Many people have been fixating on ‘the usual smartphone suspects’ – Apple and Samsung – but Huawei has been doggedly proving that it belongs right up there along with the top dogs. And it’s got the numbers to prove it – while Apple might have become a trillion-dollar firm, Huawei has been recognized as the second largest smartphone maker in the world by dint of device sales.
This should come as little surprise, really. Huawei and its brand Honor have become known for offering great products at really good prices. The Honor 9 Lite is one of them – and it’s got a whopper of a main feature. It’s smartphone bearing four, count ‘em, four camera lenses in two dual-camera setups both front and back, among other strong points. And the rest of it isn’t chopped liver, either.
Stick with us as we take a closer look at the Honor 9 Lite just for you!
We start as we usually do, with a look at the physical characteristics of our test unit. The first thing to know about the Honor 9 Lite is that design-wise, this phone is a true standout, especially given that it’s a midranger. It takes a page from far pricier units like Apple’s latest iPhones by being constructed of metal and glass and being styled to a T. Said construction makes it look trim and sleek; you would be forgiven for having mistaken this phone for more expensive units. We got more than a few appreciative nods while out and about with our test unit.
The Honor 9 Lite is available in fetching shades that are given equally interesting names (most of them at least): Seagull Gray, Magic Nightfall (a particularly poetically named deep black), Pearl White, and Navy – the latter may have the simplest name but it’s particularly stunning and must be seen in person to be appreciated fully. (Our test unit did come in Navy and we had a fun time showing it off to our appreciative colleagues and strangers alike by pretending to use its rear as a mirror. Surprisingly effective.) You’ll want to be careful playing around with this phone, though, because all that glass combined with its nicely curved edges can make for a slippery unit. Thankfully, a clear case is included in the package.
Buttressing the phone’s tasteful image is its vibrant display – a 5.65-inch, 1080 x 2160, FullView FHD+ piece of work with an 18:9 ratio and which boasts the ability to display 16 million colors. Honor jams 428 pixels per inch into this screen, which explains why it’s pretty sharp and clear. It’s a nice and bright screen, but the “coast to coast” screen fanatics among us might sniff that it isn’t quite big enough to cover the front of the phone in its entirety – which leaves room for a slight ‘chin’ and ‘forehead’.
Honor makes good use of these parts, though, by placing a decently sized ‘Honor’ badge on the former and relegating essential parts such as the front facing cameras to the latter. The speaker grille is also body-color, by the way.
And the Honor 9 Lite also conforms to modern smartphone trends by having nearly no physical navigation buttons on the body. That being said, the fingerprint sensor is located out back.
But we read you, you’re getting quite impatient – enough of how the Honor 9 Lite looks, we can hear you say – what about those cameras work?
As you can guess, the phone’s quad cameras are its biggest point of attraction and selling point. Stats-wise, they don’t distinguish themselves all that much, especially given that many other phones (including some of Huawei’s own) pack far more of a megapixel punch: these cameras are 13MP and 2MP modules front and rear.
Both camera modules are decent performers. In sunlight, they sometimes struggled to produce good shots – they looked washed out in some occasions. But in indoor situations with artificial lighting, both modules fared far better, enabling us to take nicely colored shots and which looked tack-sharp detail-wise.
As a whole, we all loved how the front camera module of the Honor 9 Lite did when we took selfies and wefies (which we daresay is the point of putting such modules in phones like these anyway). And while basic shots already look good without touching up, users can also make use of key features like Gender Beauty Mode and Portrait Mode 2.0 to ensure great shots.
The phone is further distinguished by simple and easy to use camera controls, including flash, wide-aperture mode, and Pro modes that allow users to change key settings like ISO, focus, and so on.
Honor says that an upgraded beauty algorithm helps the phone take stunning and natural-looking shots, and that the phone is able to distinguish between different facial contours and features and then pick and choose which beauty effects to employ.
Lastly, the Honor 9 Lite proved to be a steadfast daily companion. Its octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor and 3GB RAM made it a decent performer capable of taking on daily tasks without needing to struggle with them. The phone comes with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded thanks to its microSD card slot.
The one thing we would consider changing about the Honor 9 Lite is its battery, which is all of 3000mAh. This phone isn’t a powerhouse or a “gas-guzzler” and as such a full charge can last a whole day when usage is light, but that being said we almost always had to top up by mid-afternoon or lunchtime during particularly busy days.
The Honor 9 Lite is quite a good midrange phone that has plenty of strong points, from its style and panache to how it performs. While it’s not a perfect phone, it still is quite competitive against its midrange competitors, making it worth a look for those thinking of picking up a phone in this price and size segment.