the 5 biggest differences explained

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Xiaomi Mi 11 are two brand new top smartphones, both costing 849 euros. In what ways do they differ from each other? In this Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Xiaomi Mi 11 comparison, we list the main differences.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Xiaomi Mi 11

If you want to spend 849 euros on your new smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Xiaomi Mi 11 are two interesting options. Android Planet tested both devices and compares them on five points in this article.

You can read our separate, comprehensive Samsung Galaxy S21 review here. The Xiaomi Mi 11 review will follow soon. Below you can read – in no particular order – the five main differences between the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Xiaomi Mi 11.

1. Format and screen

Put the S21 and Mi 11 next to each other and you see it immediately: the Mi 11 is considerably larger. The device has a screen of 6.8 inches, compared to 6.2 inches of the S21. You can therefore not operate the Mi 11 with one hand and the S21 can. The larger screen is more pleasant if you watch movies, play games or type with two hands.

The Mi 11 is also a lot heavier than the S21 due to its larger housing. At 169 grams, it is relatively light, while the Mi 11 weighing 196 grams is bulky. This is also partly because the S21 has a plastic back and the Mi 11 is made of glass.

Both smartphones also have a very nice AMOLED screen with a high 120Hz refresh rate. The image of the Mi 11 looks sharper. The display can show a maximum QHD resolution of 3200 by 1440 pixels, compared to a full HD resolution (2400 by 1080 pixels) on the S21. You hardly see the difference in practice, while the QHD resolution does consume more power. Fortunately, on the Mi 11 you can also switch to a full HD resolution, so that the phone lasts longer.

2. A variety of hardware

An interesting difference between the smartphones is the processor. The Xiaomi Mi 11 is the first device with the Snapdragon 888 chip from Qualcomm and the Galaxy S21 takes the scoop with Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 chip. Both processors want to offer the best of the best and are linked to 8GB of RAM.

In practice, the two devices are almost equally fast and we do not notice any performance differences in normal use. Independent benchmarks indicate that the Snapdragon 888 is slightly more powerful graphically, which is interesting if you like to play heavy games. The Mi 11 has an advantage in this area, but more important to know is that the S21 also runs all games smoothly.

Another noteworthy difference is that the S21 has 128GB of storage as standard, while the Mi 11 has 256GB. For an S21 with 256GB memory you pay an additional cost of fifty euros. Both smartphones lack a micro-SD slot, which means that you cannot expand the memory.

3. Three cameras work differently

On the back of the Galaxy S21 and Mi 11 there are three cameras, but they are not and do not do the same. The S21, for example, has a 12 megapixel main camera, while the Mi 11 uses a 108 megapixel main camera. Using a quad-bayer technique, it takes 27 megapixel photos by default, but you can also shoot 108 megapixel images. The photo quality is comparable and excellent, although we think the S21 does a little better in the dark.

Both smartphones have a wide-angle lens for extra wide images. On the S21 it is a 12 megapixel camera and on the Mi 11 it is a 13 megapixel camera. Finally, the S21 has a 64 megapixel telephoto lens for a few times to zoom in with little loss of quality.

This works properly and is very useful, as we wrote in our Samsung Galaxy S21 review. The Mi 11 lacks a zoom camera and has a 5 megapixel macro camera to shoot very close pictures. Although the results are very nice, we prefer the zoom camera because it comes in handy in more situations.

4. Battery life and charging

Because the Xiaomi Mi 11 has a significantly larger screen, the smartphone also has a larger battery. The battery capacity is 4600 mAh, compared to 4000 mAh in the Galaxy S21. Both smartphones last a long day with normal use. Not a big difference.

Charging does differ greatly. The Galaxy S21 comes to save the environment without a charger, so you have to arrange it yourself. The device supports fast charging with a maximum of 25 Watt, which is average. Xiaomi supplies the Mi 11 including charger and a 55 Watt copy. That is more powerful than usual and means that the Mi 11 will be full again sooner.

Both smartphones can charge wirelessly, with the Mi 11 charging faster. The maximum wireless charging speed is no less than 50 Watt, although you do need Xiaomi’s special charging mat for this. You can charge the Galaxy S21 wirelessly with a maximum of 15 Watts. That’s relatively slow, but fine if you’re not in a rush or often refills your phone overnight.

The Mi 11 and S21 can power other smartphones or accessories via reverse wireless charging. Handy for charging your AirPods Pro, for example. The Mi charges the other device with a maximum of 10 Watts, while the S21 does not exceed 4.5 Watts.

5. Software and updates

The software is also an interesting point of comparison. Both smartphones run out of the box on Android 11, the latest version of the mobile operating system. Samsung puts its OneUI software shell over this and Xiaomi uses its MIUI skin. Both shells are visually drastic and add many features and apps from the manufacturers and partners. At Samsung, for example, it concerns applications from Microsoft, while Xiaomi pre-installs four games.

If you’re used to a Samsung smartphone, the S21’s software will look familiar to you. If you are unfamiliar with Xiaomi, MIUI can take some getting used to. Both shells are user-friendly and can be adjusted according to your own wishes.

Samsung does win with the update policy. The Galaxy S21 will get Android 12, 13 and 14. Xiaomi does not make any statements about this as far as we know. Previous experiences indicate that the manufacturer updates its expensive smartphones for two to three years, but the lack of clarity is less pleasant. The same applies to security patches. It is clear for the S21 that it will receive security updates until the spring of 2025, but with Xiaomi this is unclear.

More about the S21 and Mi 11

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Xiaomi Mi 11 both cost 849 euros and offer high-end specifications in a luxurious design. As you have been able to read, smartphones differ in interesting ways. The Mi 11 can charge faster wirelessly and via the USB-C port, comes with an adapter and has more storage memory.

On the other hand, the zoom camera of the S21 is generally more useful than the macro lens of the Mi 11 and the S21 comes with a clear and good update policy. It is not clear how long the Mi 11 will receive updates and that does not suit such an expensive smartphone. The main difference is the size: the S21 is a good choice if you are looking for a compact device, while the Mi 11 is ideal for those who want a large screen.

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21

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