Redmi Note 11S vs. 11 Pro 5G: A comparison

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While the data shows that Apple captured seven of the top ten spots In global smartphone sales in 2021, Xiaomi’s Redmi brand secured two of the remaining three spots. In the last few weeks we had the opportunity to review two of the new Redmi Note 11 series phones, the Redmi Note 11S and the 11 Pro 5G.

Both of these phones cost just under $400, but they have compelling design elements and solid specs. For those looking for a cheaper phone, either of these two might be a good choice. There are a lot of similarities between the two phones with a few minor feature differences that can move you to one over the other. The phone costs around $85, but the cheaper Note 11S might be a better buy for US customers.

how

  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • High quality fit, finish and design
  • 3.5mm audio jack and IR blaster
  • Powerful reversing camera system
  • Solid battery life

don’t like

  • Limited 5G connectivity in the US
  • Android 11

Despite the word Note in the names of these two phones, neither phone supports a stylus. The Redmi brand is the more affordable series in the Xiaomi lineup and there are a few specs that make them budget phones. One of the best places to find Redmi phones is in Amazon Xiaomi store.

hardware

I was sent both phones in Graphite Gray color and when they are face down on a surface I have to look for the 5G branding to tell the difference. the Note 11 Pro 5G is larger and has a flat back, while the Note 11S has rounded edges that blend into the sides of the phone. Another difference on the back is that the Note 11S has four camera vents, while one of the vents on the Note 11 Pro has the words AI above the vent instead. The 108-megapixel main camera is a large module at the top, while the other supporting camera lenses appear below this camera on the rear left.

Both phones have a frosted back that gives a professional look and solid grip. The back of the Note 11 Pro is glass and the Note 11S is plastic, but not the cheap glossy material you might see on other plastic phones.

how

  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • Low price
  • High quality fit, finish and design
  • 3.5mm audio jack and IR blaster
  • Powerful quad rear view camera system
  • Solid battery life

don’t like

  • Android 11
  • May stumble a bit on intense apps/games

The edges of the phones are square with rounded corners. The USB-C port, microphone opening and bottom speaker are on the bottom edge. On the top of the phones there is a speaker, a microphone opening, an IR blaster and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Nothing on the left side, volume and power/fingerprint sensors on the right. Both phones have a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, my favorite smartphone security setup, and activation is reliable and quick.

The AMOLED displays are nice with good brightness levels, solid resolution and high refresh rates. Higher refresh rates aren’t common on budget phones and we’re seeing 120Hz on the Note 11 Pro and 90Hz on the Note 11S, so both offer great viewing experiences.

There are minimal bezels surrounding the display with a very small pinhole camera centered at the top of the display. Similar to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the front camera is located under the glass panel, but not under the visible display.

Overall, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the hardware, but neither phone feels like a budget phone in the hand. The deeper flat edges, slightly denser feel, and glass back of the Note 11 Pro mean that if I had to decide on the feel of the phone in my hand, this is the one I would choose.

Likewise: Best cheap phone 2022: flagship features for under $450

There are batteries with a capacity of 5,000 mAh in each phone, so you can easily work for a whole day. The Note 11 Pro 5G supports 67W turbo charging, while the Note 11S supports 33W fast charging. Xiaomi states that the 67W charger can charge the Note 11 Pro 5G to 50% in 15 minutes and to 100% in 42 minutes.

The Samsung 108MP camera is the main shooter on this phone with 9-in-1 binning support. An 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera with a 118-degree field of view is also found on both phones. A 2-megapixel macro camera completes the Note 11 Pro’s triple cameras, while the Note 11S also adds a 2-megapixel depth camera for enhanced portraiture. Camera performance was solid, especially for budget phones, but there’s no telephoto camera and the cameras are challenged in low light.

Both phones support common LTE networks and I’ve experienced solid cellular coverage with my T-Mobile SIM card. The Note 11 Pro 5G supports 5G on many different bands, but my T-Mobile SIM card only supports band n41 (old Sprint 2.5GHz network), so 5G support in the US is limited.

The IR blaster, 3.5mm audio jack and microSD card support are relics of the past on flagship smartphones. So if these features are important to you, you might want to consider a Redmi Note 11S or 11 Pro 5G.

specifications

  • processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 (Note 11 Pro) or MediaTek Helio G96 (Note 11S)
  • Display (Note 11 Pro): 6.67 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution, AMOLED with 120 Hz refresh rate
  • Display (Note 11S): 6.43 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution, AMOLED with 90 Hz refresh rate
  • operating system: Android 11 with MIUI 13
  • R.A.M.: 8GB
  • camp: 128 GB with microSD card
  • cameras: 108 MP wide-angle f/1.9 rear camera, 8 MP f/2.2 ultra wide-angle camera (118 degrees field of view), 2 MP macro and 2 MP depth (Note 11S only). 16MP f/2.4 front camera.
  • connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS/Galileo/GLONASS/Beidou, NFC
  • sensors: Accelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, IR Blaster
  • water resistance: Splashproof IP53
  • battery: 5000 mAh non-removable with fast charge.
  • Dimensions (Note 11 Pro): 164.19 x 76.1 x 8.12 mm and 202 grams
  • Dimensions (Note 11S): 159.87 x 73.87 x 8.09 mm and 179 grams
  • Colors (Note 11 Pro): polar white, graphite grey, atlantic blue
  • Colors (Note 11 Pro): Pearl White, Graphite Grey, Twilight Blue

The Note 11 Pro’s display size and resolution, 2-megapixel depth camera, 5G network support, and glass back are the main differences between these two affordable phones. The Note 11 Pro feels slimmer than the 11S, but with limited 5G support, the 11S might be the better option, which also comes with cost savings.

software

One area where it’s obvious these aren’t flagship phones is in the software. Both launch with MIUI 13 which is based on Android 11, although Android 12 hasn’t been available for many months. Both were updated to the February Android security update during our review period, which is encouraging. Hopefully Android 12 will come to these phones in the next few months, but we don’t have high expectations for budget phones that get reliable and long-term software support.

MIUI 13 offers a mostly stock Android experience, with the main differences observed in the notification shade and additional settings. Special features available in MIUI 13 include sidebar, floating windows, second space and Lite mode. There are additional gesture shortcuts, quick ball and other settings to help you create a personalized experience with the phone.

There are some handy utilities included on the phones, including an FM radio app and the Mi Remote app so you can use the IR blaster and 3.5mm audio jack. There are also a few additional apps pre-installed including WPS Office, PUBG Mobile, LinkedIn, Amazon Shipping and more. However, these can also be deleted in order to optimize the phone for the driving style.

Likewise: Best Android Phone 2022: Top Expert Picks

Besides the 108MP camera hardware and other cameras, the Redmi Note 10 Pro packs advanced camera software with a variety of shooting modes. These include 108 MP with pixel binning, video, photo, portrait, clone, long exposure (moving crowd, neon trails, oil painting, light painting, starry sky, star trails), night, panorama, documents, vlog, slow motion, time lapse, double video, short video and Pro/Manual. With solid camera hardware and this software, you can unleash your creativity and spend a lot of time taking photos with this phone. The 5,020 mAh battery ensures that you can also take pictures all day long.

Daily usage experiences

I’m blessed to be able to review and write about a plethora of cell phones here on ZDNet, so I tend to buy the high-end flagship phones for my personal use. However, if I wasn’t reviewing so many phones, I’d seriously consider one of these sub-$400 phones because they have a solid piece of hardware, responsive performance, a nice side fingerprint sensor in the power button, and access to all apps I offer needs, a comfortable media experience, legacy features (IR blaster, microSD card and 3.5mm audio jack) and all-day battery life.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro was reviewed last year and a year later the hardware in the 11 Pro hasn’t changed much. 5G is an obvious addition, but it’s having a limited impact on cellular connectivity in the US. Unfortunately, the Note 11 Pro is currently still powered by Android 11, just like the Note 10 Pro in early 2021, so Xiaomi needs to step up the firmware game.

The Note 11S offers a lot in return $300 price and unless you’re running 20 apps at once or playing powerful graphics games, you should be happy with the phone’s processor and performance. It has great looks, solid build quality, and appears to be a much more capable phone than we used to buy for just $300.

Because we spend so much time interacting with our phones’ displays, the high refresh rates on both phones set them apart from other phones in this price range. The AMOLED display, decent speakers and headphone jack make these solid phones for media and as long as you don’t want to take professional photos on your phone, the Redmi Note 11 Pro or 11S are among the most affordable phones we’ve reviewed in 2022.


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