In recent months, there seems to be a gap between brand marketing promises and user requests. When the French operators have just completed the auction for 5G frequencies, many manufacturers have already launched a smartphone compatible with the future cellular network and are betting on this argument to convince you to change your mobile. The term 5G is omnipresent without taking into account the fact that, for the moment, this network does not exist in France. The first commercial offers will arrive at the end of the year but will only concern small areas. Then a question arises, is buying a Mi 10 Lite to have a 5G device really worth it? The smartphone is marketed from 379 euros excluding promotion.
A very classic smartphone
Launched at the same time as the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro as the cheapest 5G smartphone on the market (it has since been overtaken by the recent Mi 10T Lite, which has a poorer display and processors), the Mi 10 Lite (without T) looks like any other mobile marketed by Xiaomi between 2019 and 2020. Fortunately, the device, tested here in its 8 GB / 128 GB version sold for 399 euros, is rather convincing to the use thanks to its reasonable weight of 192 grams and its thickness of only 7.88 millimeters. In a world where smartphones are increasingly bulky, this is a real advantage. It is quite pleasant to use this device … although it is also the case with other Xiaomi smartphones like the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
Another highlight of the Mi 10 Lite is its OLED screen. Paradoxically, Xiaomi markets high-end smartphones with LCD screens (the Mi 10Ts) but equips its 5G mid-range mobile with an OLED screen. The latter is doing very well according to our laboratory tests with a maximum brightness of 602 cd / m2 and good color fidelity (our measurements confirm this with a Delta E of 1.75 in original color mode). Thanks to its edge-to-edge appearance, the Mi 10 Lite therefore has a fashionable look. Its front camera is hidden in a very discreet teardrop-shaped notch and is easily forgotten.
It's when looking at its back that the design of the Mi 10 Lite divides the most. The glass used by Xiaomi is shiny and accumulates a lot of fingerprints, which forces the manic user to use a cover if they do not wish to soil their device. Worse, the smartphone's quadruple camera module arranged in a rectangular block is, in our opinion, absolutely hideous.
A good processor for 5G
In order for its Mi 10 Lite to be 5G compatible, Xiaomi had to opt for … a 5G chip. In this device is the Snapdragon 765G, a Qualcomm SoC known for its very good performance and reasonable power consumption. Unsurprisingly, the smartphone was very smooth in terms of navigation during our few days of testing, although we did note some abnormal display bugs that are not usually seen with Xiaomi devices. Nothing serious though, these are mostly bugs in the animations. The Chinese brand having accustomed us to near-perfection, we were just surprised.
The other features of the device are quite attractive. The mobile has 64, 128 or 256 GB of non-expandable storage, 6 or 8 GB of RAM and can be unlocked by fingerprint thanks to a sensor under the screen… This equipment corresponds more to a mid-range device, in the line of OnePlus North sold for 399 euros. This Xiaomi is even better than a Pixel 4a, even if the latter stands out especially in photo. The problem, in our view, is that Xiaomi has some really good devices that are even more affordable, with much the same specs, except 5G. Did it really deserve to launch a new and umpteenth device?
Exactly, this is perhaps the real strength of the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite: its autonomy. While the device does not shine with its battery capacity (4160 mAh, which is not much compared to the 5000 mAh of some competing mobiles), it really impressed us in use. Indeed, we quickly realized that the Mi 10 Lite easily held two days, which is rare on the market. Our laboratory tests confirm it, the smartphone withstood 17:38 hours of our versatile autonomy measure, 13:38 in video streaming and 23:45 in communication. These results are well above average even if most of the direct competitors of the Mi 10 Lite have a 90 Hz screen and not limited to the classic 60 Hz as on this Mi 10 Lite.
Also recharge level, the Mi 10 Lite goes fast. It only took us 1:16 to go from 0 to 100% with the charger that came in the box. And yet its power is only 22.5 W. Xiaomi engineers have done a particularly efficient job.
An oversold camera device
Let's come back to the "hideous" camera module of the Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite. Inside, there are four cameras in addition to an LED flash. You won't be surprised to learn that like many other brands, Xiaomi wants you to believe that its smartphone has four real cameras just like premium mobiles … which of course it doesn't. Only the main lens linked to a 48 Mpix sensor and the ultra wide-angle attached to an 8 Mpix sensor are really essential, the other two sensors (for macro and depth) are just present to create an illusion. We would have preferred Xiaomi to assume by claiming only a dual camera module (like Google or Apple) rather than a wobbly quadruple camera module.
By day, the photo quality of the Mi 10 Lite is nevertheless up to the task. Not surprisingly, Xiaomi has gotten us used to offering good photo quality even at the entry level. This mid-range is therefore, logically, efficient even if, for unknown reasons, its application Camera is unusually slow. Going from main view to ultra wide angle sometimes takes 4 to 5 seconds, which is way too long. The Snapdragon 765G processor is not the cause of these slowdowns, so we imagine that Xiaomi's software teams can improve all of this and fix it with an update.
On the other hand, it is at night that the Mi 10 Lite disappoints the most. As soon as the light starts to fail, the photos lose sharpness. We were hoping for better from Xiaomi, but at this price point we're not really surprised.