We have said this a few times before but it is worth repeating: when Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 11 series in India, the Mi 11 Ultra got most of the attention thanks to its amazing spec sheet and of course, the biggest camera sensor ever seen on a smartphone. However, it was the other two devices in the series, the Mi 11X and the Mi 11X Pro that got Xiaomi’s traditional “crazy pricing.” The Mi 11X, as we mentioned earlier, has the potential to be the best phone for anyone looking for flagship-level performance in the vicinity of Rs 30,000. The Mi 11X Pro, on the other hand, is on paper, the best budget flagship out there.

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We hasten to insist “on paper” because we have not actually used the device long enough to draw a concrete conclusion. But consider the case – prior to the Mi 11X Pro, the most affordable Snapdragon 888 device in the market was the just-revealed iQOO 7 Legend at Rs 39,990, with the OnePlus 9 starting at Rs 49,999. Now, the Mi 11X Pro starts at a slightly higher price than the iQOO 7 Legend (a whole nine Rupees), but it brings more to the mainstream phone table (the iQOO 7 Legend insists it is a gaming phone, complete with BMW stripes and all).

Black, white and multicolour (literally)

It also comes with a design that will divide opinions, at least the color variant we got – Celestial Silver – definitely will. The other two, Lunar White and Cosmic Black, are relatively understated and smart. The Celestial Silver, however, is a different matter. The front is, as in almost all smartphones now, a tall display with a rather tiny punch hole (Xiaomi claims it is one of the smallest) in the top center, with slim bezels all around. Turn it around, however, and you get to see a back that changes color depending on the angle at which light falls on it. You get hints of bronze, blue, pink, and a few other shades. It is definitely fascinating and something we had seen before (most notably in Samsung flagships), and some will like and some will not. We will say this – it definitely catches attention. Mind you, it also catches a fair bit of smudges, so there is a good thing that there is a case in the box. For the record, the front and back have Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

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The phone’s design is very similar to that of the Mi 11X), which is hardly surprising, considering they are both from the X series – a slightly convex back, with a fingerprint scanner on the side doubling up as a power and display button (the best place for it, we insist) with a triple camera arrangement that is placed a tiny step above the flash. At 163.7 mm, it is definitely on the tall side, but it is rather impressively slim at 7.8 mm, and actually feels a little lighter than the 196 grams weight would suggest. This is a subtly smart-looking smartphone in two avatars and a rather loud-looking one in another. Which one you like is up to you, but speaking for ourselves, we always like a bit of change, so Celestial Silver it is.

And a multitasker too

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Its design is smart (or shocking, depending on your inclination), but what really makes the Mi 11X Pro stand out is its hardware. The display is a 6.67-inch FHD+ E4 AMOLED display, with a peak brightness of 1300 nits and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. Impressive. But the real stars are the camera and processor combo in the device. The processor as we pointed out is the current flagship favorite, the Snapdragon 888, but unlike its competitors who have broadly stuck to 48-megapixel main sensors, the Mi 11X Pro throws a 108-megapixel Samsung HM2 sensor into the mix, backed up by a more modest 8-megapixel ultrawide and 5-megapixel “telephoto macro.” There is no mention of OIS but that sensor is a formidable one, and frankly gives the phone a major flagship feel in the department, especially when you notice the ability to shoot 8K video at 30 FPS (never mind that we would struggle to find a display to view it in all its glory). The tiny notch comes with a 20-megapixel selfie camera, which is par for the course. As are the number of shooting options that Xiaomi provides with its phones.

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Interestingly, the brand has opted for 8 GB LPDDR5 RAM across both variants, offering storage options of 128 GB and 256 GB (both UFS 3.1) – the greater stress on storage might stem from the absence of expandable memory. Throw in 5G connectivity, infrared remote options, GPS, Bluetooth, dual speakers, and support for Dolby Atmos (no 3.5 mm audio jack though), and the Mi 11X Pro comes across as a very formidable customer. It also comes with MIUI 12 on top of Android 11, and while the 4520 mAh battery with a 33W fast charger might not seem very big by some standards (we have 65W chargers even at lower price points), it should suffice for most folks.

A new budget flagship?

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All this packed into a price point of Rs 39,999 for 8 GB/ 128 GB and Rs 41,999 for 8 GB/ 256 GB make the Mi 11 Pro Max a candidate for perhaps being a real budget flagship. It gives you pretty much everything you would want from a flagship-level device – a top-of-the-line processor, lots of RAM and storage, a big megapixel camera, a bright colorful display, and of course, a reasonably big battery. Of course, it faces a big challenge from the iQoo 7 Legend, which matches it in the processor department and comes with a massive 12 GB RAM, but then that worthy has a very gaming-oriented positioning (something we really think it should lose, given its design, specs, and performance). That apart, however, the Mi 11X Pro is pretty much the most affordable mainstream device with an SD 888 processor.

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But will it perform well enough to be perhaps the market’s top budget flagship, a position that had been occupied mainly by the OnePlus 9 until now? It definitely will alter what we expect from phones at this price point – a zone normally occupied by Snapdragon 870 chip devices (Vivo X60, OnePlus 9R), which are very good, but just a little below the 888. On paper, the Mi 11X Pro has as great potential of changing the Rs 40,000 segment as its Pro-less Bro (the Mi 11X) has of reformatting the Rs 30,000 one. We stress again: on paper.

A lot depends on those cameras, we suspect. Stay tuned for our review.

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