Huawei Honor 9 Lite Review: The Best Budget Smartphone of 2018 ?

Updated on 2018-01-29 by Tejas Upmanyu


Huawei, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, who just surpassed Apple to become the second biggest smartphone brand in the world after Samsung has seen some flat days in India, for the past couple of years. The Honor lineup meant to take on the big, established guns like Samsung and now Xiaomi has not been true to the company’s expectations.

Though Huawei has not been sitting idle, they want to capitalize on the fastest growing smartphone market in the world, India. The smartphone which has all the spotlights at it right now is Huawei’s grand attempt at redemption in the budget segment, Huawei Honor 9 lite.

While recently, there has been a lot of crowd in the budget segment, Xiaomi has clearly cemented Its place in India with back to back dirt cheap smartphones, which pack in more features and have a lot to show for at the price. While the smartphone Industry has seen a great revolution in 2017, call It going bezel-less or killing the audio jack or multiplying the camera sensors, no company is pulling back from providing more whether it be some underdogs like InFocus or some pretty big names like Samsung. (Yeah, we just referred to A9, which is totally non-budget, but hey, at least the big giant is on its toes to catch the slipping budget landscape).

For Huawei to keep that second spot and potentially move on to the golden one, displacing Samsung, India is the one thing that matters, so here’s Honor 9 lite, the ultimate budget beauty, with all the in-house generated power and India, you love cameras, right? well, Honor 9 lite is not just a treat for you, Its a damn buffet for just ₹ 10,999 competing with the existing favorites like Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Mi A1.

Let's take a look at the detailed review of Honor 9 Lite.

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Doing the Honours: Opening the box

Ripping apart the box, well the packaging is not that grand. Inside the box, you will find the handset. The beautiful Honor 9 lite, which we’ll be talking about in a moment. Apart from that, there’s a charger rated 5V, 2A. The standard MicroUSB cable, and guess what, a matte finish case to go with your smartphone. doesn’t that make you happy? A freebie case. The packing is fairly regular, the same old aqua Huawei box. Let’s talk about the meat here, and leave the bones for later.

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: Designed To Slay

The Honor 9 Lite is not something out of the Honor family and borrows a lot of looks from Its siblings. The large 5.6-inch display at the front is one of the main highlights of this device, all thanks to the 18:9 aspect ratio, making this smartphone one of the few budget entries go bezel-less. The bezels are still there but almost minimal.

 

At the top, the usual suspects are not that usual, housing a dual camera sensor setup, along with the speakerphone and a proximity sensor. On the bezel at the bottom, you’ll find the ‘Honor’ branding, nice and bold. There’s 2.5D curved glass at both back and front, making the smartphone more breakable, so that’s something to care about. Also, since Its glass, Its one of the better fingerprint magnets. There’s a dual camera setup right there at the top corner, along with flash.

 

At the center, a circular cutout for the fingerprint sensor, with a matte finish all over it. The rimming around the smartphone is surprisingly plastic. The shape is the same old curve surfboard, which isn’t the latest in the town but certainly not bad either.

 

At the bottom, I am in rejoice to see the 3.5mm jack, followed by a micro USB charging port, completed by speaker grills. The power/wakeup button is located on the right, accompanied by volume controls. The one-handed operation is long out of the window, weighing at 149 grams, the smartphone is a delight to watch and hold. Of course, the fingerprint magnet this smartphone is gonna trouble you. In all, the smart look no less than premium and very prone to cracks.

 

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: A Worthy Display

As we talked earlier about the display is one of the main highlights of the device. Honor 9 Lite is one the few budget beauties out there with a aspect ratio of 18:9, going bezel-less in 2018 is not a question of why but when and Huawei has been right on time. The display is a 5.6inch IPS LCD Panel with FullHD+ resolution of 1080x2160 pixels, churning up a pixel density of ~428PPI which is commendable at the price.

The viewing angles are quite good The brightness is not relatively great but does a fine job Indoors and averagely outsides. Honor Lite 9 has controls for adjusting the colors, which is good for users. The display, all thanks to the 2.5D curved glass on top gets vexatiously reflective at times. The touch is smooth and responsive, with up to 10-point touch, for you know, If you try using the smartphone with all you have.

Since Its Android and not all apps are optimized for the bezel-less display, you can see a lot of wonders on screen. Honor 9 Lite has switched to full-screen mode for the rescue, which isn’t the most relieving reaction at times, so be ready to bear that over the year, until the apps get ready for that aspect ratio.

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: Thriller Performance

Thundering down on performance, Honor 9 Lite is powered by a HiSilicon Kirin 659 SoC at Its core. HiSilicon’s Kirin 659 boasts an octa-core CPU, packed of a heterogenous buildup of 4 Cortex A53 cores, clocked at 2.36GHz, with the other 4 also being Cortex A53 clocked at battery saving 1.7GHz. 

Honor 9 Lite Geekbench Scores

Supporting the processor we have a comfy 3GB of RAM on the base model and 4GB on the high variant. To handle the graphics workloads, we have a Mali T830 MP2, which complements the CPU nicely and Is a good performer at the price. It is ready for all the usual graphics workloads with most of the games playing out smoothly. While It is still a budget GPU, It seems to stutter a bit with heavyweight gaming titles in the play store, when played for longer durations.

The device does get warmer after gaming but It is not the higher end, something which every other smartphone nowadays suffers. And talking of games, we do have gyroscope on this one, which was absent on the touted Honor 7X. So you can enjoy 360-degree videos, VR content and all that you might be missing out on an Honor 7X. We felt that the Gyroscope on Honor 9 Lite was not as responsive as Gyroscopes on other smartphones. We have dropped a mail to Honor for this and we will update here if we get a response.

Bottomline, the performance is buttery smooth, no lags whatsoever in routine usage and even with hardcore usage.

Honor 9 Lite geekbench compute scoresThe surplus RAM doesn’t lag the phone down even with 15 apps in the background. Let’s do a bit of number crunching for Honor 9 Lite, on AnTuTu benchmark It scores 67084, while on GeekBench 3, the single core score is 944 and the multi-core score being 3731.

                                                   Honor 9 Lite antutu benchmark scores

These are admirable numbers by the way and are quite close to the competitors like the Redmi Note 4. In all, the performance at avail is none less than decent at the price.

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: Progressing Software

Honor 9 Lite runs on Android Oreo (8.0) which is commendable from Huawei. Huawei has not been benevolent enough to ship the smartphone with stock Android though. EMUI 8 is Huawei custom ROM based on Android Oreo is what you’ll be playing with. EMUI 8 has a lot of useful customizations but also a lot of clunky cluttering ones. You do get some cool features such as transition effects, customizable home layout, dual apps, three finger screenshot, customizable on-screen navigation buttons.

Honor 9 lite home grid size

Though Its still overloaded Android experience at last and you might feel that weighing down your experience as a user. EMUI has surely progressed over versions, and EMUI 8 is a big step forward to simplicity and efficiency but has a lot of room for improvement and why not go stock? Keeping my personal reservations with custom ROMs out, I find the experience decent, some frame delays here and there in a while. The multitasking is smooth and a great experience overall.

Though, If you have used or witnessed Honor View 10, EMUI 8 on Honor 9 misses some features like a live image to text conversion, object identification inside the camera app and more AI features. If you are a fan of customization and hence the ‘freedom of Android’ EMUI has a lot to sweeten the deal. Digging through the settings, you’ll find lots and lots of settings to give you more control. Fingerprint sensor can do a lot more, than just authentication, like answering calls, taking photos, switching off the alarm and more.

Some of the smart thinking that goes into this UI is really appreciable, like this one - If you are watching a video in full screen and you get that annoying notification, which has a double rectangle icon on the notification that can be tapped to switch to split screen mode, smart!

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: Camera Review

Much like the more cores more power, techno-myth, the more sensors better camera myth is flourishing widely, with every other manufacturer seeing It as almost mandatory to put more than a single sensor, whether or not It helps the cause. Huawei tries to hit strongly on people’s more sensor lust with a dual camera organization comprising of 13MP + 2MP sensors on the rear as well as on the FRONT. Yeah, can’t put that more gravity.

Honor 9 Lite tries to lure in the selfie-loving generation with quad-camera sensors in total, what a time we are living in. Shooters at the rear work decently in outdoor conditions. The color accuracy is decent, level of detail is also better. The 13MP sensor captures data for image processing while the secondary sensor captures depth.Colours are well balanced, not a carnival-like Samsung. General daylight performance is definitely impressive.

Here are few daylight camera samples of Honor 9 Lite in natural outdoor well lit conditions:

Honor 9 Lite camera samples in natural outdoor light

Honor 9 Lite outdoor camera sample

Jumping to low-light performance, while you might be assured of low-light performance due to those extra cameras, that isn’t the case. The smartphone suffers and all Its camera mojo perishes in low-light as the details are not good. The noise is pretty good as well, images seem to be lacking focus and the performance doesn’t get much different in indoor lighting as well. Same struggling focus and deficiency of details certainly hurt even with those extra sensors.

Under low light conditions:

Honor 9 lite camera in low light conditons

Under medium(artificial) light conditions:

Under medium light conditions the performance of honor 9 lite camera is decent

Under well lit outdoor conditions:

Honor 9 lite camera samples under day light

And this one is with wide aperture mode(bokeh effect):

Honor 9 lite images in wide aperture mode with bokeh effect

As the sensors are same on the rear and front, the performance is similar for selfies as well. The front camera does extra smoothening, which doesn’t look good either, Pro Tip: Don’t use the beauty mode, It’ll make you appear five years less or more, super smoothening and waxy images, you like that?

The smartphone is capable of shooting in Full HD at 30fps, which is good If you are into videos. There is no stabilization(EIS or OIS) so videos will be shaky. If you were expecting a stellar performance in that budget, due to those bunch of sensors, yeah, I am disappointed too. But its still better than what contemporary budget crowns are offering particularly Redmi Note 4. If you are high on hopes with the quad cameras on this one, cut that balloon mate.

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: Battery And Storage

Honor 9 Lite carries a 3000mAH battery inside It. With a giant 5.6-inch LCD display, It is capable of pulling through the day with medium to heavy usage, but that’s just It. The battery is not enough to take it further than a day at best. The charger rated 5V, 2A in the box and It charges the device from zero to full in around 2.5 hours. It is enabled with Huawei’s Super Charge technology, though you have to buy the charger separately, I expected It to be in the box but that’s not the case.

Here's the battery charging table for Honor 9 Lite:

Battery(%) Time Taken(Mins)
10 0
20 14
30 27
40 38
50 50
60 62
70 74
80 88
90 105
100 145

 

We started the charging when the device was at 10%. Till 90% the charging is almost linear with an increment of 0.76% every minute. But after 90% it slows down and the device takes around 40 minutes to reach 100%. Which is a 3X drop from 0.76% per minute to 0.25% per minute. 

The battery inside the Honor 9 Lite is just 3000 mAh so 2.5 hours for a charge is a bit more than what we were expecting. With a 2 Amp charger, a 3000 mAh battery should not take more than 2 hours. We don't know why Honor has slowed down charging on the Honor 9 Lite. Maybe it is to prevent overheating or maybe they want to increase the battery life. We have contacted Honor to know the real reason. We will provide an update here if we get a response.

With heavy usage, we got a battery backup of 1 day on single charge. At the end of the day, we were left with 10% battery. Usage involved installation of 120 apps, a lot of social media apps, camera usage for clicking 15-20 pictures, some calls, 30-45 minutes of gaming. The SOT( Screen On Time) was 5 hours 23 minutes.

With low usage, the phone lasted for 1.5 days and the screen on time was around 4 hours.

Honor 9 Lite battery backup and screen on time

This device surprisingly doesn’t get warm while charging and keeps the temperature at cool 30C and doesn’t heat up with multiple apps in the background. Concerning the storage department, Honor 9 Lite comes in 2 variants with lower one having 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. While the higher variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard memory. If you need more, you can extend memory via MicroSD up to 256GB. But the sim slot is hybrid so you cannot put 2 sim cards with a MicroSD card.

At first boot, you will get 1.5GB RAM free out of the total 3GB RAM and 22.76GB ROM or storage free out of the total 32GB.

Honor 9 Lite ram and storage on first boot

Huawei Honor 9 Lite: The Budget King?

So the question stands erect, Is Huawei Honor 9 Lite, the budget king of 2018? In this writing, we have exhaustively discussed all the aspects, that make a smartphone great. And in our report, Honor 9 Lite has a beautiful design, solid but breakable build which oozes premium feel, a fingerprint magnet, prone to a lot of smudges and scratches but that’s a tradeoff you’d have to make, the smartphone is indeed one of the most beautiful ones available at the price, probably the most beautiful one.

The display is decent, as you’d expect in a budget segment smartphone, not something extraordinary, also nothing that might be a dealbreaker for you. It is a standard FullHD+ IPS LCD Panel and provides good viewing angles, It amplifies the design and experience of the device are in that taller 18:9 aspect ratio, taking It far ahead of Its contemporaries as of now. 2017 was the year of ditching bezels, every major flagship was onto it, someway or another. 2018 was no doubt going to take that rendition ahead, with more and more smartphones adopting the design paradigm.

Huawei has done a commendable job to steal the thunder away from the likes of Redmi Note 5 also expected to boast similar bezel-less design, which is around the corner. Some people might be a bit hesitant with respect to the hardware inside this one, HiSilicon’s Kirin 659. Well, definitely It's not as good as a Snapdragon would have been, but Huawei had to optimize the costs to ship better features, they took the bet on Kirin, their home-made SoC.

Kirin SoCs are not bad, they stand 3rd in our rankings of mobile SoCs preceded by Apple and Snapdragon chipsets. They sure look heavyweight on paper and provide a tough competition on benchmarks to others.

The software is a great improvement from previous versions of EMUI. Cameras being another department, for which this smartphone has been feeding a lot of attention upon, unsurprisingly appears to be a marketing gimmick and the quad-camera organization in our view, didn’t make as much a big difference as we had expected. Not taking away, Honor 9 Lite’s fair share of appreciation, the cameras are definitely a cut above the competition, and will be loved by users, for us the dual-cameras at the front and back don’t create a landslide of a difference as was expected.

The battery is decent and powers the smartphone throughout the day easily, the charging is slow-mo. The performance is smooth with a bit of jitter here and there, once in a while.

The multitasking is fluid and the phone doesn’t appear to be struggling with multiple apps in the background. It also doesn’t get warmer to a great extent, which is good. The performance in all is as good as you’d get from any contemporary budget smartphone like the Redmi Note 4 or Mi A1, so not much of a surprise there.

If you think you’d be flaunting the super cool AI capabilities that EMUI 8 has, as shown with Honor View 10, sorry to break your heart but Kirin 659 is not much into AI and stuff, so you’ll be missing out on that. Android Oreo, is a great as always, and I am happy to see Huawei finally going with Oreo, moving ahead of Nougat.

We at SuggestPhone, find Honor 9 Lite to be very impressive and a true budget rumbler, capable of giving Xiaomi a run for their money in the category. So If you are thinking of getting Honor 9 Lite, go ahead. At the moment, you can’t get a better smartphone for just ₹ 10,999. It is available exclusively on Flipkart via Flash Sale. It will be available at 12 Noon every Tuesday. It usually goes out of stock in 2-3 minutes so you have to be quick. Link is provided below.

What do you think of Honor 9 Lite? Do tell us your views about Honor 9 Lite. Give us a shoutout on Facebook and make sure to follow us on Twitter for similar and quality technical articles, We are now on Instagram and Medium as well. Do check us out for some great content there and be sure to follow. see you folks later!

Click here to buy Honor 9 Lite from Flipkart.



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