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(Pocket-lint) - When it comes to affordable phones, Redmi might not be the immediate name that pops into mind, yet we thought its Note 10 Pro model released in 2021 was - and to a high degree remains - among the best outright affordable purchases available.

What, then, of the Redmi Note 11 Pro? The 2022 update for this affordable phone series tweaks the experience of its forebear. Realistically it's not particularly different though, switching the processor of choice and not a huge amount else. Given the non-Pro's failures for this generation does that spell the beginning of the end for this series' success?

Our quick take

After being disappointed by the standard Redmi Note 11 due to its performance issues, the Pro model steps up to earn its stripes and, indeed, its very name is far more justified.

However, compared to the previous-gen Note 10 Pro model there's not a massive difference, plus there's some minor screen flickering issues at low brightness in the new model (for this review unit anyway), and we've found the battery life less capable than before too.

The key takeaway, however, is that performance is of a far better ilk than the standard model. So whether you want 5G browsing, to run multiple apps without fuss, or to game without real limits - there's also a 120Hz refresh rate to take advantage of - the Redmi Note 11 Pro is a very attractively priced handset.

That's the real appeal of Redmi: affordability. Because if you want the better software experience of a Moto G200, for example, then you'll need to fork out yet more cash for the pleasure. As such, given the full spectrum of features on offer here, this Redmi gets the thumbs up.

Redmi Note 11 Pro review: Earning its name?

Redmi Note 11 Pro

4.0 stars
For
  • Strong spec for a low price
  • Decent main camera (but forget about the macro/depth)
  • Decent performance (here from Snapdragon 695) and 5G connectivity
Against
  • Some screen flicker issues (especially at low brightness)
  • EMUI software has ongoing irks with battery/notification controls

Design & Display

  • 6.67-inch AMOLED panel, 120Hz refresh, 1080 x 2400 resolution
  • Dimensions: 164.2 x 76.1 x 8.1mm / Weight: 202g
  • Finishes: Graphite Grey, Polar White, Star Blue
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • IP53 dust & splash protection
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

If you knew nothing of the Note 10 Pro then you would just look at the Note 11 Pro as a pretty standard-looking handset. Compare the two devices, however, and there's a subtle yet significant shift in design: the previous generation was all about curved edges, the newer model is a much 'squarer' by design, flatter in screen format, and more iPhone-esque in its visual appeal.

Pocket-lintRedmi Note 11 Pro review photo 4

For the 11 Pro the SIM tray posiiton has moved, the speaker and mouthpiece have shifted format, and the rear camera array has changed up its arrangement and protrusion. None of which, really, makes much of a diference to day-to-day use overall. The Note 11 Pro is therefore just a more right-angled contemporary design than its predecessor.

The 'Graphite' finish on review here - there's also a blue or white option, neither of which we've seen - has a soft, somewhat muted look about it. But it doesn't suffer fingerprinting afflictions too badly at all, which is a great feature of this material. It's not glass, but does a good enough job of convincing you that it might be. However, there is Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the front.

What is cutting into that screen somewhat prominently is the punch-hole camera. It's not even the scale of it - it's a smaller diameter than you'll find on recent Motorola handsets, for example - but its silvery, shiny ring that catches light and can be a bit distracting. We'd rather this was pushed to the left side of the panel and darkened as to not be so noticeable.

Pocket-lintRedmi Note 11 Pro review photo 12

The Note 11 Pro's side-mounted fingerprint scanner is neatly integrated, and we've found it to function well for speedy log-ins. There's also face unlock by using that front-facing camera, should you prefer. Oh, and if you're still part of the wired headphones gang then the 3.5mm jack will prove a point of appreciation for you - an increasingly rare feature in smartphones at any price point these days.

And so to the Note 11 Pro's screen. In short: it's identical to the previous Note 10 Pro's offering. That means its large, at 6.67-inches on the diagonal, delivering a Full HD+ resolution for decent sharpness. It's an AMOLED based, too, meaning it can have an always-on display activated - which illuminates the edges in a subtle fashion when there's a notification, as one example - for visuals to be available without actively needing to turn the display on.

Another big feature of this screen is its 120Hz refresh rate. That's not a new technology by any means, but still a solid feature to have at this mid-price point. The theory behind this feature is that it can run at double the normal rate - 120 refreshes per second - compared to a typical screen, in order to give a smoother visual experience. You really notice it when scrolling through social media, as one example, especially if you've come from a non-fast-refresh device prior.

Pocket-lintRedmi Note 11 Pro review photo 2

That refresh rate is one of those nice-to-haves, but 120Hz isn't active on by default to preserve battery life. And, frankly, as the longevity per charge isn't spectacular for this generation Pro model - but more on that later - it might be a feature that you forego in the settings for the sake of extended usability.

There's also minor issue of note about the screen: there's a slight 'flicker' to this panel, especially at low brightness levels. It just doesn't deliver the most consistent image in its brightness delivery in this regard. You have to really look for it, but it's there - at least in this review sample.

Performance & Battery

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 platform, 8GB RAM (+3GB expansion)
  • 64/128GB storage, microSD card expansion
  • 5000mAh battery, 67W fast-charging
  • 5G connectivity

Year on year the core hardware powering devices jumps up a level, elevating the potential of what's possible. That doesn't happen to such a high-level beneath the top-tier devices, however, with the Note 11 Pro utilising the late 2021 Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 platform in this guise (various regions get a MediaTek equivalent, but not this review model).

Pocket-lintRedmi Note 11 Pro review photo 3

In the previous Note 10 Pro there was a Snapdragon 732G, replaced in the Note 11 Pro by the more up to date Snapdragon 695 platform. That lower number might make you think it's not as high up the company's chain and, therefore, not as powerful - but it's a whisker better than the outgoing model, plus the 695 is a 6nm process rather than 8nm of the 700 series old. In like-for-like experiences, however, you're not going to feel a vast difference in what's possible.

The newer platform ought to bring improved battery life for this generation, but we've actually found it to be less impressive in the longevity stakes. Not to a troublesome degree by any means though: around 17 hours of use will take it to the 15 per cent ultra-low battery point, making it spot on for a single day's use. It's just a minor surprise this isn't better yet, especially with such a large battery capacity on board. Fortunately the charging speed is really fast though.

Pocket-lintRedmi Note 11 Pro review photo 13

As chipsets go, the SD695 is otherwise capable of handling multiple apps, including games without particular graphical insufficiencies, meaning whether you want to run Zwift on your phone, dabble in a bit of South Park: Phone Destroyer, of go on a kill spree in PUBG Mobile, it's all within the Redmi's reach.

Loading times may be slower than the best-in-class options out there, especially those with more RAM, but in terms of operability we've not fallen upon stutters or functionality issues - which is great, as the non-Pro edition in the series caused all kinds of blackout and crashing issues for us given its lower-end capabilities.

Software is a big part of the package here, though, with Xiaomi's MIUI 13 system at the controls. It's designed to be largely battery efficient, giving apps limitations by default, which can cause - as one prime example - delays in notifications. You'll need to dig into the apps menu and adjust permissions and battery settings on a per-app basis for the best possible use case, but even then some apps may not act as you expect - we have extended delays in notification from American Express, as one example experienced during testing, while the BBC Sounds app would cut out after a given time despite the settings explicitly defining that it can continue to run.

We're also not a fan of the software's left/right downward swipe split for notifications/settings reveal, which is more like using an iPhone than Android device. Oh, and the 'Wallpaper Carousel' (Xiaomi-selected images, some of which we don't find appealing at all, as a rotating cycle of wallpapers) is best switched off for the much more useful Always-on Display option - although it is, of course, down to personal preference.

Ultimately there are cleaner software experiences out there, which are more core Android like in their ways, with the likes of Motorola - say the G200 as a key competitor - proviong more reliable across the board in our experience (even if its design as a handset is somewhat dull).

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Cameras

  • Quad rear cameras:
    • Main (26mm): 108-megapixel, f/1.9 aperture, phase detection autofocus (PDAF)
    • Wide (118 degree): 8MP, f/2.2
    • Macro: 2MP, f/2.4
    • Depth: 2MP, f/2.4
  • Front-facing selfie camera: 16MP, f/2.4

From a camera perspective the key difference between the standard Redmi Note 11 and this Pro model is that the main sensor delivers 108-megapixels of resolution rather than 50MP. Neither handset outputs at full resolution by default - you can ask for it, using the Ultra HD mode within the settings - instead there's a 12-in-one processing here, delivering images around 12MP instead (depending on selected aspect ratio).

Otherwise the other three lenses of the 'quad camera' setup comprise an 8MP wide-angle, 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensor. Really we had hoped the 'Pro' name would bring something more useful such as, say, a zoom lens - because that pair of low-resolution shooters are a write-off (the macro is terrible quality, the depth sensor unnecessary).

But let's focus on the good parts: the main camera is adept when it comes to overall detail; in lieu of a proper zoom there's also a 2x digital zoom that's useful; and while the wide-angle isn't anywhere nearly as good quality overall, it's still really handy to have that extra wide view of the world at your fingertips. So considered as a core two-camera unit there's certainly enough to shout about.

To recap

After the disappointment of the standard Note 11 model, the Pro edition steps up and earns its stripes. Some software and minor performance points aside, the strong spec and affordability are key points that get this handset the thumbs up.

Writing by Mike Lowe. Editing by Chris Hall.