Honor 9 Lite first look

Key Features

  • 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

Honor 9 Lite first look: Honor’s latest budget smartphone is a stripped-back Honor 9

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Honor has announced that it’s bringing the Honor 9 Lite – a pared-down version of last year’s flagship Honor 9 – to the UK. But is this budget handset, which is being marketed towards aspiring mobile photographers, worth your attention? Let’s find out.

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Honor 9 Lite price and release date

The Honor 9 Lite will be available through a number of leading retailers – including Amazon, Argos and John Lewis – for £199 outright when it launches in the UK on February 9, and will be showcased at Lakeside Shopping Centre (near London) on February 8 for prospective customers to try out.

Honor 9 Lite design and specs

Honor is no stranger to releasing decent-looking smartphones, and the Honor 9 Lite is no exception.

The handset is crafted from durable 2.5D glass, which feels comfortable (and not too slippery) in the hand, and it touts a nano-scale optical coating for a gorgeous mirror-like finish. There’s a 5.65-inch edge-to-edge FullView HD+ screen on the front, a centre-mounted fingerprint sensor on the rear, and a micro-USB port on the bottom. It also features a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Honor 9 Lite is nowhere near as impressive as the Honor 9 as far as specs are concerned. Huawei’s Kirin 960 CPU has been replaced with an older Kirin 659 chipset, RAM has been cut from 4GB to 3GB, and the 3200mAh battery has been slashed to 3000mAh. The USB-C socket has also been ditched for a micro-USB connection.

But the downgrades haven’t taken a significant toll on performance. The unit we sampled blitzed through all the tasks we threw its way with ease, remaining composed while switching between multiple intensive applications – such as Asphalt 8: Airborne – and simultaneously streaming a song from Google Play Music.

The device ships running Android 8.0 Oreo, but I’m disappointed that it’s skinned with Honor’s heavily modified EMUI 8.0 interface. A quick visit to the Play Store to install an aftermarket launcher will restore some native Android goodness to the handset, however – something to bear in mind if you’re after a more vanilla experience.

Where the Honor 9 Lite comes into its prime is in the camera department. It’s armed with dual cameras on both the front and rear, made up of 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel sensors. We put it through its paces in a controlled environment and were left impressed by its ability to capture detailed portrait images in backlit scenes.

What’s more, the front-facing camera is equipped with a slew of neat software features that give the device an edge on even the most premium smartphones. The most notable is a new Bokeh mode, which lets you alter the focus of your photograph while you’re shooting or in post-production – and it works great.

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First impressions

It’s tough to determine how the Honor 9 Lite will fare in the real world. We had only an hour to play around with the unit at the launch event in London, but it’s looking like a budget offering that could well be worth your hard-earned cash.