Let’s start from the beginning. Here we have the brand new Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite that was launched not too long ago. The Mi 8 Lite is – of course – within the Mi 8 family of smartphones – but aimed towards the mid-range market with a price to match.
The question here is this – is the Mi 8 Lite worth the price? What does the Mi 8 Lite has that separates itself from the sea of mid-range smartphones that are currently in the market now?
Let’s find out in this in-depth review of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite. We had to delay this review because while we’re finalizing the review, an update came and upgraded the Mi 8 Lite to MIUI 10. Hence, we’re redoing the entire review.
We’ll be comparing the Mi 8 Lite with the Xiaomi Mi A2 that we reviewed here since both of these phones are very similar in specs and price.
Upon first look, the Mi 8 Lite’s box is certainly eye-catching. This gradient color actually reflects the color of the Mi 8 Lite’s back – which we’ll get into later.
At the back of the box is where the list of specs is found. Nothing particularly special here.
Opening the lid reveals the accessories box first. We have seen a few smartphones that come in such a packaging hierarchy. The phone itself is underneath the accessories box.
Digging out everything, we get a standard charger, a USB-C cable, a TPU case for the Mi 8 Lite, and the Mi 8 Lite itself alongside with some documentation. Also, we’re getting a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle here since the Mi 8 Lite does not have a headphone jack.
In terms of contents of the packaging itself, it’s quite similar to the Mi A2.
This is where the Mi 8 Lite actually stands out from other smartphones in the market. It’s not entirely flashy or out of the ordinary in terms of design. However, the back is immediately eye-catching as it has this gradient effect.
We’ve been seeing more and more smartphones with this gradient color effect for the past few months – and I think we’re only going to see more of it since more smartphones have gradient colors too.
The Mi 8 Lite we have here is in the Aurora Blue color, which has a color gradient that is dark blue at the top, and shifts to purple at the bottom. It is quite a subtle gradient, but noticeable for sure since it’s highly reflective.
The geometry of the Mi 8 Lite is rather boxy, to be honest. Even though it does have a little roundness at the frame, the phone feels like the it’s using a rather big phone to be its foundation instead.
The Mi 8 Lite isn’t particularly nice to hold due to its boxy design – especially when using the phone one-handed with the included TPU case installed.
Speaking of the included TPU case, it’s actually quite decent in terms of quality. It is rather thick and yet flexible, provides enough protection for the overall phone and has the little dots inside the case as well.
The only two concerns I have is the lack of a lip around the camera at the back and the case sits flat with the screen. These two issues make the rear-facing cameras and the screen to be scratched easily.
Even though the TPU case is a rather basic one, I recommend all users of the Mi 8 Lite to use case since the highly reflective back will give everyone an eyesore with fingerprints and potential scratches.
The Mi 8 Lite is pretty standard in this aspect as well. However, there are a lot of unnecessary compromises done here.
Firstly, as you might have already realized, the Mi 8 Lite does not have a 3.5mm audio jack – and that’s why Xiaomi included a dongle in the box. It does, however, use a USB-C port at the bottom. There’s a microphone grill and a loudspeaker grill at the bottom – which is something that I appreciate after seeing the Huawei Mate 20 Pro removing these grills.
It comes with a standard SIM 1 + hybrid card slot and that’s the one big difference between the Mi 8 Lite and the Mi A2. Remember – the Mi A2 does not have a microSD card slot but you at least have the option here with the Mi 8 Lite.
At the top of the phone we can see another microphone.
At the right side of the phone is where we can find the power button and the volume rocker.
Nothing out of the ordinary, to be honest. It does support AC WiFi, which we talked about its benefits here. There’s no NFC, though.
The Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite comes with a 6.26-inch 2280×1080 pixel IPS LCD screen with a medium-sized notch. I would love it if Xiaomi can trim it down and perhaps opt for the waterdrop notch style, though.
This is also another difference between the Mi 8 Lite and the Mi A2. The Mi A2, although with a lower screen-to-body ratio, does not have a notch.
Upon booting up the Mi 8 Lite for the first time and using the apps that I usually use, I realize one glaring issue with the screen quality – and that’s the color it produces. For some reason the colors just look washed out and a little faded compared to other screens. And yes – it’s still not as good even after the MIUI 10 update.
Another thing that differs drastically between the Mi 8 Lite and the Mi A2 is the cameras. The Mi 8 Lite has these specs for the cameras:
- Dual rear-facing cameras
- 12MP f/1.9 dual-pixel PDAF
- 5MP f/2.0 depth sensor
- Selfie camera
Let’s take a look at the pictures that I’ve taken with the Mi 8 Lite. You can have a look at the full metadata at our full album at ShutterFly. We’re no longer using Flickr since they changed their terms of service.
Honestly, the camera is actually quite decent. The depth sensor here separated the subject in focus with the background very nicely, though it does mean you’ll need to be in a brightly lit condition.
Even with a simple point and shoot, the picture turned out to be quite good. White balance is good, color saturation looks quite good as well. The dynamic range is a little wonky as the trees shown here are a little too dark.
Taking pictures indoors prove to be a little difficult as well. The Mi 8 Lite tends to favor long shutter speeds which makes the pictures very susceptible to blur because of an unsteady hand. But if you do get to balance your hands and take a picture, it actually looks good.
Then comes the night shots. There’s no better way to say this but to describe the picture as just noisy, though still very usable for social media.
The AI mode and HDR mode are still mutually exclusive, which means you can manually turn on or off for each modes. We did give it a try and did not realize much of a difference in most modes. The obvious difference here is color saturation when it comes to food. Take a look at my McD fries.
I have to say, the selfie camera on this phone is just mediocre. There is no autofocus here and the selfie camera is slow even if the place is bright. Once again, it favors long shutter speeds which can cause a lot of blur in pictures.
Still the same as Mi A2 here. Nothing has changed. The Mi 8 Lite does have a proper manual mode here as it has the options to change ISO and shutter speed. It’s quite diverse too, as the ISO ranges from 100 to 3200, and the shutter speed ranges from 1/1000s to 32s. Though, the Mi 8 Lite does not take RAW images in format.
It’s a camera UI that works – and great for point and shoots. My favorite feature, straighten, is still here too.
Yes – that is correct. The Mi 8 Lite was originally shipped with MIUI 9. When we’re finalizing the review, we got an update on the Mi 8 Lite. That update brought MIUI 10 – which is why we have delayed this review so long.
New MIUI 10 brings a long a refreshing redesigned UI system-wide – with the most notable change being the notifications bar. The overall look and feel is of MIUI 10 is flatter and definitely more fluid while laced with smooth animations all over.
Even the recent apps menu got a redesigned as well. Older apps will be pushed down further, and newer apps will stack at the top. To close an app, swipe it either left or right.
But what about the performance of the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite running on MIUI 10? Let’s take a look at the next section.
We first did the benchmarks for the Mi 8 Lite in MIUI 9, but we also redid the entire test since MIUI 10 was released. With that aside, let’s first take a look at the specs of the Mi 8 Lite.
- 6.26-inch IPS LCD screen with 2280×1080 pixels in resolution
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset
- 4×2.2GHz Kryo 260 + 4×1.8GHz Kryo 260
- Adreno 512 graphics
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB storage
- 3,350mAh battery
- Android 8.1.0 Oreo with MIUI 10
Once again, the specs are very close to the Mi A2. But what does the benchmarks have to say? Let’s take a look at the graphs below.
From what we can see here, the Mi 8 Lite’s performance is about the same with other Snapdragon 660 smartphones in the market even with MIUI 10 update. Nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary here.
Whne it comes to gaming, the Snapdragon 660 is quite a powerful chip. It’s meant to be a slightly higher end mid-range chipset that can run quite a number of games smoothly. Let’s not forget that 6GB of RAM actually helps a lot too.
We played our usual games – Honkai Impact 3, Asphalt 9, and also PUBG Mobile.
Honkai Impact 3 once again proved to be the least taxing as the Mi 8 Lite manages to run the game with zero issues at all. Everything is smooth and the game runs well on the Mi 8 Lite at the highest settings.
Then comes Asphalt 9. Upon launching the game first, I saw the texts in game is somehow with jaggy edges. Then I played a race and realized there is no anti-aliasing at all. Everything has jaggy edges – even the cars. Without anti-aliasing, the game will obviously run smoothly even at the highest graphic quality settings.
Then comes PUBG Mobile. It can run smoothly at balanced settings – which is what we have came to know with Snapdragon 660 chipsets.
When we first reviewed the Mi A2, we highlighted that the 3,000mAh battery in that phone just isn’t enough for the power hungry Snapdragon 660. Xiaomi listened and improved, but not by much. The Mi 8 Lite only has a 3,350mAh battery – still bigger than the Mi A2’s battery, but not really sufficient.
Take a look at our battery benchmark to know what we mean.
3,350mAh is more in the “meh” territory when it comes to battery life. Should’ve gone for something like 3,700mAh at least.
The Mi 8 Lite comes with a standard 5V 2A charger which is the bare minimum when it comes to bundled smartphone chargers these days. Here is the charging curve of the Mi 8 Lite.
Takes around half an hour to reach 50% battery, and a total of 52 minutes to reach 75% battery. This is the limitation of 5V 2A chargers – they’re actually quite slow in today’s standard.
Honestly, the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite feels like a clone of the Mi A2 with a few tweaks – particularly the software side of things since Mi A2 uses Android One whereas the Mi 8 Lite uses MIUI 10. The upgraded battery isn’t enough to make a significant difference and still mostly require a power bank for day-to-day use.
In terms of design – yeah it’s much more eye-catching than the Mi A2 but it is also less comfortable to hold, in my opinion. However, the Mi 8 Lite does have a microSD card slot.
As for the prices, the Mi 8 Lite is actually priced at RM999 right now for the 4GB RAM + 64GB storage version, and RM1,299 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage version.
As a standalone phone though, the Mi 8 Lite is actually quite good. Comparing to the recent price readjustment of the Mi A2 however, Xiaomi is making the choice between Mi 8 Lite and Mi A2 very difficult.
They both have their own pros and cons – but honestly, it ultimately comes down to two things – which UI you like the most – Android One or MIUI 10? Do you need a microSD card slot? If you answer yes to both questions, then get the Mi 8 Lite.
Or perhaps look into a competitor’s smartphone – the Honor 8X.