“The Honor 9 Lite features similar specs as the 7X and the 9i smartphones, albeit costs significantly less”

When I originally reviewed the 9i smartphone from Honor, I was amazed by how far the technology backing our smartphones has come in such a short span of time. At the time, the 9i was the first smartphone in the world to ship with four cameras two on the back and two on the front a feat which Honor achieved while keeping the price of the smartphone below Rs 20K. Since then, the company has been on a roll, launching two more smartphones in the form of the Honor 7X (review) and the Honor View 10 (review), both of which were well received by critics and fans alike.

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Keeping the momentum going, the company recently announced the Honor 9 Lite (first impressions), an affordable smartphone which brings back the quad-camera setup of the 9i and adds a glass-back design to the mix. So, should you buy the Honor 9 Lite over the competition? Heck, should you buy it over Honor’s other affordable offerings, seeing how the 9 Lite is eerily similar to the 7X and the 9i in terms of specs? Having spent an extensive amount of time with the device, I think that you should. Here’s why.

Specs at glance

Display
Size 5.65 Inch
Resolution 1080 x 2160 pixels
Performance
CPU Quad core, 2.36 GHz + Quad core, 1.7 GHz, HiSilicon Kirin
RAM 3 GB
Storage
Internal memory 32 GB
External memory Up to 256 GB
Battery
Capacity 3000 mAH, Li-Polymer, Non removable
Talktime Up to 20 Hours (3G)
Standby Time Up to 576 Hours (2G)
Camera
Primary camera 13 MP
Secondary camera 13 MP
Connectivity
Network support Dual SIM 4G
Other options Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
Others
Battery Capacity 3000
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo

What’s similar?

As I mentioned previously, the Honor 9 Lite draws parallels to its siblings in terms of most of its core specifications. Therefore, before I list everything new that the smartphone brings to the table, let me address the similarities between the 9 Lite and Honor’s other offerings namely the 7X and the 9i.

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Starting off, the 9 Lite is powered by the same HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor which fuels the Honor 7X and 9i smartphones. Furthermore, the device also gets 4GB of RAM which works alongside 64GB of user-expandable storage. However, the smartphone ships with a hybrid SIM slot and therefore, you’ll have to compromise between expanding the storage or increasing your connectivity options with the 9 Lite. The experience of using the smartphone remains unchanged. The smartphone feels snappy during daily usage and while graphically-intensive games do take their toll on the device’s performance, the experience isn’t all that bad and apart from a few frame drops, you can run pretty much any game on the 9 Lite without much hassle. One thing you should be wary of is that the 9 Lite suffers from heating issues. While this did not result in CPU-throttling, the smartphone’s back gets extremely warm to the touch during usage, making it uncomfortable to hold the device.

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Much like the Honor 9i, the Honor 9 Lite also ships with a quad-camera setup. While the front camera setup remains unchanged, the company has used a slightly different sensor for the primary camera of the 9 Lite, which now features a 13MP + 2MP combination in place of the 16MP + 2MP sensor as seen on the 9i. The front camera of the 9 Lite, on the other hand, retains the 13MP + 2MP combination of the 9i. With that said, the end result remains the same for the most part and shots clicked from either of the two smartphones capture decent details with good colour reproduction.

Moreover, you also get the added advantage of clicking bokeh shots from both the front as well as the back cameras owing to the presence of depth-sensing sensors. Much to my dismay, the 9 Lite’s performance in low-light photography is average at best, and pictures clicked at night have considerable grain in them. On the flip side, if you love clicking selfies then you’ll enjoy using the feature-rich front camera setup of the 9 Lite, which captures some incredibly detailed portraits. The smartphone’s built-in beauty mode does a good job at colour-correcting the skin tone without making the selfies seem unnatural too, which is an added bonus.

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You’ll find the 9 Lite to draw parallels in the software department with the 7X and the 9i as well. While the handset boots Android Oreo out-of-the-box, the smartphone still runs a custom skin of EMUI on top which offers the same look and feel as the previous versions of the software. However, with the 9 Lite, you get the added advantage of having the latest security patches from Google. As far as some of the features are concerned, you’ll get a bunch of customisation options on the 9 Lite, along with the presence of some gestures and motion controls too. The handset also ships with a built-in app locker and therefore, you won’t have to download a third-party tool from the Play Store to secure your apps either. Lastly, unlike some other Chinese OEMs, Honor gives buyers the option of enabling an app drawer on the smartphone which reduces the clutter on the homescreen.

What’s different?

The 9 Lite is, in more ways than one, a unique offering from Honor. While the smartphone shares the same innards as the 7X and the 9i, from the outside, the 9 Lite couldn’t be any more different. The handset has been constructed using a blend of metal and glass which paves way for a stunning design, though on the flip side, it does gather fingerprints and smudges. As far as the in-hand feel is concerned, I have to give props to Honor for designing one of the most ergonomic smartphones I’ve used till date. The 9 Lite nestles really well in the palms, thanks to the rounded finish of its metal trim and since the device employs glass instead of metal, the smartphone won’t weigh your hand down either.

With that said, the 9 Lite is extremely slippery and presumably delicate, so I’ll advise you to slap a protective case on it the second you get it out of its box. For security, you will get a fingerprint sensor towards the back of the smartphone which in traditional Honor fashion, is extremely quick and accurate, so no complaints there.

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The display on the Honor 9 Lite packs in the same FHD+ resolution as the 9i and the 7X, but is a tad bit smaller at 5.65-inches. This, coupled with the smartphone’s bezel-less design paves way for excellent one-handed usage and you can easily reach the corners of the phone without much struggle. In terms of the overall display quality, you’ll find that the display on the 9 Lite has excellent viewing angles and vibrant colours which makes consuming media on the smartphone an immersive experience.

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The Honor 9 Lite is fuelled by a 3,000mAh battery which is smaller than the battery on both the 7X as well as the 9i. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the phone has poor battery life. During the course of my review period, the Honor 9 Lite comfortably saw me through the end of a day on heavy usage, which involved texting on Whatsapp, listening to music, playing some casual games and clicking a ton of selfies. The only downside of the battery on the 9 Lite is that it doesn’t come with support for fast charging and therefore, it takes a while to juice up.

Verdict

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Priced at Rs 10,999, the 3GB RAM variant of the Honor 9 Lite is an absolute steal, given that in this price bracket, no other option gives you an 18:9 display (a very capable one at that) and quad cameras.The latter shoot decent photos and the smartphone offers a solid battery life too. Also, the 9 Lite is the best-looking smartphone in the budget segment in my opinion, and the device should turn heads every time you take it out of your pocket. However, the 4GB RAM variant of the smartphone doesn’t seem as compelling, since it has been priced at Rs 14,999, which is a huge margin for a small bump in RAM and storage. Also, the 4GB RAM variant directly competes with some strong rivals, like the Xiaomi Mi A1 (review), which comes with more well-rounded specs but misses out on the bezel-less design, and Honor’s own 7X.

In conclusion, if you have a budget of around Rs 12,000, then the base variant of the Honor 9 Lite is a great buy, as the smartphone will not disappoint you.

Editor’s Rating: 4 / 5

Pros:

  • Stunning design
  • Excellent display
  • Good battery life
  • Good selfie cameras

Cons:

  • Heating issues
  • Low-light camera performance could be better
  • Slippery

Photos by Raj Rout

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