Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge feels and behaves like a more expensive Android phone

Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge feels and behaves like a more expensive Android phone

It has barely been a few days into the New Year, and new phones are landing on our desk faster than you can say “Hello”. We just had the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE and now it is the turn of the Xiaomi 11i series - specifically the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge.

Mind you, this isn’t the company’s flagship phone, but you’ll be surprised how imposing this will be for the incumbents vying for your money just upwards of the ₹20,000 price point.

There are two phones in the Xiaomi 11i series that’ll be on sale in India. There’s the Xiaomi 11i 5G, which is priced upwards of ₹24,999, while the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge gets a price tag of ₹26,999 onwards depending on the variant.

The phones that should be very worried by these arrivals? The Realme GT Master Edition (around ₹25,999), iQOO Z5 ( ₹23,990 onwards), OnePlus Nord 2 ( ₹27,999 onwards), the Samsung Galaxy A32 (around ₹23,499) and the Samsung Galaxy F42 5G (around ₹22,999).

Xiaomi’s absolutely not holding back on the spec sheet, which in turn is the foundation for the subsequent experience you’ll elicit from your new phone. Between the two, the only real difference is that the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge gets the world’s first 120-watt fast charging tech in smartphones (albeit with a smaller 4,500mAh battery) while the Xiaomi 11i makes do with a maximum of 67-watt fast charging (but with a larger 5,160mAh battery). Rest of the skeleton remains the same.

The good thing is the 120-watt and 67-watt fast chargers come with the phone. In the box, as they say. You won’t have to go around searching for and then spending on a phone charger. The experience is complete, from the outset. The Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge statistics are mind-boggling. This phone, when fully discharged, gets charged to 100% in 15 minutes.

That’s faster than what you’d call a splash and dash. Forgot to plug in the phone for charging at night. Not to worry – put this on charge, and by the time you are ready to head to work, this will be fully juiced up. No wireless charging though, but that is perhaps to be expected at this price.

The fast battery charging capabilities don’t come by reconfiguring just any other smartphone battery pack. That, and the charger itself have been designed specifically for the 120-watts application. Between the charger and the battery are dual charge pumps. Think of these as two pathways sending charge to the battery. But why two pumps for one battery? The battery itself is dual cell — that’s two blocks of 2250mAh each. They get juiced up simultaneously. The benefits include individual charging speeds and less heat being generated.

The Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge (and indeed the Xiaomi 11i) are the first phones in India with the new MediaTek Dimensity 920 chip. This is a direct rival to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip. We must note from the outset that the battle of these mid-range processors is very close. The 6-nanometer architecture and similar clock speeds, though the Snapdragon has more core variation for lower power use which could translate into slightly better power savings.

Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge feels and behaves like a more expensive Android phone

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There are incremental performance upgrades compared with the Dimensity 910 chip, but then it perhaps didn’t need to take a leap forward either. The streamlining of MIUI (now MIUI 12.5 at the time of writing this) and that it can use up to 3GB of the fast UFS 2.2 storage, speeds up apps as you navigate and multi-task. That’s true whether you buy the 6GB RAM or 8GB RAM variants.

Not everyone you meet will be fans of MIUI, particularly if they have used cleaner variations of Android on other phones (Xiaomi’s own take on Android One in the past). It still looks busy, even as the mobile operating system world is moving towards minimalism and cleaner spaces. You still get some preloaded apps that you’ll probably not need and a lot of notifications, which you’ll need to disable and perhaps even opt out of personalised ad recommendations (Settings > Passwords & Security > Privacy).

The display is a 6.67-inch AMOLED which has the 2,400 x 1,080 resolution. This ticks off the fast 120Hz refresh rate checklist too, though you can choose between 120Hz and 60Hz – nothing lower than that. A really bright display too, though to be fair, not many of its rivals can match it on this, and that’s even before the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge fully dials up to use all of the 1200 nits of peak brightness.

If photography is what is top of your list of to-dos with the phone, not many can match it at least in terms of megapixels. That’s 108-megapixels for the primary camera, 8-megapixel for the ultrawide camera and 2-megapixels for the macro camera. The pixel size is 2.1 microns, which is quite large and should be useful with getting in a lot of light. And then there’s the pixel binning method which joins the data of 9 pixels together into one pixel to give you a photo that’s overall, 12-megapixels.

Across lighting environments, indoor and outdoor, the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge’s camera delivers. You may want to take some test shots with the 108M camera mode. That uses the full power the sensor hardware provides, and you’ll get incredible amounts of detail in return. Great for landscapes for photos where you’d want to zoom in later to appreciate the detailing. You may notice a slight sluggishness in the camera app from time to time, most noticeable when shooting a frame in lowlight. The trick is to keep the camera steady for that much longer, after tapping the shutter button.

Last but not least, the design is something you’ll look at again and again. There is Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and back. Your colour choices are Stealth Black, Pacific Pearl, Purple Mist and Camo Green. We do like how the Camo Green has turned out, complete with that matte (and partly frosted) finish at the back. The glass still catches a lot of fingerprints. Flat slab sides make this even more of a looker. The subtle branding on the back doesn’t shout unnecessary enthusiasm. And there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack – your earphones won’t feel lonely anymore.

After using the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge for a while, there is the unshakeable sense that this phone is attempting to do a lot and delivering by the bucketloads, too. The charging capabilities are the first of its kind in this price, and the extremely capable camera gives it a serious march over most of the direct rivals.

Combined with what else it is doing well (design, display and consistent performance), Xiaomi has found almost the perfect balance with the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge. It feels more expensive to hold and use than it actually is. That itself adds a lot of value for anyone spending money on any of the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge, or indeed even on the Xiaomi 11i variants.