Honor 9 Lite review: It’s all about the looks | Hindustan Times
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Honor 9 Lite review: It’s all about the looks

Honor 9 Lite features a quad-camera setup and FullView Display. Is it the new budget smartphone champion? Find it out in our review.

tech Updated: Jan 28, 2018 15:49 IST
Marcia Sekhose
Is Honor 9 Lite the new budget champion?
Is Honor 9 Lite the new budget champion?(HT Photo)

Huawei’s sub-brand Honor earlier this month launched Honor 9 Lite, a budget smartphone with features such as four cameras and FullView Display.

Unlike most of the smartphones in the budget category, Honor 9 Lite isn’t just about the top-of-the-line specifications and affordable price tag. The smartphone comes with a premium design which is generally available in the higher priced smartphone categories.

The base variant of Honor 9 Lite is available at Rs 10,999 while the top-end model comes for Rs 14,999. Apart from stylish design, Honor 9 Lite offers a quad-cam setup (two on the back and two on the front), a FullView display, and the latest EMUI 8.0 based on Android Oreo.

The premium design and impressive specifications sheet make a compelling proposition, in a highly crowded budget category dominated by Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4 and Android One-supported Mi A1.

We have spent considerable time with Honor 9 Lite and here’s our detailed review.

Design

As said earlier, the most striking thing about Honor 9 Lite is its design. Sporting a 2.5D glass on the back and front, Honor 9 Lite is a really good looking smartphone. The glossy back panel can also be used as a mirror which I think is a plus point.

But then there’s a catch. The panel is a fingerprint and smudge magnet. It did bother me initially but then I got used to it. A simple wipe restore the shine. By the way, smudging is a common pain point for most of the phones with glass backs.

We had the Glacier Gray model with us, which is my personal favourite. You can get more colour options like Midnight Black and Sapphire Blue.

That said, Honor 9 Lite is pretty light for a glass bodied smartphone, and it also feels comfortable within one’s palm. I for one, prefer compact smartphones, but had no issues navigating on a relatively larger 5.65-inch screen. This also says a lot about smartphones with FullView display, and how they make the size issue irrelevant.

Honor 9 Lite has a glass back panel. (HT Photo)

Camera

Another top feature of the smartphone is the quad-camera setup which consists of a combination of 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensors, both at the back and front. The dual-camera setup allows the phone to deliver DSLR-like shallow depth-of-field effect, popularly known as bokeh. In the case of Honor 9 Lite, this feature is available for both front and rear cameras.

While Honor 9 Lite takes pretty decent photos and selfies, the bokeh effect isn’t really that good. Portrait mode, which activates bokeh, doesn’t really create the effect the way you would anticipate.

If you are not keen on using the bokeh effect from the front camera, Honor 9 Lite will not disappoint you. It takes really good selfies and comes with the uber popular ‘Beauty’ mode to enhance your photos.

Coming to the rear camera setup, the Portrait mode takes a good amount of effort to get a good bokeh shot. Getting the right frame, environment, and angle can help produce a decent bokeh photo.

But that’s a tedious process. Moreover, the bokeh photos don’t look realistic as you’d get on an iPhone X or any other premium smartphone.

Taking a perfect bokeh is a bit tedious. (Marcia Sekhose)

If you’re looking for a budget smartphone that can deliver good bokeh effects, Xiaomi’s Mi A1 is much better choice, and it’s also priced the same at Rs 14,999.

A shot taken in low light conditions. (Marcia Sekhose)

That said, in terms of casual photography, the smartphone does a pretty good job. There’s also a Pro Mode with additional tools, and wide aperture mode on the dual rear cameras. Without the Portrait mode enabled, the rear camera focuses really well on objects. For those not into using the bokeh effect, should be satisfied with the cameras.

Performance

Honor 9 Lite is powered by in-house Kirin 659 chipset with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The base variant offers 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage.

Performance wise, Honor 9 Lite is a bit disappointing. We encountered multiple app crashes and lag during our usage. Even popular apps such as Instagram and Apple Music occasionally crashed. We played a few graphic intensive games such as preloaded Asphalt Nitro, which the phone handled with ease. But it felt a bit slow.

Honor 9 Lite impresses us with its superior design. (HT Photo)

We, however, liked the custom OS EMUI 8.0, which offers a simple and easy-to-use layout. In addition to Android Oreo features, Honor 9 Lite users can also utilise a range of customised EMUI 8.0 features which we have highlighted here.

The battery life of Honor 9 Lite is pretty much average. It comes with a 3,000mAh battery which generally lasts between 7-8 hours on normal use, which includes making calls, listening to music for around 30 minutes, and using apps like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Starting the day with 100% charge gradually trickles down to 20% within 8 hours.

We hope Honor will be able to fix these issues in one of the future software updates.

Verdict

As pointed above, Honor 9 Lite does come with drawbacks at major areas. Apart from a good design, Honor 9 Lite doesn’t deliver a comprehensive experience. At this price point, you may consider phones such as Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Mi A1 and Lenovo K8 Note which are better performers and are available in same price range.

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