Quickly becoming one of the most talked about popular categories in the Android world, budget-friendly smartphones have seen an impressive improvement in quality, while also becoming more easily available to consumers in demanding markets like the US.
Related: Best Huawei P8 List cases
Chinese OEM Huawei has some fantastic devices on offer in other key markets around the world, and now the company is making a play to get a piece of the market in the US. What does Huawei’s latest budget-friendly offering bring to the table? We find out in this Huawei P8 Lite review!
The Huawei P8 Lite retains the design language of the P8, but swaps out the premium metal build of the flagship in favor of plastic, which makes sense given the low-cost nature of this device. With the move away from metal though, the P8 Lite doesn’t do much in the way of distinguishing itself from the competition, and the design isn’t particularly striking. Protruding sides with a brushed finish and plastic that wraps around from the front and back to meet the silver sides, are design elements that are quite common in the budget friendly sector of the Android world.
The SIM card slot and microSD card slot can be found to the right, and the power button sits just below the power button on the same side. The power button comes with a different feel to the touch, and there shouldn’t be any issues with accidentally pressing the volume keys instead of the power button or vice versa. Up top is a microphone and the headphone jack, and at the bottom is the microUSB port, flanked by the speaker grilles. Above the display is the 5 MP front-facing camera and the notification LED, with the Huawei branding adorning the chin below the screen. On the back, the camera module sits on the upper left, with the flash surrounded by a glossy plastic bar that stretches over the whole top.
As mentioned, the body of the device is made entirely of plastic, but resembles the P8 thanks to the faux brushed-metal design, with its smooth texture making for a somewhat slippery surface, even though it is comfortable to the touch. The rectangular design, along with its thickness of just 6.7 mm, help with the handling experience, and the relatively smaller size making the device easy to pocket.
The Huawei P8 Lite sports a 5-inch IPS LCD display with a 720p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 294 ppi. This resolution and pixel count may not be all that impressive given the world of Full HD and Quad HD that we now live in, but the smaller size means that there isn’t a lot of loss in sharpness overall, and the display proves to be quite capable.
The screen tends to a warmer color palette, but you have the option to play around with the default settings in the Settings menu. The major problem with this display is that it’s quite dim, and that means you will need to keep the brightness at 100% to use it comfortably. That aside, the display is quite good overall, with colors on the screen looking really good, with a certain pop to them.
Performance and Hardware
Under the hood, the Huawei P8 Lite packs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, clocked at 1.5 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 405 GPU and 2 GB of RAM. This processing package is what you get with a lot of other devices that fall in a similar price segment, and has proven to be quite an able performer. That is also the case here, and there’s hardly any noticeable lag. The overall experience was mostly fluid, and the UI was fast and responsive most of the time.
The P8 Lite comes with 16 GB of on-board storage, further expandable via microSD card by up to 32 GB. The device comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, along with support for 4G LTE. With its official release in the US, you don’t have to worry about compatibility, as the phone packs the LTE bands necessary for high-speed internet access on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Despite the appearance of a dual speaker setup, the device houses just a single speaker on the bottom left, that actually produces a surprisingly loud and crisp sound. The audio quality isn’t as full bodied as some other, more expensive options out there, but the sound is clear, with no hint of the annoying tinny sound that plagues a lot of smartphones in this price segment. As is the case with any phone with bottom-firing speakers, it does become quite easy to cover up and muffle the sound when holding the device with two hands in the landscape orientation.
One of the highlights of the Huawei P8 Lite has to be the battery, with the 2,200 mAh unit lasting an impressively long time. Getting through a full day of use is guaranteed, and you are likely to have it survive for most of the next day, as well, with light usage. Attempting to drain the battery in one day required using the device mostly for watching videos, along with a lot of web browsing. I managed around 5 hours of screen-on time, which would have been a lot more if I didn’t need the brightness to be at a 100% all the time.
The P8 Lite features a 13 MP rear shooter with a f/2.2 aperture, and for a camera with no OIS, it does take decent photos, particularly outdoors. Colors aren’t too saturated, and might be on the duller side in some cases, but they are still more than acceptable. As with most smartphones, the camera suffers in low light conditions, which results in a lot of noise and a general lack of details.
The camera app is quite simplistic, but does come with a few modes and filters, including HDR, All-Focus Mode, that lets you change the focus of the shot after the fact, and the now popular Beauty Mode. It is also very quick and easy to start the camera and take a shot, by simply double tapping the volume down button when the phone is idle.
The front-facing 5 MP camera comes with an f/2.4 aperture, and unfortunately, proves to be quite mediocre. The shots look about average when outdoors, as they lack any richness in color and leaning towards the darker side. It doesn’t fare much better in low light conditions either, and you might not be able to depend on this shooter all the time to get that perfect selfie.
The Huawei P8 Lite running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, and the use of older software is very disappointing. While there are talks of an eventual upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop, a fixed timeline is yet to be established on that front. Huawei’s Emotion UI is to be found on top of KitKat, and like what is seen from most Chinese OEMs, leans towards a rounded look with the icons and a generally more colorful interface.
No application drawer is available, which can take some getting used with, and leaves users dependent on using folders to keep things organized. Features such as motion controls and Smart Assistance are available with the Emotion UI, as well as a one-handed UI mode that allows the dialer on the phone to either sit on the left or right side depending on your preference. The navigation bar can also be adjusted to whatever arrangement you are comfortable with, including the option to add a key to open the notification dropdown. A Theme store is also available to let you completely change the look of the UI. Unfortunately, not a lot of options are included as of now, but that should change over time.
Pricing and Final Thoughts
The Huawei P8 Lite is available now from Amazon for $249.99 unlocked, with the color options including white and black.
So there you have it for this closer look at the Huawei P8 Lite! The P8 Lite is certainly a solid entry to the budget-friendly smartphone segment, and gets some things right, especially in terms of battery life. That said, things are already extremely competitive in this space, with some fantastic offerings from other OEMs like Asus, Alcatel, and Motorola fighting for dominance. The P8 Lite falls short in some key areas when compared to its competition.