Xiaomi is very actively replenishing the Mi 9 series which at the moment already has as many as 8 smartphones, taking into account all the variants like the Pro versions. Despite such a impressive number of devices within one series, we tested only the most compact one - Xiaomi Mi 9 SE. But today let's look at the new and inexpensive Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite, which was introduced recently.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite comes in a medium sized cardboard box. Inside, in addition to the gadget, you can find: a 15 W charger, a USB/Type-C cable, a SIM card eject tool, a transparent silicone case and a set of documentation.
The case that comes with the black model is tinted, but it’s transparent if you have a black and white model. Nothing special can be said about it, the protection is minimal - the cut goes along the camera unit, and in front we have a small bumper around the display.
Design, materials and build quality
The design of Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is absolutely classic for this year. On the front there are rather thin bezels and a drop-shaped notch with a front camera at the top. At the back is a vertical unit with cameras.
In general, the smartphone looks neat, if unoriginal. In fact, only colors of the case make this model somewhat interesting. We were lucky to get the white phone (Pearl White). It looks similar to “More than White” palette of Xiaomi Mi A3. On the back panel there is a pearlescent iridescent effect.
There is a chrome frame around the perimeter and in conjunction with a white cover it all looks pretty. The main camera module got the same treatment. The material is aluminum, not plastic. The back is made of glass, but which one it's hard to say. But in front we get Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
An oleophobic coating was applied on all sides, and traces of use were barely visible. The build quality is top notch, the smartphone has no problems in this regard. On the card slot you can see the rubberized seal. But it is not worth checking the moisture protection, because they do not officially declare it.
Finally, I will mention the available color schemes. We have Pearl White, there is Aurora Blue and strict Onyx Gray.
Above the display we get light and proximity sensors, a selfie camera and a speaker. Below is an empty area.
On the right side there is a power button and a volume control key. On the left is a combined slot for two nanoSIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card.
The lower edge is taken by the USB Type-C port in the center, the microphone stylized as a speaker and a multimedia speaker. At the top there is a 3.5 mm port, an additional microphone and an infrared transmitter for controlling household appliances.
At the back in the upper left corner is a block with three camera eyes, an LED flash, and some usual text (“48 MP AI Camera”). Below there are a lot of inscriptions and markings (which I don’t like) and a vertical Xiaomi logo that serves as a light indicator.
The solution is interesting, but in order for it to work you have to put the smartphone down on the screen. There may also be problems choosing a case. You will have to look for a transparent one, or with a special cutout for the logo (they are already on sale).
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite Ergonomics
The dimensions of the smartphone are quite standard and correspond to its diagonal - 156.8 × 74.5 × 8.7 mm, weight - 179 grams. It's okay, not very large, but not always convenient for use with one hand. If you want something compact, choose Xiaomi Mi 9 SE.
The buttons are located well. The camera unit is noticeably smaller than in Mi 9 SE and this is very good. In general, Mi 9 Lite is convenient. But only in the case, since without it the device is very slippery.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite Display
The screen size in the smartphone is 6.39 inches. The matrix is Super AMOLED, with a resolution of Full HD (2340 × 1080 pixels). The aspect ratio is 19.5:9, and the pixel density is at 403 ppi.
The screen here is very good, there is a decent margin of brightness, and according to the manufacturer, it can reach 600 nits, and a typical value is 430 nits. In any case, even on a sunny day on the street, the readability of the display remains excellent. The picture is traditionally saturated and contrasty, viewing angles are excellent. White color under certain angles goes into multi-colored overflows.
Extensive settings are available: reading mode, color rendering settings with three profiles: auto-tuning, increased contrast and standard. In the first, you can change the color tone of the image; it's the most optimal for me. Saturation is greatly increased in the second mode, colors become toxic, and the standard one will suit those who like natural color reproduction. In addition, there is a widely customizable Always-On with a choice of different watchfaces and scenarios to enable the mode. The display can be activated in several ways - by lifting the smartphone or double-tap.
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Xiaomi also does not ignore the problem of eye fatigue from screen flickering at low brightness levels (pulse width modulation), which some users encounter. Thus was added the option of DC dimming.
In general, I can’t say much about it. The situation is better than Mi A3. In terms of speed and accuracy, it’s all fine.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite Performance
Inside Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite we get Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 chipset. The eight cores are divided into two clusters: two Kryo 360 Gold cores with a maximum clock frequency of up to 2.2 GHz and six Kryo 360 Silver cores with a clock frequency of up to 1.7 GHz. Graphics is handled by Adreno 616.
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There’s 6 GB of RAM. Good enough for multitasking.
My phone uses a 64 GB flash drive, of which 50.51 GB is available to the user. Let me remind you that there is a 128 GB version on sale. But if any of these options is not enough, then instead of a second SIM card you can install a microSD memory card up to 256 GB. It’s a pity, of course, that the slot is not triple. However, we can again recall Mi 9 SE that had no option to expand storage at all.
There are no problems with the responsiveness of the shell; applications open quickly. Very rarely, microlags of animations can occur, for example, when minimizing the application when you use gestures. You can play games, but you should understand that the device is not for gaming. This means that for comfortable FPS in heavy titles it is worth choosing medium (sometimes high) graphics settings. If you twist it to the maximum, then you can get these numbers:
PUBG Mobile - high graphics settings, an average of 29 FPS
Shadowgun Legends - ultra-graphics, an average of 26 FPS
Call of Duty Mobile - very high, all effects are included, the "Battlefront" mode is ~ 51 FPS; Battle Royale - ~ 36 FPS
Numbers are provided by Gamebench. Casual games run perfectly.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite Cameras
In the main camera block of Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite, we have 3 modules: the main 48-megapixel wide-angle module, with f/1.8 aperture. The size of the sensor is 1/2", the pixel size is 0.8µm, the focus is phase PDAF. The second module is super wide-angle, 8 megapixels with an aperture of f/2.2, and the third is the standard 2 megapixel depth sensor.
Traditionally, by default, images from the main sensor are saved in a resolution of 12 megapixels. With a direct comparison, the advantages of the 48 megapixel mode over the 12 megapixel seem nonexistent. So if you do not need twice the resolution and file size, do not bother with that.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite makes good photos: excellent detail, correct color reproduction and a fairly wide dynamic range. I like how it performs indoors - the noise reduction is used very carefully. In poor conditions, too, not all is lost. For this money you can only praise the smartphone’s camera.
The night mode can make the photo lighter with less noise, but then it will be a little less clear than in automatic mode. Artificial intelligence, of course, is there, and it mainly affects the saturation and contrast of the image, but does not go too far with this matter. Portrait mode is comparable to competitors: minor errors slip in, but basically it’s all okay.
The ultra-wide-angle module is suitable for use during the day and preferably outdoors, because in other scenarios it is noisy and blurry. No autofocus, no macro. However, nothing new. For landscapes and architecture, its capabilities are enough.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is capable of recording video in maximum 4K resolution with 30 fps. The quality of such clips is good, but there is no electronic stabilization. The latter appears only when switching to 1080p and 30 fps, even at 60 FPS it disappears. Slow motion is shot in 1080p with 120 FPS or 720p with 240 and 960 FPS, and fast motion up to 4K.
The selfie camera has a resolution of 32 megapixels, f/2.0 aperture, 0.8µm pixel size. It can create photos with blurring the background, in every way "correct" the face with the help of various beauty modifiers and shoot video in Full HD with 30 FPS.
The camera application contains all the necessary modes: night, manual, panorama, portrait. There is a pretty useless additional button for digital double zoom.
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An optical fingerprint scanner is installed under the display. The desired area can be displayed on the deactivated screen when lifting the smartphone or after tap on the screen. After a couple of hours of interaction with the device, the approximate position will be remembered and you can unlock the device without even looking.
The response speed is normal for the sub-screen sensor, but as before it does not reach standard scanners. Sometimes it doesn’t work the first time, but it depends on how accurately the finger is applied to it. It is also best to add one fingerprint several times, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful unlock.
The second way is unlocking via face recognition using the front camera. There are no complaints – it’s quick and precise, if there is enough light. In complete darkness, the screen brightness does not increase, and Mi 9 Lite can’t recognize the owner.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite battery life
The battery in the Mi 9 Lite has a capacity of 4030 mAh. The battery life overall is excellent. Expect about 6-6.5 hours of screen activity at 30-35 hours of overall work. That is, I have enough for a day and a half. A more objective indicator, the PCMark 2.0 test with maximum backlight brightness, gave 7 hours 39 minutes.
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Add to that fast charging (or recharging) out of the box, and you get the following speed of charging:
00:00 — 10%
00:30 — 52%
01:00 — 85%
01:15 — 93%
01:35 — 98%
Sound and communication
The speaker in the smartphone is high-quality, the voices are loud and clear. Multimedia slightly lacks high/mid frequencies. The sound is frankly unpleasant at maximum volume. Even in Mi A3 the situation is better. But for calls and notifications it’ll suffice.
In wired headphones, the quality is pretty ordinary, plus I did not have enough volume margin. But there is a 3.5 mm audio jack, which is still appreciated by many users. Of course, the sound can be improved by the built-in equalizer. In wireless mode we immediately get good sound and a decent volume level. Equalizer with Bluetooth headsets no longer works, of course, which is a pity.
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Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite has a full range of wireless modules: dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and the current Bluetooth 5.0 (A2DP, LE, aptX HD). Fairly accurate GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO) and even an NFC module for contactless payments or quick pairing with other devices. All of them cope with their tasks perfectly. There’s an infrared port, you can easily control household appliances with it.
Firmware and software
At the time of writing this review, the phone runs MIUI 10 based on Android 9.0 Pie. There is not the slightest doubt that MIUI 11 will soon appear, and most likely the tenth version of the operating system. At the moment, the shell offers everything for which it is loved and it is difficult to find something new in it – all the usual MIUI stuff is here. Many gestures, wide customization, the light indicator on the back (operating time, effects, applications) can be configured to your liking.
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Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is an excellent mid-range smartphone with the minimum number of shortcomings and lots of advantages. The main speaker could be better, but that’s about it.
The smartphone is wonderful - it has everything that you might want from a mid-ranger. It's got it all: great screen, high-quality cameras, good performance, an optical in-screen fingerprint scanner, a 3.5 mm jack, an NFC module, good battery life and fast charging.