iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: which is the best high-end phone?

Apple and Xiaomi are now the most serious competitors to Samsung to become the leader of the cell phone market. The iPhone 13 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra are the smartphones that have the heavy task of demonstrating all the technological know-how of each manufacturer and to put it in the eyes of users. A duel that promises to be tight between the American and Chinese giant. Let’s not waste any more time, it’s time for the duel!

While Apple’s iPhone has always enjoyed a “premium” brand image, this is not the case for Xiaomi, which is best known for its phones with excellent value for money. The behemoth from the Middle Kingdom wants to show with its Mi 11 Ultra that it is able to design ultra high-end products that have nothing to envy the competition. Given the quality of the product, the message is well passed.

We have compared iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra below in detail

Design: questionable aesthetic choices

iPhone 13 Pro - iPhone 13 Pro Max test © © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

The iPhone 13 Pro on the left, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on the right. © Pierre Crochart for Clubic

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Both smartphones use materials worthy of very high-end products, such as glass and aluminum. The products exude solidity and reliability, and we can only bow to the level of finish of the iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. Like any good mobile sold for more than 1000 euros, both devices are water and dust resistant thanks to their IP68 certification.

Let’s now tackle the front of the phone. On this point, there is not really a match. Xiaomi’s smartphone impresses with its extremely thin screen edges and its very discreet notch in the upper right corner of the phone. On the other hand, the iPhone 13 Pro still has very visible black borders and above all the famous notch that has been so decried. The latter is useful in that it allows the integration of Face ID technology, but it is still not very aesthetic when compared to what the competition offers.

iPhone 13 Pro - iPhone 13 Pro Max test © © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

The iPhone 13 Pro on the left, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on the right. © Pierre Crochart for Clubic

When you look at the two devices from the back, it’s a different story. On the left, Apple has chosen to integrate its three photo sensors in a square module. The whole thing obviously stands out from the shell, but this is nothing compared to its competitor of the day…

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Indeed, the Mi 11 Ultra’s photo block occupies almost the entire width of the phone and protrudes even more widely from the shell (3 mm). This is of course due to the large photo sensors, but also to the second screen on the right side of the block. The latter allows you to display notifications, the time, the battery level, but can also serve as a mirror to take selfies with the rear camera.

Once in hand, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is much more imposing than the iPhone 13 Pro. This is due to the large 6.7-inch diagonal of the Chinese phone, which is much closer to that of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. With its 234 grams on the scale, the Xiaomi phone is not easily forgotten in the pocket. You have been warned.

Winner:

The Mi 11 Ultra had everything it needed to win this round, but that’s without taking into account its massive photo block, which spoils the phone’s previously impeccable design on the front. A questionable choice that can be explained by the photographic qualities of the phone, which we’ll have the opportunity to discuss. On the other hand, the iPhone still has its unsightly notch on the front.

iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: Interface

iOS 15

iOS 15 à gauche, Android 11 + MIUI 12 à droite.

Like any good high-end smartphone that respects itself, the iPhone 13 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra take advantage of the latest version of their respective interfaces: iOS 15 and Android 11. The latest version of Apple’s OS emphasizes practical features like the focus mode that allows you to set several scenarios to avoid interruptions and distractions while you work, for example. We also note the arrival of extensions on Safari that can be downloaded from the App Store.

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As always with Apple, its smartphones benefit from at least 5 years of software updates. An undeniable advantage to keep your phone longer and limit programmed obsolescence. For its part, Xiaomi promises 3 years of Android updates and 4 years of security patches for its highest-end models.

The Mi 11 Ultra integrates Xiaomi’s MIUI software overlay with Android 11. Extremely comprehensive and customizable, it is capable of doing everything we ask of a modern interface. Gesture navigation is part of it, as well as full dark mode or multiple image enhancement options. From the rounded icons to the notification center and settings, MIUI does not really hide its direct inspiration from iOS. We regret the presence of too many partner applications installed by default (eBay, Amazon, TikTok, etc.). Fortunately, it is possible to uninstall them.

It is possible to customize the display of the second screen of the Mi 11 Ultra.

The second screen integrated into the camera module of the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is customizable from the interface. It is possible to display the time, notifications, but also a custom message of the color and size of your choice. It can also be used as a “mirror” to take pictures of you with the main sensor. A practical option, but a bit gimmicky.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

We don’t like having to choose between two parishes, but iOS’s simplicity, functionality and extensive software tracking give it a leg up on Xiaomi’s Android + MIUI interface. The latter is also very comprehensive and customizable, but clearly draws inspiration from its competitor du jour’s interface, without ever fully matching it.

iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: Performance

iPhone 13 Pro - iPhone 13 Pro Max test © © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

Benchmarks of the iPhone 13 Pro on the left, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on the right.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is equipped with the Snapdragon 888 processor and 12GB of RAM. The iPhone 13 Pro, on the other hand, is powered by Apple’s own A15 Bionic processor with 6GB of RAM. In both cases, these high-end SoCs impress with their performance, both in everyday tasks and in games. Both phones offer a seamless multitasking experience with the ability to have many applications running in the background and return to them instantly.

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In the benchmarks, it is the iPhone 13 Pro that takes the lead over its competitor of the day. Whether on Geekbench or AnTuTu, the A15 Bionic chip does better than the most powerful Qualcomm processor of the moment. Raw power is good, energy optimization is better. Apple seems to be ahead of the game once again. This can be seen in two ways.

Mi 11 Ultra heats up on Genshin Impact. © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

The first is the impact of such power on the battery (we’ll come back to this). The second is the heat generated during a particularly intense game session. In this respect, the iPhone 13 Pro does not flinch when running the very demanding “Genshin Impact” at 60 frames per second with a high level of detail for about 20 minutes. Under the same conditions, the Mi 11 Ultra gets way too hot. So much so that we voluntarily interrupted our gaming session during the test to preserve the smartphone.

Having a high-performance phone also ensures that you can use it for a long time. Whatever phone you choose, it will be able to perform 99% of the tasks you ask of it for many years. If Apple promises 5 years of software updates, it’s because the company is confident in its ability to run future versions of the OS on its in-house processors.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

Both smartphones are extremely powerful and capable of running anything you can throw at them. However, the raw power of the iPhone 13 Pro is superior, as is its heat dissipation. This allows it to be used intensively without overheating, as is unfortunately the case with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: Camera

iPhone 13 Pro - iPhone 13 Pro Max test © © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

Wide angle with the iPhone 13 Pro on the left, with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on the right.

We are in the presence of two of the best smartphones for taking photos and videos. The iPhone 13 Pro is equipped with three 12-megapixel photo sensors: a wide-angle (f/1.5), an ultra-wide-angle (f/1.8) and a telephoto (f/2.8). The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is also equipped with three photo sensors: a 50-megapixel wide-angle with an impressive size of 1/1.12 (almost as big as that of a compact APN) with f/2.0 aperture, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle (f/2.2) and a 48-megapixel telephoto f/2.2.

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The larger aperture of the iPhone 13 Pro’s wide-angle sensor takes brighter shots than Xiaomi’s. The result is flattering to the eye, but loses a bit in dynamics and exposure accuracy. On night shots, it is also neck and neck between the two phones. On the other hand, the Mi 11 Ultra takes the advantage on the zoom thanks to its telephoto lens which allows to zoom up to x5 without loss, against x3 with the iPhone 13 Pro. The iPhone’s front camera also takes the lead by filming in 4K and rendering skin tone and blemishes in a very natural way. The Mi 11 Ultra is a little more prone to smoothing the face and is limited to 720p.

iPhone 13 Pro - iPhone 13 Pro Max test © © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

Wide angle with the iPhone 13 Pro on the left, with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on the right.

On the video front, the iPhone can shoot up to 4K at 60 frames per second. The Xiaomi phone goes up to 8K at 24 frames per second. Both offer excellent stabilization, but the iPhone 13 Pro does a little better on exposure and autofocus. It’s impossible to talk about video without mentioning the iPhone’s new “cinematic mode”, which can be roughly described as a video portrait mode. This mode applies a nice background blur to videos, but is not perfect. Fortunately, it is possible to edit the videos after capturing them.

As always, we invite you to check out our full reviews of the iPhone 13 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
to get a better idea of the photographic capabilities (but not only) of the two smartphones.

Winner:

Not easy to choose between two smartphones that offer this level of quality in photography. Some will prefer the software processing of one or the other. Others will give more importance to the quality of the zoom. Finally, some will swear by the video quality.

Autonomy: a significant gap

iPhone 13 Pro - iPhone 13 Pro Max test © © Pierre Crochart pour Clubic

Battery life of the iPhone 13 Pro vs Xiami Mi 11 Ultra on the right.

Both mobiles are very powerful and both enjoy superb screens with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. So many elements that make us fear an autonomy in half-tone. Finally, only one of the two smartphones disappoints by its autonomy: the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. To understand why, let’s look at the type of panel used on both phones.

The iPhone 13 Pro is equipped with an LTPO panel. This technology allows you to adjust the refresh rate of the screen depending on the usage. If you scroll quickly through a web page, the screen will have a refresh rate of 120 Hz. On the other hand, if you watch a video, the screen will run at 24 or 30 Hz. The whole thing can go down to 10 Hz when the item displayed on the screen is static. Xiaomi’s phone lacks this technology, so the screen is “stuck” at 120 Hz, which consumes much more power. Of course, it is possible to use the 60 Hz mode, which makes the experience less comfortable.

Add to that the more efficient processor of the iPhone 13 Pro, and you have a phone that proves to be more enduring than its competitor, despite its smaller battery of 3095 mAh, against 5000 mAh on the Mi 11 Ultra. In practical terms, this translates into a battery life of a day and a half for Apple’s phone, and a short day for Xiaomi’s phone.

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On the other hand, the Mi 11 Ultra charges very quickly thanks to its 67W block provided in the box. This allows it to go from 0 to 80% of autonomy in just 30 minutes. Count 50 minutes for a full recharge. On the other hand, the iPhone 13 Pro is only compatible with 20W charging and no charger is provided in the box. You will have to wait 1h30 to recharge it completely.

Winner: iPhone 13 Pro

The iPhone 13 Pro does take much longer to charge than the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, but its approximately 50% longer battery life makes it much more comfortable to use on a daily basis, without fear of running out of batteries or having to compromise on display quality.

Conclusion

It’s already the end of this duel at the top and we have to admit that the iPhone 13 Pro wins in most of the categories we tested. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has nothing to be ashamed of, especially in terms of photography. Regarding the design, you’ll have to choose between a notch on the front, or a huge photo module on the back of the phone.

Don’t put words in our mouths: the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is still a great smartphone in almost every way, with the possible exception of its battery life, which really left us wanting more. If you’re willing to overlook that flaw and don’t plan on switching to iOS, the Mi 11 Ultra is still one of the best high-end smartphones around.

What we think at Clubic

The versus is a cruel exercise that forces you to choose between two very similar phones. It is true that Apple has hit very hard this year with its iPhone 13 Pro. But Xiaomi should come back even stronger in the first half of 2022 with a very likely “Xiaomi 12 Ultra” that will push a little more the limits of what a smartphone can offer.

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