Xiaomi - the world's third largest phone manufacturer - has officially launched in the UK, bringing with it two phone models to tease the British with competitively-priced hardware.
The first phone is the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro - which we've fully reviewed here - and the second is the Mi 8 Lite, a mid-range device for those who can't quite stretch to a flagship-grade phone.
- 156.4 x75.8 7.5mm, 169g
- Notched display
- Coloured and mirrored finish
The thing that Mi fans will be talking about when it comes to the Mi 8 Pro is the translucent back which shows off some decorative components. The Mi 8 Lite is a little more conventional, but only a little.
The Mi 8 Lite will be available with some really great colour-changing finishes. The rear is glass and formed into it during manufacture are these dazzling colours. It's a technique we've seen from the likes of HTC in the past, but the biggest proponent of this technique in 2018 has been Huawei.
The Mi 8 Lite is a quality looking phone, finished here in aurora blue and it feels great in the hand too. We've only spent a short amount of time with it, but its mid-range positioning doesn't mean that you have to have poor design.
That's partly what Xiaomi is all about, giving you quality technology without breaking the bank.
But what you have is a slim phone that offers a big display and it's loaded with good specs too.
Mi 8 Lite specs and hardware
- 6.26-inch 19:9 display, 2280 x 1080 pixels, 403ppi
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, 4/6GB RAM
- 64/128GB storage with microSD
- 3350mAh battery with quick charging
The Mi 8 Lite doesn't drop the display size - this is still a big phone, so it sort of rivals the Nokia 7 Plus in positioning - with a 6.26-inch display. It isn't AMOLED like the Mi 8 Pro, instead shifting over to LCD. First impressions are good. It has has a respectably high ppi, so there's plenty of detail and the colours and viewing angles look pretty strong.
We've not had the chance to spend a great deal of time with this phone, so we can't assess how the display performs in bright sunlight and so on.
The hardware within this phone puts it firmly in mid-range territory. It's actually a great place to be, as the Snapdragon 660 is plenty powerful for most people and most tasks. While it doesn't have the performance of flagship Snapdragon 845, you'll still be able to skip around tasks easily and play the latest games.
There are two versions of this handset, a 4GB paired with 64GB storage and a 6GB model with 128GB storage. We don't yet have confirmation of which devices will be available in the UK or what the prices will be, but we'll update as soon as we know. Storage on this model can be expanded via microSD.
Equally, we don't know what the performance of the 3350mAh battery will be. We suspect that it will get you through a day easily enough, but we'll confirm once we get the chance to fully review the phone. It offers fast charging via the USB-C on the bottom, but there's no 3.5mm headphone socket.
Dual camera action
- Rear: 12-megapixel, 1.4µm, f/1.9, secondary 5-megapixel camera
- Front: 24-megapixel, 1.8µm pixel combining, f/1.9
There's a dual camera on the rear of the Mi 8 Lite. The main camera is a fairly conventional 12-megapixel unit, but it's supported with a secondary 5-megapixel camera. This is notionally used to capture more depth data to enable all those bokeh functions and some of the other tricks this phone offers, like studio lighting.
We say notionally because it's a bit of a dubious arrangement having this second lens that doesn't seem to do much. On the Mi 8 Pro you get a zoom camera - which is useful - and we're not really convinced that you need that second lens here - the Google Pixel does it all from a single camera, for example, although it's a much more expensive phone. Basically, don't get too excited about it being a dual camera until we've seen what it can do.
The front camera is a 24-megapixels. That's a huge number, and Xiaomi says it uses pixel combining to give you a bigger surface area for absorbing light. Perhaps it should just lower the resolution and give you physically larger pixels instead?
We can't assess the performance of these cameras until we get the phone in for review, but having fully tested the Mi 8 Pro camera, we can expect a lot of nice functions from the camera app. We suspect that processing is likely to be the weakness - but at this level of device, you're likely to get perfectly good pictures.
MIUI on Android Oreo
MIUI is Xiaomi's software skin that it layers over the top of Android. It's not a light touch, it's a complete reworking of Android. It's important to understand where Xiaomi is coming from with this software: in China you don't get the Google services that most Android users in the UK and Europe put at the centre of their smartphone experience. As a result, Xiaomi devices are built around MIUI and in some cases, Google's services don't feel as forefront as you might want them.
In some cases, it's as easy as switching out a couple of apps - using Chrome, Messages, Calendar - from Google rather than those on the device. In other places there are some oddities, like in-app advertising that can be a little off-putting. One of the reasons that Xiaomi devices are affordable is because they make money in places other than hardware - and software is one of them.
MIUI is fully-featured however and has some nice functions, but Xiaomi are more focused on delivering that experience to their fans than they are updating to the latest version of Android. That's a juxtaposition to Nokia running Android One, which is doing a good job of giving you a clean and bloatfree Android experience - and already running Android Pie.
This is where the Mi 8 Lite will find opposition, although the Nokia 7 Plus, for example, costs around £350, so Xiaomi is offering you similar hardware for £100 less.
We'll bring you more on the Mi 8 Lite once we get the chance to spend more time with it, but first impressions are good. This is a good-looking phone that doesn't feel like it's lacking in build quality.
You also get a good level of spec for the money compared to some immediate rivals.