Dubai: Huawei’s sub-brand Honor’s new budget smartphone — Honor 9 Lite — is not exactly a trimmed down version of last year’s Honor 9.
The 5.65-inch edge-to-edge (2160 x 1080 resolution) FullView HD Display and a bezel-less screen have a 75 per cent screen-to-body ratio compared to Honor 9’s 70 per cent screen-to-body ratio with 5.15-inch display.
It is powered by 2.36 GHz octa-core Kirin 659 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage capacity. The microSD card supports up to 256GB. My review device had 22.78GB free space. The hybrid SIM card tray supports either dual SIM or one SIM and one microSD. It has the same chipset as in Honor 7X.
The drawback is that both the SIM trays do not support 4G, only the SIM 1 tray supports 4G while the SIM 2 tray supports only 2G. It comes out of the box with the latest Android 8.0 version and EMUI 8.0 user interface.
Since the phone’s metal edges are slightly curved, it sits firmly in the hand. The phone is very light at 149 grams compared to Honor 9’s 155 grams.
The fingerprint sensor at the back is one of the fastest in the market and just a simple tap is enough to open the device. It opens in 0.25 seconds. With the fingerprint sensor, users can pull the notification centre up or down, take pictures, answer calls, among other options.
Configuring the fingerprint sensor is easy and straightforward while the gesture controls work fine.
The apps load fast and surfing the internet and swiping the pages are also fast but demanding graphic intensive games experience lag as the GPU is not that powerful. It houses Mali-T830 MP2 GPU. The GPU is one area where Huawei needs to improve a lot.
The bottom of the phone houses a micro USB port and not Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a single speaker.
It is the first device from Honor to sport dual cameras (13MP + 2MP) each on the rear and front.
The rear cameras have phase detection, wider aperture, autofocus and LED flash, but no optical image stabilisation.
The 2MP is for providing the bokeh effect, to blur the background artistically, and it worked quite well. Users can take a photo and then adjust the blur depth depending on individual taste.
The camera takes decent snaps in proper daylight, but suffers in low light. The colours are not that vibrant as taken by other smartphones in this price range. The high dynamic range (HDR) did a fair job of balancing out shadows and highlights. The autofocus is quick and the selfies turn out to be pretty good.
In lowlight conditions, the camera takes few extra seconds to focus and the snaps are grainy too.
The different modes for the back camera are prophoto, HDR, panorama, light painting, time lapse, watermark. There are nine different filters.
The selfie shots from the front camera are well-exposed, giving detailed colours with crisp and well-defined details.
The device offers 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second and slow-motion recording facility.
The front camera has panorama, time-lapse and watermark. There are nine different filters. The beautification feature is available on both rear and front cameras.
The output from the front camera is almost similar to what the rear offers. It also struggles in lowlight conditions.
The irritating aspect of Honor 9 Lite is the bloatware of apps. It has pre-installed six games, eBay, booking.com, digital compass. It might be useful to some, but I found it occupying internal space.
Regarding connectivity, it has 4G LTE connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, 11b/g/n Wi-Fi and GPS.
The 3,000mAh gives more than a day of juice for moderate users, but for heavy users it gives around 11 hours of video playback and more than eight hours on 4G. It has six power-saving features to make it through a day. It is quite average. Since it does not have a Type-C charging port and fast wireless charging facilities, it takes two hours and 45 minutes to charge from zero to full.
The device comes in midnight black and sapphire blue and is priced at Dh849.
Honor has cut some corners to save on price and one can say it strikes an excellent balance between price and performance. Hats off to Honor for bringing four cameras and Android Oreo out of the box on a budget device. It offers a number of strong features and is one of the more decent phones in terms of design and build for a sub Dh1,000 price tag.
• Excellent price
• Android 8.0 Oreo out of box
• Excellent display
• High-resolution 18:9 screen
• Quad cameras
• Micro-USB not USB Type-C port
• Not a gaming magnet
• Camera suffers in lowlight conditions
• Mediocre battery life
• No wireless charging