If you’ve got a budget of about INR 15,000 and are planning to buy a new smartphone, the sheer number of options available in the market is sure to leave you bewildered. The mid-range smartphone segment in India is a fiercely-contested one, and it’s all but dominated by a handful of Chinese players like Xiaomi and Honor.
Speaking of, the two companies launched their respective mid-range smartphone – Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite – earlier this year. Having starting prices of Rs 9,999 and Rs 10,999 respectively, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite offer everything from competitive specs to decent cameras. But overall, which one is a better package?
Read my full comparative review between Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, and find out!
Note: The review is based on 3GB RAM/32GB storage version of Honor 9 Lite, and 4GB RAM/64GB storage variant of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
Design & Build Quality
Both Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite are well-built smartphones with a solid in-hand feel. While the former has a metal chassis, the latter comes with an all-glass back.
As far as looks are concerned, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 doesn’t hold a candle to Honor 9 Lite. The Note 5’s smooth metal back is fine, but the gorgeous glass rear of the 9 Lite makes it look much more expensive than it already is.
Having said that, the glass back panel of Honor 9 Lite attracts a lot of smudges, and also makes the smartphone extremely prone to scratches and other types of damage.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 has a single 12MP rear camera with two-tone dual-LED flash, and Honor 9 Lite comes with a dual (13MP + 2MP) camera setup at the back with single-LED flash. There’s a 5MP front-facing camera on the Redmi Note 5, while the 9 Lite has dual (13MP + 2MP) selfie cameras.
Both smartphones come with a circular fingerprint sensor at the back.
In both smartphones, power button and volume rocker are situated on the right, and dual nano-SIM/microSD card tray on the left. The microUSB 2.0 port is also at the bottom on both smartphones. In case of Honor 9 Lite, the 3.5mm audio port is at the bottom. And in Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, the top is where the 3.5mm audio port is, along with an IR blaster.
Honor 9 Lite comes with a 5.65-inch IPS LCD touchscreen, and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 has a 5.99-inch IPS LCD panel. Except for the difference in size, the displays on both smartphones are identical, with FullHD+ (1080x2160pixels) resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio.
Now, the panels on both Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite are very good, with decent color accuracy and viewing angles. That said, Honor 9 Lite’s display is slightly better, with more vibrant colors and increased sharpness.
Performance & UI
Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, perhaps the most-popular chipset for mid-range smartphones. The CPU has eight Cortex-A53 cores, each clocked at 2.0GHz, and graphics are handled by Adreno 506 GPU.
On the other hand, Honor 9 Lite uses Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 659 chipset. The CPU has eight Cortex-A53 cores, with four clocked at 2.36GHz each and four clocked at 1.7GHz each. Graphics are taken care of by Mali-T830 MP2 GPU.
As one would expect, both smartphones handle day-to-day tasks with effortless ease. Whether it’s multi-tasking, random switching between apps or anything else, Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 don’t disappoint.
Both smartphones handle games such as Lara Croft: Relic Run sans any issues. Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 do get a little hot during extended gameplay, but that’s normal.
Want some numbers? Check out the accompanying comparative screenshots indicating Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite’s performance, as assessed by Geekbench 4 and 3DMark.
It’s disappointing to see Redmi Note 5 still shipping with Android Nougat out-of-the-box, despite being a 2018 launch. In contrast, Honor 9 Lite comes preloaded with Android Oreo.
Thanks to the custom touch interfaces (EMUI and MIUI) that are baked atop Android, Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 get some nifty software-based features like gestures and themes. EMUI and MIUI aren’t that resource heavy, and overall performance on both smartphones is largely smooth.
Keeping up with the trends, Honor 9 Lite comes with a dual-camera setup at the back, comprised of a 13MP module and a 2MP module. It even has a dual-camera setup (13MP + 2MP) on the front. However, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 just has one 12MP camera at the back, as well as a single 5MP selfie shooter.
Generally, both Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite capture pretty good-looking photos. On closer inspection, the latter’s shots to be sharper and better-exposed.
In lowlight conditions, the Redmi Note 5 fares a little better than the 9 Lite. But the tables are completely turned in Honor 9 Lite’s favor once the dedicated night mode comes into play.
To find out which smartphone offers a better overall camera experience, read our in-depth camera comparison between Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
This is where Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 gets the upper hand on Honor 9 Lite. And that shouldn’t be surprising, considering that the Note 5’s battery capacity (4,000mAh) is more than that of the 9 Lite (3,000mAh).
Now, this doesn’t mean that battery life on Honor 9 Lite is bad. The smartphone can easily last through a full-day with moderate usage. But Xiaomi Redmi Note 5’s bigger battery means that you can watch a full movie, and it’ll still have enough juice to go on a little further.
During my testing, about 20 minutes of gameplay caused an 8% drop in Honor 9 Lite’s battery level. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5’s battery level dropped only 4% after 20 minutes of playing the same game.
Also, recording a 10 minute FullHD video caused the battery level to drop 4% on Honor 9 Lite, and 2% on Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
Both Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 and Honor 9 Lite are very good smartphones, especially considering their prices. But when considered as a sum of their parts, Honor 9 Lite definitely comes out as the better of the two. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 isn’t bad, but disadvantages like an average camera experience and dated Android OS don’t exactly inspire confidence.
So if you want a well-rounded smartphone under INR 15,000, do take a look at the Honor 9 Lite.