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Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite Review

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Xiaomi has been facing some strong competition lately. And honestly, we never thought we would come up with that sentence, as previously there was no other smartphone company like them who are brave enough to come up with the best product for a reasonable price.

Emerging brands like Honor and Realme are going after Xiaomi and based on their recent releases, they are doing a pretty good job.

But to prevent anyone from stealing their crown, Xiaomi is hard at work to not let anyone surpass them. And we expect to see the fruit of their labor with the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite, the company’s latest entry in the demanding midrange segment.

In our Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite review, we’re about to see if Xiaomi was able to deliver. If you are curious, you can read our findings below.

Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite Specs

  • Android 8.1 Oreo, MIUI
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby (Hybrid)
  • 6.26-inch Full HD+ 19:9 2.5D Curved Glass Display, 2280×1080 pixel resolution, ~400ppi
  • 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 14nm processor
  • Adreno 512 GPU
  • 4GB  / 6GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • 64GB / 128GB internal storage, expandable up to 256GB with microSD
  • HSPA+, 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz), Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Bluetooth v5.0
  • USB Type-C
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Dimensions: 156.4 × 75.8 × 7.5mm
  • Weight: 169 g
  • Colors: Sunset Gold, Midnight Black, Aurora Blue
  • 3,350mAh non-removable battery

Design and Build Quality

Easily one of the best features of the Xiaomi MI 8 Lite is its design and build quality. The device has a gradient back finish, much like every smartphone launched this year. It’s primarily dominated by blue, which transitions smoothly to purple at the bottom.

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In addition, the back is covered with 2.5D glass, which is really reflective that you can literally use it as a mirror. But the thing is, it suffers from too much fingerprint marks and smudges. Although by this point in time, we just have just come to terms that this is the result of having this kind of premium build.

Moreover, it’s not the most comfortable thing to hold. You can easily get used to it, but I still prefer the more ergonomic curve edges of devices like the Huawei Nova 3.

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On the front, you can see a large 6.26-inch FHD+ display. Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite comes with a reasonably-sized notch that houses the front camera, earpiece, light and proximity sensors. Both the top and side bezels are thin, but the one on the bottom is slightly larger to accommodate the display and other hardware underneath.

At the left side, there’s a dual SIM card slot and a dedicated location for the microSD card. On the right, there’s the volume controls and the lock/power switch. The buttons aren’t the most satisfying thing to press, but it still feels relatively tactile.

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Way up top there are the noise-canceling microphone and two antenna bands on each corner while on the bottom are the USB Type-C port sandwiched with two speaker grills. The one on the right is the actual loudspeaker, while the other side houses the primary microphone.

Display

Screen quality shouldn’t be much of an issue on midrange smartphones. For as long as it’s large, provides decent sharpness and colors, you’re pretty much good to go. That’s exactly what the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite has. It comes with a 6.26-inch FHD+ display, with a 2280 x 1080 pixel resolution, and a pixel density of ~400.

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The screen is huge enough to make watching movies or playing games immersive. Plus, it provides decent sharpness to make reading texts easy in the eyes.

I also saw no problems operating the device outdoors as the screen panel can beam enough backlight to combat the bright sunlight.

Sound Quality

Xiaomi equipped a single bottom-firing loudspeaker on the Mi 8 Lite. It may not be the best-sounding drivers that I have come across with, but it’s still good enough to make watching movies and listening to music enjoyable.

The speakers deliver decent volume and balanced sound. The highs/treble feels comfortable in the ears, while the lows/bass is surprisingly audible. You can hear the sound that comes out of it when using the device privately, but don’t expect too much when you’re in a crowd or outdoors.

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On the downside, Xiaomi omitted the headphone jack for the Mi 8 Lite. They also didn’t include a USB Type-C headphones on the box. However, the company did put a Type-C to 3.5mm jack adapter in the package.

Much like most Android midrange devices, the sound it transmits through a pair of cans is just decent. The volume is a bit lacking, especially when compared to the iPhones, iPods, or any other devices that have a dedicated audio chip or DAC.

If you’re really not satisfied with its audio performance, you can play with different sound enhancement and equalizer settings in the menu.

Hardware and Performance

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite comes with a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core processor and an Adreno 512 GPU. It’s also available in a 6GB/128GB memory and storage configuration, but the one we have here is the 4GB/64GB variant.

For the price, the performance is really good — not the fastest, but is definitely not the worst that we have seen. Running basic applications like Facebook and Google Chrome was pretty seamless, but launching and taking pictures with the camera app is slightly sluggish.

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The gaming performance is fine, too. Both the Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile ran at playable frame rates, although the graphics quality has been slightly compromised for a smoother performance.

To give you an idea, PUBG Mobile automatically set the graphics settings to Medium. So if you want a smoother frame rate, you would need to hit the lowest setting, although seeing faraway enemies might be tougher.

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Obviously, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite is not the fastest smartphone around. But for the price, this is one of the most reliable smartphones that you can get.

Security

Xiaomi used a fast fingerprint scanner on the back as a biometric feature for the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. The sensor is easily reachable by your index fingers and unlocks the device in a jiffy once it recognizes your print.

On the downside, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite doesn’t have the face unlock feature. However, this seems like a regional limitation as the feature is seen working on the Mi 8 Lite units in other countries. But since the fingerprint scanner is already working really well, I was able to settle with the fingerprint scanner.

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There’s also a Second Space feature to keep some of your apps and photos secured if you’re sharing your device with someone else. You can also hide private messages, files, and photos which can only be accessed by a password pattern or your fingerprint.

Software and User Interface

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 10 interface on top. And for those who are worried, Xiaomi has already started the beta testing phase for the Android Pie update, so don’t worry about the futureproofing when it comes to software.

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With MIUI 10, you’ll be experiencing some of the features that Xiaomi prepared for their devices. For one, the notifications tab control center looks really minimalistic and easy in the eyes. I also liked how large the screen brightness slider is, making it easy to use while retaining its simplistic look.

The recent tab was also revamped. It can now show more apps at once, while still providing a full-screen view of each individual software.

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The lock screen looks simple, the keyboard is easy to get used to, and most dedicated apps are familiar and intuitive to use. Xiaomi even added some subtle app icon animations when you close them or when you unlock the device.

For ease of use, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite features a one-handed mode. You can also enable the Quick Ball to access some shortcuts, which cleverly transforms into a really unobtrusive icon when not in use.

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Different gesture controls and shortcuts are also present, and bloatware apps were kept on the minimum to save some space.

I really like how everything looks minimal and straightforward on this interface. Plus, it looks closer to the stock Android look. Of all the OEM-made skins that I have tested, this is probably the best one.

Camera

Much like most midrange devices, Xiaomi is trying to hype the camera system on the Mi 8 Lite. And as per my testing, it was able to deliver. However, it’s still not the best camera that I have seen in this category.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite comes with a 24-megapixel selfie camera on the front and a dual 12-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear shooters. Of course, the entire camera system is backed with AI capabilities.

While the images it produced appear good at first look, you can see some of its flaws when you examine them closely. For one, the contrast is a little lacking while the colors and contrast are a bit washed out.

But if you really want to take the best photo that you can get from the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite, you should switch to the manual mode. This gives you full control of the settings, although some people might find them a bit overwhelming.

Since it lacks a dedicated Night Mode feature, you’d be doing it manually by adjusting the exposure settings and shutter speed, in case you want to take better low-light photos. But if you can get your way through it, then you’re in for a treat.

You can create bright low-light images, light trails, and so much more. Just make sure you have a tripod ready as it doesn’t come with optical image stabilization built-in.

Moreover, the secondary 5-megapixel camera also does a decent job collecting depth information. Thus, creating a really believable bokeh effect. The foreground is impressively separated from the background, providing a DSLR-like look.

If you love taking selfies, you’d surely love this thing. The 24-megapixel front-facing camera means that it can take well-detailed images. This gives its Face Beauty feature a slack on applying the necessary filters, without the image looking too soft.

Connectivity

Thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite was able to come with the most dated wireless antennas.

There’s the dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 5.0. Both of which worked incredibly well during my testing. The 4G LTE connectivity also worked great.

On the bottom, we have the modern USB Type-C. However, it lacks an infrared blaster, which other Xiaomi smartphones have. Not a lot of people might care about this omission, but those who like an all-in-one remote control for their home appliances might miss it.

Battery

Xiaomi always takes pride in their devices’ battery performance. And with the Mi 8 Lite, the company is not making any exemption. This thing comes with a 3,350mAh battery, which delivers even better performance than devices that has a bigger battery capacity.

PCMark’s battery stress test gave it a score of 10hrs and 2mins screen-on time before it reached 20%. That test was run with the WiFi off and the battery and screen brightness set to 50%.

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In my real-world testing, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite can easily last me for a day of casual use with juice left to be used for at least half of the next day. I garnered a total screen-on time of 3hrs and 42mins before hitting the 20% mark. Definitely nothing impressive, but it’s okay for the most part.

But if you’re heavy on internet browsing, consuming video content online, and more — you should still expect to have 10% to 20% left on your battery by the time your day ends. That means that you might need to plug it in every night, which is quite common on almost all smartphones today.

Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite is probably the most balanced smartphone in the market today. There are devices in this price range that either offers great design, performance and camera quality — but you can’t have all of them combined on a single smartphone.

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But with the Mi 8 Lite, Xiaomi was able to accomplish the unthinkable. This thing is the jack of all trades of smartphones but is definitely the master of none.

Its Qualcomm Snapdragon processor 660 processor provided a really reliable performance — both for gaming and day-to-day tasks. But as you all know, the Honor Play and Xiaomi’s own Pocophone F1 tops the list.

It also has a great design that could really catch attention. Plus, its camera system lets you take pictures with good quality output. However, devices like the Huawei Nova 3i and the OPPO F9 might have done it better on this department.

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But then again, the fact that the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite was able to incorporate all those features, despite not being the best in all of them, make it the most complete smartphone that you can get for the price.

Pricing and availability of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite

The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite is available in 4GB/64GB and 6GB/64GB models and it’s available for an official price of Php13,990 and Php16,990, respectively.

You can get them at Xiaomi’s physical shops in Luzon and other authorized retailers nationwide. You can also get it through their official stores in Shopee and Lazada from the comfort of your home.

If you’re interested in other Xiaomi smartphones, you can check out the full price list here.

Pros

  • Premium, stylish design
  • Capable performance
  • Minimalistic, straightforward UI

Cons

  • Lacks face unlock
  • No headphone jack
  • Camera software could be better

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