Huawei-backed Honor has been aggressively targeting the mid-range segment in India lately. The company has launched a handful of feature-packed yet affordable smartphones in the recent few months, with the Honor 9 Lite being one of them.
With a starting price of Rs 10,999 (for the 3GB RAM/32GB internal storage variant), Honor 9 Lite offers a lot of features for not a lot of money. But how does it perform over an extended amount of time? What are the good things? And the bad ones?
Let’s find out, in my long-term review of Huawei Honor 9 Lite.
Honor 9 Lite: What’s Good?
If there’s one thing that sticks out immediately about Honor 9 Lite, the moment you lay your eyes on it, it’s the design. With both front and rear panels made up of 2.5D glass, this thing is a looker. Furthermore, the Sapphire Blue and Glacier Gray color variants have a mirror-like finish, which makes the phone look much more expensive than it actually is. There certainly isn’t a better-looking smartphone in the segment right now.
Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box:
Inconsistent OS/security updates continue to be a sore point for the Android ecosystem, with even some flagship smartphones still running the now-dated Android Nougat. Thankfully, Honor 9 Lite comes with Android 8.0.0 Oreo pre-installed, and has even received some security and performance-enhancing updates since its launch. Also, it’s pretty certain that Honor 9 Lite will be eventually updated to Android P.
Camera’s Dedicated Night Mode Does Wonders:
Like all mid-rangers, Honor 9 Lite’s camera(s) can’t exactly go against the snappers of flagship-level smartphones. However, the dedicated night mode of this affordable smartphone is absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever come across. It takes multiple photos at different exposure levels for about 20 seconds, and then merges them together. Sure, you need to hold the smartphone steady (or use a tripod) for the dedicated night mode to work its magic, but the results are every bit worth the extra effort. If you love low-light photography, Honor 9 Lite’s dedicated night mode will leave you amazed.
Dual-Camera Systems At Front And Back:
Dual-camera setups in mid-range smartphones are getting increasingly common, and Honor 9 Lite is no exception. Heck, it even goes one step further, with two shooters each at the front and the back. Now, the number of lenses surely isn’t directly proportional to image quality, but Honor 9 Lite’s dual front and rear camera setups do result in some pretty good-looking photos. And if you’re a fan of those fancy ‘portrait mode’ images and selfies, Honor 9 Lite is just what you need.
Honor 9 Lite: What’s Not So Good?
Extremely Fragile & Shatter-Prone:
As good-looking as Honor 9 Lite is, it’s not the sturdiest smartphone out there. The all-glass front and back panels make the device extremely susceptible to damage. One fall to a hard surface (e.g. concrete floor, pavement), and the 9 Lite’s glass back gets shattered.
So if you decide to get Honor 9 Lite and plan on keeping it intact for a long time, get a case and a screen protector.
Beauty Mode Is A Little Too Aggressive:
Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of selfies, the camera apps on nearly all smartphones come with a dedicated ‘beauty mode’. It works by using software-based trickery to do things like lightening up the skin tone, thus allowing users to capture the ‘perfect’ selfie.
Now, Honor 9 Lite comes with its own ‘beauty mode’ as well. And while it works well for the most part, the software works too aggressively. When working at the highest level, ‘beauty mode’ on the Honor 9 Lite causes the facial contours on the subject’s face to completely disappear. Not exactly the best thing out there!
EMUI Is Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea:
Honor 9 Lite does come with the latest Android 8.0 Oreo, but it ain’t stock Android. Honor 9 Lite runs EMUI (v8.0), Huawei’s proprietary touch interface, baked on top of Android 8.0 Oreo.
Now, EMUI is by no means bad. It does include some nifty features like quick gestures, themes, and even an app drawer. But EMUI is kinda clunky, and the inconsistently-shaped icons are a total mess. Honor 9 Lite also comes preloaded with quite a few of Huawei’s own apps (many of them are uninstallable), along with Google apps that do the same thing.
If you’re a fan of stock Android, you might want to give the Honor 9 Lite a pass.
Huawei’s Honor 9 Lite certainly isn’t without its shortcomings. Its photos don’t exactly have the best color accuracy and EMUI 8.0 could do with a little less bloat. Then of course, there’s that damage-prone construction.
But the thing is, for a modest (base) price of Rs 10,999, the 9 Lite gets a lot right. The smartphone’s design is incredible, and the dual-camera system at the back works wonders with the dedicated night mode.
So if you’re looking for a sub-15K smartphone that works (mostly) well, and looks great while at it, Honor 9 Lite is definitely worth considering.