Mi 11 Lite vs Redmi Note 10 Pro Max: the one to buy

The Lite against the Heavyweight: the one you should choose between the Mi 11 Lite and Redmi Note 10 Pro Max?

It is a comparison that a lot of people have been talking about. And it has spurred the old “style vs substance” debate. If you have around Rs 20,000 and wish to buy a phone, should you opt for one that is a bestseller and an established name in terms of performance, or should you splash out just a little bit more and go for one that might lose out a little on the spec side but turns it on in terms of style?

In simple terms: should you buy the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max that starts at Rs 19,999 or spend a little more and get the Mi 11 Lite which starts at Rs 21,999. The phones share a few similarities – most notably the processor – but are very different kettles of phone-y fish. Different enough to confuse folks between the two. So which one should you go for? Let me try to work it out.

Design and appearance


Considering that the Mi 11 Lite (above) has been marketed as a style icon, you would expect it to mop the floor with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (below). But that is not the case at all. Yes, the Mi 11 Lite is slimmer and lighter (it is the slimmest and lightest phone of 2021 for its display size) – at 6.81mm thin and 157g against the 8.1mm and 192g of the Note – and is generally a far more compact phone (160.5mm tall as against 164.5mm of the Note), but the Note 10 Pro Max is by no means overwhelmed.


In fact, some might like the slightly frosted glass back finish on the Note along with the metal-encased main camera on the rear to be more striking than the subtly more classy glass back of the Mi 11 Lite. Yes, the Mi 11 Lite wins this one for its more elegant and classy feel, but the margin of victory was actually far smaller than we had thought it would be. The “Vintage Bronze” variant of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max actually could be said to be the most striking of models on both sides.

Winner: Mi 11 Lite

Display


This is a battle between a large-ish 6.67-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display of the Note 10 Pro Max with a 120Hz refresh rate and the 6.55-inch HFD+ AMOLED dot display with a 90Hz refresh rate on the Mi 11 Lite. Although the Note has a slightly bigger display with a higher refresh rate, the Mi 11 Lite’s display has 10-bit colour depth as compared to the 8-bit one on the Note. This generally means better colour handling and better contrasts and while this does not seem immediately obvious, a closer look does seem to give the Mi 11 Lite a slight edge here. Mind you, once again, the edge here is slight – I found the display of the Note 10 Pro Max to be brighter at times, and the difference in quality was not outstanding.

Winner: Mi 11 Lite

Processor, RAM and storage


Both phones are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732 processor. And at the time of writing, both came with 6GB / 128GB and 8GB / 128GB RAM and storage variants, with both using LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 2.2 storage. However, although both phones come with expandable memory, the Note 10 Pro Max has a dedicated microSD card slot, while the Mi 11 Lite has a hybrid SIM card slot, making you sacrifice a SIM connection for expandable memory. It is a wafer-thin difference, again, but it gets the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max on the scoreboard.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Gaming and multimedia


With similar processors and RAM, it is hardly surprising that both phones pretty much match each other in gaming. Neither is meant for high-end gaming, but will handle casual titles and even stuff like Call of Duty at lowered settings very well. The slightly better color handling of the Mi 11 Lite does come to the fore in graphics-rich titles and even while watching films, but the Redmi Note cancels that out with a larger and brighter display and well, then there is the sound. The Note’s speakers simply have way more punch to them than the ones on the Mi 11 Lite do. Add to this the fact that the Note has a 3.5mm audio jack (the price the Mi 11 Lite pays for its slim stature) and this round goes to the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Cameras


Just as I had expected the design round to be a walkover for the Mi 11 Lite, so too I had expected the 108-megapixel main sensor of the Redmi Note to easily win it the rear camera round over the 64-megapixel one on the Mi 11 Lite. As in the case of design, I was wrong. Yes, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max does have the specs going for it – four cameras (108-megapixel, 8-megapixel ultrawide, 5-megapixel telemacro and 2-megapixel depth) against three (64-megapixel, 8-megapixel ultrawide and 5-megapixel telemacro) – but in terms of real performance, the difference between the two phones is not that great. We did get more detail from the Note’s main sensor but the colour handling of the Mi 11 Lite seemed better. The Note did low light snaps better, but the difference in video quality of both devices was not perceptible. The additional depth sensor of the Note also does not give it any major benefits – both phones handle portrait shots equally well. Both phones come with 16-megapixel selfie snappers which are good performers and match each other. So yes, this is a surprise, but I am calling this one a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software

You would think this round would be destined for a tie, with both phones running MIUI on top of Android 11. However, the fact that the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has received an update to the latest MIUI 12.5 while the Mi 11 Lite stays on the older MIUI 12, gives the Note a clear edge. Ads have disappeared, bloatware is largely absent and the phone simply runs more smoothly. Yes, we have been told the Mi 11 Lite will get the update in the coming days but as of now, the software edge is clearly a Note-able one.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Battery


The Note has a larger 5,000mAh battery as compared to the 4,250mAh one on the Mi 11 Lite, and while the Note has a larger display with a higher refresh rate as well, the fact is that it does outlast its Lite competitor in this department. The Note 10 Pro Max got me a little more than a day of regular usage while the Mi 11 Lite would basically last the day, both on maxed-out refresh rates. Get the refresh rates down to 60Hz and the difference remains with the Note getting a day and a half and the 11 Lite going past a day comfortably. In terms of charging speed, both phones come with support for 33W fast charging and 33W chargers in the box as well. The Mi 11 Lite gets charged from 0 to 100 in a little more than an hour, while the Note takes about an hour and a quarter. The Mi 11 Lite does honorably, but the extra mAh win this one for the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

General performance


On the whole, the Mi 11 Lite’s compact and lighter form factor makes it easier to use as compared to the more bulky Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. The Note 10 Pro Max does win back some ground with its better software (MIUI 12.5!) and speakers. Both phones handle calls equally well, have got speedy fingerprint sensors on the sides, and also have infrared blasters on top. Still, all said and done, if you are looking for a phone that is easier to handle, the Mi 11 Lite wins easily thanks to its design. Neither phone has 5G incidentally. But then, neither has India at the time of writing.

Winner: Mi 11 Lite

Pricing

In terms of price, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has a clear edge. It starts at Rs 19,999 for its 6GB / 128GB variant and its 8GB / 128GB variant is available for Rs 21,999. The Mi 11 Lite’s 6GB / 128GB variant on the other hand is priced at Rs 21,999 and its 8GB / 128GB variant is priced at Rs 23,999. So not only does the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max start at a lower price point, but its highest variant has the same price as the base variant of the Mi 11 Lite. That makes the Note a clear winner here.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Follow the Lite or be Note-able?


So, as the dust of comparison settles, which one should you be going for – the stylish Mi 11 Lite or the substantial Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Truth be told, it is not as easy a decision as some would have us believe, for the Mi 11 Lite does bring its own strengths to the table for its higher price tag – the most notable being a phone that is literally lighter in the pocket. The Note 10 Pro Max does score on some fundamentals such as sound and battery and manages to look surprisingly good even in comparison to the Mi 11 Lite, but then the Mi 11 Lite seems to have a slightly better display and has remarkably good cameras. In my opinion, given how close the two devices are to each other in performance, the portability and style factor would perhaps be critical in your choosing between them. If appearance and weight make no difference to you, the Note is easily the better option. If they do, and you are willing to pay a small premium for them, then the Mi 11 Lite wins. It is a close contest, much closer than I had assumed at the outset, and definitely not as simple as a choice between specs and style. Whether you take Note, or stay Lite, you are unlikely to feel disappointed!