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Best Xiaomi phones of 2021: Which Xiaomi suits you best?


With numerous models launched by Xiaomi this year, such as the Mi 11 and its 11 Lite, 11 Pro, 11i, and 11 Ultra variants, not to mention the countless Redmi Note 10s that hit the market recently, it is all too easy to get lost. 2021 alone saw the Chinese manufacturer released more than 10 different models with similar-sounding names, making it all the more confusing for consumers.

Summary:

Recommended 2021 Xiaomi smartphones by NextPit

We have listed both Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones here based on the recommendation from the NextPit editorial staff. The price range is varied, starting from $200 and going all the way to breaching the $1,000 mark, where each category has the best choice put forward. As you might have noticed, there was a deliberate decision to not include Poco smartphones in this comparison.

For transparency reasons, decisions were linked to editorial reasons, in order to provide us with additional time to review more Poco models that were released this year. We will of course devote a dedicated comparison to Poco models in the future, this I promise.

The best 2021 choice: Xiaomi Mi 11


NextPIT Xiaomi Mi 11
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is my personal favorite in the Xiaomi catalog / © NextPit

Ratings

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Sublime 120 Hz WQHD+ AMOLED display
  • 480 Hz touch sampling rate
  • Powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset
  • Long battery life and 55-watt fast charging
  • 50-watt wireless charging
  • 108 MP sensor camera 
  • Charger is included
  • Stereo speakers
 

Cons

  • Not a very versatile camera module
  • No dedicated telephoto lens
  • Overheating issues when under heavy load
  • No IP certification
  • No 3.5mm jack

The Xiaomi Mi 11 is the latest basic or vanilla flagship from the Chinese manufacturer, having been launched on March 9, 2021 and arriving in a couple of configurations: 8GB RAM/128 GB storage and 8GB RAM/256 GB storage, sold for $900 and $960 at their release, respectively. For this comparison, I selected the 8GB RAM/256 GB storage version that still sells for $960 on the official Xiaomi store.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 carries a massive 6.81-inch WQHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 888 SoC, a 108+13+5 MP wide-angle/ultra-wide/macro triple camera module, and a 4,600 mAh battery that can be recharged via the super-fast 55-watt wired or 50-watt wireless chargers.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 is part of the mid-range high-end segment of “affordable” flagships. The more affordable price tag also reflects some compromises in terms of features and build quality. For the less tech-savvy user who is just looking for a good (very good, in fact!) value for money high-end device, the Xiaomi 11 is definitely what a flagship should be and what it should cost in 2021.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review: The almost perfect flagship

Best smartphone below $500: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro


NextPIT Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro
The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro offers great value for money for less than $500 / © NextPit

Ratings

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • 108 MP camera module
  • 144 Hz LCD screen is very smooth
  • Snapdragon 865 SoC still performs well
  • 5,000 mAh battery 
  • Stereo speakers
 

Cons

  • No dedicated telephoto lens
  • LCD screen in a $500 phone?
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP certification
  • No 3.5mm jack

The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro was released on September 30, 2020, arriving in 8GB RAM/128GB and 8GB RAM/256GB configurations, selling for $835 and $900, respectively. The 8GB RAM/128GB version that I recommend here is currently priced at $585 on the official Xiaomi store.

In the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, you get a 6.67-inch Full HD+ 144Hz IPS LCD display, a Snapdragon 865 SoC, 108+13+5 MP wide-angle/ultra-wide/macro triple camera module, and 5,000 mAh battery that charges with a a 33-watt wired charger.

The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro is a notch below the Xiaomi Mi 11 in the hierarchy, making it an entry-level flagship variant. Certain choices of material like the LCD display are questionable as Xiaomi offers AMOLED displays on models that cost half the price. But for a smartphone that was released last year, I find the hardware specifications to be competitive for a smartphone that costs less than $500 (if you know where to look for it).

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro full review

Best smartphone below $400: Redmi Note 10 Pro


NextPIT Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is the most competitive Xiaomi smartphone for its price / © NextPit

Ratings

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Superb 120 Hz AMOLED screen
  • Good performance
  • Good main camera
  • Solid battery life
  • Very decent stereo sound
  • 3.5mm jack
  • IP53 certification
  • Expandable storage
 

Cons

  • Camera module is a bit bulky
  • Average photos in low light conditions
  • No 5G
  • No wireless charging

The Redmi Note 10 Pro is the flagship model in Xiaomi’s mid-range Redmi Note catalog, having launched on March 4, 2021 in three configurations: 6GB RAM/64GB, 6GB RAM/128GB, and 8GB RAM/128GB, retailing for $279, $299 and $349, respectively. I recommend the 8GB RAM/128GB version which can currently be found for $309 on the official Xiaomi store.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro sports a 6.67-inch Full HD+ 120Hz AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 732G (no 5G) SoC, a quad wide-angle/ultra-wide/macro/depth photo module in a 108+8+5+2 MP configuration, and a 5,020mAh battery that can be recharged in via a 33-watt charger.

In his review, my colleague Carsten rated the Redmi Note 10 Pro as the best-performing smartphone that costs less than $300. This obviously refers to the lower capacity variant, and I totally agree with this opinion. But I’ll go one step further by recommending the 8GB RAM/128GB variant that costs more than $300, making the smartphone ultra-competitive against the likes of the Galaxy A52 5G/A72 or a OnePlus Nord CE.

Redmi Note 10 Pro review

Best smartphone below $300: Redmi Note 10 5G


NextPIT Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Redmi Note 10 5G is the most affordable 5G smartphone launched by Xiaomi in 2021 / © NextPit

For

  • 90 Hz LCD panel
  • 5G for less than $300 or even $200
  • Excellent battery life
  • Good performance based on specifications
  • 3.5mm jack
  • microSD memory card slot
 

Cons

  • Not the best choice if you consider Poco alternatives
  • Camera module is rather limited in terms of specifications
  • No IP certification
  • Mono speaker

The Redmi Note 10 5G should not be confused with the Redmi Note 10, which was launched on March 4, 2021, arriving in 4GB RAM/64GB and 4GB RAM/128GB variants while priced at $229.90 and $269.90, respectively. I recommend the 128GB variant whose price has remained the same since.

The Redmi Note 10 5G will carry a 6.5-inch Full HD+ 90Hz IPS LCD display, a MediaTek Dimensity 700 SoC, a 48+2+2 MP wide-angle/macro/depth triple camera module, and an 18-watt charger that juices the 5,000 mAh battery.

We have only reviewed the non-5G version of the Redmi Note 10. At this price range, I’d be more inclined to recommend a Poco X3 Pro 8GB RAM/256GB for $259 that carries better hardware specifications on paper. But the Redmi Note 10 5G is still a well-balanced smartphone that offers 5G while sporting one of the most affordable price tags.

Best smartphone below $200: Redmi Note 10


NextPIT Xiaomi Redmi Note 10
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 has no 5G support/ © NextPit

Ratings

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • AMOLED Full HD+ display
  • Good battery life and fast charging time
  • IP53 certification
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Expandable memory
 

Cons

  • No NFC
  • Obsolete SoC
  • Cameras are not very versatile

The Redmi Note 10 is the base or vanilla model of the Redmi Note range for 2021 and was launched on March 4, 2021, in a single 4GB RAM/128GB configuration that carried a $199.90 price tag upon its release. This makes it the entry-level model from Xiaomi.

The Redmi Note 10 sports a 6.43-inch Full HD+ 60Hz AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 678 SoC (no 5G support), a 48+8+2+2 MP wide-angle/ultra-wide/macro/depth quad-camera module, and a 5,000mAh battery that can be juiced via the 33-watt charger.

In his review, my colleague Rubens regretted the inclusion of a far too outdated SoC that cannot offer anything more apart from simple everyday tasks, not to mention a rather limited camera module. He preferred the Poco X3 NFC over this. Personally, and even without 5G, the Redmi Note 10 happens to be one of the best candidates for anyone searching for a smartphone (regardless of brand) that costs less than $200 in my opinion.

The presence of an AMOLED display, IP53 certification and, stereo speakers, and the ultra wide-angle lens make the Redmi Note 10 an even more interesting proposition than its 5G version on some aspects.

Redmi Note 10 review

Recommended alternatives by NextPit

More than just honorable mentions, here is a list of smartphones that NextPit recommends as alternatives to the editorial picks. This list is not an exhaustive one, as we have only selected models that might have been a better choice, or at least a decent alternative, to our original recommendations.

Alternative to the best choice: Xiaomi Mi 11i


NextPIT Xiaomi Mi 11i 5G
The Xiaomi Mi 11i is more than just a Mi 11 Lite / © NextPit

Pros

  • Flat 120Hz AMOLED display (versus curved on the Mi 11)
  • Same 108 MP triple camera module as the Mi 11
  • Snapdragon 888 SoC
  • IP53 certification
  • Stereo speakers
 

Against

  • No wireless charging
  • 33-watts instead of 55-watts fast charging on the Mi 11
  • Smaller battery capacity than the Mi 11
  • No expandable memory
  • No 3.5mm jack

The Xiaomi Mi 11i is a slimmed-down version of the Xiaomi Mi 11 that launched on March 4, 2021, arriving in a single 8GB RAM/256GB configuration while retailing for $699.90. It is not a “lite” version, strictly speaking, as it is significantly more premium than the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite. In practical terms, it offers more or less the same hardware specifications as the vanilla Mi 11 albeit at a slightly more affordable price point and some compromises.

The Xiaomi Mi 11i features a 6.67-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 888 SoC, a 108+8+5 MP wide-angle/ultra-wide-angle/macro triple camera module, and a 4,520mAh battery that can be charged via a 33-watt charger.

Compared to the vanilla Mi 11, the Xiaomi Mi 11i has a flat, non-curved display, the same SoC, the same camera configuration, but gets a smaller battery as well as a slower fast charge (33-watts vs. 55-watts) without any wireless charging support. If you want to save a Benjamin, then skip the vanilla Mi 11 Vanilla and pick up the Xiaomi Mi 11i instead.

Alternative smartphone below $200: Redmi Note 9 Pro


NextPIT Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro
Noble, chic, and powerful – the Redmi Note 9 Pro / © NextPit

Ratings

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Snapdragon 720G SoC is more powerful than the Snapdragon 678 that powers the Redmi Note 10
  • 6GB of RAM max vs 4GB max on the Redmi Note 10
  • 64 MP main lens vs 48 and 5 MP macro vs 2 MP on the Redmi Note 10
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3.5mm jack
  • 5,020 mAh battery vs 5,000 mAh on the Redmi Note 10
  • NFC
 

Cons

  • LCD screen vs AMOLED on the Redmi Note 10
  • No IP certification vs IP53 on the Redmi Note 10
  • Release price is more expensive than the Redmi Note 10

The Redmi Note 9 Pro was launched in May 2020 in two configurations: 6GB RAM/64GB and 6GB RAM/128GB while price at $279.90 and $299.90, respectively. Currently, the 6GB RAM/64GB version is going for $209.90 on Xiaomi’s official store, and it can be easily picked up for less than $200 from other e-tailers.

The Redmi Note 9 Pro carries a 6.67-inch Full HD+ 60Hz IPS LCD display, a Snapdragon 720G (no 5G support) SoC, a 64+8+5+2 MP wide-angle/ultra-wide/macro/depth quad-camera module, and a 5,020mAh 30-watt rechargeable battery.

Admittedly, the Redmi Note 9 Pro is not as new as the Redmi Note 10. But it is still Redmi’s flagship from last year, so you’ll obtain more premium specifications and longer software support. Personally, I wouldn’t go for the 64GB version and if you find a deal in MarketPlace for the 128GB variant, go for that instead. Otherwise, it’s best to stick with the Redmi Note 10 5G.

Redmi Note 9 Pro review

Between Xiaomi and Redmi: Who offers what in 2021?

If we look at both Xiaomi and Redmi, we have to consider them as two distinct brands, not to mention having two ranges within the same catalog. I know, it is unnecessarily complicated, but basically, the Xiaomi brand is the more premium one compared to Redmi.

Although, Redmi’s high-end smartphones are sometimes more interesting than Xiaomi’s entry-level devices. For example, the Redmi Note 10 Pro at $279 is more competitive than the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite at $299.

Top of the range

Let’s begin with the Xiaomi Mi which is the flagship range. These are the manufacturer’s top-of-the-line smartphones that generally feature premium hardware specifications. The Mi flagship range is currently the Mi 11, but it also comes in several versions that can be more or less premium: the Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11i, Mi 11 Lite 5G, and Mi 11 Lite. There is also the Mi 11T and Mi 11T Pro version that would most probably be released soon.

Moving down the hierarchy, we finally end up with the Mi Note. Even then, it comes with several models based on last year’s releases with the Xiaomi Mi Note 10, Mi Note 10 Lite, and the Mi Note10 Pro.

Mid-range

If we take Xiaomi as the tip of the spear of this global brand, then Redmi would make up its mid-range catalog. However, if we were to consider Xiaomi and Redmi as two individual brands, Redmi also boasts of its own sub-range, which go from flagships to the entry-level.

Redmi’s top end, which corresponds to Xiaomi’s mid-range, would be the Redmi Notes. They too arrive in several numbered models like the Redmi Note 10, Note 10 5G, Note 10S, and Note 10 Pro, which denote the basic model all the way to the most premium handset. A Redmi Note 10T is also expected to arrive soon and it should be slightly more expensive than the Note 10 due to it being more premium and yet is inferior to the Note 10 Pro.

Entry-level

Next up would be the Redmi name, which represents the entry-level market with last year’s Redmi 9. Here again, there are variations with the Redmi 9A which is even more affordable or the intermediate Redmi 9C model. It isn’t too difficult to pinpoint the entry-level models from Xiaomi and Redmi based on the naming convention.

Xiaomi and Redmi

Catalog of smartphones released in 2021
Model Price
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra $1,199.90
Xiaomi Mi 11i 5G $699.90
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G $369.90
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite $299.90
Xiaomi Mi 11 5G $699.90
Redmi Note 8 2021 $164.90
Redmi Note 10 5G $229.90
Redmi Note 10S $199.90
Redmi Note 10 Pro $279.90
Redmi Note 10 $199.90

How did NextPit select the best Xiaomi smartphones?

For this selection process, I picked the Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones that offered the best value-for-money proposition in each price range. When it comes to the price, I myself based it on the prices charged by the manufacturer on its official store. I also wanted to specify the available memory configuration (storage and RAM).

You will surely be able to find the same model at a more interesting price point on MarketPlace, Amazon, or even AliExpress for those who are more adventurous or perhaps looking for a different memory configuration. However, I prefer to refer to the official prices and I won’t recommend a smartphone with 64GB of internal storage simply to force it into the right price category.

This list is obviously a subjective one as it is based on my own bias and preferences. Still, I tried to apply a number of purchasing criteria and adapt them to the corresponding price range.

While I can forgive a Redmi Note 9 Pro for not having IP certification, it is more difficult to forgive that omission on a high-end Mi device. For the affordable smartphones (under $400, $300, and $200), I took into account the performance and battery life as well as limited performance in everyday usage for these models.

In the flagship range, I focused on the models that fall within the affordability bracket for most. That’s why I didn’t include the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra even though I reviewed it and found it to be a very good smartphone. But if you can afford to buy a $1,400 smartphone, you probably don’t care about the purchasing advice of a journalist. And if you can’t afford it, including a smartphone that’s financially out of reach to most readers wouldn’t really be relevant.

Here ends our recommendations of the best Xiaomi smartphones to pick from in 2021. What do you think of NextPit’s selections? Which model that you think should have been included in this comparison? What is your best Xiaomi or Redmi smartphone for 2021? Tell us all about it in the comments!


This article was last updated in June 2021. Older comments have been retained.



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