Xiaomi 12 Lite review

xiaomi 12 lite review

Introduction and specs

The Xiaomi 12 Lite arrives a bit later than the rest of the 12 series. Aside from the completely revamped, boxy and trendy design, it brings an updated 120Hz OLED panel, a better 108MP main camera and faster charging. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 778G, which is up to the task.

The 12 Lite is also one of the first Xiaomi phones to offer Android 12 under the company’s MIUI 13 interface.

Xiaomi 12 Lite specs at a glance:

  • Body: 159.3×73.7×7.29mm, 173g; Gorilla Glass 5 front, plastic back, plastic frame; IP53, dust and splash resistant.
  • Display: 6.55″ AMOLED, 68B colors, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, 120Hz, 500 nits (typ), 800 nits, 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 402ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM7325 Snapdragon 778G 5G (6 nm): Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Kryo 670 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 670); Adreno 642L.
  • Memory: 128GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 2.2.
  • OS/Software: Android 12, MIUI 13.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 108 MP, f/1.9, 26mm, 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4, 1/5.0″, 1.75µm.
  • Front camera: 32 MP, f/2.45, 1/2.8″, AF.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: [email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps; gyro-EIS; Front camera: [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]
  • Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 67W, Quick Charge 4+, Power Delivery 3.0.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); Infrared port; dual speakers; Virtual proximity sensing.

Another notable update is the selfie camera. It has a higher, 32MP resolution, but more importantly, it offers autofocus. That’s an extremely rare feature nowadays, and even most flagship devices omit it. We find it cool, yet puzzling, since even the Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro have the same 32MP shooters, but with fixed focus. Selfie lovers, rejoice!

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

It’s nice to see the company able to fit the upgrade around the €400 mark, especially since many competitors bumped up their prices significantly. And if the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE is anything to go by, price cuts will be coming sooner than you might expect. Even more so, there aren’t many compact options around, and the Xiaomi 12 Lite seems to be targeting an audience seeking portability. After all, the 6.55-inch diagonal is rather compact in 2022. Moreover, the 12 Lite offers a lightweight and slim design.

Unboxing the Xiaomi 12 Lite

The device comes in a standard retail box containing the usual user manuals and the appropriate 67W wall charger. Of course, the USB-A to USB-C cable is also at hand used not only for charging but for data transfer as well.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Xiaomi has included a transparent silicone case that doesn’t hide the design.

Design and ergonomics

This year’s Xiaomi 12 Lite design is a noticeable departure from last year’s iteration while borrowing some of the more expensive Xiaomi 12, 12X and 12 Pro design traits. The Lite option has a boxier design and ditches the oval-shaped camera module. It’s almost entirely made of plastic, ensuring a lightweight chassis (just 173g) and a somewhat thin profile (7.29mm). Then again, the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE from last year was lighter and thinner.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

We have a Gorilla Glass 5 protective sheet on the front while the back imitates frosted glass. We can say it gets pretty close to the real thing. The device comes in three fresh color options – Lite Green, Lite Pink and Black. We have the first one, and smudges are hardly visible. They can be spotted only if the light hits the surface at the right angle.

Xiaomi 12, 12 Lite, 12X - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Xiaomi 12, 12 Lite, 12X - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Xiaomi 12, 12 Lite, 12X

Proper ingress protection is no more. The official IP53 rating has been replaced with a promise from Xiaomi that it can withstand a few sprinkles of water and dust.

The camera island sticks out quite a bit and looks identical to the rest of the Xiaomi 12 phones in the series. Each camera is separated by metal rings. All that protrusion causes the phone to wobble when placed on a flat surface.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

As we already mentioned, the handset features a flat and boxy design. The lack of curvatures makes the device feel a tad bigger than it actually is, but it’s in no way a deal-breaker. Also, Xiaomi managed to put it together without forming any unpleasant ridges or protrusions. The front and the back panels transition into the side frame rather seamlessly.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

The left side of the phone is completely free of any buttons, while the right houses the volume rocker and power button. Both are positioned adequately, but we can’t say the same for the fingerprint reader. It’s too close to the bottom edge of the screen, requiring some awkward finger gymnastics. The top houses an IR blaster and a grille for the top speaker, acting as an echo chamber. The bottom is business as usual – USB-C connector, the main loudspeaker and the dual SIM card tray.

 - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
 - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

 - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
 - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

And although the front looks the same as before, there are some minor changes for the better. All bezels seem slightly trimmed, except for the bottom one. It’s still thicker than the rest. The top one is big enough to house a loudspeaker that doubles as an earpiece.

Xiaomi has skipped the real hardware proximity sensor once again, so you might experience issues with accidental touches during phone calls. We’ve come to the conclusion that the experience with the virtual proximity sensors varies from user to user, depending on how you hold the handset to your head during calls.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

The punch-hole for the selfie camera is now centered and looks a bit bigger than you’d expect from an OLED panel but arguably takes less space than the off-centered one.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

This year’s design is hardly an upgrade as it’s thicker and heavier than before and downgrades the display protection from Gorilla Glass 6 to 5 this time around. On the other hand, the boxier design looks nicer and still feels good in the hand. We give it a good overall score. The only noticeable annoyance is the fingerprint scanner placement, which is too close to the bottom edge of the screen.

Faster, 120Hz OLED panel

This year’s Xiaomi 12 Lite boasts an improved OLED panel with 12-bit (68 billion colors) color depth. The 6.55-inch, 1080 x 2400px display is also faster than before, supporting up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate for lower response time during gaming. That’s a considerable upgrade over last year’s 90Hz OLED screen.

Moreover, the display seems to be HDR10+ and Dolby Vision certified, making it a flagship-grade display. It shares the same specs as Xiaomi 12 and 12X’s panels, which is quite impressive given the price point.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Brightness-wise, there’s no upgrade, and that’s not a bad thing. Last year’s Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE was plenty bright in the first place.

In manual mode, the 12 Lite reached 507 nits, while in Auto mode, the panel peaked at 824 nits. This is enough for comfortable outdoor use on a bright sunny day. That’s also flagship-level brightness right there. We measured it at 75% APL so values during HDR-enabled movies could go higher.

Display test100% brightness
Black,cd/m2White,cd/m2Contrast ratio
Xiaomi 12 Lite0507
Xiaomi 12 Lite (Max Auto)0824
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G0514
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G (Max Auto)0846
Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro0516
Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro (Max Auto)0837
Apple iPhone SE (2022)0.4256051424:1
Motorola Edge 20 Pro0484
Motorola Edge 20 Pro (Max Auto)0673
Realme GT Neo 3T0516
Realme GT Neo 3T (Max Auto)0803
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G0427
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (Max Auto)0830

Color accuracy with the default Vivid mode is expectedly sub-optimal, with whites and grays a bit too blueish. The Original color mode, on the other hand, gets the average dE2000 down to just 1.5 but again, leaving the whites and grays leaning towards blue. It’s hard to notice.

HRR control

The system’s refresh rate control is simple, yet effective. We got the maximum 120Hz in pretty much all apps we’ve tested, excluding Google Maps, where we only got up to 60Hz. There could be other apps locked at 60Hz, of course, but this is the only one we’ve noticed to be limited. The software also dials down to 60Hz when watching videos on YouTube, Netflix and in the default Gallery app. Lower refresh rate is prioritized when not interacting with the display for more than a couple of seconds as well.

Battery life

Since the new Lite and last year’s generation share the same SoC, comparable displays and practically the same battery capacity (4,300 mAh on the 12 Lite vs. 4,250 mAh on the 11 Lite 5G NE), we expected mostly the same results. And that appears true for the screen-on tests where both devices got some respectable runtimes.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

However, the significantly lower overall endurance score is hard to overlook. It’s hard to pinpoint the culprit, but it could be due to the newer software. The new 12 Lite has considerably lower standby and 3G talk time.

Compared to other competitors, the 12 Lite falls behind in the overall ranking despite maintaining solid screen-on runtimes.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

Charging speed

The new 67W Turbo Charge from Xiaomi is a big step forward compared to the older 33W charging protocol supported by the previous generation. The new 12 Lite reached 84% in just 30 minutes of charging; while a full charge from flat took only 50 minutes. Although the full charging time has been lowered by just 15 minutes, the charging curve is much faster in the sub-90% range.

When put against competing charging solutions, however, the 67W Turbo Charging doesn’t necessarily stand out. Sure, it’s competitive, but we also have to consider the phone’s somewhat smaller 4,300 mAh battery. The competition often runs on batteries bigger than 4,500 mAh, and that affects charging times.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 11T Pro
    100%
  • Realme GT Neo3T
    95%
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    84%
  • Apple iPhone SE (2022)
    61%
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    58%
  • Motorola Edge 20 Pro
    53%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Xiaomi 11T Pro
    0:21h
  • Realme GT Neo3T
    0:40h
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    0:50h
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    1:04h
  • Motorola Edge 20 Pro
    1:17h
  • Apple iPhone SE (2022)
    1:18h

Speakers

The Xiaomi 12 Lite features a dual-speaker, stereo setup with the main one positioned at the bottom (as usual), while the left channel is a loudspeaker that doubles as an earpiece. There’s a grille on the top end of the frame, acting as an echo chamber.

Loudness-wise, the 12 Lite is a downgrade compared to the previous generation as it topped at -25.2 LUFS and got a “Very Good” score for that. When it comes to quality, however, it’s somewhat subjective. The 11 Lite 5G produces clear highs and mids. Vocals are quite pronounced, but the bass is basically gone. Bass-heavy music sounds flat and dull. So it really depends on what kind of music you listen to.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

MIUI 13 over Android 12

The Xiaomi 12 Lite runs on Android 12 but with a newer, improved MIUI 13 on top. This is one of the first devices to launch with the said combo. The notification history feature, however, is still nowhere to be found, and that was an Android 11-intrinsic functionality.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Anyway, the new MIUI 13 promises some under-the-hood improvements such as better RAM management, better CPU utilization and more effective storage use.

Overall, looks haven’t changed, though, and previous MIUI users will feel right at home. What we noticed right away was the unusual DPI. The phone has a standard 1080p+ resolution, but the DPI makes it look as if it’s 1440p+. Text and UI elements are sharper-looking yet smaller. You can change the UI scale in settings, of course.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

The split between a notification shade and Control Center is enabled by default this time, and that’s probably a good thing. We found it to be quite convenient, and it’s a way to educate users about MIUI’s unique approach to the UI. And in case you are not a fan, you can always revert back to the standard notification shade with quick toggles in one place.

Home screen, notification shade, Control center - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Home screen, notification shade, Control center - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Home screen, notification shade, Control center - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Home screen, notification shade, Control center - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Home screen, notification shade, Control center

The home screen, recent apps and the general settings menu are business as usual. The app drawer is also enabled by default, and we like that Xiaomi has placed the search bar at the bottom of the screen for easier reach. There are custom and preset app categories for faster navigation.

Unlike the standard recent apps menu, MIUI’s one lists the apps in a vertical arrangement and provides several useful shortcuts. That’s where you can open up apps in floating windows. However, you can keep only one open at a time. In case you want a faster shortcut to apps that support free-form windows, just enable the Sidebar.

Recent apps, app drawer - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Recent apps, app drawer - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Recent apps, app drawer

Notably, the Sidebar is different depending on the scenario. In games, the Sidebar provides a couple of gaming-related features, while in video apps, the Sidebar becomes a Video toolbox. It lets you launch video apps in pop-up windows, Screenshot, Record screen, Cast, and Play Video with the screen off, including on YouTube without a Premium subscription. The only caveat is that the apps where you want the feature enabled need to be whitelisted in advance.

Sidebar and Video toolbox - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Sidebar and Video toolbox - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Sidebar and Video toolbox - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Sidebar and Video toolbox

Customization is, as always, a big part of MIUI. The system lets you choose the style of the Always-on display or the theme of the UI. Aside from the ones pre-installed on the device, there’s a themes store that gives you a wide selection. The themes themselves change not only the general appearance but also ringtones and system icons.

Themes and Always-on display - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Themes and Always-on display - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Themes and Always-on display - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Themes and Always-on display

Moving on to privacy and security, MIUI has come with a pre-installed system Security app. Aside from the additional malware protection layer it provides, the app holds many of the app settings and privacy features in one place. It can manage your blacklist, manage or restrict your data usage, configure battery behavior, and free up some RAM. It can also manage the permissions of your installed apps, define the battery behavior of selected apps, and apply restrictions only to certain apps.

Xiaomi Security app - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Xiaomi Security app - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Xiaomi Security app

Speaking of security, the fingerprint reader seems to be fast and reliable enough. We had no issues even when outside on a bright sunny day. There’s an extended functionality of the fingerprint reader, allowing you to open up an app or initiate action as soon as you unlock the device – just keep your finger on the scanner when it unlocks. It’s a lot like OnePlus’ OxygenOS/Oppo’s ColorOS/Realme’s Realme UI feature, but this one doesn’t allow customization. We didn’t find a way to add shortcut apps, so you are stuck with Search and QR Code scanner.

Fingerprint reader options - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Fingerprint reader options - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Fingerprint reader options - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Fingerprint reader options

All in all, MIUI 13 changed little over the 12th iteration, but it’s just as snappy and customizable as ever. Xiaomi has paid special attention to the haptics on this unit, and we found the motor to be crisp, strong and accurate. There’s even a haptic feedback intensity if you find it obtrusive or not strong enough.

Synthetic performance

The Xiaomi 12 Lite features the exact same SoC as its 11 Lite 5G NE predecessor – the Snapdragon 778G 5G. The chip is based on TSMC’s 6nm N6 manufacturing process. It uses an octa-core CPU and an Adreno 642L GPU for graphically intensive tasks. 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).

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

The available memory variants are 6GB/128GB, 8GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB with storage being of the UFS 2.2 kind and RAM is LPDDR4X.

We ran the usual benchmarks to see how good this Snapdragon 778G implementation is and how it compares to similarly-priced phones with competing chipset solutions.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    3489
  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    3180
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    2943
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    2909
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    2849
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    2832
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    2792
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    2335
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    2157
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    2063
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    1891
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    1848

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    1085
  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    1023
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    814
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    814
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    803
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    787
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    785
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    769
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    743
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    728
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    688
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    608

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    726007
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    598022
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    528905
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    527663
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    522490
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    467298
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    436640
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    416031
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    382902
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    379313

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    34
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    26
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    24
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    20
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    19
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    15
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    14
  • Snapdragon 778G average (1080p)
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    12
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    8.7

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    28
  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    24
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    20
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    15
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    10
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    10
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    10
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    9.4
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    8.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    8

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    49
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    38
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    33
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    29
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    28
  • Snapdragon 778G average (1080p)
    28
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    19
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    19
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    17
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    13

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    67
  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    59
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    46
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    40
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    33
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    33
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    33
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    27
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    23
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    19
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    14

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    85
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    57
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    57
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    50
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    49
  • Snapdragon 778G average (1080p)
    45
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    41
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    35
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    35
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    30
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    23

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    111
  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    98
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    75
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    65
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    56
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    54
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    51
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    45
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    38
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    34
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    26

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    5673
  • Realme GT Neo 3T
    4255
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    4224
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    3136
  • Xiaomi 12 Lite
    2483
  • Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE
    2477
  • Realme 9 Pro+
    2296
  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
    2292
  • Snapdragon 778G average
    2274
  • OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G
    2036
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G
    1204
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
    811

The Snapdragon 778G’s performance is perfectly suitable for the price range and outperforms all alternatives with Snapdragon 600 series chipsets and most of MediaTek’s mid-range offerings as well. It falls short only of the higher-end Snapdragon 888, 870 and the Dimensity 1200 that can also be found around that price range. Although, those phones are usually older releases from 2021.

Sustained performance

The Xiaomi 12 Lite isn’t equipped with some fancy cooling solution since the Snapdragon 778G isn’t all that demanding. We ran the usual 1-hour-long CPU stress test to see how the system handles long and heavy workloads.

The graphs below show excellent sustained performance with a gradual decrease in performance dipping as low as 84% and only for a short while. This is usually ideal as large fluctuations in clock speeds result in a choppy gaming experience.

CPU Throttle test: 30 min - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
CPU Throttle test: 60 min - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

CPU Throttle test: 30 min • 60 min

To our surprise, the chassis felt pretty warm, including the frame. We expected cooler surface temperatures as Xiaomi used plastic for the build, which in turn has low thermal conductivity.

Standard triple-camera setup

The main camera gets a big upgrade this year and not only in terms of pixel count. Last year’s 64MP 1/1.97″ sensor is replaced with Samsung’s 108MP ISOCELL HM2 sensor, which is considerably bigger too – 1/1.52″, 0.7µm pixels. The unit is paired with an f/1.9 aperture and outputs 12MP images in a nona-bayer arrangement (bins 9 adjacent pixels into 1).

The ultrawide shooter, on the other hand, keeps the same, tiny 8MP, 1/4.0″, 1.12µmp sensor paired with an f/2.2 lens covering a 120-degree field of view. The macro snapper has is downgraded from 5MP down to 2MP and there’s no autofocus this time around either. The aperture is f/2.4.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

The selfie camera gets a slightly bigger 32MP, 1/2.8″, 0.8µm sensor with f/2.5 aperture and autofocus capabilities, which is a rare finding even in higher-end phones. Interestingly enough, there’s no binning enabled, so selfies are in the full 32MP resolution.

Camera menus

The camera app is a rather straightforward implementation, though it does have its quirks. First, basic operation for changing modes works with side swipes (on the black bezel!), and you can also tap on the modes you can see to switch to those directly. Up and down swipes don’t work for switching between the front and rear cameras; only the toggle next to the shutter release does that.

You can add, remove, and rearrange modes in the main rolodex by going to the More tab and navigating to the edit button, and you can access that from the settings menu as well. The unused modes will still be in that More tab, but you can switch to a (less intuitive) pull-out pane that’s summoned from a line next to the shutter release.

Camera menus - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Camera menus - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Camera menus - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Camera menus - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Camera menus

The hamburger menu at the far end is where you’ll find additional options, including the Super Macro mode (why here and not a mode in the rolodex?), plus the icon to access the settings. Next to that hamburger menu, you have a flash mode switch, an HDR switch, an AI toggle, a shortcut to Google Lens, and a magic wand with beauty effects and filters.

More camera settings - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
More camera settings - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

More camera settings

On the near end, you have the camera zoom switch that operates in one of two fashions. The first one is simply tapping on one of the three dots that represent the ultra-wide, primary, and 2x digital options. Or you can tap on the active magnification and slide sideways to reveal even more zoom levels – 2x and 10x, plus a slider for intermediate magnifications.

There’s a nicely capable Pro mode, where you can tweak the shooting parameters yourself. You can use the primary, the ultrawide and even the macro cameras here. You get to pick one of 4 white balance presets or dial in the light temperature with a slider, there’s a manual focusing slider (with peaking as an option, particularly useful for the macro), and shutter speed and ISO control with the range depending on which camera you’re using. A tiny live histogram is available, and a toggle for zebras can be found in the hamburger menu.

As expected, there’s a host of extra modes, including Long Exposure with its own set of different presets – moving crowd, neon trails, oil painting, light painting, starry sky, and star trails. The extra modes in the “More” sub-menu can be displayed with bigger thumbnails for easier navigation.

Extra camera modes - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Extra camera modes - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Extra camera modes

Night mode is available for the main and the ultrawide cameras. There is Auto Night mode in the advanced Settings, too.

Daylight samples

Main camera

The main camera’s rendition is quite similar to the previous generation, which in turn means that the daylight photos are excellent. There’s little to complain about, really. Sharpness is good, there’s plenty of fine detail resolved, dynamic range is wide and noise is virtually non-existent. The software visibly boosts colors and contrast by default, which is typical for a Xiaomi phone. While some may find the photos attractive, others could argue that colors are a bit over the top.

12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/764s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/669s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/753s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/753s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/847s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/621s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/731s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/483s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 187, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

12MP daylight samples

The boosted contrast leads to small clipped highlight patches and loss of detail in the shadows, which can often appear crushed. The good news is that this is easily fixable with a software update. Then again, we don’t think it’s that big of an issue.

12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 649, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 418, 1/61s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 505, 1/50s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/552s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
12MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/164s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

12MP daylight samples

Shooting with the full 108MP resolution delivers an unparalleled level of detail, but you sacrifice general sharpness and dynamic range. Noise becomes a lot more apparent, too.

108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/627s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/591s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/609s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/646s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/696s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/518s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

108MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/637s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

108MP daylight samples

2x zoom

Naturally, there’s a 2x zoom toggle by default, but quality is far from a proper 2x telephoto camera. Rendition is identical to that of the 1x main camera mode, except for sharpness. The 2x zoom samples are noticeably softer.

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/603s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1139s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/912s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/405s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/276s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1282s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/649s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/498s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 319, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 498, 1/50s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 99, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 69, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 122, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom daylight samples

Ultrawide camera

The ultrawide camera uses a tiny, common 8MP sensor that rarely puts out decent enough photos, but these are pretty good, as long as the right lighting conditions are met. The ultrawide samples have a nice contrast, good dynamic range for the most part (a couple of crushed shadows and clipped highlights, but not deal-breakers) and punchy colors (similar to the main camera’s). Noise is well-controlled and sharpness and detail are pretty good if the subject is close enough. Notice how foliage changes with distance. The camera begins to struggle indoors as sharpness deteriorates visibly.

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1190s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1486s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/2567s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1442s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/2492s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/968s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/117s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Ultrawide daylight samples

Macro camera

The 2MP macro camera is a downgrade from last year’s model in terms of resolution and overall quality. It has a fixed-focus at 4cm as well. The low resolution doesn’t allow for higher detail, colors are washed out, contrast is low and it’s quite hard to nail the right focusing distance without any cues provided on the viewfinder.

Macro samples - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Macro samples - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Macro samples - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Macro samples - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Macro samples - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Macro samples

Low-light samples

Main camera

The low-light samples are pretty good even without resorting to the dedicated Night mode. Colors and contrast are pretty good and most of the detail in the shadows and around the highlight areas is retained with minimal noise. However, the noise suppression algorithm can sometimes smear some of the fine detail. Dynamic range needs some improvement, though, as shadows can often be too dark while highlights are clipped. Then again, this could be caused, once again, by the high contrast.

Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 1521, 1/33s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 2078, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 2556, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 1115, 1/33s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 1740, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 2877, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 16000, 1/13s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Low-light samples

The good news is that the dedicated Night mode improves the images in those exact aspects. It balances out the highlights and shadows, removes the remaining nose, more detail pops up, boosts colors and improves overall brightness to resolve more detail in the shadows. The best part is that the samples don’t look overly processed. The Night mode is strongly recommended after dusk as it takes superior photos to the standard photo mode.

Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 1029, 1/13s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 1841, 1/10s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 2009, 1/10s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 880, 1/13s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 2011, 1/10s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 1929, 1/9s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 2000, 1/7s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Night mode samples

2x zoom

As was the case during the day, the 2x zoom samples are considerably softer and noise is more visible. The Night mode does little to improve image quality. We can only see a significant change in noise and a small increase in the amount of detail resolved, but that’s about it.

2x zoom low-light: Normal - f/1.9, ISO 2632, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 2011, 1/10s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 1183, 1/33s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 1193, 1/13s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 1640, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 2003, 1/10s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 812, 1/25s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
2x zoom low-light: Night mode - f/1.9, ISO 1352, 1/11s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

2x zoom low-light: Normal • Night mode

Ultrawide camera

Without the Night mode, the ultrawide camera produces soft photos with clipped highlights, crushed shadows and plenty of noise. It’s hard to recommend. And although the Night mode doesn’t get the sharpness where it needs to be, it makes images good enough for social media posting. It improves upon dynamic range, detail, color reproduction and highlights.

Ultrawide low-light: Normal - f/2.2, ISO 415, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide low-light: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 803, 1/14s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide low-light: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 964, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Ultrawide low-light: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 801, 1/9s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide low-light: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 739, 1/17s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Ultrawide low-light: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 800, 1/11s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Ultrawide low-light: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/117s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Ultrawide low-light: Normal • Night mode

Once you are done with the real-life examples, take a look at our Photo compare tool for some pixel-peeping and see how the Xiaomi 12 Lite fares against the competition.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Xiaomi 12 Lite vs. Realme GT Neo 3T and the Xiaomi 11T Pro in our Photo compare tool

Portraits

The portraits we captured are excellent. They are detailed, sharp with lively colors and natural skin color. Dynamic range is wide enough to keep the subject’s face well-exposed without burning the background. The faux bokeh effect is convincing enough but struggles with messy hair and fine detail around the subject.

Portrait samples - f/1.9, ISO 88, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Portrait samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/835s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Portrait samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/873s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Portrait samples - f/1.9, ISO 497, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Portrait samples - f/1.9, ISO 885, 1/100s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Portrait samples

Selfies

The selfies are pretty good. They are decently sharp, resolve quite a bit of detail and thanks to the autofocus feature, you don’t have to be in the right focusing distance. In contrast to the back cameras, the front one is more conservative with the colors as they are close to natural, including the subject’s skin. It may appear even slightly pale indoors in sub-optimal lighting conditions. Dynamic range is excellent and exposure is on point.

Selfies - f/2.5, ISO 85, 1/33s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Selfies - f/2.5, ISO 90, 1/33s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/177s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/1882s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/1827s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/2683s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Selfies

The bokeh effect in Portrait mode is a bit rough around the edges, as one would expect, but does the job and we haven’t noticed any deterioration in quality.

Portrait selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/174s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Portrait selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/1854s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Portrait selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/1827s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review
Portrait selfies - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/2847s - Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Portrait selfies

Video recording

The handset caps at [email protected] using the main camera while the ultrawide is limited to [email protected] There’s also a 2x zoom toggle, which is a simple crop from the main camera but still in 4K. The system allows for an action cam-like electronic stabilization, which is also limited to 1080p. That’s to be expected since advanced stabilization in higher resolution requires quite a bit of processing power, which the Snapdragon 778G just isn’t capable of. Now without further ado, let’s get to the important bit of this section.

The 2160p videos taken with the main camera look great. Sharpness is more than sufficient, you can spot fine detail all around, contrast is high once more and dynamic range is wide. Colors are slightly exaggerated, but one could argue that the footage looks better this way. Our only minor complaint is the color temperature as it seems a bit colder than it should be. Notice the blue-ish tinge on the building in the distance and passing white cars.

You can expect near-identical rendition from the ultrawide camera when it comes to colors, dynamic range and contrast. Understandably, the sample below is considerably softer compared to the main camera’s mostly due to the lower 1080p resolution and the nature of ultrawide lenses. Still, we would say that overall quality is sensibly above average compared to other implementations of this exact sensor and lens.

The handset supports 4K video stabilization, so even without resorting to the so-called Steady video mode, you get a pretty solid EIS in the maximum supported video resolution.

The Steady video, on the other hand, provides more advanced stabilization mimicking action cameras but as expected, the resolution is limited to 1080p in this mode.

Once you are done with the real-life scenarios, take a look at our video compare tool to see how the Xiaomi 12 Lite stacks against the other phones we’ve reviewed.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

2160p: Xiaomi 12 Lite vs.Realme GT Neo 3T and the Xiaomi 11T Pro in our Video compare tool

Competition

Just like its predecessors, the Xiaomi 12 Lite shapes up to be a pretty good all-rounder. Moreover, the handset has a few standout features – an appealing and fresh design and the flagship-level, 12-bit, 120Hz OLED display. The device would be particularly appealing to anyone looking for a compact and lightweight handset.

Battery life may not be all that convincing, but the speedy 67W fast charging could potentially make up for the shorter-than-average endurance. We also believe that the Snapdragon 778G has a place in 2022 and it’s a much better alternative than any other chip from the Snapdragon 600 series, which is commonly used in similarly-priced phones. And last but not least, the 12 Lite is capable of taking some pretty good photos, no matter the conditions and the software optimizations allowed for above-than-average ultrawide camera performance. But what about the competition?

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Well, we were surprised to see so few worthwhile options around the €400 mark, so we expanded our search with some older releases from 2021 that are still relevant in 2022. Let’s begin with the most recent ones, though.

The most recent release from Realme might interest you as it’s currently selling for around €430 – the GT Neo 3T. It has a more powerful chipset, comparable screen quality, longer battery life, marginally faster charging, but photography skills are lacking compared to the 12 Lite. The handset’s screen is a tad bigger, so anyone looking for that, the Neo 3T is a viable option. Otherwise, the lightweight design, compact display are key selling factors for Xiaomi’s contender. There’s also the Realme UI vs. Xiaomi’s MIUI dilemma, but that boils down to personal preference.

Realme GT Neo 3T
OnePlus Nord 2T
Xiaomi 11T Pro
Motorola Edge 20 Pro

Realme GT Neo 3T • OnePlus Nord 2T • Xiaomi 11T Pro • Motorola Edge 20 Pro

Another 2022 option is the OnePlus Nord 2T. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to test the device thoroughly in the office and it’s hard to draw any conclusions just from the specs sheet alone. Aside from the OxygenOS, which is the key selling point of the handset and it’s strongly subjective, the Nord 2T may pose a serious rivalry to the 12 Lite. It has a 50MP sensor that’s just as big as the 108MP one on the 12 Lite and it’s also optically stabilized. We also have bigger battery with potentially faster 80W charging, an even smaller display (in case you are looking for that) and a more powerful Dimensity 1300 chipset. The only objective and measurable advantage of the 12 Lite is the display as the Nord 2T caps at 90Hz and doesn’t support Dolby Vision.

Looking beyond 2022, we can recommend some in-house competition, the Xiaomi 11T Pro as well as Motorola’s Edge 20 Pro. Those are proper flagship killers that can be found for around €430, which is just a tad higher than what the Xiaomi 12 Lite asks. However, they both sport more powerful SoCs – Snapdragon 888 and Snapdragon 870, respectively. You also get bigger but not necessarily better displays. The 11T sports exactly the same camera setup while the Edge 20 Pro edges out (no pun intended), a more versatile setup that includes an 8MP 5x telephoto camera and a better 16MP ultrawide unit.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Despite both phones having bigger batteries, though, we believe you get the same overall runtimes. The 11T Pro charges faster, whereas the Edge 20 Pro drags behind with a slower 30W charger. The latter skips the stereo speakers as well. Interestingly enough, the two devices have side-mounted fingerprint readers, so you might want to take that into consideration if you are not a fan of this implementation. A clear advantage of the two devices of the Xiaomi 12 Lite is the build quality as they both carry metal and glass (eco leather is an option on the Edge 20 Pro too).

Verdict

The Xiaomi 12 Lite seems like a solid “lite” version of the more expensive Xiaomi 12X, vanilla 12 and 12 Pro. It maintains a relatively competitive price tag that, also makes sense in the Xiaomi 12 series while retaining some high-end features. А speedy 67W fast charging, flagship-grade OLED panel, big 108MP main sensor and boxy, catchy design make a compelling case. And camera performance is pretty solid, too.

Xiaomi 12 Lite review

Sadly, battery life keeps us from giving the handset an excellent score, the proper ingress protection is gone, so is the microSD card slot and we are getting a bit tired of the overused 8MP ultrawide sensor. Not enough to be a deal-breaker, though. In fact, the Xiaomi 12 Lite is an easy-to-recommend 2022 solution. Just keep an open mind for some older 2021 options as they often offer better price/performance ratio or, in some cases, more versatile camera hardware. Then again, if we go by the previous Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G and 11 Lite price action, price will go down pretty soon, building an even stronger case for the 12 Lite.

Pros

  • Fresh and lightweight design, thin bezels.
  • Flagship grade 120Hz OLED with 12-bit color depth.
  • Competitive fast charging solution.
  • Solid camera performance in all scenarios, selfie has AF.
  • Android 12, feature-rich MIUI 13.

Cons

  • Battery life could be a bit better.
  • More powerful alternatives in the same price range, although from last year.
  • No proper ingress protection this time around, no IP rating.
  • MicroSD card slot removed.

Source

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