Review: Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G – 5G for cheap (some exceptions apply)
Sadly, that exception includes the US.
As a longtime Android user, I’ve used Xiaomi’s software on multiple phones, with custom ROMs using their MIUI rework of Android, all the way back to my first smartphone, the ZTE Blade. The thing is, I’ve never used one of their handsets, but it’s time to change that.
Enter the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G. This phablet is a midrange, 5G-enabled (if you live in the right region) smartphone that Xiaomi is touting as a creative powerhouse. Let’s find out if that holds true.
So, 5G without the premium price tag?
The heart of the Mi 10 Lite is the midrange Snapdragon 765G SoC, the same chip that powers both of Google’s Pixel 5G handsets. Xiaomi is known to be generous with other specs, pairing that with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on this international version. It’s got dual-SIM, in case you want to run two lines on one phone.
The Xiaomi handset has a 6.57-inch AMOLED screen at a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, with a 16-MP teardrop selfie camera in the middle of the top edge. That screen also has an in-screen fingerprint sensor, or you can use face unlock via the selfie cam. On the back, you get four camera modules. A 48-MP main camera with a 1/2-inch sensor, an 8-MP ultra-wide, a 2-MP depth sensor, and a 2-MP macro sensor. It’s got all the usual bevy of modes, from time-lapse to night mode, with Xiaomi’s AI Camera which can tweak the settings based on what it identifies in the frame.
You get WiFi-AC, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, HDR10 playback, and NFC. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, and one of my favorite tools, an IR blaster. Yes, you can use your cellphone as a TV remote, once you’ve set it up. Nifty.
A 4,160 mAh battery powers everything, with Xiaomi’s 20W fast charging tech. It even comes with a 22.5W charger, so you’ll get the full 20W speeds. With this being an international version of the handset, you’ll have to deal with using an adapter to put it into a U.S. socket though.
On to the 5G part. It’s not good news for U.S. buyers, with the Mi 10 Lite not having any of the bands used by U.S. carriers. See, U.S. carriers are currently only using bands: n2, n5, n41, n66, n71, n260, and n261, with DSS. The Mi 10 Lite comes with support for n1, n3, n7, n28, n77, n78. If you’re in the UK or Europe, you’ll be able to take advantage of 5G though. Maybe in the future, as the U.S. carriers roll out more bands, the 5G portion of this handset will work, or maybe Xiaomi can update the bands the handset supports with a future firmware update. The chipset used does support the U.S. bands since it’s the same one used in Pixel 5.
So, is it any good?
Let’s talk about design. The Mi 10 Lite 5G pulls on the pedigree of the Mi 10 range but does cut some corners to get that Lite price point. Gone is the metal frame, so hello to a plastic frame. You’ll only really notice the weight though, as Xiaomi has covered the front and back with Gorilla Glass 5, so it’ll still feel like any premium handset. We got the Aurora Blue colorway, which has a pearlescent sheen when the light hits from different angles, and it really does look great. Chinese manufacturers are more open to experimenting with color, and I wish that mainstream manufacturers would do the same.
That gorgeous, 6.57-inch AMOLED screen means Xiaomi can bury a fingerprint sensor under the panel, and it’s the most accurate one that we’ve tested to date. I haven’t had one misread yet, something that’s impressed me. That also means that the Mi 10 Lite comes with a pre-applied screen protector, as using third-party ones can often throw off the fingerprint sensor. That’s fine, you should be using a screen protector anyway, and not having to fight with dust when applying one is great.
It’s got a dual-sim slot, but unlike many other phones that have a dual-sim slot, you can’t put a microSD card into one of them. The Mi 10 Lite doesn’t support memory expansion, but then this variant does come with 128GB so it’ll take a while before you’ll fill it up.
The 4,160 mAh battery is insane. Like, literally battery for days. Now, I should mention that we only tested on 4G LTE networks, since we’re in the U.S., and the 5G bands this supports aren’t used here. I’ve regularly gotten two days of use from the Mi 10 Lite, which is phenomenal.
The quad-camera set up is fairly good, with a 48-megapixel sensor with a 26mm f/1.8 lens, an ultrawide camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.2 aperture that gives 120-degrees of view, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel sensor that’s only used for depth sensing, like when you use portrait mode to blur out the background. The selfie cam has a 16-megapixel f/2.5 sensor, and it’s fine for video chat when you’re in a well-lit area.
All of the cameras are adequate when you have enough light for them, but the night mode does suffer from a lack of clarity and increasing noise. You’ll also notice that most images are over-sharpened and over-saturated. There’s an easy fix for these minor issues, add the modified Gcam app, which brings Google’s photographic smarts to the capable hardware in the Mi 10 Lite. Then you get results that are almost the same as those from the class-leading Pixel range.
So, should I buy the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G?
The Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G is a solid mid-range phone, with a gorgeous AMOLED screen and battery life for days. It’s got all the power and storage space that most users will need, stylish looks, and a camera setup that’s not bad at all.
That camera is even better if you add the modified Gcam app, bringing all of Google’s computational photography smarts to the handset. Sure, the 5G bands aren’t the ones used in the U.S., but it’s still a lot of phone for the money. You’ll have to import it from one of the Chinese marketplaces, like Banggood, who is having their annual 11.11 shopping event right now.
Even better, if you use code: BG9X10L, KnowTechie readers can get the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G for $319. Without the code, it will set you back around $440.
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