After a leak in February, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra became official today. This phone’s most important claim to fame is the inclusion of an extra screen hidden in the camera bump. In addition, now that the official specifications are out, we can see that the “world’s biggest camera bump” also houses one of the world’s largest smartphone camera sensors, the Samsung GN2.
The base specs are at the high end of an advanced Android phone from 2021: a 120 Hz, 6.81-inch, 3200 × 1440 front OLED screen; and Snapdragon 888; 12 GB RAM; 256 GB of storage; IP68 dust and water resistance; Android 11 with MIUI; and a 5000 mAh battery. Xiaomi offers 67 W cable and wireless charging, which along with OnePlus is a level above most other phones. Xiaomi spied on the 5000 mAh battery as a “silicon oxygen” battery, although the company failed to point to any serious advantage with its new battery formula. There is also Wi-Fi 6E, which greatly expands the capacity of Wi-Fi by adding 6 GHz spectrum along with the existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
On the back, you get a 1.1-inch, 126 × 294 screen with touch support. Xiaomi says the rear screen supports an on-screen mode that displays time, date and alerts. It can also serve as a small viewfinder for selfies behind the camera. There are three rear cameras, but the big news is that the main camera has a Samsung GN2 sensor. This is a giant 50 MP, 1 / 1.12 ″ sensor, with a 1.4 μm pixel size and quad pixel binding. The sensor size of 1 / 1.12 means that modern smartphones are finally starting to match the Nokia 808’s hardware, a groundbreaking camera phone that was released in 2012. The 808 also had a 1 / 1.12 ″ sensor with a 1.4 μm pixel size, and despite being 9 years old, it can still withstand modern devices.
Since the launch of the Nokia 808, modern image stacking techniques and newer AI models mean that smartphone makers can push more and more photo quality out of a smaller camera sensor. These are all improvements in the camera software, and if phone manufacturers would give up their obsession with thin devices, there is great progress that can also be made in the camera’s hardware. There was nothing magical about the Nokia 808 – Nokia only prioritized the camera’s hardware in the 13.9 mm thick body. Xiaomi seems to have followed a similar strategy – it shows the Mi 11 Ultra at 8.3 mm, but it seems that the measurement is without camera bump. With the camera bump, the phone appears to be 2 or 3 mm thicker. Samsung is not the only company pushing larger camera sensors – it is rumored that the Sony IMX800 is a 1 “sensor.
No phones can go out the door today without more cameras on the back, so the device also packs what appear to be standard versions of 48 MP wide-angle and 5x optical zoom camera, both with Sony IMX 586.
The camera bump is not the only thing special about this phone. The device has a rare ceramic back – a feature we last experienced on the Essential Phone. We can not say that ceramics have great advantages over the ordinary glass back. It is often said to be more scratch resistant, but it is just as prone to crushing. Xiaomi also says that the phone’s Harman Kardon stereo speakers (a Samsung brand) are “the tallest in the industry.”
The Mi 11 Ultra sells internationally (Xiaomi’s press release does not say when) for € 1,199, or about $ 1,411.
Listing image of Xiaomi