The Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite has a triple-camera on its back but only two of those snappers produce images and videos. The main camera (in the middle) has a huge Sony IMX 586 1/2" 48MP sensor behind f/1.8 25mm lens that spits out 12MP images. On top of it is the 8MP (1/4") ultrawide-angle snapper behind f/2.2 13mm lens. And the bottom cam is a 2MP depth sensor.
The 48MP sensor sits is behind an f/1.8 lens and is not stabilized. None of the snappers features optical stabilization. The primary sensor has 0.8µm pixels, while the ultra-wide snapper has 1.12µm pixels.
The camera app is the same as on any recent MIUI10 ROM. Swiping left and right will shuffle through the camera modes, and you will find additional settings in the tab above the viewfinder. Beautifications are available, as well as HDR, AI, video mode, and picture quality.
The usual 0.6x/1x/2x toggles are on the viewfinder itself, but since there is no zoom camera, the 2X toggle is digital zoom relying on the output of the main camera. A full-res 48MP mode is available from the hamburger menu at the top.
Night Mode is also available on the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite for those long-exposure hand-held shots when light is limited.
The primary camera saves 12MP images by default and those impress with a great level of detail, excellent contrast, and true-to-life colors. The dynamic range is notably wide, and we never had to use HDR. The images are sharp but not over-sharpened, and we are left with nothing but positive impressions from these daylight snaps.
We are delighted to see Xiaomi delivers on image quality across the entire Mi 9 series and the Mi 9 Lite did not turn to be an exception.
There is a dedicated 48MP mode if you want to save 48MP stills and it indeed keeps the picture in full resolution, but the detail is nothing that special and you can notice various smudged areas and artefacts.
There isn't a benefit of shooting in 48MP and then manually resizing down to 12MP either - you won't get more detail or a sharper image. And saving in 48MP is a time- and space-consuming task - one image will take up north of 20MB of your storage.
The Mi 9 Lite does not have a zoom camera even though it offers a 2X toggle. The digitally zoomed photos are nothing to phone home about, but we guess nobody will ever see them in full resolution anyway. Most people usually upload such images on social networks, and they arrive there downsized, so we guess the toggle may be handy after all as it allows the camera to pick the right exposure for the specific part of the scene that interest you.
The 8MP ultrawide camera captures a surprisingly good level of detail. It has brilliant contrast and excellent dynamic range. Sure, the per-pixel quality is not a match to the main snapper, but it was never meant to be. The 8MP stills we got from this shooter are far superior to many of the 8MP or even 13MP photos we've seen from other midrangers, so we'd call it a win.
You can opt for lens correction, and you will get less distorted edges of the frame at the expense of some softer output there.
Moving on to the low-light shots, then. The 12MP photos from the main camera turned pretty good, they are bright enough and quite detailed, and the noise levels are perfectly tolerable thanks to a less aggressive noise reduction process. Those are not the best 12MP night stills we've seen, but we'd say they are overqualified for the class.
You can use the 48MP mode in low-light, too, but even if you shoot in this high-resolution and then resize the image to 12MP, the benefit in the resolved detail would be minor, if any. And it's just not worth the hassle.
The Night mode is present on the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite and works as on any recent Xiaomi phone. It takes about a second or two to shoot, and it's the place you go to for good low-light photos. It makes a big difference by being able to get proper exposure even in the darkest environments. The result is a nicely balanced and bright image, and subjects still look detailed enough.
The low-light images from the ultrawide-angle camera are not impressive at all. The noise reduction is very aggressive and smears much of the fine detail, while the exposure is often quite dark.
You can't use the Night Mode with the ultrawide camera.
You can shoot digitally zoomed photos at night with the 2X toggle, and Night Mode is available for this type of pictures as well.
And once you're done with the samples, head over to our Photo compare tool to see how the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite stacks up against the competition.
The quality of the portraits taken with the rear camera of the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is highly dependent on the light conditions as the resolved detail would drastically drop when the light is not ideal.
So, when the light is right you will be rewarded with some very nice portrait shots - detailed, with good subject separation and convincing faux blur.
You can also apply various background effects or choose the blur's strength.
The 32MP selfie camera turned out to be an excellent shooter. There is enough detail, the colors are nice, and the images are sharp enough. Sure, you have a limited range for the focus sweet spot, but with enough leeway to cover the different arm lengths and those who prefer closeup shots.
The front cam also takes blurred background selfies, and the separation is good enough even though there isn't a depth sensor. There is a drop in the sharpness, though.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite captures videos up to 4K @ 30fps, and all other common modes are available - 1080@30fps and 1080p@60fps. It seems at first that you can capture in these resolutions with both cameras, but you can't. The ultrawide-angle snapper records only 1080p clips at 30fps, no matter what resolution you've picked up from the selector.
Slow-mo video is available in the following modes: 1080p @120fps and 720p @960fps.
Let's talk about the main camera. The video bitrate is 40-42Mbps in 4K and about 20Mbps in 1080p at 30fps or 60fps. Audio is recorded in stereo with a 192Kbps bitrate.
The 4K videos are sharp and detailed, pretty great for the class when you examine them from close. The noise is kept reasonably low. Contrast is excellent, color rendition is quite nice and accurate, and the dynamic range is decent. Overall, we are happy with the 4K footage.
The 1080p capture at 30fps is excellent across the board - resolved detail, contrast, colors, dynamic range.
Unfortunately, the detail in the 1080p videos shot at 60fps takes a huge hit making those looked jaggy, if not pixelated.
The videos from the ultrawide snapper have a bit warmer color rendition, and the detail isn't as impressive. The contrast and the dynamic range are still great.
The 2X toggle is also available in video recording. In 4K, you will get apparent digital zooming with a soft image and unimpressive detail. If you are shooting in 1080p, however, the zoomed videos are as excellent as shooting at normal range, a benefit of having such a high-res sensor.
EIS is available only when shooting in 1080p at 30fps. The digital stabilization does a great job smoothing the camera shake at the expense of minor loss of FoV.
Finally, here is a slow-mo sample shot at 960fps.
Here's a glimpse of how the Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite compares to other smartphones in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete picture.