Step aside, Huawei: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is now the king of smartphone cameras

Xiaomi dethrones Huawei in the DxOMark benchmarking wars.

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Xiaomi has perfected the monochrome ceramic look. Image: Xiaomi

Is Xiaomi the new Huawei? After all, it has now reached the pinnacle of DxOMark’s camera charts with the new Mi 11 Ultra.

Mi 11 Ultra certainly played up its ultra hype, with promo videos cloyingly revealing the rear mini-screen right at the very end as a coup de grace. And Xiaomi is really pulling out all the stops on their displays. The main screen is a 6.81-inch AMOLED panel sporting 3,200 x 1,440 resolution and brightness at a whopping 1,700 nits with a 5 million to one contrast ratio. It supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+, while refresh and touch sampling rates are at 120Hz and 480Hz respectively.

The second display also uses an AMOLED panel, measuring 1.1 inches with a resolution of 126 x 294 and a brightness of 450 nits. It’s primarily used as a notifications screen, which is useful for those who like to place their phones face down. The display also supports the massive array of cameras alongside it as a selfie viewfinder.

The Mi 11 Ultra has a massive camera module. Image: Xiaomi
The Mi 11 Ultra has a massive camera module. Image: Xiaomi

Xiaomi made a buzz with its 108MP camera but you don’t get that here. Nor do you need to, because the Mi 11 Ultra camera has entered DxOMark’s camera charts as the new leader. Instead, you have a 50MP main camera, a 48MP ultra-wide camera, and a 48MP telephoto with 10x optical zoom and a maximum of 120x digital zoom. All cameras are able to capture 8K video as well at 24fps. The camera array also features a direct Time-of-Flight system as well to improve autofocus capabilities.

The new sensor is a Samsung GN2, which measures 1/1.12 inches, that can produce 4-in-1 2.8μm pixel sizes. Xiaomi says that with its algorithm the camera can capture ‘bright and detailed images’ with 0.02 lux of light.

Xiaomi opted for a simple colour palette, which is striking in its own right. Image: Xiaomi
Xiaomi opted for a simple colour palette, which is striking in its own right. Image: Xiaomi

Is this better or worse? In our book, potentially better, since in theory, the drop-off in image quality will be virtually negligible when you switch from one camera to another. The trade-off would be that the module certainly looks huge.

It’s a strange thing to say but when placed alongside the camera, the rest of the hardware looks pedestrian when it comes to flagships. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just this is what we’ve been conditioned to expect. Powering the hardware is the new Snapdragon 888 SoC, along with 8 or 12GB RAM and 256 or 512 GB of storage. Harman Kardon speakers bring the noise, literally, with possibly the loudest smartphone speakers in the market right now (0.8mm max amplitude), while a 5,000mAh battery keeps the party going for as long as it can.

Xiaomi also claims the loudest speakers in the industry, thanks to Harmon Kardon. Image: Xiaomi
Xiaomi also claims the loudest speakers in the industry, thanks to Harmon Kardon. Image: Xiaomi

On that note, maybe battery tech can excite you? The Mi 11 Ultra is using a new silicon-oxygen anode battery (same as what they use in electric cars) that packs more power in a smaller package. The phone can charge wirelessly at 67W (wired as well), and potentially the fastest out there right now. Xiaomi claims it can charge its battery fully in just 36 minutes, wirelessly or wired. It can also act as a battery source to charge other devices wirelessly, albeit at 10W speeds. That can’t seem to do much but it should be an adequate source of power for your wireless earbuds in an emergency.

To support this new tech, Xiaomi is also releasing charging accessories in the form of an 80W wireless charging stand with a switch to toggle between a faster charging mode, as well as a multi-coil fast charging pad a la the ill-fated Apple AirPower. The charging pad can charge three devices simultaneously at up to 20W speed each, thanks to the fact that the pad has 19 charging coils distributed in a manner that ensures that your device can be charged regardless of where you place it.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is expected to be released in April with Singapore getting the12GB/256GB option. The price for the spec is estimated at euro 1,199 or approximately $1,900, but as with all things, local pricing and availability will only be finalised at a later date.