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Honor 9 Lite hands-on review: complete package, competitive price

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© nextpit by Irina Efremova

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The Honor 9 Lite is a new smartphone with a combination of affordable price, stylish design and just packed with features to catch the eye of young customers. You'd be hard-pressed to find not only one, but two dual cameras available on a budget handset in the same price range. Let's see what the Honor 9 Lite can do.

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Honor 9 Lite: All deals

Honor 9 Lite release date and price

At the moment little is known about the price and availability of the Honor 9 Lite in the US. It was first launched in China back in December 2017 and enjoyed success in India before becoming available in online shops in Europe. At a price of 229 euros, we can take an educated guess that the Honor 9 Lite will be sold in the US for just under $200. 

Honor 9 Lite design and build quality

A smartphone must not only be technically good, but also look good. Honor understood that and when designing the Honor 9 Lite, the Chinese stayed close to the formula that brought the Honor 9 such success. Glass on both sides, slightly bent at the edges and with fine shimmering reflections: this looks chic and high-quality. The frame that holds the glass surfaces together is made of plastic, but that's only noticeable when you take a closer look. Visually, the Honor 9 Lite has really succeeded, no question about it.

We had a chance to handle a pre-release model Honor 9 Lite and the manufacturing quality left a very good first impression. Although the openings in the frame, such as for loudspeakers, micro-USB connections or SIM slides, do not look quite as elegant as with an aluminum frame, this does not disturb everyday life. In order to prevent the glass from being scratched, Honor offers its customers a transparent cover made of silicone. 7.6 mm thin and weighing in at 149g, the Honor 9 Lite fits comfortably in the hand. The fingerprint sensor on the back is easy to reach and works smoothly.

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The Honor 9 Lite looks very high-quality. / © NextPit

Lots of display for the price

The times when cheap smartphones had small, grainy displays are long gone for many manufacturers, including Honor. The Honor 9 Lite comes with a 5.65-inch screen with a Full HD Plus resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 pixels and is available in the currently popular, slightly stretched 18:9 format. The bezels around the screen are quite thin, now typical of Honor's so-called "FullView display". The picture is sharp, but slightly paler than with better, more expensive mobile phone displays and many OLED panels.

In addition to the design of the Honor 9 Lite, another highlight is the software. The smartphone ships directly with Android 8.0 Oreo, the January security patch and the current EMUI 8. Project Treble is also supported. This is not even to be found on top smartphones everywhere, and certainly not within the roughly $200 range that the Honor 9 Lite calls home. Sure, EMUI is not everyone's cup of tea, but the look is highly customizable and some features are actually helpful, such as gesture control via the well-functioning fingerprint sensor.

Double dual-camera

The double dual camera allows the Honor 9 Lite to stand out from the crowd. Even in the front there is a module with two lenses and sensors, which many cheap smartphones don't even offer on the back. Honor's parent company Huawei was the first renowned manufacturer to install dual-camera technology, and this experience is evident. The implementation of the Bokeh mode has been well done, in the gallery app you can set the focus afterwards and adjust the blur of the background. But there are also errors in the calculation of the depth map, all these software solutions have this problem. All in all, the quality of the cameras, which have the identical resolution of 13 and 2 MP at the front and rear, is very decent for the price category.

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Dual camera in the front. / © NextPit

The Honor 9 Lite contains a Kirin 659 from Hisilicon with 3 GB of memory. This is enough in everyday life for a performance that will satisfy most people and their expectations. However, it is clear that the Honor 9 Lite is not one of the fastest smartphones on the market. Short loading pauses and jerks occur again and again, but this is something that still has to be taken into account and lived with in this price range. In our benchmark tests, the smartphone achieved the following results:

Honor 9 Lite performance: Benchmark results

Test Score
3DMark Sling Shot Vulkan 362 points
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 332 points
3DMark Sling Shot 231 points
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 12.303 points
Geekbench 4 (Single / Multi Core) 943 / 3.712 points
PassMark Memory 4.911 points
PassMark Disk 61.024 points

First of all, something positive about the audio: Honor has included cable headphones in the sales packaging of the Honor 9 Lite. We can't check the quality of this product, because our review device didn't come with the gift as well as the free cover that the consumers get to enjoy. But there's a catch: The mono speaker of the Honor 9 Lite is a sad, feeble thing, suitable for little more than ringtones.

Good battery life, but no Quick-Charge

The Honor 9 Lite contains a 3,000 mAh rechargeable battery. It can be used without any problems for one day without contact with the charger cable. Especially thrifty users might not even need the charger until the evening of the second day. Not a bad performance for a smartphone—but at the same time it doesn't bode well for supposed "advances" in battery technology. The Honor 9 Lite does not have Quick Charge.

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The Honor 9 Lite has just about everything a smartphone needs. / © NextPit

Honor 9 Lite technical specifications

Early Verdict

For the price, the Honor 9 Lite offers a convincing overall package, at least at first glance. The smartphone is not the fastest, but it has a chic design, comes with the latest Android version and two dual cameras. On the downside are the old micro-USB port, which is just about acceptable in this price range, and the bad speaker. We will examine everything else in our upcoming full review of the Honor 9 Lite.

This review will be extended step by step. In this main article you will find the basic information and specifications. If you would like to find out more about the specific aspects, you will find detailed information on this in other articles linked from this page. We are currently testing this as our new review format. Feel free to tell us what you think and make suggestions for improvement!

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