Honor 9 Lite

£199 inc VAT from fave.co/2t0pN2H

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

There‘s no let up in the smart­phone mar­ket and Honor has yet another new hand­set to tempt those look­ing for a stylish phone at an af­ford­able price. Over the fol­low­ing pages we take a close look at the 9 Lite.

Honor’s range can get a lit­tle con­fus­ing, es­pe­cially when you in­clude Huawei, the firm’s par­ent com­pany, de­vices into the mix.

So the Honor 9 Lite sounds like a cut-down ver­sion of the ex­cel­lent Honor 9 and while it is to some ex­tent, it’s also a sort of mini or light edi­tion of the Honor View 10 be­cause of its 18:9 screen.

How­ever, the de­vice is clos­est – al­most iden­ti­cal in fact – to the Huawei P Smart which has just launched on Voda­fone. Honor’s ver­sion, though, will be a great way of pick­ing up the same phone on a con­tract-free ba­sis.

De­sign

There’s no de­sign over­haul when it comes to the Honor 9 Lite. It does in­deed look like the Honor 9, one of our favourite mid-range phones ever, so uses the now fa­mil­iar com­bi­na­tion of glass and alu­minium.

The firm’s cur­rent range of phones are very glossy and eye-catch­ing thanks to the glass front and rear cov­ers and the sig­na­ture blue colour. The ‘mir­ror­like’ fin­ish – on the blue and grey mod­els – might be at­trac­tive in photos but quickly gets grubby with fin­ger­prints and the like.

In de­sign, it ac­tu­ally looks like a suc­ces­sor to the Honor 9 due to a move to an 18:9 screen, which is all the rage these days. That’s why it also looks sim­i­lar to the firm’s View 10, which is big­ger. That said, Honor has moved the fin­ger­print scan­ner to the back in­stead of squeez­ing it in be­low the dis­play. This is pretty usual for an 18:9 smart­phone and the sen­sor is neatly placed in the mid­dle and away from the cam­eras. There is a cam­era bump, but it’s very small and doesn’t cause the phone to rock when placed on a flat sur­face.

The new screen means the Honor 9 Lite is a lit­tle taller than the reg­u­lar model. It’s marginally thicker at 7.6mm, but it’s ac­tu­ally lighter by 6g at 149g. In the UK, the Honor 9 Lite is avail­able in Sap­phire Blue, Midnight Black and Glacier Grey.

Over­all, the Honor 9 Lite is eas­ily one of the nicest phones around in terms of de­sign and build at un­der £200. It cer­tainly doesn’t feel like a bud­get de­vice, but can it of­fer enough when it comes to specs and per­for­mance?

Hard­ware

As men­tioned al­ready, the Honor 9 Lite is some­thing of a com­bi­na­tion of ex­ist­ing phones. Of­fer­ing the kind of things you would ex­pect at the mid-range level at the least.

Dis­play

Much is sim­i­lar to the reg­u­lar Honor 9, but the even cheaper new­bie has the same 18:9 style screen avail­able on the View 10.

That 5.6in screen sits be­tween the 9 and View 10 in terms of size. The res­o­lu­tion is slightly higher than the 9 at Full HD+ 2160x1080 to ac­com­mo­date the 18:9 as­pect ra­tio and re­tain the 428ppi pixel den­sity. Over­all, the IPS screen is very nice of­fer­ing de­cent bright­ness, an ‘eye com­fort’ mode and the softer colours of an LCD panel. We’re very im­pressed for a phone at un­der £200.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

It’s no sur­prise that the Honor 9 Lite has a lower grade pro­ces­sor than its com­rades, with a Kirin 659 – as used in the Honor 7X – in­stead of the flag­ship level 960 or 970. It’s still an octa-core chip with de­cent speeds. Other spec­i­fi­ca­tion cuts are ex­pected, but get­ting 3GB of RAM and 32GB of stor­age is per­fectly ac­cept­able and enough for most peo­ple buy­ing a phone in this

range. And there’s al­ways the mi­croSD card slot if you need to add more stor­age – up to 256GB more. As you can see in our bench­mark re­sults, it out­paces key ri­vals such as the Moto G5 in Geek­bench, though the Nokia 5 of­fers bet­ter graph­ics per­for­mance thanks to its lower res­o­lu­tion screen.

Over­all we’ve found the per­for­mance to be smooth in gen­eral us­age, but it’s not flaw­less. The main is­sue is that the cam­era can take a while to load, and we’ve even found the app menu to lag some­times.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

Us­ing a mem­ory card will take up the sec­ond SIM slot but this won’t bother most users. The Honor 9 Lite fea­tures LTE con­nec­tiv­ity, NFC, 11b/g/n Wi-Fi

and GPS. It doesn’t have the more mod­ern re­versible USB-C port but does have the more and more elu­sive head­phone jack.

The fin­ger­print scan­ner on the back works well and can be used for var­i­ous things other than un­lock­ing the phone. These in­clude tak­ing photos, an­swer­ing calls, stop­ping alarms, brows­ing photos and pulling the no­ti­fi­ca­tion panel down – you just need to switch them on in the set­tings.

Cam­eras

Apart from hav­ing a ‘Ful­lView’ dis­play, Honor is re­ally sell­ing the 9 Lite on the ba­sis that it has no less than

four cam­eras. You’ll find a com­bi­na­tion of 13- and 2Mp cam­era on the front and back. Each pair works to­gether to pro­vide what’s com­monly known as a por­trait mode, where the 13Mp sen­sor cap­tures the de­tail while the low res­o­lu­tion sen­sor is there for depth ef­fect. Although the rear cam­eras are the same, they fea­ture HDR and phase de­tec­tion auto fo­cus.

Once again, the Honor 9 Lite is im­pres­sive here if not per­fect. Aside from the cam­era tak­ing a while to load and the aut­o­fo­cus tak­ing a while to lock on, the re­sults are gen­er­ally good from both rear and front.

As you might ex­pect from a bud­get phone, low light per­for­mance isn’t any­thing spe­cial but as you can see op­po­site the HDR mode works well for land­scape and the por­trait mode does a de­cent job – just re­mem­ber to turn on the bokeh ef­fect to blur the back­ground.

Bat­tery life

It’s un­der­stand­able there’s noth­ing like wire­less charg­ing here and even no USB-C. There’s a 3,000mAh bat­tery, which is about av­er­age for a mid-range phone, but more than usual for the bud­get cat­e­gory. Some fast charg­ing would be nice, but per­haps that’s too much to ask at this price.

Honor prom­ises a whole day’s use and that’s what we’ve found dur­ing our test­ing. Even be­ing out and about re­ly­ing on the 9 Lite for Google Maps and more wasn’t enough for it to conk out be­fore bed­time.

Soft­ware

It’s great to see that the Honor 9 Lite comes with An­droid 8.0 Oreo out of the box. That’s the lat­est

ver­sion, which many of last year’s phones, even the Galaxy S8, haven’t been up­dated to yet.

Honor adds Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 on-top which used to be a big is­sue but the over­lay has been im­proved over time.

These days it’s closer to stock, sim­pler and eas­ier to use. You get the Google Now panel a swipe away from the home screen, gor­geous lock screen im­ages that change ev­ery time you un­lock and the op­tion to cus­tom­ize the phone with Themes.

There are still is­sues though, and on the down­side there are a few too many pre­in­stalled apps in­clud­ing no less than six games and by de­fault there’s no app draw. Luck­ily, you can eas­ily switch it on in the set­tings. You can do things like dou­ble-tap to wake the screen but they’re switched off by de­fault. As is the app draw/ menu so you’ll be pre­sented with an iOS-style lay­out at first. Not ev­ery­one will like SwiftKey ei­ther, but you can eas­ily in­stall a dif­fer­ent key­board if you like.

Over­all, then, it’s not a per­fect soft­ware ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s much bet­ter than pre­vi­ously and most is­sues can be rec­ti­fied with some cus­tomiza­tion.

Ver­dict

The Honor 9 Lite might not have all the mod cons, but it’s one of the cheap­est phones around to of­fer an 18:9 screen with a bezel-free de­sign. It’s an at­trac­tive phone and gen­eral spec­i­fi­ca­tions are good, in­clud­ing no less than four cam­eras. It doesn’t have flaw­less per­for­mance but there’s lit­tle to com­plain about at un­der £200 mak­ing it the best bud­get smart­phone around. Chris Martin

Jet­Stream

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