Redmi Note 11S vs 11 Pro 5G: side by side review

While the data shows that Apple captured seven of the top ten global smartphone sales positions in 2021, Xiaomi’s Redmi brand has held onto two of the remaining three spots. Over the past few weeks, we had the opportunity to test two new Redmi Note 11 Series phones, the Redmi Note 11S and 11 Pro 5G.

These two phones are priced at just under $400, but they pack attractive design elements and powerful specifications. For those who are looking for a phone at an affordable price, one of these two phones might be a perfect fit. There are a lot of similarities between the two phones with some slight differences in features that may affect you one over the other. The phone is priced around $85, but the lower cost Note 11S may be the best buy for US customers.

Likes

  • Refresh rate 120 Hz
  • High quality of fit, finish and design
  • 3.5mm audio port and IR blaster
  • Capable rear camera system
  • Strong battery life

You do not like

  • Limited access to 5G networks in the US
  • Android 11

Although there is the word Note in the name of these two phones, neither of them supports the stylus. The Redmi brand is the most affordable series in the Xiaomi lineup and there are some specs that make them budget phones. One of the best places to find Redmi phones is the Amazon Xiaomi Store.

hardware

Both phones have been sent in graphite gray and when they are upside down on a surface I have to look for the 5G brand to see the difference. The Note 11 Pro 5G is larger and has a flat back panel while the Note 11S has curves around the edges that go to the sides of the phone. Another difference on the back is that the Note 11S has four holes for the camera while one of the notches on the Note 11 Pro has the words AI above the hole instead. The main 108MP camera is a large module at the top with the other supporting camera lenses appearing below this camera on the back left side.

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

Likes

  • refresh rate 90 Hz
  • low price
  • High quality of fit, finish and design
  • 3.5mm audio port and IR blaster
  • Quad-capable rear camera system
  • Strong battery life

You do not like

  • Android 11
  • You might get stuck a bit with intense apps/games

The edges of the phones are square with rounded corners. The USB-C port and the microphone and speaker slot are on the bottom edge. There is a speaker, microphone hole, IR blaster, and 3.5mm audio port on the top of the phones.

There’s nothing left with the sound and power/fingerprint sensor on the right. Both phones have a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, my favorite security setting for smartphones, and its activation is reliable and fast.

AMOLED screens are beautiful with good brightness levels, stable resolutions, and high refresh rates. Higher refresh rates on budget phones are not uncommon and we see 120Hz on the Note 11 Pro and 90Hz on the Note 11S, so both offer a great viewing experience.

Minimal bezels are found all around the screen with a tiny hole-punch camera in the middle of the top of the screen. Similar to the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the front camera is located under the glass panel, but not under the viewable screen.

Overall, there’s nothing particularly great about the hardware, but no phone seems like a budget phone that’s so affordable. The deep, flat edges, slightly denser feel, and glass back of the Note 11 Pro mean that’s the option I’d go if I had to make a choice in terms of the feel of the phone in my hand.

also: Best cheap phone 2022: groundbreaking features for under $450

There are 5000mAh large capacity batteries in each phone so you can easily go through a whole day of use. The Note 11 Pro 5G supports 67W turbo charging with the Note 11S supporting 33W fast charging. Xiaomi mentions that the 67W charger can charge the Note 11 Pro 5G to 50% in 15 minutes and to 100% in 42 minutes.

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

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

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

to set

  • Healer: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 (Note 11 Pro) or MediaTek Helio G96 (Note 11S)
  • Screen (Note 11 Pro): 6.67 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels, AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
  • Screen (Note 11s): 6.43 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixels, AMOLED, 90Hz refresh rate
  • The operating system: Android 11 with MIUI 13
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • storage: 128 GB with microSD card
  • cameras: 108MP f/1.9 wide-angle camera, 8MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera (118° field of view), 2MP macro, 2MP depth (Note 11S only). 16 MP f / 2.4 front camera.
  • Connection: 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, infrared blaster
  • water resistant: IP53 splash protection
  • battery: 5000 mAh non-removable fast charging.
  • Dimensions (Note 11 Pro): 164.19 x 76.1 x 8.12 mm, 202 grams
  • Dimensions (note 11s): 159.87 x 73.87 x 8.09 mm and 179 grams
  • Colors (Note 11 Pro): polar white, graphite gray, atlantic blue
  • Colors (Note 11 Pro): pearl white, graphite gray, twilight blue

Screen size and resolution, 2MP depth camera, 5G network support, and the glass back panel of the Note 11 Pro are the main differences between these two affordable phones. The Note 11 Pro has a flatter feel than the 11S, but with limited 5G support, the 11S might be a better option that also includes cost savings.

Programming

One area where it turns out that these are not flagship phones is the software. Both were launched with MIUI 13 based on Android 11 even though Android 12 has been out for several months. Both were updated to the February security update for Android during our review period, which is encouraging. We’re hoping Android 12 will come to these phones in the next couple of months, but we don’t have high expectations for budget phones getting reliable, long-term software support.

MIUI 13 offers a mostly Android experience with key differences noted under notifications and additional settings. The special features available in MIUI 13 include sidebar, floating windows, second space, and simple mode. Additional gesture shortcuts, quck ball, and other settings are also available to help you create a personalized experience with the phone.

A few useful utilities are provided on the phones, including the FM radio app and the Mi Remote control app so you can use the IR blaster and the 3.5mm audio port. There are also quite a few additional apps installed out of the box, including WPS Office, PUBG Mobile, LinkedIn, Amazon Shipping, and more. However, it can also be deleted so that you can optimize the phone according to the way you trade.

also: Best Android Phone 2022: The Experts’ Top Picks

Besides the 108MP camera hardware and other cameras, the Redmi Note 10 Pro includes advanced camera software that has a large number of shooting modes. This includes 108MP with pixel-binning, video, photo, portrait, clone, long exposure (moving crowd, neon tracks, oil painting, light drawing, starry sky, star tracks), night, panorama, documents, vlog, Slow motion, timelapse, dual video, short video, and professional/manual. With powerful camera hardware and this software, your ability to be creative and spend a lot of time shooting with this phone is easily available. The 5,020mAh battery helps ensure that you can shoot all day long as well.

Daily use experiences

I am fortunate to be able to test and write about a large number of cell phones here on ZDNet, so I tend to buy high-end flagships for my personal use. However, if I wasn’t testing many phones, I’d seriously consider one of these under $400 phones since it offers a solid piece of hardware, responsive performance, a nice side fingerprint sensor in the power button, and access to all the apps. Fun media experience, legacy features (IR blaster, microSD card, 3.5mm audio port), and battery life to last you all day.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro was tested last year and a year later the device hasn’t changed much in the 11 Pro. 5G is an obvious addition, but its impact is limited in the United States on cellular connectivity. Unfortunately, the Note 11 Pro is still currently supported by Android 11, just like the Note 10 Pro in early 2021, so Xiaomi needs to up the firmware game.

The Note 11S offers very little for its $300 price tag and as long as you’re not running 20 apps simultaneously or playing high-powered graphic games, you should be okay with the processor and phone performance. It has a great look, solid build quality and seems like a more capable phone than we used to buy at just $300.

Since we spend a lot of time interacting with the screen on our phones, the high refresh rate of both phones sets them apart from other phones in this price range. The AMOLED screen, decent speakers, and headphone port make these phones powerful for media and as long as you’re not looking to take professional photos on your phone, the Redmi Note 11 Pro or 11S are some of the best affordable phones we’ve tested. 2022.