The wonderful change in the Android smartphone world over the past year or so is the fact that the adjective “budget-friendly” is no longer indicative of a lack of quality in key aspects such as design, build quality, and performance. While understandably not at the level of the current crop of flagships, the devices in this category are surprisingly not that far behind, but are far more affordable and easily accessible.

Related: Best Huawei P8 Lite cases

2015 has already seen some great entrants in this segment, and Huawei is hoping to make a lasting impression as well with their latest low-cost smartphone, which the company just announced at an event in New York. Before diving into a full review, we go hands on and give you our first impressions about the Huawei P8 Lite!

Design

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Like most devices with the Mini, Compact, or in this case, Lite moniker, the Huawei P8 Lite is essentially a scaled down version of its flagship namesake. The P8 Lite retains the design language of the original with its flat rectangular design and unibody construction. The body is made entirely of plastic instead of metal though, which is likely a contributing factor to its low-cost nature, but the device still feels very well put together. Keeping with the signature design elements of the P-series, the P8 Lite is also quite thin, featuring a thickness of just 7.7 mm, with the narrow side bezels making for a device with a very comfortable handling experience.

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The plastic is mostly smooth, with just a slight ridged texture on the back that helps with the grip. There’s also a gold frame with a faux brushed metal finish that extends a bit beyond the front and back panels, to give it a more elegant appeal. The power and volume buttons are on the right side and within easy reach, and the ports are all at their typical positions, with the headphone jack up top, and the microUSB port, flanked by the single speaker unit and microphone, found at the bottom.

Display

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The Huawei P8 Lite comes with a 5-inch LCD display with a 720p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 294 ppi. This display may not stand out in the crowd, but it certainly gets the job done. Most content looks sharp, colors appeared nice and vibrant, and brightness didn’t seem to be an issue in the short time we got to spend with the device. Smartphones in the mid-range segment do tend to feature larger displays in general, so it’s great to see a relatively compact device in this category as well.

Performance and Hardware

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Under the hood, the Huawei P8 Lite packs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, backed by 2 GB of RAM. This processing package is what powers most current mid-range smartphones out there, and has proven itself to be very capable, which is something that should continue here. The device should comfortably handle everyday tasks, and multi-tasking should also be a breeze. Huawei’s Emotion UI is also one of the more fluid takes on Android, and should contribute to the overall smooth performance of the phone.

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16 GB of on-board storage can be further augmented by up to 32 GB via microSD card. The device also comes with a standard suite of sensors and connectivity options, including 4G LTE support that will allow for access to high speed internet on the T-Mobile and AT&T networks in the US.

The device packs a 2,200 mAh battery, which is non-removable, a trend with most modern day smartphones. This battery should be more than enough to keep the P8 Lite running for an entire day, given the fact that it is powering a lower resolution display, but of course, more thorough testing will be required before we can draw any conclusions.

Camera

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The camera on the rear is a 13 MP sensor, with a 5 MP front facing camera for all you selfie lovers out there, and Huawei is promising optimal picture quality even in low light. The camera software will be very familiar for anyone who’s used a Huawei device in recent past, with just a few modes like photo, video, and beauty available, that can easily be toggled through just by swiping on the display. There’s also an all-focus mode which lets you adjust the point of focus after the fact, which may not be a particularly groundbreaking or new feature, but is still very handy to have.

Software

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In software, the P8 Lite will be shipping with Android 4.4 Kitkat, but Huawei says an update to Lollipop is coming, albeit with a time frame that is still to be determined. The Emotion UI 3.0 can be found on top, which also isn’t the latest iteration of Huawei’s software, even if the differences between this and the current iteration are quite negligible. All of the features that you might expect like one-handed mode, easy mode, and a built-in theme engine to tailor the experience to your liking are all still present here. Huawei’s UI does change a lot of the Android experience, but it does so without being overwhelming, with many of the features actually being more useful than gimmicky.

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Pricing and Final Thoughts

The best part about the Huawei P8 Lite is, of course, its price point. Available at an extremely affordable $250, the device is primed to take on the slew of great mid-range smartphones we’ve seen this year, including the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 and the Asus Zenfone 2. The Huawei P8 Lite will be available for purchase starting today directly from Huawei, as well as other retailers, like Amazon.

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So there you have it for our first look at the Huawei P8 Lite! The budget-friendly smartphone space is getting more and more competitive, and Huawei’s decision to throw their hat into the ring makes a choice even harder to make. If you loved the original P8 but wished that it was more affordable, the Huawei P8 Lite is certainly your best bet, and looks to be very promising so far.

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