If you want ultra-flagship specs but don’t want to pay north of $1000, the only game in town is the Xiaomi Mi 11 – here’s why…

I’m a big fan of Samsung. I love what it has done with the Galaxy S21 range, especially the Ultra model. But it is very expensive, just like Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Up to now Xiaomi has only tentatively been present in western markets. But all that changed in 2021 with the global release of the Xiaomi Mi 11 – the company’s new ultra-flagship phone.

Here’s a guide on which carriers support the Xiaomi Mi 11.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Price

And with a price tag of just £660 in the UK and $900 in the USA, the Mi 11 is a hell of a lot cheaper than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

  • It has more or less the same quality AMOLED display.
  • It runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888; in fact, it was the first phone to use this chipset.
  • It has a 108MP camera, just like the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
  • It ships with a 55W charger in the box. 
  • And it looks gorgeous, as you can see in the video below…

And while the Mi 11 isn’t cheaper than Samsung’s entry level Galaxy S21 (which can be had from just £19 per month), the Mi 11 gets around this by effectively matching the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s spec sheet.

The £1000 Phone Antidote?

Which begs the question: why would you pay £1329 for the Galaxy S21 Ultra when you could pick up the equally well-specced Xiaomi Mi 11 for £669 less?

Some would argue that Samsung’s phone is better. And maybe it is – but is it £669 better? That’s a pretty big ask, even for a phone as accomplished as Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra.

I’ve already compared the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Xiaomi Mi 11’s specs and hardware in a separate post, so I won’t rehash that here. But the takeaways from this piece are relatively simple: on nearly every front, save for the camera, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is on a par with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

xiaomi mi 11 pricePin

The only area the Mi 11 is weaker is the camera; I think Samsung has a definite edge here. The Ultra has more lenses, not always a good thing, but here Samsung puts them to very good use, resulting in the best Samsung camera phone experience to date.

Still, for £669 less, the Xiaomi Mi 11’s camera is no slouch either. Here’s what Xiaomi said about its new camera tech at launch:

Shaking up industry standards even further, Mi 11 now offers studio-level shooting control with its HDR10+ recording and new Pro Time-lapse mode, capable of adjusting shutter speed, ISO, aperture and EV to handle even the most challenging lighting situations. Studio-level control also extends to editing with advanced AI features, including AI Erase 2.0 which allows users to remove unwanted objects or lines from images with one simple click.

Flagship Pricing: The Elephant In The Room

I’m not going to pretend that Xiaomi’s software (MIUI 12.5) is better than Samsung’s ONE UI because it isn’t; Samsung’s UX is one of the best in the business, comparable to iOS and stock Android for its good-looks and functionality.

The Galaxy S21 range also comes with wireless DEX functionality too, which is huge.

But even with all that in mind, the gulf between the prices of these handsets – £669 – is still enough, I believe, to make even the most loyal of Samsung fans second-guess their decision to buy an S21 Ultra over the Xiaomi Mi 11.

For instance, if you bought the Xiaomi Mi 11 instead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, you’d have enough money left over to buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (128GB) tablet, so you could have a phone AND a tablet for the same price of Samsung’s new Ultra flagship.

Put in that context, I honestly would find it hard to pull the trigger on a Galaxy S21 Ultra in 2021 given just how solid the Mi 11 is, and the fact that it offers up much the same performance and spec for almost £700 less.

To be frank, I was all set to get the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I think it is the best phone Samsung has made in years. But the global release of the Xiaomi Mi 11 has really thrown a spanner in the works for me – but the prospect of saving £669 in cold hard cash will do that to anyone.

Or the fact that you could buy the Xiaomi Mi 11 and Samsung’s very-impressive Galaxy Tab 7 for the same price as one Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra…