It even has a phone to worry the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. So why should you buy a Xiaomi? And what are the potential problems if you do buy one?
Xiaomi phones are good buys across the range, spanning from below £100 to around £1,000. It’s not a budget brand as such. However, the ones we tend to recommend most often cost £200-250.
Around this price, you start to see phones that make you ask why you’d spend £500 or more on something from Samsung, Apple or Google.
The very high-end Xiaomi phones, like the Mi 11 Ultra, don’t aim for ultra-high value in the same way. They are as much a showcase for cutting-edge tech as a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
You may not like the idea of spending a huge amount of money on a Xiaomi phone when it’s a much less recognisable name than Apple or Samsung. But this is not the case everywhere. Xiaomi is absolutely huge in countries like India and China.
We’ve already ticked off the biggest Xiaomi draw: value. Its Redmi and Poco lines are fantastic places to find an Android bargain, even if you don’t buy one reduced. Launch prices already tend to represent a great deal.
Battery life in these upper-end budget phones tends to be excellent too. Xiaomi usually puts big batteries into its phones, and one and a half to two days of use between charges is the norm.
This will be a refreshing change if you come from a phone that struggles to make it to 9pm. Xiaomi is a big proponent of fast charging too. Even its cheaper models outpace the top iPhones and Samsungs.
A lot of our favourite Xiaomi phones are pretty large. We’re phone fans and tend to enjoy a bigger screen and the stamina benefits you get when a phone has the space to fit a high-capacity battery.
If you’d prefer something small and dainty, you won’t find anything in this list of the best Xiaomi phones. Check out something like the Pixel 4a instead.
Xiaomi also continues to make quite a lot of 4G phones, in the £200-300 category where 5G mobile internet is becoming more common by the month. If you like to keep a phone for 3-4 years, you probably want one with 5G. 4G is going to seem pretty stale by the time you are due your next upgrade.
Don’t be taken in by quad-camera arrays in its cheaper phones either. Just like Motorola, Realme and Oppo, Xiaomi is not afraid to stuff its phones with near-useless tertiary cameras to make up the numbers. A “2-megapixel” camera is often not worth using. That said, phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro have some of the best main cameras you’ll find at this price.
Xiaomi has tried to cater for just about everyone after an affordable but powerful phone. And that means there’s a whole stack of them around the £200-250 mark. So how do you choose?
It’s best to pare each phone down to its essential appeals. The Mi 10T Lite has 5G. The Redmi Note 10 Pro has an ultra-high resolution camera. Gaming fans should choose the Poco X3 Pro. And for an all-rounder suited to a strict max £200 budget, get the Poco X3 NFC instead.
Here are the best Xiaomi phones that you can buy right now. It's not on our list, but we suggest you also check out our Xiaomi Poco M3 Pro 5G review.
Best high-end buy
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is a great choice if you’d like a phone that looks, feels and runs like one that might cost over £1000 but doesn’t. It has stacks of power, a lovely glass and metal frame and a screen that curves around at the sides. Apple and Samsung phones at this price don’t. The battery doesn’t last quite as long as some of Xiaomi’s cheaper phones, and there’s no dedicated zoom camera, unlike the Samsung Galaxy S21. But you can’t argue with the quality/price equation here.
The Xiaomi Mii 11 is available from:
Best mid-range buy
Think of the Redmi Note 10 Pro as Xiaomi’s classy budget phone. It doesn’t have a huge logo on the back like the Xiaomi Poco phones, and the rear is glass rather than plastic. This makes it feel more expensive, more high-end, than most phones at a similar cost. It’s rather lovely. It even has a 108-megapixel camera and an unusually nifty macro one for close-up nature images. There’s only one missing feature: 5G mobile internet. But the rest is golden.
Read our full Redmi Note 10 Pro review.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is available from:
Best Xiaomi camera phone
One glance at the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra tells you it means business. It’s Xiaomi’s top-end phone and has an incredible camera array. There’s a superb 50-megapixel main camera, a brilliant 5x zoom and an excellent ultra-wide. Those two secondary ones, the zoom and wide, beat the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This phone is one for the photography fans, and it even has a tiny display on the back for framing selfies of higher quality than you’d get with the standard front cam. The Mi 11 Ultra is a real techy toy box.
Read our full Xiaomi Mii 11 Ultra review.
The Xiaomi Mii 11 Ultra is available from:
Best cheap buy
The Redmi Note 9 has been around for a while but is still a top choice for those shopping with a very restrictive budget. It usually sells very cheaply online and is a much better phone than that low pricing might suggest. The battery lasts an age between charges, and it has one of the nicest screens you’ll find in a cheap phone. It’s a Full HD display. Rivals look more pixellated. You need to spend more to get a killer camera, but it can still take nice pictures during the day.
The Redmi Note 9 is available from:
Best budget 5G buy
If you’re wading through the many Xiaomi phones hovering around the £200 mark, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite is ‘the one with 5G’. Its battery is slightly smaller than the Poco X3 NFC’s. The Redmi Note 10 Pro camera array is better and faster. And the Poco X3 Pro is more powerful. But neither of them has 5G, making the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite the obvious choice if you are concerned about future-proofing or just want to see what 5G mobile internet is all about.
The Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite is available from:
Best budget gaming phone
If you love mobile gaming but don’t want to spend a fortune to get high frame rates in top games like Fortnite and Ark: Survival Evolved, you’ve found your next phone. The Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro
has an incredible amount of graphics power, considering it costs £230. Its cameras aren’t quite as good as the similarly priced Poco X3 NFC, so consider that if you care more about photography than gaming.
The Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro is available from:
Best budget gaming phone
The Poco X3 NFC is one of our favourite phones, available at £200. It’s something of an ultimate all-rounder, as long as you don’t want a small phone or need 5G mobile internet. This one is stuck on 4G. Sure, the Poco X3 Pro has the power, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro has a more reserved look and glass back. But the X3 NFC will be the goldilocks “just right” choice for many. A good camera, great battery life, a big screen and fairly low price is a great combination.
The Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC is available from:
Our phone reviews are based on real-world use. By not relying on synthetic benchmark apps that spit out a number to tell you how powerful a phone is, we get an insight into how a phone actually is to use.
We live with each phone for some time to get a feel for how long the battery lasts, whether it can play demanding games and how responsive it feels to use day-to-day. Each phone’s camera is tested with multiple trips into the outdoors to test its image quality for both video and stills.
As we test lots of phones in each price category, we’re able to give you a clear look at what the best phone is to get at £150, or £1000, based on your own priorities. And while we naturally have our own preferences, we try to consider others too. Some people care most about gaming performance, camera quality, battery life, or just having a phone that’s easy to handle.
This is why you’ll see our review peppered with suggestions of alternatives, even if we like the phone on test a lot.Advertisement
Still unsure about which Android phone to buy? Check out our list of the best Huawei phones to buy in 2022 for more advice.