Camera bumps have been getting larger and larger over the last few years, but Xiaomi is really taking things to the next level with the new Mi 11 Ultra, which has a rear camera module so big that it has its own screen.
During a livestream presentation today, Xiaomi launched three new members of the Mi 11 family, including the new premium flagship Mi 11 Ultra. Sporting one of Samsung’s new ISOCELL GN2 sensors behind its 50-MP main cam, the Mi 11 Ultra’s main focus is clearly photography. The phone also has a 48-MP ultra-wide/macro camera and a 48-MP telephoto camera with a 5x optical zoom.
But the Mi 11 Ultra’s real treat is the tiny 294 x 126 1.1-inch AMOLED display that’s wedged onto the right side of the phone’s camera bump, which Xiaomi said is designed to help you compose selfies when shooting with the rear cam. And when you’re not snapping photos, the rear screen can also display notifications, so you can answer a call, check your battery life, or view the weather without needing to flip the phone over.
On top of that, the Mi 11 Ultra also comes with support for recording 8K video from any of the phone’s three rear cameras, along with a fancy dual-phone video recording mode that lets you record a single clip using two Mi 11 Ultra handsets at the same time. Sadly, even though the Mi 11 Ultra has a screen in back to help compose selfies, the phone still has a dedicated 20-MP hole-punch selfie camera in front. I think it would be really interesting if Xiaomi believed so strongly in the rear screen that it decided to completely forgo the phone’s front-facing cam, but alas, that’s not the case.
The Mi 11 Ultra looks to be a pretty typical high-end device, with premium features like a 3200 x 1440 6.81-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a fast 480Hz touch sample rate. The phone also comes with a more durable ceramic body and extras like Harman Kardon stereo speakers, a built-in IR blaster, and 5G. And inside, the Mi 11 Ultra is powered by a Snapdragon 888 chip, up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, and a 5,000 mAh battery that supports 67-watt charging (both wired and wirelessly).
The obvious downside is that with a starting price of 1,119 euros (around $1,410) for a model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the Mi 11 Ultra is even more expensive than Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, which has an even longer 10x optical zoom, costs $100 less, and is much more widely available (at least in the U.S.).
But there are less expensive versions of the Mi 11 Ultra, including the standard Mi 11 which goes for around 6,999 yuan (about $1,070) and trades out that 5x optical zoom for a 108-MP main cam and a bit less RAM. There’s also the even more affordable M1 11 Lite 5G, which goes for 2,299 yuan (around $350), which steps down to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 780G chip, a 90Hz screen, and a slightly smaller 4,250 mAh battery.
All three phones are expected to be available “soon” throughout Europe and China, though as usual, there’s no word on an official U.S. release. In terms of Xiaomi’s teaser of a phone with a liquid lens, it seems we’re just gonna have to wait a bit longer to find out more.