Xiaomi is back to what it does best, flooding the mass smartphone market with a plethora of options, so no matter your budget, there’s a Redmi phone for you. We’ve seen many other companies adopt this strategy as well, and while it’s confusing, it also means they have a lot of choice.
Take, for example, the new Redmi Note 11S. This is a 4G-only smartphone, which, to begin with, is a bit odd since the Redmi Note 11T 5G (review) came before it supported 5G. The main attraction here is the 108-megapixel rear camera. This is the same sensor previously used in the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max last year, but Xiaomi is now offering it at a lower starting price. However, with the Redmi Note 11 Pro series right around the corner, where does the Redmi Note 11S really fit and should you even consider it?
Redmi Note 11S price and options
Let’s start with the various configurations offered. The Redmi Note 11S is available in three flavors starting at Rs. 16,499 for 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage; Rs 17,499 for the same amount of RAM but 128GB storage; and finally Rs. 18,499 for 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
Redmi Note 11S design
The design of Redmi Note 11S is too soft in my opinion. The blue and polar white finishes look a little better in the photos, but the black block I have is just plain boring. The plastic frame and back panel are well built and the phone is quite comfortable to hold in hand. It is not too heavy (179g) and not thick. The main camera protrudes further than the rest of the camera module, which makes the Redmi Note 11S unstable if you try to use it on a flat surface.
Xiaomi opted for a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with a fairly high peak brightness of up to a claimed 1000 nits. However, the rest of the specs are nothing to shout about. It has a 90Hz peak refresh rate, 180Hz touch base sampling rate, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance. Full-HD+ resolution delivers sharp images, and colors tend to be rich. You will have to manually enable the 90Hz refresh rate on the Note 11S as it is set to 60Hz by default.
Redmi Note 11S supports two Nano-SIM cards and a microSD card in one tray. The dedicated storage expansion slot is handy as the Redmi Note 11S has a maximum of 128GB of onboard storage. The phone also has two speakers, a Type-C port, an IR emitter, and a headphone jack. It even has an IP53 water and dust resistance rating, which is unusual for this price segment. The package includes a 33W fast charging adapter, a USB Type-C cable, a SIM eject tool and a case.
Specifications and software of Redmi Note 11S
This phone is equipped with a MediaTek Helio G96 SoC which is quite powerful but not the most efficient as it is built on the older 12nm process. Redmi Note 11S supports dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5 and all major satellite navigation systems. It also has a 5,000mAh battery that should last at least a full day on a single charge.
The Redmi Note 11S runs MIUI 13, but that version is still based on Android 11 and not 12. It’s a familiar experience if you’ve used any of the latest Xiaomi smartphones. All the usual theme options, shortcuts and gestures are present, as well as plenty of pre-installed apps. All third-party apps can be uninstalled, but some third-party apps, such as Mi Pay, cannot be uninstalled.
Redmi Note 11S performance and battery life
The Redmi Note 11S offers enough power to handle basic apps and games well. Some apps in MIUI 13 like GetApps may be spam. There is a capacitive fingerprint sensor in the power button, which worked well in my experience. Thanks to the AMOLED panel, you can take advantage of the always-on display feature. This could be more useful, but it only stays active for 10 seconds at a time, so it’s not really “always on”.
Video looked good on the phone’s display, but the stereo sound wasn’t well balanced, as the bottom speaker sounded much cleaner than the speaker. Games ran reasonably well, but some heavy games ran on this phone with limited graphics options. For example, Call of Duty: Mobile didn’t even show the “High” graphics option, and I also couldn’t use most of the extended quality toggles. However, the gameplay was smooth, it just didn’t look as good as usual.
Xiaomi says it used a liquid cooling system to keep the phone cool even under stress, but after a 30-minute Call of Duty session, the back panel and case were still very hot. The Redmi Note 11S performed predictably in benchmarks and in real-world conditions considering its specs – benchmark scores were slightly lower than the Redmi Note 11T 5G with its MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC. 51 fps in GFXBench T-Rex test.
Battery life was, thankfully, pretty good. The 5000 mAh battery easily provides all-day operation even with intensive use. With lighter workloads, you can expect longer time between charges. There is a 33W fast charging which helps to charge the battery quite quickly.
Redmi Note 11S Cameras
The main 108-megapixel camera of Redmi Note 11S uses a Samsung HM2 sensor. By default, it captures 12-megapixel pixel-binned photos, but you can also take photos at native 108-megapixel resolution. In bright sunlight, this camera provided good detail, but colors in photos tended to look wildly exaggerated with AI on or off. The optional Pro Color mode boosted the brightness even further, making photos look very artificial. Shooting at full 108MP gave much better detail, but more importantly, colors were better controlled and subjects looked much more natural in my tests.
The Redmi Note 11S had a bit of autofocus issues when shooting close-ups with the main camera, and at times it took a few taps on the viewfinder to lock the focus properly. Close-ups looked good under controlled lighting, but colors often faded in bright sunlight. The main sensor did struggle in low light. Shooting at full 108MP didn’t help much, and the only way out was night mode. It takes a couple of seconds longer to take a shot, but you do get slightly better detail and exposure. Surprisingly, you can’t use night mode with the ultra-wide or selfie cameras, which is a shame.
The 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera has a more subdued color profile when shooting during the day, which at first glance is a good thing. Photos in low light came out as expected weak and washed out, with poor color reproduction. The Redmi Note 11S has a basic 2MP macro camera rather than the impressive telemacro camera we had on the Note 10 Pro series, so the results aren’t as good. There is also a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
The 16MP selfie camera took decent photos during the day, however I did notice some over-sharpening when using portrait mode for the same shot. Selfies taken indoors were decent in good ambient light, but outdoors at night the quality was rather weak.
The Redmi Note 11S can only record videos up to 1080p with stabilization, however the quality was strictly average even when shooting in broad daylight. In low light, the quality was really poor and not up to par for a phone in this segment.
The Redmi Note 11S seems to be something of a makeshift solution until the Redmi Note 11 Pro series arrives, and if you’ve already opted for a Redmi phone, then last year’s Redmi Note 10 Pro actually offers better value for money. . The 108-megapixel camera is the main selling point of this phone. It can take good photos if you shoot at native resolution during the day, but otherwise it’s strictly average like the rest of the sensors. The SoC isn’t particularly powerful for a phone in this price range, and the lack of 5G doesn’t help either.
I think it would be best to wait a bit before making any decision to buy this phone, as better options are coming soon.
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