With 2020 showing a huge increase in the influx of mid-range smartphones, Xiaomi’s Mi Note 10 Lite is yet another one that falls into this category. At face value, the smartphone is not bad. However, is it worth considering or are there better options in the market?
Design and build
At 204g, the Mi Note 10 Lite has a great heft to it. But for people who like slim smartphones, the 9.7mm thickness of the device will be off-putting. It is quite the unit and with it being so thick, the phone can stand on a surface without any support. Of course, this means there is no sacrifice in connectivity. The top edge houses an IR blaster with the secondary microphone, the right edge has the power button, the volume rocker as well as the dual-SIM slot with support for micro-SD expansion. However, we would have liked this to be a triple-slot supporting dual-SIM and micro-SD simultaneously like we have seen on other smartphones at this price point and lower.
The bottom edge is where you find the Type-C USB port, the primary speaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a primary microphone. The left edge on the Mi Note 10 Lite stays bare. With a combination of curves and sharp edges on the top and bottom, the Mi Note 10 Lite has a nice feel in hand. The rear and front of the device sports Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection and in this Nebula Purple finish, it checks all the boxes when it comes to aesthetic, complete without a camera bump. But that may be because the smartphone is on the thicker side, which is our only complaint here.
On the front, you find a 6.47-inch AMOLED tear-drop style display with a 2,340 x 1,080 resolution. With its 19.5:9 aspect ratio, the phone is comfortable to hold in the hand. Furthermore, the AMOLED panel means there is an in-screen fingerprint scanner built into the display. It is accurate and fairly fast, although does struggle when your fingers are slightly damp. There is also an issue with accidental presses on the Mi Note 10 Lite due to its curved panel, which is one of the first times I have experienced to this extent. But this does allow for pretty immersive multimedia. Given the saturated panel, most of the videos I watched on the smartphone looked good. There is a slight colour inaccuracy with the display but that can be easily adjusted in the settings. Blacks are also deep with HDR10 support however the brightness from the panel is a bit lacking which means you will struggle to use it outdoors with no shade.
Complimenting the experience is the mono-speaker. While powerful enough, it does not bring you wholesome sound when the phone is being used in landscape mode. Plus, it can easily be covered with your fingers as it is placed in the natural resting position of your fingers. Of course, you can avoid this issue by using an external pair of headphones, either wired or wireless. But one drawback to the panel is its refresh rate. At 60Hz, its performance seems a bit dated. Of course, we recognise that AMOLED panels with higher refresh rates are more expensive to produce however, Xiaomi perhaps could have looked at an IPS LCD variant. The lower refresh rate is evident in day-to-day performance, which takes away from an otherwise great display.
Under the hood, the Mi Note 10 Lite comes with decent power. It sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz and an Adreno 618 GPU, which can get you some average gaming power. On our variant, we have 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage and 6GB of RAM and working in conjunction, the experience is mixed. Of course, you get Xiaomi’s MIUI 11 software which at certain times does get in the way of the smartphone when it come to speed and performance. I would not call the smartphone smooth in today’s terms however it is bearable. This experience is a combination of mid-range processing power and that 60Hz refresh rate display. And certainly, we think the experience has room to get much better. We have seen smartphones priced lower than the Mi Note 10 Lite perform better so it is surprising.
Of course, this could also be due to the phone’s software as mentioned earlier. The Android 10 based MIUI 11 brings with a lot of unnecessary baggage. Certain applications are present which I am yet to use alongside an installer tool that checks each application you download. On top of that though, the installer itself also comes with advertisements which we do not think should be part of any operating system. As far as gaming performance goes, it will get you by. Do not expect the smartphone to handle high graphics and smooth performance simultaneously however if you are willing to sacrifice on one or the other, you should be good to go. As things get busier in games, you will see a few frame drops but the phone is quick to recover. And if you are concerned with overheating, it is not as much as expected, which is positive.
It is not wrong to say that the Mi Note 10 Lite is a camera-centric smartphone. With a quad-camera setup on the smartphone, it comes packed with essentials. A primary 64MP sensor leads the charge alongside an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens and a 5MP depth sensor. For day time photos, the phone is good with a pretty quick shutter speed that comes in handy. You can use the macro sensor for some interesting pictures too however you cannot get as close to subjects as you can with other competing smartphones.
Another thing to note is that the phone cannot capture images of objects when using portrait mode. This feature is reserved for people and when used, the sample does suffer from a big reduction in dynamic range. When taking pictures in low-light, the results are not the worst either. However, the phone’s night mode processing is a bit exaggerated. Photos have visible artificial processing which is something that Xiaomi could look to tone down with future software updates.
The camera setup can also record up to 4K 30fps video footage however the experience is underwhelming. Quality could definitely be better and with a lack of optical stabilisation, users will struggle to take video when brisk walking. As for the front facing camera, it is a 16MP sensor which is enough for both day and low-light selfies. We would have liked Xiaomi to add a night mode selfie option though.
Given the internals of the Mi Note 10 Lite, something that surpasses all expectations is battery life. Inside, you find a 5,260mAh cell that can easily last up to 2.5 days with light to moderate usage. Translating this to screen-on times, it can easily get you 10+ hours. This includes a bit of gaming, social media browsing and heavy video watching.
While the battery itself does not support wireless charging, it does support 30W wired charging. When testing, it recharged to 19 per cent in 15 minutes and 47 per cent in half an hour. The smartphone took 1 hour and 23 minutes to full charge.
If you are looking for a smartphone with unbeatable battery, a high-end display and a premium build, the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite may be the ideal choice for you. But in terms of day to day performance, it falls short. More so, this is because there is an abundance of competing products out there, which offer smoother refresh rate displays and this could perhaps be more visually impactful to the end user when making a side-by-side comparison at a store for example. Any other year, the Mi Note 10 Lite would be one of our recommendations but this year, it has left Xiaomi with some work to do. It already has a fairly capable shooter and perhaps if the company can work towards a faster display with a future iteration, a refined phone like the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite would be truly unbeatable.