Summer is here and that means it’s time for Xiaomi 12 Lite to show up at AndroidHeadlines for review. At first glance, there seem to be a lot of changes that Xiaomi has made this year to the Lite series. The new changes include flat edges, and sharper corners – something we have seen with the Redmi 11 series – along with an updated display and cameras.
I am a big fan of the Lite series because it offers a lot of features from the flagship series at an affordable mid-range price. So let’s get the Xiaomi 12 Lite unboxed to get the review rolling.
Unboxing the Xiaomi 12 Lite
Unboxing the Xiaomi 12 Lite is a very ho-hum affair. A fairly nondescript white retail box contains a clear TPU case, 67W charging brick, and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable. I like that there is no plastic used in the entire retail box so props to Xiaomi for going green where it matters rather than eliminating a charging brick from the retail package.
Xiaomi 12 Lite design language is gorgeous
First off, I am extremely happy to receive a device that isn’t black or gray from Xiaomi. Of all the devices I have reviewed from them, this is only the fourth one that isn’t black in color. Xiaomi 12 Lite comes in Lite Pink, and Black besides the Lite Green color they sent us for review.
I like the green color of my review unit. Of the various green devices I have with me, I think this is my second favorite after the Pixel 6. Aside from the color, I like the overall construction and weight distribution. There are no obvious rattles or squeaks anywhere. Buttons have great tactile feedback and the in-hand ergonomics are excellent.
There’s Gorilla Glass 5 on the front protecting the AMOLED display. On the back, there’s frosted glass while the frame is plastic – an obvious effort to keep the cost low. The other item that Xiaomi skimped on in the name of cost control was eliminating the physical proximity sensor. And then there’s the formal ingress protection or IP rating which this phone doesn’t have.
There’s an under-display fingerprint scanner that is fast and accurate although I wish it was placed about an inch higher for easier access. Haptics have improved dramatically on Xiaomi devices in the last few months and this device is no exception.
Camera module design is based on the more expensive Xiaomi 12
The triple camera module on the back borrows the design language from the more expensive Xiaomi 12 and looks great on this device. And that frosted back glass helps keep fingerprint smudges to a minimum.
For audio, there are dual speakers, and two microphones, one on each of the top and bottom rails. There is an IR port on the top rail, and the volume rocker and power button are on the right rail whereas the left side of the phone is clean. The dual-SIM slot is next to the USB-C charging port on the bottom.
Xiaomi 12 Lite sports a flagship quality 120Hz AMOLED display
This year’s Xiaomi 12 Lite has a 6.55″ OLED panel with 12-bit (68 billion colors) color depth. The display panel has a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate for a smoother gaming experience. The 1080p display has a 402 ppi pixel density and a tall 20:9 aspect ratio which is common for most smartphones these days.
In addition, the display is HDR10+ with Dolby Vision certification and the seat of the pants impression is that this is a top-shelf AMOLED display. The brightness is around 500 nits for regular use and the peak brightness is about 800 nits which is good enough for outdoor use. I am glad that Xiaomi didn’t skimp out on the display for the Lite series.
Performance is more than adequate for daily tasks including gaming
The CPU powering the Xiaomi 12 Lite is a Snapdragon 778G 5G. The octa-core CPU is based on TSMC’s 6nm N6 manufacturing process. The CPU consists of three clusters, 1x 2.4 GHz Kryo 670 Prime (Cortex-A78), 3x 2.4 GHz Kryo 670 Gold (Cortex-A78), and 4x 1.8 GHz Kryo 670 Silver (Cortex-A55). It also has the Adreno 642L GPU for gaming and other graphics-intensive tasks.
There are a few different variants available in terms of RAM and storage – 6GB/128GB, 8GB/128GB, and 8GB/256GB. The storage is UFS 2.2 and RAM is LPDDR4X. Our review unit is the middle of the road 8GB/128GB version.
Benchmark wise the Xiaomi 12 Lite performs well in terms of single and multi-core Geekbench 5 scores. In terms of everyday use, there are no issues with browsing, streaming, or multitasking. Even playing games isn’t too much of an issue at medium settings. Overall, I think the Xiaomi 12 Lite has just the right amount of horsepower for the price you are paying to buy it.
Software is MIUI 13 and feels familiar
We’ve reviewed plenty of devices from Xiaomi running MIUI this year so this section of the review is going to be short. The Xiaomi 12 Lite is running MIUI Global 13.0.3 with the May 2022 security update. The software experience is identical to that of the more expensive Xiaomi 12 Pro.
There are stock Google apps for the basics – Phone, Messages, Chrome, and Contacts. Swiping left brings up Google Discover just like on a Pixel device. There is a minimal amount of bloatware and you can uninstall every single app that is preloaded which is nice. Although I would argue that most people would like to have Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and an Office app on their smartphone.
A big carryover from the premium device is the fact that there aren’t any ads that pop up in the UI during daily use. And a small but significant change that I noticed is that Xiaomi has overhauled the Notifications and Control center. The previous version looked like a total iOS ripoff whereas the newer version is decidedly a bit more Android which is nice.
Battery life could be better but there is 67W fast charging support
Xiaomi 12 Lite has a 4,300 mAh battery which is good enough for charging every night. Since this is a fairly large 120Hz AMOLED display the battery isn’t going to last more than a day even with moderate use. I do think that a slightly larger battery would have had a negative impact on the otherwise excellent ergonomics.
However, Xiaomi did up the charging speed to 67W for this year’s version. A full charge takes around 50 minutes and you can get up to 84% battery life in half an hour of charging. Of course, Xiaomi has even faster charging options available but those are for other devices. The 67W charging brick included in the box is more than adequate for the 12 Lite in my opinion.
Xiaomi 12 Lite Camera performance
The rear cameras on the Xiaomi 12 Lite are like a deja vu. While the design language and screen are carried over from the flagship Xiaomi 12, the rear cameras are a carryover from the mid-range Redmi Note 11 series.
The rear camera setup is identical to Redmi Note 11 Pro that we reviewed earlier in the year so expect no surprises in terms of the actual output. Having said that, the main camera is a 108MP camera with a 1/1.52” sensor size,0.7μm 9-in-1 pixel binning (12MP) with a ƒ/1.9 6P lens. Then there is the 8MP ultra-wide camera with a 118° FOV and aperture of ƒ/2.2. And finally, there is a 2MP Macro camera with an f/2.4 aperture.
Pictures from the main and ultrawide cameras are really good in day or night. Just take a look at the samples in our Flickr Gallery and decide for yourself. For the most part, colors are vivid, and photos look a bit punchy with lots of contrast. Low light and nighttime results are also good for a smartphone.
As usual, the camera app has loads of features – Night Mode, Short Video, Time-lapse, Dual Video, Long exposure, Super Macro, and full manual Pro mode. And the same caveat as choosing which camera to record video applies here because you cannot switch between main and ultrawide cameras once you start capturing video.
Xiaomi did address the selfie camera issues and upgraded the front shooter to that on the 12 Pro. Selfies are good generally speaking. However, the camera has a fixed autofocus length so keep that in mind.
Audio and Connectivity Impressions
The Xiaomi 12 Lite features a dual-speaker, stereo setup with the main speaker at the bottom and the top speaker which is also the earpiece for phone calls. The grille at the top lets the sound out when using in speaker mode or listening to audio.
In terms of audio quality, the speakers are quite good with clear vocals, and good mid and high tones. Bass is lacking which is a common complaint with smartphones so take that with a grain of salt. Audio quality via USB-C port or Bluetooth audio is excellent.
Connectivity wise there are zero shortcomings with the Xiaomi 12 Lite. There’s 5G, Wi-Fi6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, and an IR blaster. I had no issues with data/calls/texts on the T-Mobile network in Southern California.
In terms of connecting with other devices, there’s Cast, Nearby Share, Mi Share all accessible from the control center with a quick pull down from the top of the screen.
Should you buy the Xiaomi 12 Lite?
In summary, the Xiaomi 12 Lite is a very capable smartphone. It has great design, excellent ergonomics, a superb AMOLED display, and stellar haptics. Camera performance is definitely comparable to other devices in the price class and performance is great along with 5G connectivity.
The one main issue is middling battery life (only a 4,300 mAh cell) but Xiaomi does include a 67W fast charging brick in the box. And one very glaring issue is no official IP rating, this one is a head-scratcher since some lower-end Xiaomi smartphones have an IP53 rating.
For about € 450 it is a great smartphone and there aren’t too many other devices available at this price point. Perhaps the new Pixel 6a is something to consider, although it has a smaller and lower quality display and a plastic back compared to the 12 Lite.