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I had forgotten how nice the Xiaomi Mi range of phones is (I looked at the Mi 4 a while ago and liked it a lot). The Mi 8 Lite does not disappoint at all.
Its a slim phone measuring 6.15 x 2.98 x 0.3 inches (156.4 x 75.8 x 7.5mm), and it weighs 5.96 ounces (169g). Its curved lines feel wonderful after the slew of rugged phones I have reviewed lately and it is a pleasure to hold.
Xiaomi have squeezed a 6.26 inch screen with 2280 x 1080px resolution and a ratio of 19:9 into the body of the phone. The bezel is tiny, giving you a great percentage of usable screen real estate.
Inside the phone there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 14nm octa-core processor running at up to 2.2GHz. I did not notice any lag in app performance during the time I used the phone.
The graphics processor is an Adreno 512GPU running at up to 650MHz, more than adequate for gamers. There is also a useful silicone cover to protect the highly polished back of the device.
The device supports dual SIM, or my preferred option of a Nano SIM and micro SD card. The Mi8 Lite also supports VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution), used to give you calls over a 4G LTE network instead of using a 2G or 3G connection.
This device has 4GB LPDDR4 dual channel RAM and 64GB EMMC5.1 ROM, but there is a 6GB / 128GB version available if you need extra storage space.
The phone also supports both 2.4G or 5G Wi-Fi networks, and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Mi 8 Lite has a 3250 – 3350mAh battery depending on the model – not as large as other larger phones I have reviewed recently like the 5,000mAh Ulefone Armor 6, or the 10,080mAh Doogee S80, but very like the Meizu Pro 7 Plus. The Mi 8 Lite supports Qualcomm 3.0 quick charging via its USB C port.
I particularly like the camera features on this phone. The front camera is a whopping 24MP Sony IMX 576 camera with lots of features for taking great selfies.
There is AI scene detection, background blurring to give a bokeh effect, smart light optimisation and an automatic 'Beautify' option that will enhance your eyes, nose, eyebrows, eyelashes, chin, and will slim your face too. There is a beautify option for tweaking gallery images too.
The rear camera is 12MP / 5MP Samsung S5K5E8 camera f/1.9 large aperture, 1.4 / 1.12 nanometer large pixels with AI, bokeh, HDR, panorama, burst and face recognition mode. Images are good – even in low light. Video delivers 60 or 30fps video, or 120fps slow motion video.
I particularly like the look and feel of the Android 8.0 OS – tweaked by Xiaomi with its MIUI 10.2 Global software.
The interface is intuitive and there are some nice features such as the ability to receive emergency broadcast, threats, AMBER alerts, or the Earthquake Tsunami Warning System tests.
You can use full screen mode for some or all apps, or remove the 'notch' from the top of the phone screen – which gives you a larger bezel at the top of the screen. You can configure a 'second space' so your apps and photos are protected from other users of the phone.
You can enable Quick Ball - a floating icon on the screen. You can configure shortcuts for the home key, menu, Wi-Fi, mobile data, silent mode or torch amongst others.
The two features on the Mi 8 Lite that I miss is the ability to shut down the device and wake at a certain time to save battery – useful for phone junkies like me who use the phone heavily all day and do not want to recharge it each day.
I also use NFC, and this phone does not have the feature – so Android Pay will not work on this device.
Security is good – and the facial recognition is the fastest, and most accurate I have ever used. This version will recognise you with reading glasses on – and you can capture another image without wearing glasses so it can recognise you if you are wearing your glasses or not.
This is a superb feature for anyone who occasionally wears eyeglasses to use their phone. The fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone is fast too.
All in all I loved this mid-priced phone from Xiaomi. For $280, the Mi 8 Lite is aimed at consumers – but would be perfect for business use too.