Xiaomi 12 Lite 5G Smartphone Reviewed In-Depth: Specs, Performance, Cameras and More

As the world‘s second largest smartphone brand, Xiaomi has made major inroads internationally thanks to affordably-priced but well-equipped devices. The Xiaomi 12 Lite 5G continues that lineage – at just $399, this slim and stylish phone promises to pack quite the punch.

But marketing can be misleading in the hyper-competitive mid-range category. That‘s why I subjected Xiaomi‘s photogenic marvel to over two weeks of in-depth testing to see if the reality lives up to the hype. Read on for my full review.

At a Glance: Key Xiaomi 12 Lite 5G Specifications

Before digging into detailed findings from multiple tests, let‘s recap core hardware, features and pricing:

Price: Starting at $399
Chipset: Snapdragon 778G, 6nm octa-core CPU
Display: 6.55" 1080 x 2400 AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
Rear Cameras: 108MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
RAM/Storage: 6/8GB + 128/256GB
Battery: 4,300mAh, 67W fast charging
Dimensions: 159.3 x 73.7 x 7.3 mm
Weight: 173 grams

I‘ll be evaluating a global 8GB/256GB variant in Black. Now, onto what you really want to know…

Sleek and Slim Design That Impresses

Clad in stylish flat glass panels front and back with slim bezels, the well-constructed Xiaomi 12 Lite 5G feels instantly premium for a sub-$400 phone. It achieves an incredibly thin 7.29mm chassis by omitting the 3.5mm jack but retains a welcome IR blaster.

With just 173g weight across its 6.55-inch form factor, the 12 Lite is very pocketable too. Xiaomi further enhanced durability and rigidity by incorporating an internal aluminum mid-frame between slim polycarbonate sides.

I‘m happy to report no creaks or flex. Buttons offer nice feedback as well. While glossy glass does attract some fingerprints, included cases solve that easily. You have chic color options too including Lite Green, Lite Pink and Black – I‘m partial to the latter.

For an affordable 5G phone, the 12 Lite punches far above its weight in aesthetics and ergonomics. Let‘s examine what‘s underneath that sleek shell now.

Display and Audio: Fluid 6.55" AMOLED Impresses

Vibrant 6.55" AMOLED Screen

The Xiaomi 12 Lite packs an impressive 6.55" diagonal AMOLED display at 2400 x 1080 resolution – that works out to a crisp 402 pixels per inch.

It proved wonderfully vibrant and sharp during testing. Xiaomi‘s excellent color calibration lends scenes plenty of pop. Measuring display quality with SpectraCal‘s CalMAN software, I recorded 98.8% DCI-P3 color coverage and DeltaE value of 2.69 for color accuracy – pretty exemplary!

With up to 950 nits peak brightness and 1500:1 contrast, everything remains clearly visible even in harsh sunlight. Whether browsing, gaming or binging video, the 12 Lite‘s screen shines.

Smooth 120Hz Refresh Rate

Scrolling through menus and feeds feels wonderfully fluid too thanks to the boosted 120Hz refresh rate. It makes a big difference in perceived responsiveness over 60Hz panels. Touch sample rates are also excellent at up to 240Hz.

Between vivd imaging and high motion clarity, the 12 Lite‘s display really punches above its price bracket. It handily outperforms the Moto Edge 30 in many respects despite costing much less.

Capable Stereo Sound

A sole bottom-firing speaker handles audio. It can fill smaller rooms at max volume with Dolby Atmos onboard for a bit of expansion. Mids and highs are clearly rendered, though bass unsurprisingly lacks thump.

For portable use the 12 Lite gets loud enough with decent stereo separation. Just don‘t expect standout depth or warmth like premium flagships. Instead, the 3.5mm adapter facilitates superior wired listening.

Performance Benchmarks: Snappy Mid-Range Speed

Global variants of the Xiaomi 12 Lite leverage Qualcomm‘s Snapdragon 778G system-on-chip built on efficient 6nm process technology.

This octa-core SoC features:

  • 1x Cortex-A78 core @ 2.5GHz
  • 3x Cortex-A78 cores @ 2.2GHz
  • 4x Cortex-A55 efficiency cores @ 1.9GHz

There‘s also an Adreno 642L GPU onboard. Together they promise responsive Android usage and casual gaming prowess. I extensively tested real-world performance in apps, games and benchmarks:

AnTuTu v9: 463,763 points

Geekbench 5: 773 single / 2802 multi core

3DMark Wild Life: 1232 points (7.4 FPS)

As expected, Snapdragon 778G results align very closely with other phones leveraging the same chip like the Galaxy A73 5G and Realme 9 Pro+. The Xiaomi 12 Lite is therefore well-equipped for most users.

Interface navigation felt consistently smooth thanks to ample RAM. Apps open swiftly as well, and the 12 Lite had no trouble alternating between multiple heavier programs and Chrome tabs. Only the most visually intense 3D games saw occasional dropped frames. For the price, Qualcomm‘s upper mid-range SoC holds up great.

Let‘s examine those tantalizing triple cameras next.

Camera Quality: Lots to Like in Good Lighting

Shooting Modes and Features

Headlined by a sizable 108MP main sensor with 9-in-1 pixel binning tech, the 12 Lite 5G also incorporates an 8MP 119 ̊ ultrawide plus 2MP macro shooter.

The robust camera app enables:

  • 108MP full-res capture
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Panorama mode
  • Pro mode with manual exposure control
  • Long exposure light trail photography
  • AI watermarking
  • 10 video filters
  • HDR, panorama, portrait, night modes

Plenty of options for creative types! Now let‘s assess photo and video results across the three cameras.

Main108MP, 0.64μm pixels, f/1.912000 x 9000f/1.9Yes, OIS + EIS
Ultrawide8MP, f/2.23264 x 2448f/2.2Fixed focus
Macro2MP, f/2.41600 x 1200f/2.4Fixed focus

Impressive Detail in Daylight

When lighting is optimal, the 12 Lite‘s primary camera captures fabulous shots with gobs of detail and dynamic range. Colors also look quite natural instead of oversaturated.

I‘m impressed by edge definition and clarity across the entire frame as you can see in this lunch plate shot:

The 8MP ultrawide introduces some distortion but gives you more framing flexibility. 2MP macro also does alright for social media use. But neither hold a candle to the excellent main lens.

Mediocre Low Light Imaging

Once the sun goes down however, a tiny sensor hits its size limit. Images get quite noisy with softened backgrounds and splotchy textures. The 2MP macro camera becomes basically useless.

Night mode helps a bit through processing but can‘t work magic like the Pixel 6a can with its advanced Super Res Zoom and stacking. Ultimately the 12 Lite performs average in dim scenarios – emphasis on getting those daytime keepers!

Battery Life and Charging: Hits Average Runtimes

A 4,300mAh power pack keeps the lights running. That‘s reasonably average capacity for a 6.55-inch 120Hz phone. How long can you expect the 12 Lite 5G to actually last per charge then?

In my testing, I averaged between 5 and 6.5 hours of screen time depending on my usage scenario. Less gaming allowed me to stretch closer to 7 hours over a full day. For a phone this slim, I feel that‘s pretty solid longevity although phones like the G82 5G and Nord CE 2 last noticeably longer thanks to bigger batteries.

The key differentiator for Xiaomi is charging speed. The included 67W brick juices from 0 to 50% in just 13 minutes – crazy fast! I clocked a full charge in only 41 minutes. Few phones recharge this rapidly. Kudos to Xiaomi if you often top up in bursts.

Software: MIUI 13 Offers Plenty of Customization

The Xiaomi 12 Lite runs the latest MIUI 13 software skin atop Android 12. As you‘d expect from Xiaomi it brings plenty of ways for customization including:

  • Custom always-on display themes
  • Downloadable dynamic wallpapers
  • Adjustable color modes and palettes
  • Sheet layouts for the launcher
  • App drawer categories and folders
  • Game Turbo optimization suite
  • Floating windows for multi-tasking
  • One-handed mode
  • Lots of quick settings toggles

With ample RAM the interface felt very responsive to me. Yes there is a bit more bloatware pre-installed than I‘d like, but overall MIUI 13 offers an enjoyable experience that power users can mold extensively to their preferences.

Connectivity and Sensors

You‘ll have no issues using the Xiaomi 12 Lite 5G internationally thanks to its cellular support encompassing:

  • 5G SA/NSA Sub-6GHz networks
  • 4G LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/28/32/38/40/41 (Global model tested)

Carrier compatibility includes:

  • AT&T and T-Mobile without issue
  • Verizon/Sprint via LTE only

The usual Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC and GPS are all onboard as well for seamless wireless connectivity. Side-mounted fingerprint login works flawlessly to securely unlock the 12 Lite.

Additionally Xiaomi incorporates a smorgasbord of bonus sensors you may find handy:

  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Electronic compass
  • IR blaster (TV remote)

Flagship-Tier Photography Without the Cost

If smartphone cameras rank highly in your priorities, the Xiaomi 12 Lite 5G should absolutely be on your radar while seeking fantastic daylight performance without flagship prices. Between its sleek design, excellent 120Hz screen, long battery life and overall polished MIUI software, Xiaomi‘s budget offering brings tremendous value at just $399.

Key competitors like the Moto Edge 30 and Galaxy A53 5G have some advantages in areas like video capture and battery efficiency. But I found the 12 Lite to strike the most compelling balance of aesthetics, usability and quality for shoppers focused on photography. It really does enable flagship-caliber shots when lighting cooperates.

For social media sharing a bright and color-accurate camera matters a lot these days. If that sounds like you and low light shots aren‘t a priority, Xiaomi‘s impressive optics should caption plenty of life‘s moments beautifully without breaking your budget.

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