessary) detail.
In good light, images have a good amount of detail, good colour reproduction and adequate dynamic range. Under poor lighting conditions, the quality falls off a bit but images still look decently clean. The night mode does a surprisingly good job in improving the dynamic range, colour, and detail, though the lack of optical image stabilisation shows in the slightly blurry text on the mug below.
As usual, the quality of the ultrawide isn’t as good. There’s less detail and dynamic range, though colours seem to be consistent with the main camera for the most part. In low light, the images are pretty bad. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of detail is lost. Thankfully, night mode seems to make the image a lot more usable; there’s less noise, but the detail still isn’t quite there. Ultimately, it’s good enough for images taken in the day, and does its job of getting more stuff into the frame.
Overall, while not class-leading, the camera quality on the Xiaomi 11T is certainly is adequate for the price.
This is actually my first encounter with Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 UX based on Android 11. I’ve noticed quite a few things about the software:
- There are quite a lot of pre-installed apps, some of which cannot be uninstalled (e.g. Mi Video, Google One)
- Xiaomi’s dark mode implementation is rather quirky. For some reason, Xiaomi doesn’t use Android’s systemwide dark mode that was introduced with Android 10. It uses its own brute force approach, which often breaks the contrast for a lot of elements in apps. To remedy this, you have to disable Xiaomi’s dark mode manually for each app.
- There are some annoying security features, like how a fullscreen virus scan will popup after every app install, even if the app is installed from the Play Store. (Thankfully you can disable this in settings.) And when apps are sideloaded via APKs, a fullscreen popup appears telling you the security risk of enabling sideloading from a particular app, which can’t be dismissed for 10 seconds. It can get a bit annoying.
- I had an issue with the device not being Play Protect Certified, which meant that I couldn’t download Netflix or Disney+ from the Play Store. I followed some steps on XDA to get the device certified, and was able to download the apps eventually, but I’m unsure if this is an issue with this particular review unit, build of MIUI, or if it affects other Xiaomi devices more generally. I’m also not sure if the issue went away because of my actions or because of a MIUI update which I installed. Xiaomi has not responded regarding this.
- If I long press on the home screen and select “wallpaper”, it opens up the MIUI wallpaper app, which is a wallpaper/theme store, with no option to browse local images from your gallery to use as a wallpaper. To apply an image from your gallery as a wallpaper, you’d have to do it from the gallery app.
There are still some more quirks that I’ve noticed that I won’t go over in this review. I would like to point out that most of the things that I have noticed above aren’t necessarily negative. Rather, the heavy modifications on top of Android are simply not what I am used to.
Objectively speaking, MIUI adds a lot of features and customisation on top of stock Android, and I am sure that many people will appreciate this. If you’ve used a Xiaomi phone before, you should feel right at home. Personally, it just isn’t for me.
Pricing & Conclusion
- Solid build quality
- Excellent high refresh rate 120Hz AMOLED display
- Fantastic performance on par with last year’s flagships
- Great battery life, incredibly fast charging
- Decent image quality for the price
- Large and heavy, uninspired design
- Useless 5MP macro camera, no telephoto, ultrawide low-light performance could be improved
- MIUI’s quirks
The Xiaomi 11T can currently be had for S$649 for the 8/256GB configuration. For that price, you’re getting a phone with excellent performance, a fantastic display, and incredibly fast charging on top of good battery life. On the flip side, the image quality is decent but not great.
There are other more subjective characteristics such as MIUI, and the size and weight of the phone. If you want a Xiaomi phone at a similar price but would like something smaller and lighter, you can take a look at the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE. It costs S$100 less for the same storage configuration, but comes with a slightly slower display (90Hz vs 120Hz) and processor (Snapdragon 778G).
Otherwise, there are alternatives from other manufacturers. The OnePlus Nord 2 is one such alternative, with the same MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor, a 90Hz AMOLED display, and 65W fast charging for its 4500mAh battery. The 8/128GB version currently costs around S$560.
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