If you’re looking for a flagship experience but don’t want to pay flagship money (and don’t mind a few cut corners to get there), then the 11T Pro deserves consideration. For a price that leans against the boundary of mid-range and flagship, you get solid performance, a good set of features and blisteringly fast charging.
Xiaomi has consistently impressed us with the devices it’s bringing to the table in recent months. It has somehow managed to find the right balance between value and compromise. We got to spend some time with Xiaomi’s newest device to launch in SA and the first Xiaomi device to drop the ‘Mi’ branding — the 11T Pro. Going on our experience with past devices, namely the Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6, we were expecting another solid device. We weren’t disappointed.
Looks the part
Right out of the box, we have to admit the 11T Pro feels pretty good in the hand if a little chonky. That’s thanks to its enormous battery, more on that in a bit. The usual glass rear of flagship smartphones has been swapped out for plastic to save on costs but the aluminium frame remains.
The rear has a brushed metal look to it which was maybe an attempt to make it look a bit more premium. The glossy finish doesn’t help with fingerprints. We would’ve preferred a matte finish. But if you’re wanting your smartphone to survive a few drops, you’ll put it in a case. So it actually doesn’t matter too much.
Down the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker and power button/fingerprint reader combo. The capacitive fingerprint reader is snappy when you manage to get the finger placement right and if those fingers are clean.
The device measures 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8 mm and weighs in at a slightly hefty 204g but it still manages to feel comfortable in hand thanks to the contoured edges of the back cover.
Feast your eyes upon
The 6.67in AMOLED display spans most of the front of the 11T Pro, only leaving a few millimetres of bezel around the edges. No curved edges on this one though. You’re trading better looks for practicality as the chance for an accidental touch when using it one-handed is lower.
The 1080p x 2400p resolution is reduced from the 11T Pro’s predecessor, the Mi 11, and you do notice it. But it still manages to perform admirably. You’re getting an AMOLED screen which means the contrast ratio is practically infinite.
Colours are vibrant and accurate without being over-saturated and blacks are deep which means if you’re viewing content you’re in for a treat. The peak brightness of 1000 nits could’ve been a touch higher but the 11T Pro still holds its own in direct sunlight and your eyes will appreciate the 120Hz refresh rate.
It charges how fast?
The biggest trick up the 11T Pro’s sleeve is the fast charging capabilities. We aren’t just talking fast here. Xiaomi announced it would ship devices with 120W charging and this is the first of those.
The 5,000mAh battery is already fairly large as far as mobile batteries go so you were never going to have a problem getting through the day. Unless you’re some sort of always-online power user. But in case that wasn’t enough, when you do need a bit of juice it’ll only take around 17mins for a full 0-100%. But a phone on 0% is rare these days. Ten minutes of charge will get you around 70%.
There is, of course, the question of how this affects battery longevity. All that power that quickly probably isn’t the best long term. Xiaomi is quite confident though. It says you’ll lose about 20% capacity after 800 charge cycles. That’s roughly two years of charging, which isn’t that bad.
Shoot your shot
In presumably another cost-saving tactic, Xioami has kept the camera sensor count down. Mid-range devices from other brands tend to over-compensate in this area because apparently, the user perceives more cameras as better value. Most of the time that isn’t the case. That isn’t to say you’re not getting your money’s worth here.
The 11T Pro comes with a 108MP main sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 which, for the most part, punches above its weight. You’ll also get an 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide and a 5MP f/2.4 macro sensor.
We would recommend sticking to the main sensor when taking wide shots. The shots from the ultrawide lack a lot of detail and the colour accuracy can be hit and miss. You won’t find a depth sensor or dedicated telephoto but the increased pixel count from the main sensor means using the digital zoom (up to about 5x) will still yield well-detailed photos.
It seems Xiaomi has put a bit of effort into the image processing side of things. You’ll find a plethora of features and filters to play with. We were particularly impressed with the low-light performance and dedicated night mode.
Behold the power
All these extra features need a lot of power to perform to their fullest. The 11T Pro is no slouch here. It features Qualcomm’s previous flagship, the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset and comes with 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage space. We’d recommend the 256GB if you can get it as there’s no expandable microSD slot, which is a shame.
Another notable feature of the 11T Pro is the stereo speakers tuned by Harman Kardon. They get plenty loud and while they’re a little lacking on the low-end, they’re still rather punchy. They offer a little more than you’d usually find on a smartphone at this price.
Finally, Xiaomi’s UI, MIUI remains a very polarising experience. It does its best to bring you a stock Android look and feel while borrowing ideas from almost every other UI out there. Even an Apple lookalike feature, the separate notifications and system settings trays feature here. Out of the box, it does come with a few preinstalled apps, including the entire Google Suite but isn’t nearly as bad as Huawei.
Xiaomi 11T Pro verdict
If you’re looking for a flagship experience but don’t want to pay flagship money (and don’t mind a few cut corners to get there), then the 11T Pro deserves consideration. For a price that leans against the boundary of mid-range and flagship, you get solid performance, a good set of features and blisteringly fast charging. The only issue here is some of Xiaomi’s other devices, like the Mi 11 or 11T non-pro, might be a better option depending on the kind of specs you’re after or your budget.
The Xiaomi 11T Pro is available from Vodacom for R14,000.