Another decent all-rounder from Xiaomi, with a beautiful design and pleasingly lightweight frame. The cameras feel like a step down from last year though, so maybe catch the Xiaomi 12 Lite on a deal instead.
Last year’s Xiaomi 12 Lite was a fantastic mid-range phone. The lightweight construction, mixed with decent performance and surprisingly good cameras, made it an easy device to recommend. In fact, it’s been my daily driver for the past six months and it’s still going strong.
But, has the time come for me to swap SIMs? Xiaomi has launched the successor, which boasts a slimmer frame, faster processor and some other nips and tucks. It has a lot to live up to, so let’s see how the Xiaomi 13 Lite fares after full testing.
Design & Build
Comfortable, slim design
IP53 waterproof rating
While the Xiaomi 12 Lite seemingly took its inspiration from the iPhone 12 range, with squared off corners and a flat display, the Chinese company has dug a little further into the past with the 13 Lite, which bears a striking resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 models from a few years ago. This is no bad thing, as those where some of the best-looking devices we’ve ever seen.
In terms of size, the 12 Lite and 13 Lite are very similar with the latter’s 159.2 x 72.7 x 7.2 mm dimensions shaving off tiny amounts, and the 171g weight only 2g less than the model it replaces. It does feel different though, with the curved edges of the 6.55in display joining the similar filleted back panel to make it sink into the hands and let you know that this is a very thin chassis.
The metal rim means it should survive a drop or two though, and the matt plastic rear panel gives you a least a modicum of grip. Xiaomi does include a silicon case in the box, and you’ll need that as the handset can be a little slippery.
The thin flanks are just wide enough to accommodate volume and power controls, with the bottom edge home to a single speaker, USB-C charging port and the dual-SIM tray.
Xiaomi has beefed up the durability of its Lite series this time around, as the Gorilla Glass 5 for the display that appeared on the 12 Lite is joined by an IP53 water and dust proof rating, which wasn’t there previously. This allows the 13 Lite to survive rain showers and possibly a trip to the beach, but it still can’t be immersed in water.
Unlike some other manufacturers, Xiaomi still includes a charger and cable in the box, which is a good thing as the included module kicks out 67W, giving the 13 Lite some rather impressive recharge times for its 4500mAh battery. More on that and battery life later.
All in all, it’s a nice package. Comfortable to hold, light enough not to fatigue your hands and well balanced.
Screen & Speakers
120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos
In many respects, the display on the 13 Lite is identical that the one that preceded it. It’s still an AMOLED Full HD+ panel, with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The display supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, although this time around it sports a slightly better 89.5% screen-to-body ratio and has those curved edges.
I’d say they’re more sloped though, as the actual displayed content doesn’t wrap around, which is good because you don’t lose anything or have options bending around the edge. Xiaomi fits a screen protector at the factory, but the curved nature of the display did mean that I caught the edge a few times, introducing bubbles into the plastic.
These are easily pushed back out but does show the slight drawbacks you can encounter when you bend glass and then try to use protectors.
Xiaomi states that the maximum brightness is 1000 nits, but for everyday use, you’ll hit around half that. I measured the panel at 703 nits, which is more than enough for a bright sunny day and almost up there with the Samsung Galaxy S23. At the top of the display is a pill-shaped punch-hole for the twin front cameras which looks similar to the iPhone 14 Pro. This does mean you have a little more obstruction when watching videos, but it’s not too bad.
Xiaomi has given the 13 Lite a nice, bright, colourful display that’s responsive and comfortable to use. The refresh rate can be set at either 60- or 120Hz, but there’s also a Dynamic setting that will switch to the most useful one in any given situation, so for example 120Hz for gaming or 60Hz when watching a video. The touch sampling rate remains the same as last year, at 240Hz, for snappy responses. There’s also an Always-On display that can show notifications and the time, all of which can be formatted through various themes available on the device.
The only quirk I found was that the screen could turn on while I was on a call, with my cheek then triggering the Mute option and leaving me wondering why the person on the other end couldn’t hear me. It happened several times, so wasn’t just a weird one-off. Hopefully this will be patched in a software update.
Unlike with Apple’s devices, there’s an under-display fingerprint sensor on the 13 Lite, as there was with the 12 Lite. Again it’s situated quite low down on the panel, although I admit I find this to be an excellent spot and one that only takes a short time to get used to. It works well and unlocks the phone quickly and efficiently most of the time.
There’s only a single speaker on the 13 Lite, but it does a good job of putting out some volume. Tones are quite decent considering the physical limitations of a solitary speaker, but there’s not much low-end available. For podcasts and audiobooks or watching YouTube videos, its good enough, but if you’re hoping to play music then you might find the sound too thin. Of course, via the Bluetooth 5.2 connection you can get all the frequencies sent to headphones, where you’ll also be able to hear Dolby Atmos if your gear is compatible.
Specs & Performance
Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
Adreno 644 GPU
8GB of memory
128GB or 256GB UFS 2.2 storage
As this is a mid-range device, you won’t be surprised to see that there isn’t a Snapdragon 8 series processor under the hood. That’s not to knock the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 that Xiaomi has gone for, as it’s a very capable performer and can cope admirably with most things people want to do on a phone.
Opening and switching between apps is smooth, commands are executed without hesitation, and generally, it’s a pleasant experience using the 13 Lite. Gaming is good, with Asphalt 9 and the other graphically demanding titles I tested all happily playing along with no lag. Xiaomi also equips the 13 Lite with a custom stainless steel vacuum chamber to improve the dissipation of heat that can build up when the device is put under strain.
It seems to work, as I never felt the handset get too hot while gaming. Bear in mind that if you’re a serious gamer then this device might not quite be the one for you. Instead, you’ll want something like the Nubia Redmagic 8 Pro, which excels in this area.
8GB of RAM is where the 13 Lite tops out and in the UK this comes with 128GB of storage, while Europeans can opt for a more capacious 256GB option if they wish. It’s UFS 2.2 storage too, which helps with the rapidity of the system.
Here’s how the Xiaomi 13 Lite compared with other similar devices in our benchmark tests:
50Mp f/1.8 wide-angle Sony IMX766 sensor
8Mp f/2.2 ultra-wide angle
2Mp f/2.4 macro
32Mp f/2.4 ultra-wide angle selfie camera
Xiaomi has moved from the 108Mp f/1.9 main shooter in the 12 Lite to a 50Mp f/1.8 on the new model. It does feature a Sony IMX766 sensor, but while the cameras on the previous generation really impressed, the 13 Lite seems to have a little less prowess. You can certainly get some nice shots on the main lens, with vibrant colors and solid focusing, but it does suffer a bit from overprocessing, with images over sharpened by the software. Colors can also get either too flat or oversaturated really easily.
When it gets it right, you can be rewarded with great results, but I did find that too often I could notice the digital corrections in the image, plus as soon as you crop in there is plenty of noise. Portrait mode is a good example, with a nice bokeh effect making the background blurry, but on several occasions the camera would decide that a part of the foreground was actually in the background, blurring that part of the shot. More expensive cameras struggle with this, so I won’t be too harsh on the Xiaomi 13 Lite, but must note that you might want to check your image before you move on, as it may need a retake.
Night mode is similar to last year, with the software aggressively interfering again. To be honest, I found that leaning the phone on a flat surface while shooting with the main camera in normal mode returned richer and more satisfying shots than trying the same thing in Night mode.
The ultra-wide is an 8Mp f/2.2 camera that can give you a wider field of view, albeit at the cost of detail and color. I didn’t expect too much from the 2Mp Macro (we never do) as they are invariably poor across the board, but in good light, you can get some decent images to share on social media.
The dual front facing cameras (32Mp f/2.4 and 8Mp f/2.28 depth camera) can return some good selfies and video, plus there are various modes to make your TikTok creations, such as the Xaomi Selfie Glow that turns on two lights when recording to better illuminate your face.
Video maxes out at 4K/30fps on the main rear camera and does look pleasingly when good light is available. Moving from lighter to darker doesn’t seem to bother the focussing, which holds steady, but there is a tendency to try and overexpose the environment in search for light, which invariably adds noise.
EIS (electronic image stabilisation) keeps the footage stable though, and as with the image quality, you’ll probably be happy with the footage and stills if you’re only sharing on Instagram or other social media platforms.
Here are a few samples of the images you can get with the Xiaomi 13 Lite:
Battery Life & Charging
67W Turbo Charging (Charger included)
The 13 Lite comes with a 4500mAh capacity battery, which does a fine job of getting you through the day. I usually found that there was still around 15-20% of power left in the tank at the end of the evening.
My routine normally involves using the phone a lot for social media, listening to podcasts, making calls and general web browsing. So, if that’s the way you use a phone, then you won’t be looking around for a charging place when out with this device.
If you do find you’re running low, well that’s not going to be much of a problem as Xiaomi includes a 67W Turbo Charger in the box and this managed to restore 42% after only 15 minutes, 80% in half an hour and 100% in just over 40 minutes.
Putting the Xiaomi 13 Lite through our standard PCMark battery test, it returned a very healthy nine hours and 14 minutes, although curiously this is less than the model that came before which also had a smaller battery.
Software & Apps
Android 12 (not the newer Android 13) is the underlying operating system for the 13 Lite, with Xiaomi’s own MIUI 14 on top. As skins go, it’s not that egregious, with plenty of customisation options and it behaves itself on most occasions.
If you’re used to the ‘stock’ Android implementation found on something like the Google Pixel 7, then it will take a bit of adjusting as there are more menu options in settings and some things appear in different places. You should be whizzing around in no time though as, for me, MIUI is a very serviceable interface once you get used to it.
You will have to get rid of some bloat though, as Xiaomi includes a few games and other ‘useful’ apps. Thankfully these can all be deleted, so you can clean up the system when you first set up the phone, then never need to worry about it again.
As Xiaomi now promises three major Android version updates plus four years of security updates across the lifespan of its devices, you know that you’ll at least get a few years out of the device before you’ll need to upgrade.
Price & Availability
Xiaomi offers the 13 Lite in two configurations: 8/128GB and 8/256GB. The former is the only variant available in the UK and costs £449 ($550 approx.).
Mainland European customers get to choose between both, with the prices being €499.99 (8GB/128GB) or €549.99 (8GB/256GB). As usual, due to the American government’s trade embargos and general beef with Chinese tech companies, Xiaomi won’t be officially releasing the 13 Lite or any of its current range in the United States.
The pricing of the Xiaomi 13 Lite brings it into competition with the Poco X5 Pro which costs $299/€299 for the 6/128GB configuration or $349/£369/€349 if you prefer 8GB/256GB instead. The Nothing Phone (1) is another attractive option, especially as it’s now available in the US thanks to the launch of the Beta program, and costs 8/128GB: $299/£399/€469/₹33,999.
Of course the obvious choice in this price category is the Google Pixel 6a, which has better cameras and all the other Pixel advantages for a very reasonable $449/£399/€459, although there are strong rumours that the Google Pixel 7a could launch soon, so it might be worth waiting for that.
Following up on success is always difficult and Xiaomi has delivered a hit-and-miss model with the 13 Lite.
The design and build is lovely, with a lightweight frame that is nice to use all day, and the decent battery life with quick recharging means you won’t have to worry about power.
However, the cameras are a little underwhelming this time around, which is a surprise after the excellent quality of the 12 Lite. Although they are by no means bad. There are also some build issues surrounding the curved edges of the display.
Still, there’s plenty of performance and charm on offer, plus the camera quality can most likely be improved by updates to the software, so the Xiaomi 13 Lite is a solid option if you don’t want the heavier and bulkier Google Pixel 6a or Nothing Phone (1).
6.55in AMOLED FULL HD+ display, 120Hz, HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos