- Review Price: £199
- 5.65-inch HD+ 18:9 FullView screen
- Kirin 659 CPU
- 3GB RAM, 32GB storage
- 13MP + 2MP front and rear dual cameras
- Android 8.0 Oreo
2. What is the Honor 9 Lite?
The Honor 9 Lite is yet another feature-packed budget smartphone from Huawei’s affordable sub-brand. Available in the UK for around £199, the Chinese brand is clearly hoping to appeal to budding photographers and serial Instagram sharers on a budget.
3.Honor 9 Lite – Design
Similar to the Honor 7X that came immediately before it, the Honor 9 Lite seeks to provide the bezel-light appeal of modern flagship phones but at a more affordable price. Honor calls its approach FullView, which basically refers to devices with a higher screen-to-device ratio.
So much so, in fact, that there’s no space for a fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, which is where the full-fat Honor 9 places it. Rather, the sensor is sensibly positioned around back, three-quarters of the way up the phone.
It’s a reliable and appreciably snappy biometric system, granting access to the phone without fuss. I was impressed with the Honor 7X for this component, so it’s good to see the similar performance here in even cheaper form. It’s a shame there’s no NFC, though, since Android Pay would be a natural fit.
The rest of the phone’s rear isn’t quite so sensible or functional. Honor has opted for a highly reflective, tinted-glass covering, which is practically begging for smudges and cracks. In other, more premium phones, such a design decision has the practical benefit of enabling wireless charging. There’s no such mitigating factor here.
You could view this as a bonus feature relating to the Honor 9 Lite’s photographic focus. One of our subjects during testing noted that the phone’s reflective back enabled them to check out their appearance before we took a portrait shot.
4. Honor 9 Lite – Screen
Making the front of your phone even more about the display than usual places extra pressure on the quality of the screen itself. Thankfully, the Honor 9 Lite isn’t found wanting in this respect.
This is a nicely sized 5.65-inch IPS LCD screen, with decent viewing angles, contrast, and strong brightness when you need to crank things up. You’d need to spend considerably more money to find something much better. Meanwhile, a 2160 x 1080 (FHD+) resolution ensures that individual pixels can’t be picked out, to the tune of 428ppi.
It’s great for super-widescreen video and gaming content, although some apps and most videos don’t make use of the extra space. For example, the majority of YouTube and Netflix content will have black borders either side when viewed on the Honor 9 Lite. Both services provide a subtle zoom-in option, but this will cut off some of the videos.
When it comes to apps, Huawei’s EMUI skin will offer a prompt to go full screen and stretch out the content the first time you use them. It isn’t particularly elegant, but it works. Which rather sums up EMUI as the whole.
5.Honor 9 Lite – Performance
One of the reasons Honor phones can often appear to offer more features than many of their budget rivals is because they have access to the cheaper processors of HiSilicon, which is owned by parent company Huawei.
The Kirin 659 is a lower-mid-range chip that appears to sit in the middle of Qualcomm’s entry-level offerings. An average Geekbench 4 multicore score of 3644 pitches the Honor 9 Lite well below the slightly more expensive (with its Snapdragon 625) on 4460, but well above the similarly priced Moto G5S (packing a Snapdragon 430) on 2294.
In day to day use, there’s little to complain about here. Moving into and between apps doesn’t cause much in the way of lag, and essential functions such as waking the phone using the fingerprint sensor and opening the camera app are appreciably snappy.
This isn’t a gaming machine by any means, and we noticed a fair amount of stutter when starting out in games of Guns of Boom and Into the Dead 2. The latter never really evened out to a particularly smooth frame rate, but the former online shooter is quite playable if you give it a minute. Continuing along the scale, recent beat-’em-up Tekken plays very smoothly indeed.
With 32GB of storage – plus whatever you choose to add through the microSD slot – the Honor 9 Lite is well equipped for plenty of media downloads should you wish to put its large widescreen display to good use.
6.Honor 9 Lite – Software
Just like the similarly specced Huawei P Smart, the Honor 9 Lite runs the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 8.0 Oreo. This is a good thing.
Also like that phone, although decidedly less positive, is the fact that you get Huawei’s own EMUI layered on top. We’re at version 8.0 now, yet EMUI remains a curiously half-baked combination of stock Android and iOS elements.
Huawei follows Apple’s lead in ditching the app tray altogether, placing the onus on you to drag and drop apps into themed folders on the home screen. The notification tray, meanwhile, sticks closer to stock Android, with expandable control shortcuts to the top and clear notification windows below.
It’s far from an outright bad way to use a phone, and you’ll quickly get used to its graceless ways. Crucially for a mobile OS, it’s reasonably fast and reliable, with crisp and unfussy animations.
7.Honor 9 Lite – Camera
Rather impressively for a budget phone, Honor has managed to follow the Honor 9 and Honor 7X and equip the Honor 9 Lite with a dual camera setup. In fact, it’s gone one step further and provided a similar provision for selfies.
Both the front and rear of the device play host to one 13-megapixel and one 2-megapixel sensor. Just as with the Honor 7X, the smaller secondary sensor is there purely to provide depth information for the included wide aperture and portrait modes.
This is the effect that a lot of phone manufacturers – most notably Apple – are going for right now, where you get a super-sharp subject and an extremely blurred out background.
That’s the ideal outcome, at least. The truth is that most cameras don’t yet get it quite right, with too much of the edge of the subject lost to the artificial blurring effect.
8.Honor 9 Lite – Battery life
The Honor 9 Lite comes with a 3000mAh battery, which is pretty typical for a phone of this size. It’s a little smaller than the 3340mAh battery of the similarly specced Honor 7X, but that phone has a larger and more demanding 6-inch display.
Perhaps, as a result, Honor claims that you can get an extra hour of offline video watching out of the Honor 9 Lite’s battery (13 hours rather than 12). In practice, we found that it ate through a similar amount of battery (14%) when watching a 50-minute downloaded TV programme with the screen brightness bumped right up, which isn’t great.
Conversely, playing 15 minutes of Guns of Boom at half screen brightness sapped just 6% of the Honor 9 Lite’s battery. The same task took 9% from the Honor 7X.
9. Why buy the Honor 9 Lite?
The Honor 9 Lite offers a number of strong features for a sub-£200 price tag. Its all-screen design is something we still aren’t used to seeing at this price point, while general performance is reasonably snappy.
Honor claims that you can get an extra hour of offline video watching out of the Honor 9 Lite’s battery (13 hours rather than 12). In practice, we found that it ate through a similar amount of battery (14%) when watching a 50-minute downloaded TV programme with the screen brightness bumped right up, which isn’t great.Conversely, playing 15 minutes of Guns of Boom at half screen brightness sapped just 6% of the Honor 9 Lite’s battery. The same task took
While the twin dual-sensor setup is somewhat gimmicky, the Honor 9 Lite’s camera can produce some decent shots inadequate lighting. Go easy on the wide aperture mode, meanwhile, and it’s possible to get quite creative.
The Honor 9 Lite’s bezel-light design and twin-lens camera tricks are eye-catching, but that pixel count looks a little off to you, it’s because the Honor 9 Lite adopts a stretched-out 18:9 aspect ratio rather than the typical it’s perhaps too quirky to fully take on the Motorola G-series at the top of the table.