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Test Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite : a very good smartphone at less than 300€Published on
Now that Xiaomi is well represented in Europe, the brand no longer hesitates to release many smartphones in our country. The latest is the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite, which completes an already busy family. Indeed, the Chinese brand already presented earlier this year the Mi 9, Mi 9 SE and Mi 9T. The Mi 9 Lite is presented, at least in terms of price, as the cheapest smartphone in the range. And since Xiaomi has accustomed us to devices with a very aggressive price/quality ratio, we are going to check if the Mi 9 Lite is a good deal in our test.
No, it’s not a cheap Xiaomi Mi 9!
Although there is “Lite” in its name, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is a smartphone that makes a pretty good impression when you take it in hand. With its weight of 179 grams, it features a 6.39-inch AMOLED display for a screen ratio of 91%. As far as definition is concerned, we are on 2340 x 1080 pixels. The screen comes from Samsung, a company that no longer has anything to prove about AMOLED technology. If you appreciate the very colorful rendering, you will appreciate the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite.
The camera has a small notch at the top of the front panel that houses the front camera. At the rear, Xiaomi opted for a triple photo sensor and a glass back with the most beautiful effect. The only problem is that it makes the device quite slippery. And fingerprint-allergic people will spend their time cleaning their smartphones. The Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is available in 3 colours: More Than White, Subtle Blue and Grey Shades.
The power button and volume buttons are located on the same slot (the right when you look at the screen of the device) while at the bottom is a C-type USB socket for charging as well as the speakers and microphone. The mini-jack socket is on the top edge.
Finally, at the back, there is, like a small coquetry, the brand logo in the lower left corner. It is actually an LED that can be used as an indicator for notifications or comes to life when you are listening to music.
Android with MIUI sauce
If you like devices that offer a pure Android experience, you shouldn’t turn to Xiaomi products. Indeed, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is offered with Android 9 and the MIUI homemade overcoat in version 10 (10.3.6 to be exact).
Xiaomi has chosen not to offer an application drawer: they are all accessible from the smartphone’s home screen. Apart from this (non-negotiable) bias, the overlay contains many settings to customize the interface and user experience: gestures or buttons, application cloning tool… The manufacturer also offers many in-house applications, some of which have only limited interest. By default, Facebook and Netflix are also preinstalled, but they can easily be deleted later.
On a daily basis, the interface proposed by Xiaomi is rather pleasant to use and very fluid. If you know the brand’s products, you will certainly not be out of place. Those who discover Xiaomi smartphones can rely on the many customization options to adapt the system to their habits.
To unlock your device, Xiaomi offers an fingerprint reader placed under the screen: after saving your fingerprint via the system settings, the operation is fast and efficient. The Mi 9 Lite also features facial recognition. On a daily basis, and although the latter works well, we prefer the use of the fingerprint, which seemed faster to us.
During our test session, the device received an update allowing it to switch from MIUI 10 to MIUI 11. Still based on Android 9, Xiaomi’s homemade overlay has received a lot of changes including new themes for permanent display on the unlocking screen but also nature sounds for those who use their smartphone as an alarm clock. Graphically, MIUI 11 also offers more aerated menus, which contributes to a better overall readability.
Correct photo capacities
To please budding photographers, the Xiaomi Mi Lite is equipped on the back with a triple photo sensor with a 48 megapixel Sony main sensor. To complete the picture, you can count on an ultra wide angle 8 megapixel lens and a 2 megapixel depth sensor.
On paper, Xiaomi highlights its ultra-wide-angle smart mode, a hand-held night mode and the effectiveness of its portrait mode. So, good pickaxe or not?
The first point that strikes us is that the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite tends to offer colours that are not always realistic. Software processing favours bright colours to the detriment of total fidelity to the subject. In the end, we end up with pop photos that will not suit everyone. Nevertheless, the pictures are very correct, especially when considering the phone rate. In broad daylight, the camera produces its best results with the help of an AI that detects the type of picture you are taking. Xiaomi uses the technology called Super Pixel which combines 4 pixels in 1, which is why the photos are actually 12 megapixels.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them
An HDR mode is on board: here too, we sometimes have images that are too saturated, especially with these autumn colours.
The wide-angle sensor does well but produces images with less fine detail than the conventional sensor. There are also some deformations on the edges of the plates.
The portrait mode does well, but sometimes it offers backgrounds that are too blurry to appear natural. Via the gallery, it is possible to adjust the blur level and modify its effect (spiral, add cores or sparks) on the photo. It should be noted, however, that the routing was quite effective during our various tests.
On the other hand, the night mode disappointed us: the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite offers a dedicated mode that is supposed to offer beautiful night shots. The mode in question is actually based on a one-second exposure to recover as much light as possible. It is therefore necessary, on the other hand, to remain fixed so that the picture is clear. In our tests, the differences between a photo taken in normal mode and in night mode are very small. At best, we can indeed gain light on certain objects or limit the effect of light beams from public lighting.
The software part of Xiaomi is rich: the manufacturer offers different tools to retouch photos after they have been taken. We mentioned above the editing tools for portraits, but Xiaomi also allows you to touch up the sky of the photos. Indeed, artificial intelligence is able to detect the sky and replace it with one of the 6 filters offered. The results are quite successful if the sky is united. In our photos with the trees, the renderings are uneven. The results range from “successful and credible” to “overloaded and retouched”. To be tested anyway because the whole thing is surprising.
The first image is the original photo. If the first sky replacement works, the second leaves “flakes” of sky in the foliage
A quick word on the 32 MP front sensor that produces very correct results. Be careful with the beauty tools that are activated by default and that will touch up and smooth the skin. It is possible to attenuate their effect (or remove it if you don’t want it) so as not to get too artificial pictures.
For the video part, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is able to shoot in 4K at 30 FPS but also in 1080p at 60 FPS. The manufacturer announces a stabilizer that seems too light to reduce excessive shaking when walking, for example. Other than that, the rendering is good. Xiaomi offers a “short video” mode with stickers and filters oriented to sharing and social networks.
Honorable performances that are close to the top of the range
In terms of device performance, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite can rely on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor, a chip that is more powerful than mid-range processors but not as powerful as high-end ones. It is supported by an Adreno 616 graphics processor and 6 GB of RAM. For storage, users will have 64 or 128 GB.
In use, the Snapdragon 710 is more than enough for everyday tasks but also for games. On the different titles we tested, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite comes out with honours. It is sometimes recommended to lower the graphics level (from high to normal for example) to improve fluidity. On the other hand, the device tends to heat up quite easily during game sessions.
The Xiaomi overlayer also features a “turbo game” mode that allows you to take advantage of the performance mode to improve the gaming experience.
For those who prefer numbers, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite scored 208,231 on AnTuTu Benchmark, 1,844 on 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme and 1,754 on Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan.
Despite its thinness, the manufacturer still managed to fit a 4,030 mAh battery into the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite. And with a processor that uses less power than the one contained in the Mi 9, the device has a very satisfactory autonomy. The Mi 9 Lite can withstand intensive use quite well and will certainly achieve two days of autonomy in normal use.
What about the sound and the network?
Before its arrival in France, Xiaomi smartphones had the unfortunate tendency not to be compatible with the entire French network. This time is now over and the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is compatible with all our tapes. So you can easily enjoy 4G, regardless of your operator.
On the sound side, the device’s loudspeaker is located on its lower edge and provides correct sound. Nothing to report on the phone call side: the microphone picks up the caller’s voice well.
Prices and availability
Available since September 23rd, the Xiaomi Mi 9 lite is available from 299.90€. It is possible to find it below this rate quite regularly in different shops.
Our opinion on the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
In its price range, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is a very good device. Its performance and autonomy are its two main strengths and make it a very good smartphone for many users. In addition, the device leaves a very good impression when you take it in hand with its beautiful display and easy recognition of quality.
On the other hand, photo performance is not the best, but at this price, you have to make compromises. In most situations, the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite produces correct shots and the manufacturer offers really successful touch-up tools.
What surprises us is the price positioning of the device. Indeed, the Mi 9 Lite is the cheapest Mi 9 derivative. And for an extra 30€, you can hesitate with the Mi 9 SE which, if it has a smaller screen, has a slightly more powerful processor.
Despite everything, Xiaomi is used to offering devices at an attractive price/quality ratio and this Mi 9 Lite is no exception to the rule. It is a good device to recommend if you are looking for a smartphone for less than 300€.
Technical data of the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite
|OS||Android 9 with MIUI 11 overcoat|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 (10 nm processor up to 2.2 GHz)|
|GPU||Adreno 616 graphics processor|
|Storage||64 or 128 GB|
|Wi-Fi||Protocol support: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
Compatible with Wi-Fi 2.4 G / Wi-Fi 5 G / Wi-Fi Direct
|Networks||GSM：B2 / B3 / B5 / B8|
WCDMA：B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B8
TDD-LTE : B38/B40
|NFC||Yes, Google Pay compatible|
|Rear camera||48 MP Sony lens, 1/2″ sensor size, f/1.79, 6pcs lens|
8 MP ultra-wide-angle lens
2 MP depth camera
|Front camera||32 MP sensor with f/2.0 opening|
|Wireless charging ||No|
|Screen||6.39 inches, AMOLED with blue light protection|
1080 x 2340 FHD resolution for 403 PPI
|Fingerprint sensor||Fingerprint under the screen and facial recognition|
|Battery pack||4,030 mAh|
|Ports||USB port type C, jack plug|
|Sensors||Distance sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, IR remote control, vibration motor, electronic compass, ambient light sensor|
|Dimensions||156.8 mm x 74.5 mm x 8.67 mm|
|Colours||More than White, Subtle Blue, Grey Shade|
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