Huawei recently launched Honor 9 Lite in a price segment which, since a long time, has been dominated by Xiaomi’s Redmi series phones that are currently at a disadvantage of not including contemporary hot trends like an 18:9 display and dual cameras.
So, while Xiaomi catches up (which is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks), Huawei fills in the void with its Honor 9 Lite, which is essentially a good looking full-view display phone with four cameras.
The Honor 9 Lite retails in two variants – one with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, and the other with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. There is, however, a significantly wide price gap between the two storage options (Rs. 10,999 vs Rs. 14,999).
The more lucrative of the two is, of course, the base variant and that’s the one that we have been testing for the last week. Is it a complete phone that you should buy? Let’s try and answer that in our Honor 9 Lite review.
- Premium design
- Display quality
- Android Oreo-based software
- Mediocre performance
- Battery backup
- Hybrid SIM slot
Honor 9 Lite Specs
|Honor 9 Lite
|5.66-inch Full HD+ full vision display
|2.3GHz Octa-Core Kirin 659 processor
|32GB/64GB, expandable up to 128GB
|Android 8.0 (Oreo) with EMUI 8.0
|13MP + 2MP sensor with dual-tone LED, CMOS sensor, PDAF, and digital zoom
|13MP+2MP soft LED flash
|151 × 71.9 × 7.6mm; Weight: 149g
|4G VoLTE support, dual-sim (hybrid), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm audio jack, micro USB (Type-A)
|Rs. 10,999/Rs. 14,999
Also Read: 8 best looking phones under Rs. 10,000
Honor 9 Lite Design and Build
The design is what makes Honor 9 Lite stand out. There is 2.5D glass on both front and back, and a plastic side frame between the two running along the edges. The rear panel has an appealing mirror finish. The protective case that Huawei bundles in the box obscures it, but that’s for the greater good since the cover is prone to scratches and the hazy finish obscures them as well.
Minimal bezel, attractive color options, and accessible fingerprint sensor work in its favor. The Honor 9 Lite is also reasonably slim and compact that makes it a delight to handle.
As for the build, the phone feels pretty solid and Huawei bundles a good quality protective case in the box. There is no Gorilla Glass protection, but you do get a smudge-resistant oleophobic coating for the front glass.
Honor is still resisting the transition to Type-C port, but that’s, perhaps, not a big deal even at this point in time.
Also Check: Best Honor 9 Lite cases and covers
- Honor 9 Lite’s design is its most striking feature. The handset looks premium.
- There is 2.5D glass on front and rear sandwiching a plastic side frame in the middle. Buttons, ports and fingerprint sensor are aptly positioned.
- Huawei bundles a protective case in the box as well.
- The handset is reasonably compact, slim, and easy to manage.
Honor 9 Lite Display
The display is another primary highlight of the Honor 9 Lite, something that’ll matter even more than its design when it comes to practical usage. For an 18:9 screen, the 5.65-inch size feels ideal. The display has Full HD+ resolution but you can scale it down to HD+ to conserve battery.
The color temperature is well balanced and color contrast is high. EMUI allows you to further fine-tune it in line with your individual taste rather effectively. Overall, the display quality is very good for the price.
- Quality-wise, this is one of the best displays you can get for the price.
- Colors are vibrant and white balance is quite close to neutral. Touch response is good too.
- The display can hold of smudges reasonably well, but is prone to scratches. Use a good quality screen protector.
- Honor 9 Lite also has a customizable Comfort Eye Mode (Bluelight filter) for night time reading.
- Outdoor visibility isn’t a problem
- You can scale down resolution to HD+ to save battery. Smart resolution can selectively do the same for you.
Honor 9 Lite Camera
Huawei is marketing the presence of four cameras on the Honor 9 Lite. This, however, proved to be more of a marketing thing. It’s not that they don’t work. It’s just that the result is inconsistent, hard to predict beforehand, and inaccurate more often than not.
You can adjust focus point post-shooting in wide aperture mode but not in portrait mode. In good lighting, however, we did manage some decent portraits. Indoors and in low light, the extra sensors don’t add much value.
Keeping quad-cameras aside, the primary front and rear cameras (13MP each) are reasonable performers. They aren’t perfect though. One area where Honor 9 Lite cameras struggle is in locking focus.
If you are opting for the base variant, the camera performance (for front and rear) should be comparable to existing options. But for the price of 4GB RAM variant, Mi A1 and Moto G5s Plus will be better options camera-wise.
Overall, the camera performance isn’t remarkable but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker on the base variant.
- The Rear camera can capture detailed images in good outdoor lighting. Low light performance isn’t much to write home about.
- The dual cameras on front and rear don’t add much value. You can get good bokeh shots, but results are inconsistent.
- The camera takes time to lock focus for macro objects and struggles with metering in tricky lighting.
- The camera app has a manual pro mode that works well.
- The selfie camera benefits from a reasonable beautify mode.
- Once again, selfies clicked in adequate lighting turned out fine but you will have to keep your hand steady while shooting indoors.
Honor 9 Lite Performance and Software
The Honor 9 Lite is powered by Kirin 659 octa-core chipset paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. The performance falls short of what you’d get with SD 625 phones like Redmi Note 4 and even SD 430 options like Redmi 4. High-end games aren’t playable at high graphics settings, and even with normal usage, the phone stutters when going gets tough.
Slowdowns, app crashes, and inconsistent app behavior aren’t uncommon. This makes us skeptical about how well the phone will hold after a period of usage. The phone also heats with multitasking and that could be an annoyance when the weather gets warmer.
Having said that, EMUI 8.0 is a noticeable improvement over EMUI 5.0. It’s lighter, smoother, and more streamlined. There is still work to be done here, especially when it comes to sizing the apps for the full-view screen. There are quite a few preloaded apps on the phone but you can uninstall most of them.
The loudspeaker at the bottom can get very loud and the audio quality is average. The fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate. We didn’t face any issue with connectivity or call quality.
- The performance is good enough for light and moderate users. Honor 9 lite still can’t match with the likes of Redmi Note 4 or Mi A1.
- The phone stutters with high-end gaming and multitasking.
- Out of 32GB storage, around 22.5GB is available to users. The SIM tray is hybrid.
- EMUI 8.0 (Android Oreo-based) still shows noticeable performance improvement over EMUI 5.1. The interface is well designed and intuitive.
- Fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate
- The monospeaker at the bottom is quite loud. Audio quality isn’t great, though.
Honor 9 Lite Battery Backup
Battery backup left us wanting for more. The 3000mAh battery can last for a day with moderate usage but not more. With heavy use, however, the battery lasts a lot lesser. 10 minutes of gaming, for instance, can result in heavy battery penalty of 5 to 6 percent. Fast charging isn’t supported. The bundled charger can top up the battery in little more than 2 hours.
- Battery struggles to last full day with heavy usage. Battery depletes fast with multitasking and intense usage.
- With light usage, the battery can last for a day.
- Fast charging isn’t supported.
Honor 9 Lite Review – Should you buy it?
The Honor 9 Lite impressed us with its design and display. It’s not quite a complete package, though. There are a few peeve points which need to be dealt with, the performance and battery being the primary ones.
If you are aiming for the 4GB RAM option, you’d still be better off with Mi A1 or Moto G5s Plus, simply becuase they offer better performance and better photography experience. Or you could wait for whatever Xiaomi is about to launch in the next few weeks (Probably Redmi Note 5 or Redmi 5 Plus).
If you are limited by a budget of around 10K, you can consider the base variant. It makes some compromises but looks like a fairly workable option for basic and moderate users, particularly those who value design and display quality.