Huawei is one of the oldest Chinese phonemakers to set shop in India. However, it is still lagging behind a number of later entrants such as Xiaomi, Vivo or Oppo in terms of market presence. That may change soon, as the company is making a fresh bid for higher stakes with a new breed of trendy looking smartphones which offer good quality cameras, big screen and smooth performance.

The Honor 9 Lite is the latest addition to this breed of thin-bezel smartphones and it’s available at a starting price of Rs10,999 on Flipkart.com. The variant we reviewed costs Rs14,999 and offers 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. It’s competing with the Xiaomi MiA1 which costs Rs13,999 and Huawei’s very own Honor 7x (Rs12,999), which offers almost similar specs and also a slightly bigger screen.

Here are few things you need to know about the new Honor 9 Lite in case you are looking for a new smartphone.

Honor 9 Lite is the smaller sibling of the Honor 9i and offers a 5.6-inch screen while the latter has a slightly bigger 5.9-inch screen. The phone has a similar thin-bezel design, which explains the phone’s small and light footprint—it is 151mm tall, 71.9mm wide and weighs 149g. The Xiaomi Mi A1 has a 5.5-inch screen but wider bezels. As a result, it looks and feels slightly bigger, is 155.4mm in long, 75.8mm wide and weighs 165g.

Huawei has jazzed up the looks in the Honor 9 Lite by adding a shiny glass panel on the back.
Huawei has jazzed up the looks in the Honor 9 Lite by adding a shiny glass panel on the back.

Huawei has jazzed up the looks in the Honor 9 Lite by adding a shiny glass panel on the back. It doesn’t support wireless charging, but enhances the phone’s style quotient. The only niggle is that it is more vulnerable to scratches and smudges than the lustreless metal back finish on the Mi A1.

The navigation keys are integrated within the interface and the fingerprint is placed on the back panel. It is accurate and quick when it comes to unlocking the smartphone. It can also be used to open camera and click pictures, answer phone calls and browse through photos.

The Honor smartphone has a dual SIM tray and one of them supports 4G and VOLTE calling. Unfortunately, Huawei has clubbed the microSD card on one of the SIM trays. This can be an issue with the 32GB storage variant. The Mi A1 also comes with hybrid SIM tray.

The 5.6-inch display has a resolution of 2,160x1,080p which makes slightly bigger than the Mi A1’s 5.5-inch screen which has a resolution of 1,920x1,080p. While in terms of sharpness, and crispiness of text, we didn’t notice any major difference between the two, in terms of colour reproduction the Honor Lite has a slight edge. Games and videos look brighter on it. Also, it offers a more immersive experience with a wider than usual 18:9 aspect ratio.

The Honor 9 Lite runs Android 8.0 with Huawei’s Emotion UI on top. This is the only budget smartphone which runs the newest version of Android out of the box. Most smartphones are still launched with Android 7.0. The Mi A1 came with mi A1 but has starting getting Android 8.0 update.

The Honor 9 Lite runs Android 8.0 with Huawei’s Emotion UI on top.
The Honor 9 Lite runs Android 8.0 with Huawei’s Emotion UI on top.

The Emotion UI is a polished looking interface with custom themes and a bevy of interesting features, such as the option to change the position of navigation keys, increase/decrease screen resolution, hide personal files in an encrypted folder and switch to app drawer mode.

In terms of hardware, the Honor 9 Lite uses the same Kirin 659 octa-core processor used in the Honor 9i. It is a powerful mid-range chipset and is Huawei’s answer to Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core chipset which is driven by the Mi A1. We didn’t notice any lags while switching between apps, video playback and gaming.

The Honor 9i has a 3,000mAh battery which can eke out a full day’s charge on modest use. The Mi A1 is pretty much at par with it and has a 3,000mAh battery too.

The Honor 9 Lite has got dual cameras.
The Honor 9 Lite has got dual cameras.

The Honor 9 Lite has got dual cameras—a 13-megapixel sensor for regular shots and a 2-megapixel sensor for capturing bokeh shots with greater depth of field. While bokeh shots looks impressive, regular shots lack the same sharpness and colour reproduction we saw in the Honor 9i. Images look crisp enough for social media posts, but the colours look better in pictures taken with the Mi A1’s dual 12-megapixel cameras which also offer 2x optical zoom. Landscape shots with 2x optical zoom on the Mi A1 look are more detailed than images from Honor 7x. Overall, the Mi A1 has a better camera, but fewer modes.

For selfie enthusiasts, Huawei has added a 13-megapixel+2-megapixel camera set up on the front, offering features such as bokeh mode and beauty mode. It is not a wide angle camera but selfies look clearer and richer than the shots taken with the 5-megapixel camera on the Mi A1.

The Honor 9 Lite impresses with its trendy looks.
The Honor 9 Lite impresses with its trendy looks.

The Honor 9 Lite impresses with its trendy looks, compact form factor, impressive front cameras, big screen, latest Android and smooth performance. The Mi A1 has a very slight edge due to its pure Android interface, assurance of next (Android 9) and other Google updates and superior rear cameras. However, its biggest competitor is its own sibling, the Honor 7x (Rs12,999), which perplexingly offers a bigger 5.9-inch (2,160x1,080p) screen with thin bezels, is powered by the same processor with 4GB RAM and has got superior rear cameras. However, it runs older Android 7.1 and is slightly heavier and bigger in size.

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