Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge 5G review: Should you be hyped?

Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge 5G review: Should you be hyped?

Almost every Xiaomi (formerly Mi) branded phone under 30k launched in the last one year or so, has been a one-trick pony. The 11X focused on giving you the fastest chip. The 11 Lite NE 5G was about putting the slimmest and lightest phone in your hand. The 10i was the most affordable 5G phone with a 108MP camera. Its successor, the 11i Hypercharge (and 11i), too, banks heavily on one feature to make a selling.

The phone can charge really fast. Like, REALLY fast. We’re talking speeds that would put Apple and Samsung to shame, and make every other fast charging tech—and there’s lots of it flying around these days—seem redundant. Obsolete. Not to mention, it could potentially change your lifestyle, forever.

Cut to the chase – Xiaomi’s fast charging tech, that it rightly calls “Hypercharge”, works as advertised, mostly. Let’s put that aside for a bit though and talk about Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge 5G, the phone. You’re not going to buy a phone just because it charges in a certain way, after all. The rest of the package, also, must be up to the mark. We have particularly high hopes from this one since the 11i Hypercharge is nothing but a rebranded Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus, that’s in a way a follow-up to the fantastic—and still the best phone to get under 20k—Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.

Design and display

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max took everyone by surprise, at launch. The fact that Xiaomi was able to churn out a product so distinct and so charismatic, as if out of thin air, on schedule barely a few months after launching the Redmi Note 9 series spoke volumes about the company’s might and magic. The 11i Hypercharge feels like déjà vu because Xiaomi has pulled off something very similar, again. That too, in the middle of a raging pandemic.

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The entire design has been re-worked from ground up and while it does borrow a few elements from other Xiaomi phones here and there, and few from the latest iPhones, the Hypercharge is distinctly original. It may be the best-looking Xiaomi phone ever for some.

Admittedly, it’s not for everybody. Emphasis here wasn’t on making the thinnest, lightest, or even the most ergonomic phone. You can tell, Xiaomi wanted to make something that would stand out from the crowd. Everything from the unapologetically flat sides, top and bottom to the monstrous camera rectangle literally stamped on the back, to the choice of colours and naming—camo green/stealth black/purple mist/pacific pearl—even, commands your attention. It would be very difficult to not notice this phone.

That said, at no point does all of this go overboard or anything. There is method here. Those out-and-out boxy looks are paired with subtle curves, rounded corners, and matte glass (the frame is made of plastic and is also soft to the touch) that together make the Hypercharge feel good in the hands. Xiaomi is bringing its A-game here and it’s on point.

This is a big phone, though, and you’re bound to feel the heft. For what it’s worth, it’s slimmer (8.34mm versus 9mm) and lighter (204g versus 214.5g) than the Mi 10i. The power button/fingerprint reader and volume rocker placement are fine, but your mileage may vary which is to say those with smaller hands will need some time getting used to the whole thing. The fingerprint reader is fast and mostly reliable.

Rounding off the package are IP53 splash resistance, dual speakers (these get nice and loud), 3.5mm audio jack, IR blaster, and X-axis linear motor (for nice and tight haptics).

The 11i Hypercharge has virtually the same display as the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max from the size (6.67-inch), resolution (1080p), panel-type (AMOLED) down to the size of the hole punch cut-out (2.96mm). That’s a good thing really, since we’ve had no complaints there and we have absolutely no complaints here, too. The panel can hit 1200nits and can refresh up to 120 times per second. This is not adaptive, though. HDR10 content playback is supported. This works in apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. There is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection.

Performance and cameras

Powering the phone is MediaTek’s 6nm Dimensity 920 chip. This is a relatively new chip for India. The only other phone to have it, is the Vivo V23. This is the first time we’re testing it, so we decided to run some benchmarks to get the lay of the land (you can see them below). On a pure technical level, the Dimensity 920 has two powerful Cortex-A78 cores running at 2.5GHz and six efficient Cortex-A55 ones clocked at 2GHz. This is paired to a Mali-G68 MC4 GPU. It’s a step up over the Dimensity 900 in hierarchy.

Numbers aside, we’re very happy with how this chip performs, especially inside the 11i Hypercharge, for two reasons. It can pull everything from basic day-to-day tasks to demanding games even (at medium graphics), without any issues. It doesn’t get very hot when stressed, either. Even more importantly, Xiaomi has been able to optimise it well. The in-house vapour chamber cooling system, also, seems up to the task. There was no perceivable throttling (or overheating) in this phone during our review, no matter what we threw at it.

One of the glaring concerns with recent Xiaomi budget phones – whether it be the 11X or the 11 Lite NE – has been lack of proper optimisation and throttling. With the 11i Hypercharge and the Dimensity 920 inside it, Xiaomi has—finally—hit gold. This is a phone we can recommend to anybody looking for a decent all-rounder that does everything right. Obviously, this is not a high-end gaming phone. The Poco F3 GT or iQOO 7 are better options for that audience. For everybody else, the 11i Hypercharge is a no-brainer.

It’s not all hunky dory though. The 11i Hypercharge, though it runs MIUI 12.5 Enhanced edition, is still based on Android 11. When you have similarly-priced phones like the Vivo V23 launching with Android 12, you can’t help but point out Xiaomi’s unsatisfactory track record with software updates. Making matters worse, is the inconsistency between devices. The 11 Lite NE, that costs the same as the 11i HyperCharge, is promised three major Android OS updates in India. Xiaomi has made no such commitment with the HyperCharge at the time of writing.

Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge 5G review: Should you be hyped?

For what it’s worth, the phone doesn’t show any pesky ads. It lets you uninstall, or hide, many system apps you’d probably never use. We’re yet to encounter any weird bugs that would otherwise hamper the user experience, too. The phone could do with less bloat/duplicate apps though. Our review unit runs the November, 2021 security patch at the time of writing.

The 11i Hypercharge has a triple camera setup on the rear with a 108MP main, 8MP ultrawide-angle, and another 2MP macro shooter. On the front, it has a 16MP camera. Those keeping track would be quick to point out, this is the same setup as the Mi 10i with the exception that there, you also got another 2MP depth camera.

Xiaomi, for some curious reason, has been cutting down on camera sensors, lately, even though its design schemes would have you believe otherwise (the 11i Hypercharge has five place-holders, but only three of those house actual sensors). Digging into the specifics, you’ll find another surprise. The 11i Hypercharge, also, employs a marginally inferior primary lens compared to the Mi 10i (it has the same Samsung HM2 sensor). While the Mi 10i came with a 7P lens with an f/1.75 aperture, the 11i Hypercharge has a 6P lens with an f/1.89 aperture. A new, more powerful chip might bring next gen gains but optics are as important.

Regardless, the HM2 is a capable sensor and Xiaomi’s processing works well most of the time, to give you some impressive results. Photos are sharp, have good detail, and dynamic range is spot-on. The approach is tad neutral, mellow if you will, compared to a Realme or a Samsung phone, but you can always toggle AI (and HDR) to get boosted colours if that’s your thing.

All in all, the main camera does well in good light. In low light, too, it’s above average especially with details and colours. There’s not a lot to complain here, at its price. There may not be any dedicated depth sensor in this phone, but Xiaomi’s software does well at mimicking the whole thing to produce overall pleasing results, some of the best we’ve seen in this segment in fact.

It is the other two sensors that could be better, though. The ultrawide-angle camera generally takes soft photos, even when there is lots of light, and colours lack consistency with main camera. The 2MP macro is plain rubbish.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, despite it being over a year old now, has the most potent camera setup we’ve seen from a budget Xiaomi phone, to this day. No other phone, even those from competitors, has been able to replicate that. Xiaomi could have just picked that setup (like it did with the display) and put it here, and we’d be all for it. Just saying.

Anyhow, the 16MP front camera captures good-enough selfies when lots of light is available. Low light selfies are a hit and miss.

Video recording tops out at 4K@30fps. Recorded footage, again, is a mixed bag.

Battery and fast charging

We know, this is what you—ultimately—came here for. So, let’s do this.

The 11i HyperCharge supports 120W fast charging. That’s its main USP. To call it “whopping” would be understatement. This is the first such phone to launch in India. Xiaomi claims you’ll be able to charge this phone from zero to 100 percent in flat fifteen minutes, under ideal conditions, of course. A compliant charger is, also, shipped in the box at no extra cost. You can use it to charge other devices like laptops, too, though it isn’t advisable (you should always use first-party chargers).

The first question that pops up when you hear 120W fast charging is, how it will impact battery health. Xiaomi says its Hypercharge technology deploys “industry leading quality measures to ensure a safe and smooth fast charging experience.” Xiaomi has equipped the 11i HyperCharge with nine thermal sensors that will keep tabs on temperature in real-time while 34 other – unspecified – features will ensure safety across the entire charging path from the charger to circuit to battery. That’s probably why there is a relatively smaller 4,500mAh “dual-cell” battery inside this phone despite it being quite chunky (Xiaomi phones are usually known for high-capacity batteries). The whole system is certified by TÜV Rheinland.

As per numbers shared by the company, the phone will seemingly retain up to 80 percent battery capacity even after 800 charge-discharge cycles with fast charging enabled.

The tech’s long-term implications can’t be foretold, but the way that current gen smartphone batteries are designed, it’s never a good idea to make fast charging like this a habit. Also, you should refrain from killing the battery completely, more often, and try and find time to charge your phone as and when it’s getting low.

As for how good Xiaomi’s tech is, it’s all very good, is the answer. You might not be able to always achieve the golden figure, but seeing your phone charge in under 30 minutes, today, is like peeking into the future. Even better, if you can do it at mainstream prices like this. The phone gets barely warm while at it, too. There was a time when fast charging used to be a luxury and with more and more brands removing chargers from boxes, Xiaomi seems to have found a new way to offer value to customers without breaking their bank.

To be clear, you don’t have to use 120W fast charging all the time. You won’t need that kind of quick top-ups all the time, we’re assuming. Unless you get used to it or something. It can be addictive, surely. But Xiaomi gives you an option to disable 120W fast charging from the settings, just in case. Xiaomi doesn’t specify the speed when you switch off “boost charging”. The difference, except for a change in animation, is marginal.

Should you be hyped about the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge?

Definitely. The Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge is probably one of the few phones launching today, that is well worth the hype. But it goes beyond that, with a package that’s more than a one-trick pony. The 11i Hypercharge is a complete smartphone, too. It may not be perfect but it’s the best affordable mid-range phone that Xiaomi has launched in a while. If the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max set a new benchmark under 20k, the 11i Hypercharge follows through with an equally well-rounded deal in a new segment that Xiaomi has been trying to crack since last year.

Also Read | Redmi Note 10 Pro Max review: Setting a new benchmark for value for money

The real kicker, though, is the 11i, a phone that is similar to the 11i Hypercharge in every way except that it has a bigger 5,160mAh battery and supports slightly lower 67W fast charging. This is the phone we recommend most people should get. The 11i Hypercharge is for the fast and furious crowd.

Be that as it may, the 11i series brings Xiaomi back into the game. Hopefully, more good things will follow.