Xiaomi has just launched its Mi 11 flagship in Europe, and I’ve been testing the European/International unit for the past four days. Prior to putting my SIM into Xiaomi’s latest, I had been testing the Samsung Galaxy S21 series extensively. So the question I set out to answer when I received Xiaomi’s new phone is: How does the base Xiaomi Mi 11 compare to Samsung’s flagship, particularly the base Galaxy S21 (and also the S21 Plus for good measure)?
I don’t think it’s fair to compare the Xiaomi Mi 11 against the Galaxy S21 Ultra, because the latter is Samsung’s absolute top premium offering, and its pricing reflects that. As of the time of this writing, I don’t know the exact price of each Mi 11 variant in all markets, but we were told that it starts at €749 for the 8GB + 128GB variant. This means for consumers in Europe, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is priced right below the base Samsung Galaxy S21.
Xiaomi Mi 11 versus Samsung Galaxy S21: Specifications
|Specification||Xiaomi Mi 11||Samsung Galaxy S21|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888:
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||In-Display Optical Fingerprint Sensor||Ultrasonic In-Display Fingerprint Scanner|
|Front Camera(s)||20MP, f/2.4||10MP, f/2.2, 1.22µm, 80° FoV, Dual Pixel AF|
|Port(s)||USB 3.2 Type C||USB 3.2 Type-C|
|Audio||Stereo Speakers tuned by Harman Kardon||
|Software||MIUI 12.0 based on Android 11||Samsung One UI 3.1 based on Android 11|
|Other Features||Simultaneous audio sharing with two Bluetooth devices||
Design and hardware: Xiaomi feels more premium
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is a typical sleek glass-and-aluminum sandwich with a 6.8-inch, 120Hz AMOLED screen. While Xiaomi’s display panel doesn’t have the intelligent variable refresh rate of the Galaxy S21 series, its 3,200 x 1,440 resolution (WQHD+) panel is superior to the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus’ 2,400 x 1,080 panels. Honestly, I believe that 1080p is more than enough for human eyes on a small-ish phone screen, so if I must pick a winner, I’d say the Galaxy S21’s variable refresh rate is a more important feature than the Mi 11’s “more pixels.”
Nonetheless, the Xiaomi Mi 11’s screen is awesome. It curves on all four sides (like the Huawei P40 Pro), has a 480Hz touch sampling rate and a 5,000,000:1 color contrast ratio, and supports HDR 10+. I’ve held the Xiaomi Mi 11 side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (the big dog phone) and both screens look equally gorgeous to my eyes.
The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus are identical in look but differ in size and back material. The standard Galaxy S21 uses a plastic back (the S21 Plus keeps the glass back). It doesn’t matter that Samsung did a good job to make the plastic not feel plasticky, the reality is the decision to use plastic is a cost-cutting measure by Samsung, so if we’re comparing the Xiaomi Mi 11 to just the standard Galaxy S21, one phone is clearly more premium. The Galaxy S21 Plus fares much better against the Xiaomi Mi 11 in terms of in-hand feel and construction.
Inside, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, while the Galaxy S21 series uses either Qualcomm’s SoC or Samsung’s own Exynos 2100. All the Galaxy S21 phones I’ve tested were Snapdragon versions, so I have no idea how Exynos 2100 fares against the Snapdragon 888. But the general consensus seems to favor Qualcomm’s SoC. If that’s the case, then the Xiaomi Mi 11 has an SoC advantage in Europe and Southeast Asia, where Samsung ships Exynos-powered devices.
The Galaxy S21 phones are all rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, while Xiaomi’s Mi 11 has no official rating. However, Xiaomi wins the speaker battle: Its stereo speakers, fine-tuned by Harman/Kardon (coincidentally a Samsung subsidiary), pump out noticeably fuller, louder, more vibrant audio than any of the S21 phones.
Moving over to the battery, the Galaxy S21 Plus and S21 pack a 4,800 mAh and 4,000 mAh cell respectively compared to the Xiaomi Mi 11’s 4,600 mAh, but Xiaomi’s battery can be topped up at 55W wired or 50W wireless speeds, while Samsung’s charging speeds feel pedestrian at 25W wired and 15W wireless. Also, contrary to its decision in China, Xiaomi decided to include a 55W charging brick with the Mi 11 in its international packaging; Samsung does not.
Cameras: trading blows
The Xiaomi Mi 11’s camera system consists of a 108MP sensor with a large 1/1.33″ sensor size, along with a 13MP ultra wide-angle camera and a 5MP macro sensor. The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus have identical camera systems: a 12MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, and a 64MP telephoto.
For still photos, if I’m viewing images on the phone screen or on social media, the Xiaomi Mi 11’s photos look very similar to the Galaxy S21’s photos.
However, if I blow images up to full size and pixel peep on a computer monitor, Xiaomi’s photos are sharper thanks to the Mi 11’s 108MP camera pixel-bins for 27MP shots, while the Galaxy S21 phones just use a rather average 12MP sensor that’s more than a year old.
The script flips for photos after the sun sets: If I’m viewing just on a phone screen, the Xiaomi Mi 11’s shots keep up very well against the Galaxy S21’s, but once I pixel peep, the S21’s night shots tend to be sharper with slightly better dynamic range, because the more pixels you have in a shot, the more light you need.
The ultra wide-angle cameras for the Xiaomi Mi 11 and Galaxy S21/S21 Plus are solid, but not at the level of the best ultra-wide shooters such as the Huawei Mate 40 Pro or even the OnePlus 8 Pro’s 48MP lens. Details are a bit soft if you zoom in, and dynamic range isn’t anywhere as good as their main cameras.
Zooming is where Xiaomi and Samsung decided to compromise in order to both meet a sub-$1,000 price point. The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus’s so-called telephoto lens is a far cry from the periscopic system seen in the Galaxy S21 Ultra; and Xiaomi’s Mi 11 skips the zoom lens entirely, instead relying on digital crop via the 108MP sensor.
Zoom shot results for both phones are respectable — certainly better than most iPhone zooms — but no match for what the Galaxy S21 Ultra or top Huawei phones can produce. Below are a series of 10x samples. The Xiaomi Mi 11’s shots have slightly better details, but the Galaxy S21’s has better colors.
Video performance is very good for both the Xiaomi Mi 11 and the Galaxy S21 or S21 Plus. All three phones can shoot at up to 8K resolution and produce really stable footage up to 4K/30fps. New this year to the Xiaomi Mi 11 is a series of “Movie Effects” shooting modes, which are basically preset video effects that users can enable within the camera app. Some of these are very fun, including an Inception-like “Parallel World” mode. I am also a huge fan of Xiaomi’s “clone” mode, which can superimpose the same person multiple times into a photo or video, and the results are quite convincing (and fun).
Personally, I find the Xiaomi Mi 11 more fun to play around with for videos.
Software: clean, zippy, full of shortcut gestures
Both Xiaomi’s and Samsung’s phones run a skinned version of Android 11, respectively MIUI 12.0.1 Global (for the Mi 11) and One UI 3.1 (for the Galaxy S21 series). MIUI has a more playful touch, including little software flourishes such as apps “exploding” when being uninstalled, and the phone’s storage capacity being represented by a glass of water that flows along with the orientation. One UI is a bit more business-like and to the point, but does offer tons of customization options if you’re willing to dive deep.
Aesthetics aside, however, they behave very similarly. Since this is the international version of MIUI meant for audiences outside China, it’s got Google support built-in, including Google Assistant as the default voice assistant. There’s even an app tray, which had been missing from Xiaomi phones in years past.
Both MIUI 12 and One UI 3.1 are filled with gesture shortcuts that add to the Android experience, such as the ability to open most apps in a floating window, or double-tapping on the screen to turn the display on or off.
Xiaomi’s Mi 11, in fact, crams more shortcut gestures than most phones I’ve tested, including the ability to launch apps or shortcuts (like turning on the flashlight or opening the QR code scanner) by double-tapping the back of the device or knocking on the screen with a knuckle.
There is one annoying bug in MIUI 12 that’s been around for a couple of years, however: Its one-hand mode can only be activated if the user is using on-screen software buttons and not swipe gesture navigation.
Lastly, in terms of software support, this is one area where Samsung has Xiaomi beat. Samsung has committed to delivering three generations of Android OS updates, while Xiaomi still offers the standard two years of support for its flagship phones.
Performance and battery life: neither lacking in power
Since the Xiaomi Mi 11 and the Galaxy S21 I tested ran on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, I saw no difference in performance. However, the Mi 11 feels “faster” to my eyes, although it’s just an illusion — Xiaomi’s MIUI’s animations simply zip around faster. In my opinion, 120Hz on the Mi 11 feels slightly zippier/snappier than 120Hz on the Galaxy S21 phones, including the Ultra.
That’s just my opinion, however. In a more objective comparison, I find the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus have far better battery life than the Xiaomi Mi 11 thanks to the former having less pixel-dense screens that can adjust their refresh rates depending on the content, whereas for the Mi 11, my phone ran at 120Hz and WQHD+ resolution most of the time.
In fact, battery life may be an issue for the Mi 11, as the phone hasn’t been able to last more than 11 hours away from a charger in any of the days I’ve had the phone. The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus can last the entirety of a 14-hour day for me easily.
Conclusion: none of these phones are true premium flagships, but one comes closer
A recent trend that’s been established in the mobile scene is that there are flagship phones, and then there are premium flagship phones. The former usually already have the latest SoC, beautiful screen, and capable cameras, but the latter just has those extra bells and whistles and all the bleeding-edge components.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is in an interesting place because most of its components, from the 120Hz WQHD+ screen to the 108MP camera to the curvy-aluminum body put it in the premium flagship tier, but its lack of zoom lens keeps it from being one. It’s a phone that flirts with premium flagship status but ultimately ends up being slightly below that.
Samsung’s non-Ultra S21 phones, particularly the standard Galaxy S21, are more firmly entrenched in where they stand: No one is going to confuse a plastic back, 1080p flat panel phone as a premium flagship. In other words, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is slightly more premium than the Galaxy S21 or S21 Plus while undercutting both in price.
If you live in a region where Xiaomi’s phones are sold officially (that would be most of the world outside of North America), then the Xiaomi Mi 11 is likely a better value than the standard Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus. If you have a bit more money to spend and want something a bit more premium, then your best option is the Galaxy S21 Ultra. However, rumors suggest Xiaomi will launch a Mi 11 Pro and possibly a Mi 11 Pro+ (or Mi 11 Ultra?) in the near future, so it might be worth waiting a bit to see what’s in store.
Dead Space Remake Officially Announced at EA Play – CGMagazine
After weeks of different rumors and leaks, the Dead Space remake was officially confirmed at EA Play 2021.
The Dead Space remake wasn’t given any kind of release window, but it is in development for next-gen systems only, meaning PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The game is being built with the Frostbite Engine and is handled by EA Motive, who is best known as the developer of the recent Star Wars Squadrons. The original trilogy was developed by Visceral Games, which was shuttered by EA in 2017.
The announcement didn’t show much at all but presented fans with a short teaser trailer showing a grisly space station as the iconic sounds of Necromorphs echoed in the background. As the camera zooms in Isaac Clarke’s backpack lights up and reveals the words Dead Space. A press release from EA says fans will “experience an improved story, characters, gameplay mechanics.” Phillippe Ducharme, Senior Producer of Dead Space, says the team at Motive has invited fans to give their feedback on the remake ever since the early days of development. With that in mind, it’s not exactly clear how far along in development the Dead Space remake actually is. You can watch the reveal trailer yourself down below.
One of the most prolific survival-horror series of all time, it’s been eight years since the release of the last game in the series, Dead Space 3. The franchise was always known for its nail-biting horror and inventive combat, requiring players to hack off the limbs of enemies in order to both slow them down and kill them. Here’s EA’s description of the first game and remake,
“In Dead Space, Isaac Clarke is an everyman engineer on a mission to repair a vast, sprawling starship, the USG Ishimura, only to discover something has gone horribly wrong. The ship’s crew has been slaughtered and infected by some alien scourge…and Isaac’s beloved partner, Nicole, is lost somewhere on board. Now Isaac is alone with only his tools and engineering skills as he attempts to uncover the nightmarish mystery of what happened aboard the Ishimura. Trapped with hostile creatures called “necromorphs”, Isaac faces a battle for survival, not only against the escalating terrors of the ship, but his own crumbling sanity.”
While Dead Space is coming back, Glen Schofield former executive producer of the series, has gone on to make a brand new sci-fi horror game called The Callisto Protocol.
OnePlus Nord 2: An impressive 5G phone at an affordable price – CNET
OnePlus calls its brand new Nord 2 the “flagship killer,” and I get why. This phone has impressive specs, performs well and when paired with a reasonable starting price (only £399 here in the UK), it’s designed to offer everything you’d need from a phone without emptying your bank account. A powerful processor, a solid dual rear camera setup, 5G connectivity, super fast charging — and it’s not bad to look at either.
Like the previous Nord — and the cheaper, launched just a few weeks back — the Nord 2 will not be on sale in the US. It’s destined for the UK and wider Europe, where it’ll cost £399 for the version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or £469 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For reference, £399 converts to about $540 or AU$740.
But no, it doesn’t really “kill” any flagships. It’s not as powerful as a “true” flagship like theor , nor will its camera skills attract the world’s most demanding photographers. The flagship that I feel is most at risk is , which shares many features with the Nord 2, yet has a much higher starting price of £629 ($729).
I’ve spent a short amount of time with the Nord 2 ahead of its unveiling, and here are the five things I like most about it.
A powerful MediaTek processor
OnePlus has typically used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of processors for its phones but it went with MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200-AI chip for the Nord 2. You’ll notice absolutely no difference in use — it’s the same as any other Android phone — but you will notice that it’s surprisingly powerful for the price.
While it’s not up there with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in terms of benchmarks, it did beat the Pixel 5 and wasn’t far below the more expensive OnePlus 9. It’s certainly powerful enough for gaming, photo editing and video streaming and navigating around the Android 11 interface is smooth and stutter free.
Android 11 software
The Nord 2 runs Android 11 at its core, over which OnePlus has slapped its usual Oxygen software. I really like OnePlus’s software as it’s neat, easy to use and doesn’t try and load the phone up with too many bundled services and bloatware. As a result, the phone remains nippy and trouble-free for longer.
It’s particularly important on lower and midrange phones that might not cope as well with being bogged down by services. The result here is a phone with smooth performance that I expect to remain for some time to come.
OnePlus says it’s guaranteed to get at least two years of Android upgrades — so an update to Android 12 this fall and Android 13 next year is a given — with an additional year of security updates after that.
Incredible fast charging
The Nord 2 has the same 65-watt fast charging seen on the OnePlus 9 series and it’s amazing. It’ll take the phone from empty to full in only about 30 minutes, which makes it amazing for giving it a quick boost before you head out from home. The 4,500-mAh battery should still give you a day of use from a charge, but when you can recharge so quickly, battery life becomes somewhat less of an issue.
Even better is that a 65-watt fast charger comes in the box, so you don’t need to scour Amazon for one. What the phone doesn’t have is wireless charging, but I don’t see that as a particular problem.
Vibrant, sharp display
The Nord 2’s display measures 6.43 inches and boasts a resolution of 2,400×1,080 pixels, which is sufficient to make tiny text look nice and sharp. It’s an AMOLED panel, making it extremely vibrant too: great for videos, photos or playing whatever colorful game is currently making the rounds on the Google Play Store.
It has a 90Hz refresh rate which is a touch lower than the 120Hz of the OnePlus 9 series, but I doubt you’d be able to tell any real difference in day-to-day use. It’s silky smooth when scrolling around the interface, but you can also turn it down to a more regular 60Hz, which will apparently help save battery life.
Decent rear cameras
We haven’t done our full suite of camera tests yet, but what we’ve seen from the cameras so far looks good. The main sensor is a 50-megapixel affair — the same one seen in the OnePlus 9’s ultrawide camera. Outdoor images look well-exposed, with plenty of detail and natural-looking colors.
The 8-megapixel super-wide lens is noticeably less detailed, but it too seems capable of capturing good-looking outdoor images. There’s an on-screen option for 2x zoom but there isn’t a zoom lens, so that 2x is based on digitally cropping the shot. Results still look good, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you won’t get maximum quality doing this.
There’s also technically a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, which is totally pointless in my opinion as a photographer. If you want good-looking black and white images, use the regular camera and apps like Adobe Lightroom or Snapseed to have full control over converting to mono. Frankly, I feel OnePlus could have pulled this out and lopped another 20 quid or so off the price.
OnePlus Nord 2 specs
|Display size, resolution, refresh rate||6.43-inch AMOLED, FHD+ (2,400×1,080 pixels), 90Hz|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.25×2.88×0.32 in.|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||158.9×73.2×8.25 mm|
|Weight (Grams)||6.66 oz; 189g|
|Camera||50MP (main), 8MP (wide-angle), 2MP (mono)|
|Processor||MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor|
|Special features||5G-enabled, 65W fast charging, 90Hz, dual stereo speaker, face unlock|
|Price (USD)||Approximately $540 (converted from UK price)|
|Price (AUD)||Approximately AU$740|
OnePlus will add ‘optimized mode’ toggle in Oxygen OS 12 to address throttling – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com
Following a performance vs optimization controversy this month, OnePlus has confirmed that it plans to address the debacle in the way that it should have done from the very beginning. A OnePlus employee confirmed through a OnePlus Forum thread that the Android skin will gain a toggle to enable/disable OnePlus’ performance optimization with an early build of Oxygen OS 12.
Earlier this month, OnePlus was delisted from benchmarking app Geekbench due to alleged performance manipulations. This sparked controversy and OnePlus was prompted to respond to the allegations. Although benchmarking apps were performing in line with what’s expected from the Snapdragon 888 chipset, the phones were throttling many other apps from using the chipset’s maximum capacity during use. Geekbench saw this as cheating and that’s what prompted the benchmark app to delist the OnePlus 9 Duo.
OnePlus gave its reasoning for this: Users offered feedback about both battery life and heat management for future OnePlus devices, and explained that it has “optimized” performance of these devices when using the most popular apps. OnePlus even went beyond and stated that today’s high-end chipsets are overkill for most apps. While they are right to an extent, further testing showed that the so-called battery savings were minutes at most and largely negligible.
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