The Mi Note 10 Lite is built in a classic fashion for a modern upper midranger - an exposed aluminum midframe holds together the internals, enclosed between two glass panels. The frame has a satin finish, the glass comes from Corning and is Gorilla Glass 5.
Looking at it from the front, the Lite is a carbon copy of the Mi Note 10. It's got the same beautiful 6.47-inch AMOLED display with gently curved sides and a moderately unsightly U-shaped selfie camera notch. Right above it is where you'll find the earpiece grille eating away equal parts glass and frame.
The black bezel around the panel maintains its thickness on the sides and above, to please folks that are particular about such details. It's a tiny bit meatier on the bottom, but overall the bezel situation is pretty much flagship-grade.
Underneath the display, an optical fingerprint sensor provides the go-to method for biometric authentication. It's fast to do its thing, and the homescreen is just a quick tap away, though you could also keep your finger on the sensor a little longer for a set of shortcuts.
The frame too could probably be interchangeable with the one on the Mi Note 10 - everything is in the same places. The power button and the volume rocker are on the right, positioned for easy access with either the right thumb or the left index finger. Towards the bottom on this side is where the SIM cards go - two nano-sized ones in a tray that's not microSD-friendly. There's absolutely nothing on the left of the phone.
The flattened bottom is home to the USB-C port in the middle, the loudspeaker and the primary mic to its left, the 3.5mm headphone jack to the right. These aren't all aligned along the same line, which could bug some people, but we've mostly moved on from looking for such things. Clearly.
Up top, the similarly chiseled frame is home to an extra microphone and the IR blaster - we're certain you can find uses cases for that.
Which finally brings us to the back and here's where things are more than a little different than what we had on the Mi Note 10. The five cameras in a 3+1+1 arrangement have been replaced by a quad setup with all modules grouped under the same glass. The quad-LED flash is the same but is now stylistically joined to the camera array using a black background. We can admit now that the Mi Note 10's scattered cameras didn't rub us quite the right way and the Lite's more compact approach looks better.
With the removal of the significantly bigger 108MP cam, the Mi Note 10 Lite's camera assembly has shrunk in thickness. A positive outcome of that is that the Lite no longer wobbles on a flat surface.
The Xiaomi logo in the lower left of the back remains as do the less-than-appealing regulatory markings on the right.
Our review unit is in the Midnight Black colorway, but there's hardly anything 'black' about it - it's probably inspired by midnight experienced beyond the Arctic Circle. That's not to say we don't like it, of course - it's just that it can pass for all shades of blue and gray, depending on how light hits it.
It's a glossy finish on this glass back, and as with all such designs, it will be prone to accumulating fingerprints. However, with the relative lightness and high reflectivity of the colorway, the prints aren't all that visible after all.
The Mi Note 10 Lite measures 157.8x74.2x9.7mm, which is exactly the same as the Mi Note 10 non-Lite. This one is 4 grams lighter indeed, but at 204g, it's hardly featherweight. The 5,260mAh battery might have a say in this, and it's a tradeoff we can embrace. The relatively high thickness of close to 10mm doesn't really stand out in real-life use thanks to the curved sides, both front and back, which make the phone feel thinner than what the numbers suggest.