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With HONOR 9i, HONOR 7X, and HONOR View 10 launched within last few months, HONOR is on a spree of sorts. But the company is in no mood to take a break (or lets us take one!). After an eventful December that saw the launch of HONOR 7X and HONOR View 10, within the first month of 2018, HONOR has launched another mid-range smartphone – HONOR 9 Lite.
While the highlight of the HONOR 9 Lite is that it packs quad cameras, like we first saw on the HONOR 9i, the refined glass design with mirror-like effect at the back is the first thing you’ll notice about the phone.
I spent a few days with the smartphone before the launch, and here are my first impressions of the same.
It’s very unlikely one will not be impressed by the HONOR 9 Lite design on the first glance. It reminds you of the iPhone 8 Plus with the mirror-like glass finish at the back, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
The HONOR 9 Lite feels more premium than any other metal unibody phone in its price segment and stands out in a crowd. The build quality is impressive with elegant finishing, and the minimalist finesse is evident.
With a 5.65-inch display in a 6-inch body and around 7.6 mm of thickness, the HONOR 9 Lite is quite compact and fits well in the hand – although one-hand operation with the tall display is still a stretch. At 149 grams, it’s also easy on the wrist.
The glossy back is highly reflective and is almost a mirror – good enough to check your hair before you enter in a meeting. Amongst the three color variants on offer, the blue one looks incredible, but also tends to attract a lot of smudges. These are easy to get rid of, but a compromise for a slick looking smartphone.
Apart from dual cameras, the other trend that went mainstream in 2017 was 18:9 displays and by the end of the year, it was almost a hygiene factor to have a taller display and minimum bezels.
HONOR 9 Lite packs in a 5.65-inch IPS LCD with 18:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2160 x 1080 gives it a high pixel density of 428ppi. The resolution can be dialed down to 720p to save battery if you so prefer. The display is vibrant, and offers sharp text and pretty good color reproduction, although the viewing angles are limited.
The HONOR 9 Lite is powered by the same chipset that we saw on the HONOR 9i and HONOR 7X – the HiSilicon Kirin 659. There are two variants – one with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage and the other one with 4 GB and 64 GB.
In the early, limited usage, the performance of the phone is commendable. While EMUI, HONOR’s proprietary layer over Android, is not the lightest skin around, it breezes through nicely for anything thrown at it. Of course, we’ll know better once I take the phone for a deep dive for the review that’s coming up soon.
The HONOR 9 Lite comes with a 3,000 mAh battery and supports the company’s fast charging technology, dubbed as Super Charge. Although, the choice of microUSB port instead of USB Type-C in a 2018 smartphone is slightly bewildering.
Big props to HONOR for launching HONOR 9 Lite with Android 8.0 Oreo right out of the box even when other smartphones launched in January 2018 continue to come with Android Nougat (Bah!).
Of course, there’s the EMUI 8.0 layer on top of it, which is an awkward successor to EMUI 5.1. The company has chosen to fast forward the version number of Emotion UI to align it with Android version numbers. Makes sense, yes. There’s also the usual bunch of bloatware that we keep seeing on HONOR devices.
The HONOR 9 Lite packs in dual camera setup up front and on the rear. There’s a 13 megapixel lens for the heavy lifting along with a 2 megapixel lens for capturing depth information (yes, those bokeh shots are a go). The 2 MP camera also helps improve low-light performance, like one expects on a dual camera smartphone.
In my limited testing, the camera didn’t really shine – especially in the low-light. In broad daylight though, the color reproduction is mostly accurate, which also means that the photos are not very saturated yet have good white balance. The details are fine too but some noise creeps in randomly. I’ll have to reserve my judgement till I manage to do exhaustive testing in diverse lighting conditions.
The HONOR 9 Lite is an affordable mid-range smartphone that covers all the bases – stunning design, latest Android, front and rear dual cameras, and an 18:9 display. That alone makes it a well-rounded package and the fact it fares well across the board only makes it a compelling 2018 smartphone. We’ll, of course, know more when we take it for a comprehensive spin for a detailed review.