With its Redmi and Poco sub-brands, Xiaomi wants to remind us that it’s not all about the top-tier flagship smartphones – and the company consistently puts out low-price handsets that give you more than you might expect for your money. We’ve seen it plenty of times in the past and the Redmi Note 11 is another example.
Despite costing very little – around £ 200 in the UK – the phone comes with decent battery life, an excellent screen, and a build quality that’s impressive. Picking up and using the Redmi Note 11, you wouldn’t necessarily think that you’d paid so little for it, and it might make your flagship-owning friends wonder why exactly they’ve paid so much.
The specs that the Redmi Note 11 comes with aren’t quite as impressive, which is to be expected, but during our time with the phone, we didn’t notice any major issues in terms of slowdowns or bugs. Whether it’s watching movies, playing games, sending messages, checking social media, or browsing the web, the phone is perfectly capable and isn’t going to let you down in any of these areas.
Thanks to the bright AMOLED screen and the competent stereo speakers, media playback is an area where the Redmi Note 11 does really well. If you’re looking for a phone that’s going to cope well with YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer, and so on, then this might be exactly what you need – and at 6.43 inches, the screen hits a sweet spot between the smallest and the largest displays out there.
Of course, there are shortcomings, as you would expect from a phone that costs so little. Photos and videos captured by the phone’s rear camera aren’t brilliant, especially as the available light goes down. A lot of the time you’ll get snaps that look pretty good, but for difficult situations – moving subjects, night shots – you’re going to want to think about spending more for a phone with a better camera on the back.
You don’t get any support for 5G here either, which is unusual for a phone nowadays, even one that costs as little as the Redmi Note 11 does. How much this matters to you will likely depend on whether there’s any 5G in your area yet – after all, 4G is still pretty speedy.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 price and availability
- UK pricing set at £ 199
- Compares well with similarly priced handsets
- Not on sale in the US
The price of the Redmi Note 11 is £ 199 in the UK, making it one of the cheapest phones on the market at the moment (the phone has already launched in China, too). As usual for Xiaomi, you won’t be able to buy the Redmi Note 11 in the US.
- Appealing aesthetics
- Slim 8.1 mm thickness
- IP53 splash protection
Take a look at the Redmi Note 11, and you wouldn’t think it’s a budget phone that costs as little as it does. It feels light but well constructed in the hand, the matte plastic backing is comfortable to the touch (and feels more premium than we expected it to), and even the rear camera bump is tastefully handled.
At a mere 8.1mm (0.32 inches) thick, this is more svelte than a lot of the budget phones that have crossed the TechRadar reviews desk, and all the curves and ridges on this phone are tastefully and thoughtfully positioned. It’s perhaps only the slightly thicker bottom bezel underneath the display that gives away this phone’s affordable price tag.
Our review unit came in a rather gorgeous-looking Graphite Gray color, which manages to be both eye-catching and subtle at the same time. If you’d rather have a phone that pops a bit more, you can get the Redmi Note 11 in Pearl White and Star Blue, but for us, it’s the gray color that’s the most appealing.
With a 6.43-inch display, the overall dimensions of the phone are 159.9 mm x 73.9 mm x 8.1 mm (that’s 6.3 inches x 2.9 inches x 0.32 inches), and it weighs in at 179 grams (0.39 pounds). What you don’t get – and we wouldn’t expect it at this price – is full waterproofing and dust-proofing: with an IP53 rating, you get dust and splash protection but no more than that, so don’t drop it in the sink.
There’s a 3.5mm audio jack on the top of the device for your wired headphones, and a USB-C slot on the bottom for charging the phone or transferring data to another device – you don’t get wired charging with this smartphone. The volume buttons and power button are on the right as you look at the phone, and there’s a serviceable fingerprint sensor built into the power button.
- 6.43-inch AMOLED screen
- 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution
- Bright, vivid colors
Xiaomi has excelled itself with the 6.43-inch AMOLED screen on the Redmi Note 11. With a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels, 1000 nits peak brightness and a 90Hz refresh rate, it’s superb for everything from browsing the web to watching movies streamed from the web. There’s no HDR support, but it’s not something you’ll miss.
The only distraction is the punch-hole camera in the center of the screen up at the top, which mostly stays out of the way. As we’ve said, the bezels are nice and slim, with the bottom chin the only real giveaway that this isn’t a screen on a more expensive mid-range or even flagship smartphone.
Dive into the display options on the phone and you’ve got a few settings to play around with: you can choose from a light or a dark mode, and the color scheme can be set to either vivid (the default), saturated (so colors are always enhanced), or standard (a more natural look). The color temperature can be adjusted too.
- Quad-lens rear camera
- Struggles in low light
- Ultrawide mode available
The Redmi Note 11 comes with a quad-lens rear camera made up of a 50MP wide lens, an 8MP ultrawide lens, a 2MP macro lens and a 2MP depth lens. On the front, there’s a single 13MP wide lens which is good enough for straightforward selfie shots and video calls through whatever apps you want to use.
The rear camera does okay, up to a point, but it’s one of the weakest cameras we’ve seen on a smartphone lately. That’s not to say it’s bad, exactly, in decent lighting: you’ll get snaps that are more than good enough for social media most of the time, and occasionally you’ll get a really impressive shot or two.
It’s in the details that the camera starts to let itself down, with features like focus and HDR not quite as good as they are on the mid-range or flagship phones that you’ll have to pay more for. As you can see from the camera samples below, certain areas can get muddy and colors can be a bit drab, especially when you’re out taking pictures in the middle of February in England.
Budget phones at this price are rarely capable of taking great photos at night, and the Redmi Note 11 continues this tradition: if there’s no or very little light available then you probably won’t get the photo you’re looking for, even with the night mode switched on. If there is a bit of light and your subjects keep it still, you might just get something usable.
As for the ultrawide mode, it’s handy for fitting more in the frame, but it tends to shift the colors of the shot, and images start to look a little fuzzy on closer inspection. We don’t want to be too negative about the cameras on the Redmi Note 11, but this isn’t a phone for people who need a camera they can rely on.
Specs and performance
- Uses on Snapdragon 680
- Performance is mostly fine
- Running Android 11
The Redmi Note 11 has specs befitting its price: under the hood you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. We recommend going for the 128GB option, although there is a microSDXC card slot as well for expanding the amount of room you’ve got for apps and files.
Those are pretty basic specs for a modern-day smartphone, but they’re enough to get by, and we didn’t have any major problems with glitches or lag while we were using the handset. Of course, switching between screens and apps isn’t going to be quite as slick as it is on an iPhone 13 or Samsung Galaxy S22, but then again you’re paying a lot less for the hardware, so it depends where on the price versus performance spectrum you want to be.
The Redmi Note 11 was able to run all of the apps and games we tried while barely skipping a beat, although the benchmarks aren’t particularly impressive: on Geekbench 5 the device scores 377 (single-core), 1,625 (multi-core) , and 442 (OpenGL).
One feature you don’t get here in 5G, which is a shame – the next-gen connectivity tech is showing up on most phones nowadays, even budget ones, and with 5G becoming more widely available (in urban areas at least) it’s an omission that might put you off the Redmi Note 11. On the other hand, you might say, we’ve all been living perfectly well with 4G for the last few years.
In terms of software, you’ve got Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 software running on top of Android 11, which is fine up to a point. It has some quirks that we’re not particularly fond of – like different actions depending on whether you swipe down on the left or right of the screen, and an extra screen when installing apps – but overall it’s polished and useful enough.
- Over a day of battery life
- 5,000mAh battery capacity
- No wireless charging
If the performance isn’t quite top-notch on the Redmi Note 11, the battery life is certainly among the best we’ve seen on a smartphone lately. We were easily getting through a day of use with 30-40% battery left by bedtime, and with a bit of careful management, you could probably get through a couple of days with the phone.
What we can’t tell you is how well the battery life holds up over time because we’ve only had the handset for a couple of weeks, but the early signs are promising. A battery capacity of 5,000mAh is relatively generous, and it’s only if you’re pushing demanding tasks like GPS navigation and gaming that you’ll be searching for a charger during the day. We watched an hour of video streaming at a low volume and maximum brightness, and it only knocked the battery down by 5 percentage points, which is impressive.
As is to be expected from an affordable phone like this, there’s no wireless charging with the Redmi Note 11. The 33W wired charging is fine though, and you can get a full charge from zero in a little over an hour with this phone. In terms of battery charging and battery life, there’s nothing to worry about.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11?
Buy it if …
Don’t buy it if …
First reviewed: February 2022