The "1-Minute" Review
- Not up to heavy use or gaming
- Prone to scuffs and smudges
- Battery slow to charge
- Slippery when set down
Huawei has established itself as a contender in the mid-range market by creating phones that offer a premium feel while making smart sacrifices to keep prices low. With the Honor 9 Lite, they hope to appeal to media lovers and photographers looking for a solid value.
The phone features a metal frame with a glass rear panel. While the back is pretty, it’s prone to smudges and scratches -- especially since there’s a fingerprint scanner back there. You’ll need to keep a cloth around or slap it in a case to keep things looking like new.
It is also slippery. Many reviewers mentioned the phone sliding off uneven surfaces -- though none had problems with cracking.
Around front, you’ll find a 5.6-inch IPS LCD panel running at 2160-by-1080. The 18:9 screen ratio means tiny bezels. But reviewers still had trouble with one-handed use. Fortunately, Huawei added features to the software to help with this.
The screen offers excellent contrast and brightness. Reviewers had no trouble with outdoor visibility and loved the screen for both reading text and watching videos. Many called it one of the best options in the Honor 9 Lite’s price range.
The phone has a few weaknesses. The pairing of 2.36Ghz octa-core Kirin 650 processor with 3GB of RAM was enough to keep basic tasks and casual games running snappy. But advanced things, like 4K video and complex 3D games, created stuttering and heat issues.
The phone includes 32GB of internal storage. You can expand that with a microSD. However, it requires using the second SIM slot. So you’ll have to choose which feature is more important -- two lines or more storage.
The phone runs Android 8.0 Oreo with the EMUI 8.0 interface. Previous versions of EMUI were known for their bloatware and heavy modifications. Reviewers like the scaled back experience of this latest version. While there’s still bloatware, you can uninstall most of it.
The cameras are the obvious star of the show. The phone features 13MP dual lens front and rear cameras with 2MP secondary lenses for added bokeh. While reviewers found the bokeh and portrait modes very subtle, they liked the detailed, colorful images captures -- particularly from the front-facing camera.
Low-light performance was so-so. But for the price, it performed admirably, and the flash was powerful when detailed images were needed.
The 3,000mAh battery was another weak link for many reviewers. With light-to-moderate use, the phone has no problems lasting a day. But heavy users will struggle to reach sundown without searching out a charger. To make matters worse, it uses micro USB charging and doesn’t support any form of fast charging. You’re looking at a few hours for a full top off and will likely want to charge overnight.
TechNave said, “... this is a phone for a user who doesn't need a lot of requirements. It looks nice and the camera is quite good, so that's all an average user really needs.” Recombu said, “The Honor 9 Lite is a solid budget smartphone, offering full functionality for media lovers who want a big-screen experience on the move.”