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Redmi Note 11S & Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G Review: The Best Budget Smartphones So Far!

Last year, Xiaomi had launched some of our favorite budget-friendly smartphones such as the Redmi Note 11 5G (Review) and Redmi 10 (Review) which we were deeply impressed with.

As we know, these devices ain’t just affordable, but were also packed with some of it’s fan favorite features that turn them into ”mini” flagship models in their respective segments.

Having pretty much nothing but positive impression on Xiaomi’s budget smartphone range, I was really excited to check out what the newly announced Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro have in store for us this round.

Glad to say, both devices did lived up to our expectation once again during our two weeks’ intensive testing. To find out why, read on our full review of the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G!

Design

Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series smartphones have always been known for their good looks, and the new Redmi Note 11 duo are certainly not an exception. Both models come with a super slim chassis that measures approximately 8.1mm in thickness, making them among the thinnest smartphones in the segment.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro 5G Design -2

Of course, having a slim and compact build naturally means that the phones are great for those who love using phone with one hand as you can easily reach any part of the screen (with your thumb) even if you have smaller hands.

The key design change on the new Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G actually lies in the adoption of a flat frame design which inevitably reminds us of the iPhone 13 (Review). Such design not only gives the phone a minimalist vibe, but also offers better grip to keep the phone secure in your hand.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro 5G Design -1

Both models I had for review come in a similar Graphite Gray colorway which goes perfectly well with the overall design of the phone. Most importantly, it did an excellent job in handling those unsightly smudges thanks to it’s matte-like finish.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro 5G Design -3

While the Redmi Note 11S didn’t come with a glass back like the Note 11 Pro 5G, but it did felt premium and sturdy on hand – so you won’t actually get an impression that it’s a budget range device.

What sets the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G apart from other devices in the same segment is perhaps it’s IP53 rating for dust and splash protection which should offers you peace of mind when using the phone in a light drizzle.

Display

Moving on to the front side of the phones, both the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro adopt a centered hole-punch display with slim bezels along the flank. Despite that, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G did get a larger 6.67” display over the 6.43” display on the Redmi Note 11S.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Design -4

Although it’s true that most budget smartphones tend to utilize LCD panels to keep cost low, but Xiaomi aimed to do things differently by opting for a high grade AMOLED panel that looks way more vibrant and punchy.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Design -5

Going into the specifics, the display offers plenty of sharpness with a 2,400 x 1,080 pixels screen resolution which allows even fine details to show up clearly on the screen. Likewise, it’s inherent support for a deep contrast ratio and DCI-P3 color gamut coverage also helps to ensure accurate color reproduction on the screen, leading to a more realistic and immersive viewing experience on the device.

Just like last year’s Redmi Note 10 series devices, the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G continue to be equipped with a high refresh rate of 90Hz and 120Hz respectively. This of course makes animations and scrolling felt more fluid on the screen as compared to other devices with a slower refresh rate.

Also, both the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro can get really bright with a peak brightness of 1,000 nits and 1,200 nits respectively. That’s important as it ensures the screen remain visible whenever you’re using the phone in an outdoor environment with strong ambient light.

Performance

The Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G are backed by two different chipsets, with the former powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio G96 chipset while the latter settles with a supposedly more powerful Snapdragon 695 mobile platform with an integrated 5G modem.

In day-to-day usage, the performance gap between the two devices might not be apparent since both the Helio G96 and Snapdragon 695 are some of the best chipsets in the budget segment. As such, they certainly have the calibre to meet all your productivity and entertainment needs on the device.

True enough, I hardly encounter any notable lag when editing some of our video contents on the phone, or when playing graphic intensive game titles like PUBG New State. That’s definitely something we don’t usually expect from a phone in this price range.

To sweeten up the deal, both models are also equipped with an advance LiquidCool technology that works well in keeping the phone cool during long gaming session and eliminates the risk of thermal throttling which would otherwise result in a dip in phone’s performance.

Depending on the variants you pick, there’s also up to 8GB LPDDRX4 RAM and 128GB UFS 2.2 storage in the memory department which I believe are more than sufficient for most average users.

Cameras

On the imaging front, both the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G share identical camera hardware for their quad-camera system. These include a 108 megapixels (f/1.9 aperture) main camera, 8 megapixels (f/2.2 aperture) ultra-wide camera, 2 megapixels (f/2.4 aperture) macro camera, as well as a 2 megapixels (f/2.4 aperture) depth sensor.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -2
Daylight Sample
Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -9
Daylight Sample
Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -4
Indoor Sample
Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -5
Portrait Sample

In bright daylight, the devices are able to snap some really flattering photos which you will proudly post on social media. Color saturation and contrast are on point, allowing photos to look natural instead of an overly processed mess. Details are also aplenty thanks to the adoption of a tried and tested high-res imaging sensor which has never failed to deliver in past Xiaomi smartphone models.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -6
Night Mode Sample
Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -7
Night Mode Sample

To help with taking photos in low-light environment, the phones also have a reliable night mode feature that helps to improve exposure and brightness of the scene which result in photos with better contrast and details. As I mentioned in some of my earlier reviews, Xiaomi smartphones have always impress when it comes to night-time photography and the new Redmi Note 11 series devices are surely no exception.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -8
Ultra-Wide Sample

As for building and landscape photography, it’s 8 megapixels ultra-wide camera is also able to capture photos of decent quality with good enough dynamic range and details. Most importantly, it did pretty well in low-light scenes too.

Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -10
2x Digital Zoom
Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -11
2x Digital Zoom
Redmi Note 11S & Note 11 Pro Camera Sample -12
2x Digital Zoom

While the phones notably lack a dedicated telephoto camera for zoomed shots, but they nonetheless offer up to 10x digital zoom via it’s main camera. Personally, I really love to use it’s digital zoom feature for taking close-up photos of flower and insect as it tends to deliver better results as compared to those that were shot using it’s macro camera.

Also, the main camera is able to lock on to the subject quickly and accurately, making it easier to snap a well-focused photo as compared to the macro camera which would requires you to get really close (around 4cm) to the subject in order to focus on it.

Battery & Charging

To keep the lights on, both the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G are fitted with a respectable 5,000mAh battery which easily offers up to 1.5 days’ battery life under moderate usage.

Even if you happens to use the phone heavily during the day, it’ll still sit comfortably above the 15% mark at the end of the day. That’s how enduring battery life on these devices are!

What’s different between the two devices actually lies in their charging department whereby the Redmi Note 11S is equipped with 33W wired charging speed, while the Note 11 Pro 5G features an even faster 67W charging speed.

During my testing, the Redmi Note 11S is able to deliver a full charge from 0 to 100% in around an hour, while the Note 11 Pro 5G achieved the same in a slightly shorter timespan of around 43 minutes.

Verdict

The Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G are certainly among the best budget smartphones I’ve tested so far. Despite their low-price, the Redmi Note 11S and Note 11 Pro 5G offer some of the best display in the segment, along with unparalleled performance and impressive camera capabilities which set the bar high for other upcoming devices.

If you’re interested, the Redmi Note 11S is priced at $299 and $329 respectively for the 6GB+64GB and 8GB+128GB trims in Singapore. As for the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, it’ll be priced at $399 and $429 respectively for the 6GB+128GB and 8GB+128GB variants.

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