Xiaomi is back to doing what it does best: flooding the mainstream smartphone market with a plethora of alternatives, so there’s a Redmi phone for everyone. We’ve seen a number of other companies follow suit, and while it makes for a complicated mess, it also means there’s a lot of options.
Take the new Redmi Note 11S, for example. This is a 4G-only smartphone, which is strange given that the Redmi Note 11T 5G , which came before it, also supports 5G. The 108-megapixel rear camera is the main attraction here. This is the same sensor that was used on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max last year, but Xiaomi is now selling it for a cheaper price. However, with the Redmi Note 11 Pro series on the horizon, where does the Redmi Note 11S fit in, and should you consider it at all?
Redmi Note 11S price and variants
Let’s start with the various settings available. The Redmi Note 11S comes in three different configurations, with prices ranging from Rs. 16,499 for 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage to Rs. 17,499 for the same amount of RAM but 128GB of storage to Rs. 18,499 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Redmi Note 11S design
The Redmi Note 11S‘s design is a little too plain for my tastes. In images, the blue and polar white trims seem a little better, but my black unit is just plain dull. The phone’s plastic frame and back panel are well-made, and it’s a pleasure to handle. At 179g, it’s neither too heavy nor too thick. When using the Redmi Note 11S on a flat surface, the main camera protrudes wider than the rest of the camera module, making it unstable. Xiaomi chose a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with a peak brightness of up to 1000nits, according to Xiaomi. The rest of the specs, on the other hand, are nothing to worth writing home about. It has a peak refresh rate of 90Hz, a touch sampling rate of 180Hz, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for scratch resistance. The full-HD+ resolution guarantees sharp pictures, and the colours are vibrant. The Note 11S’s refresh rate is set to 60Hz by default, so you’ll have to manually enable it.
Two Nano-SIM cards and a microSD card can be used in the same tray on the Redmi Note 11S. Because the Redmi Note 11S only has 128GB of built-in storage, the dedicated storage expansion slot comes in useful. Dual speakers, a Type-C port, an IR emitter, and a headphone jack round out the phone’s features. It also has an IP53 water and dust resistant rating, which is unusual in this price range. A 33W rapid charging adaptor, USB Type-C connection, SIM eject tool, and a case are included in the box.
Redmi Note 11S specifications and software
The MediaTek Helio G96 SoC, which is moderately powerful but not the most efficient due to its older 12nm fabrication method, powers this phone. Dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5, and all basic satellite navigation systems are all supported by the Redmi Note 11S. It also includes a 5,000mAh battery, which should be enough to get you through a whole day on a single charge.
MIUI 13 is installed on the Redmi Note 11S, but it is still based on Android 11 rather than 12. If you’ve ever used a Xiaomi smartphone, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There are all of the typical theming options, shortcuts, and gestures, as well as a slew of preinstalled apps.
Performance and battery life
The Redmi Note 11S has enough processing power to handle simple apps and games. Some MIUI 13 apps, like as GetApps, can be spammy. The power button has a capacitive fingerprint sensor, which performed well in my tests. You may take benefit of an always-on display feature thanks to the AMOLED panel. This could have been more useful, but it’s only active for 10 seconds at a time, so it’s not truly “always on.”
The phone’s display played videos beautifully, but the stereo sound was unbalanced, with the bottom speaker being much clearer than the earpiece. Games worked fine, but some of the more demanding ones had limited graphical options on my phone. Call of Duty: Mobile, for example, didn’t even show the ‘High’ graphics option, and I couldn’t use most of the advanced quality toggles. However, the gameplay was smooth; it simply didn’t look as well as it usually does.
Xiaomi claims to have employed a liquid cooling mechanism to keep the phone cool even when under stress, however the back and frame of the phone were still rather warm after a 30-minute session of Call of Duty.
Given its characteristics, the Redmi Note 11S performed expected in testing and in real-world usage — benchmark scores were somewhat lower than those achieved by the Redmi Note 11T 5G with its MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC. AnTuTu gave the Note 11S 3,10,732 points, and GFXBench’s T-Rex test gave it 51 frames per second.
Thankfully, the battery life was adequate. Even with heavy use, the 5,000mAh battery comfortably provided a complete day’s worth of runtime. You should expect to go longer between charges if your workload is smaller. The battery is charged fairly rapidly thanks to the 33W fast charging.
Redmi Note 11S cameras
The Samsung HM2 sensor is used in the main 108-megapixel camera in the Redmi Note 11S. By default, it takes 12-megapixel pixel-binned photographs, but you can also shoot at the full 108-megapixel resolution. With the AI feature on or off, this camera produced good detail in broad sunshine, but colours in photos tended to look crazily overblown. The extra Pro Color mode increased the vibrance even more, giving images a very unnatural appearance. In my experiments, shooting at the maximum 108-megapixel resolution provided far more detail, but more importantly, colours were better controlled and things were much more realistic.
When shooting close-up subjects with the main camera, the Redmi Note 11S experienced some focussing issues, and it required a couple of taps on the viewfinder to get it to lock focus correctly. Close-ups looked great in controlled lighting, but in strong sunlight, colours were all over the place. In low light, the primary sensor struggled. Shooting at the full 108-megapixel resolution didn’t assist much, so Night mode was my only alternative. It takes a few seconds longer to shoot a shot this way, but the detail and exposure are slightly superior. Surprisingly, neither the ultra-wide nor the selfie cameras support Night mode, which is a great bummer.
When shooting during the day, the 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera has a more controlled colour profile, which is a positive thing for once. Low-light photographs were weak and grainy, with poor colour reproduction, as predicted. Because the Redmi Note 11S features a simple 2-megapixel macro camera rather than the amazing tele-macro camera seen on the Note 10 Pro series, the results aren’t as spectacular. A 2-megapixel depth sensor is also included.
During the day, the 16-megapixel selfie camera took decent images, but when I used Portrait mode for the same frame, I noticed a lot of oversharpening. Selfies shot indoors were acceptable if there was adequate ambient lighting, but the quality was poor when taken outside at night.
Even when shooting in broad daylight, the Redmi Note 11S can only record video at 1080p with stabilisation, and the quality was only decent. The quality was terrible in low light and not up to par for a phone in this price range.
The Redmi Note 11S feels like a stopgap answer until the Redmi Note 11 Pro series arrives, and if you’ve already set your heart on a Redmi phone, the Redmi Note 10 Pro from last year really delivers greater value at the same price. The phone’s biggest selling feature is its 108-megapixel camera. It takes nice images while shooting at native resolution during the day, but it’s only average when compared to the rest of the sensors. For a phone in this price range, the SoC isn’t very strong, and the lack of 5G doesn’t help it’s case
I believe it is preferable to wait a little longer before making a buying choice on this phone.