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Review: Honor 9 Lite

Best smartphone for 15K? Hell Yeah!

The Breakdown

For the given price, it's undoubtedly the best sub-15K device in India!
Excellent built quality and design, Good camera, Android Oreo out of box
EMUI needs more polishing, No Fast Charging, No USB Type-C

2017 saw a significant change in the Indian smartphone market. The ASP (Average Selling Price) increased from close to $150 to almost $200. Meaning, people are opting more to go for sub 15k phones. Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 held the crown in terms of sales throughout the year. Every other OEM tried to chase Redmi Note 4’s success formula with Moto G5, Nokia 6, Galaxy J7 series and offerings from Vivo and Oppo. One name surprisingly missing from the list was Huawei / Honor.

Huawei’s sub-brand Honor did launch capable offerings like Honor 5X and 6X in past, but last year it was late with Honor 7X launch in Q4. Apart from the taller display, the 7X didn’t bring any drastic change to the table.

Fast forward to today and Honor kicks off 2018 with the launch of Honor 9 Lite. It fixes some significant shortcomings of budget smartphones. The Honor 9 Lite brings premium looks (glass metal body), quad-cameras, and latest Android Oreo 8.0 to the sub ₹15K category. With this price range, did Honor check all the boxes? Let’s find out.

Straight out of the box, every bit of Honor 9 Lite screams premium. The glass-metal sandwich remains fan-favorite formula at the higher end and kudos to Honor for bringing it here. The front is dominated by a 5.65-inch full-HD LCD display with 18:9 taller ratio. The display is well made, the colours are spot on and the viewing angles are great. Some may prefer an AMOLED screen with deep blacks and vibrant colours but given the price tag, honor did more than a respectable job here.

Under the hood, the home-made Kirin 659 octa-core processor is handling CPU tasks. The performance was breeze throughout the UI, don’t expect it to raise any eyebrows on Geekbench benchmark scores though. We only experienced small hiccups while switching between apps. A software update should easily fix that up.

The camera department is backed by 13MP+2MP combo on back. The secondary camera is used to capture artificial bokeh. Honor lets you customize bokeh effect, beauty mode, moving object mode, wide-aperture and even delivers a full pro-mode out of box. The end result produces crisp looking daylight images. In indoor lighting, the image quality loses sharpness and colour details and unsurprisingly night shots leave a lot to desire. Look at that flower image below, the yellowness is way cooler in end result than in real life. Mi A1 definitely has a slight edge here.

The front camera is where the 9 Lite excels. The beautification mode is ridiculously aggressive though but thankfully Honor lets you to adjust it in settings. The 13MP+2MP combo with bokeh and beauty mode completely blows Mi A1’s 5MP shooter out of the water. Below are couple of sample from different lighting condition.

The battery capacity stands at 3000 mAh and we had no problem getting it through the day. There is no fast charging support and unfortunately, the 9 Lite still houses micro-USB compared to Mi A1’s more modern USB Type-C.

The 9 Lite runs EMUI 8.0 (Emotion UI) based on Android Oreo 8.0 out of box. And it’s still one of the heaviest user interface out there. The notification cards, settings menu, home screen and basically everything looks like a pure inspiration from iOS. It’s a matter of personal taste. Some may like vanilla Android while some prefer few add-ons and more features out of box.

As a classic Honor style, the fingerprint scanner located at the rear bottom works pretty well. It is also used to drop down notification panel, answering calls, to mute alarms, scroll webpage etc. As far as the pricing is concerned, the 3GB/32GB variant starts at ₹10,999 and the 4GB/64GB variant will set you back by ₹14,999.

Honor has definitely delivered the excellent value for money smartphone here. At 15k, you can’t wrong with Honor 9 Lite. Motorola is already readying its answer as the Lenovo-backed company is expected to showcase the G6 family at MWC Barcelona next month. And Xiaomi is about to strike back with the rumored launch of much-awaited Redmi note 5 in coming weeks. The competition to win sub-15K category is going to get much intense in coming days. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the winner in end.

Watch Our Hands-On Experience:

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