Xiaomi Mi 8 SE review

GSMArena team, 25 July 2018.

Extra-tall, notched OLED panel

Chopping a flagship phone down to a more modest price bracket in a "Lite" version is no easy task. The display is usually, pretty high up on manufacturer lists, as one of the first and easiest things to get a downgrade treatment and cut back on costs. The Mi 8 SE proves it can, in fact, be done quite sensibly.

We appreciate that Xiaomi turned to Samsung again to source the 5.88-inch screen. This must have brought the costs up, but the OLED panel benefits are numerous and Samsung's models are typically the best around. The one in the Mi 8 SE makes no exception.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (Max Auto) 0.564 776 1376
Nokia 8 0.382 703 1840
Motorola Moto G6 Plus 0.418 610 1459
LG G6 max auto 0.277 564 2036
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) max auto 0 559
Huawei P Smart 0.356 531 1492
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera 0.28 530 1893
HTC U Ultra (max auto) 0.564 507 899
Huawei P20 Lite 0.27 482 1785
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) Max Auto 0 482
Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018) (Max Auto) 0 482
Huawei Mate 10 Lite 0.257 476 1852
LG G6 0.228 468 2053
Huawei Honor 7X 0.236 458 1941
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE 0 455
HTC U Ultra 0.539 428 794
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0 413
Motorola Moto Z2 Force 0 376
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) 0 348
Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018) 0 336

As far as brightness goes, we have little to complain. The panel in the Mi 8 SE performs about as expected from a Samsung OLED. Xiaomi did, however, skipped on brightness overdrive mode in Auto. Instead, it apparently elected to push the regular brightness ceiling further and set 100% on the slider a bit higher than most competing Galaxy devices.

Still, that's a rather small omission, which doesn't really take away that much from the overall legibility of the panel. Sure, you might want to avoid blinding sunlight, but, otherwise, the Mi 8 SE does just fine outdoors.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Apple iPhone X
    5.013
  • OnePlus 5T
    4.789
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    4.63
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    4.537
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • OnePlus 6
    4.321
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Oppo R15 Pro
    4.251
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (pre-update)
    4.234
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
    4.096
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    4.087
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    4.086
  • Meizu 15
    4.082
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    4.052
  • Google Pixel 2 (pre-update)
    4.023
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • vivo NEX S
    4.012
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
    3.998
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor)
    3.978
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
    3.957
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    3.901
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    3.865
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018)
    3.842
  • Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018)
    3.834
  • Sony Xperia XZs
    3.818
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.812
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)
    3.804
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Xiaomi Mi 6
    3.767
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    3.765
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Nokia 8 Sirocco
    3.745
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
    3.729
  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus (True Tone)
    3.725
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Huawei P20
    3.683
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
    3.675
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
    3.597
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
    3.58
  • LG G6
    3.556
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Nokia 7 plus
    3.479
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    3.456
  • HTC U Ultra
    3.453
  • Motorola Moto G6
    3.448
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
    3.445
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    3.419
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018)
    3.397
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera
    3.393
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    3.39
  • Huawei P10
    3.379
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    3.378
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Honor 8 Pro
    3.341
  • Oppo F7
    3.333
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Lenovo P2
    3.316
  • Archos Diamond Omega
    3.305
  • Honor 9
    3.289
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Nokia 5
    3.261
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
    3.244
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    3.238
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • BlackBerry KEY2
    3.212
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3.19
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Oppo R11s
    3.153
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • HTC U11 Life
    3.108
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • HTC U12+
    3.085
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    3.077
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL
    3.019
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Motorola Moto X4
    3.012
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • LG Q6
    2.987
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    2.952
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    2.951
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    2.938
  • Oppo Realme 1
    2.932
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    2.896
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Honor 10 (Vivid)
    2.757
  • Nokia 2
    2.752
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Huawei Mate 10 (normal)
    2.742
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    2.737
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Huawei Honor 7X
    2.734
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    2.689
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Vivo V7
    2.404
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Oppo F3
    2.376
  • vivo V5 Plus
    2.371
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • Razer Phone
    2.328
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Sony Xperia L2
    2.266
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • HTC U11+ (EU)
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Meizu M5 Note
    2.189
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
    2.095
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Color reproduction and accuracy is really great on the Mi 8 SE. The Samsung panel at hand is certified for HDR10, as well as DCI-P3. Indeed, running our standard color checker tests shows the Mi 8 SE is really accurate in Standard contrast mode, with a maximum deltaE of 4.6, in the white and average of only 2.7. Both numbers are low enough to consider the display color calibrated.

A few small adjustments to the white point could potentially bring those values down even further. Unfortunately, the Mi 8 SE only supports custom white point in Adaptive contrast mode. That one, however, sets various display parameters dynamically, based on external lighting conditions. Not really what we are after.

Xiaomi Mi 8 SE review

In this default Adaptive contrast mode, the reds, and greens tend to be very overblown. All the while, the blues are left a bit low, in comparison. The look you end up with is rather odd - a bit too warm, if that makes any sense. If vibrant, punchy AMOLED colors is what you want, just go for the Increased contrast mode and probably skip the adaptive one altogether.

Battery life

The Xiaomi Mi 8 SE packs a 3,120 mAh battery - a little less than the vanilla Mi 8 and a little bit more than the Mi 8 Explorer edition, with all its extra hardware. While not spectacular in pure number terms, this is still a very decent capacity on a fairly compact device (147.3 x 73.1 x 7.5 mm).

Xiaomi Mi 8 SE review

And then, there is the energy-efficient Super AMOLED panel, which should, pretty much, sip power. But most interestingly of all - there is the new Snapdragon 710 chipset on board. Looking past the performance aspect of things (spoiler alert, it beats out the Snapdragon 660), the SD710 is well geared for providing excellent battery efficiency. Just like the flagship 800 series chips, it is based on a 10nm fabrication process while packing lower power cores. In this particular case, the arrangement is rather odd - six, efficient 1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver (Cortex-A55 based) ones and only a pair of 2.2GHz Kryo 360 Gold ones (Cortex-A75 based).

This arrangement should lower the overall power consumption, compared to a symmetrical 4 + 4 arrangement. And that's without even considering the improvements to the CPU cores themselves. Or the fact that the current Snapdragon 600 and 400 series efficient/mid-ranger chips are almost exclusively based on a 14nm process. Using the extra wiggle room the ongoing minification provides from efficiency, rather than raw power is a godsend for battery endurance. A bonus, we still believe average users care a lot more about than number-crunching potential.

Xiaomi Mi 8 SE review

The X15 LTE modem, inside the Snapdragon 710 is a newcomer as well. The standby numbers were quite respectable. Call time is a bit more impressive, especially compared to Snapdragon 660 devices, with a bigger battery, like the Nokia 7 Plus. Still, nothing ground-breaking.

We did experience some odd issues with the default video player and our pretty generic h.264 mp4 test video. For some reason, the clip just choked the player on occasion and actually crashed the app. This looks like a software bug - one, which Xiaomi will hopefully address quickly. Hence, we were forced to resort to using an external third-party video player to get our battery life measurements.

Even so, at just over 9 hours, it still seems to be the weakest link in the endurance chain. In contrast, the web browsing, with the default browser managed an impressive 15 hours+. 86 hours, overall, is a pretty good showing, especially considering the battery pack capacity.

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Xiaomi Mi 8 SE for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Loudspeaker

The Xiaomi Mi 8 SE only has a single, bottom-firing speaker at its disposal. It can get really loud.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
LG G6 66.8 68.8 74.5 Good
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 66.4 66.2 78.0 Good
Huawei Honor View 10 68.6 69.9 77.8 Good
Oppo R15 Pro 69.7 73.5 76.6 Very Good
HTC U Ultra (Theater) 67.3 73.1 80.6 Very Good
HTC U Ultra (Music) 61.7 73.1 86.7 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) 67.8 71.2 83.1 Very Good
Huawei P Smart 65.9 70.8 85.8 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi 8 68.1 72.3 82.2 Very Good
Huawei Honor 7X 66.4 71.1 85.1 Very Good
Huawei P20 Lite 66.3 71.5 84.9 Very Good
Huawei Mate 10 Lite 67.8 71.0 84.5 Very Good
Lenovo Moto Z2 Force 68.2 70.2 86.1 Very Good
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera 68.4 71.6 84.8 Very Good
Honor 10 69.3 72.6 87.3 Excellent
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE 70.5 74.1 85.2 Excellent
Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018) 76.3 73.4 81.1 Excellent
Meizu 15 77.6 74.5 80.7 Excellent
Xiaomi Mi A1 74.0 73.9 90.4 Excellent
Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018) 76.4 72.1 91.6 Excellent
Motorola Moto G6 Plus 82.2 76.1 86.8 Excellent
Nokia 8 88.0 77.1 81.4 Excellent

Unfortunately, sound quality is another story. There is quite a bit of distortion, especially in higher-pitched sounds. It's serviceable, but not really great for anything beyond a ring tone.

Audio quality

The Xiaomi Mi 8 SE had high volume when hooked to an active external amplifier, but its output was plagued by high distortion, which is rather disappointing for a flagship these days, even a Lite version such as the one we are dealing with here.

The headphones somewhat alleviated the distortion issues, but caused a rather big drop in loudness - all the way to below average. They also made the stereo quality rather average and caused slight shakiness in the frequency response. A mediocre overall showing if we ever saw one.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE+0.06, -0.02-96.096.03.2660.980-95.9
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE (headphones)+0.30, -0.32-95.495.30.0160.473-56.4
Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018)+0.07, -0.03-89.789.90.00600.201-91.7
Samsung Galaxy A6+ (2018) (headphones)+0.22, -0.21-91.691.00.0160.305-56.2
Oppo F7+0.01, -0.10-92.592.70.00190.0077-91.2
Oppo F7 (headphones)+0.50, -0.20-91.491.80.00790.402-51.5
Honor View 10 (headphones)+0.17, -0.03-92.092.10.00230.092-52.8
Nokia 7 Plus+0.02, -0.31 -38.881.70.00134.690-95.9
Nokia 7 Plus (headphones)+0.25, -0.23-93.390.40.00450.227-53.9

Xiaomi Mi 8 SE frequency response
Xiaomi Mi 8 SE frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • zte7_170000_antutu

Who cares about the radio? Download from G.S . Infrared ? I think OIS are more important. And front facing stereo speakers, with Dolby Atmos. My (2016) ZTE axon beat the MI 8, still.

  • zeRONY

Just white one..

  • Nick name

No, my man