The Lite is more than a step beyond what its name suggests. This is an affordable and entirely capable phone, wrapped in an eye-catching design that further cements Honor’s increasing presence as a major player.
- Great screen and colours in a standout design
- Very competitive price point
- No USB-C and fast-charging
- Limited power compared to full-fat Honor 9
With top-spec phones costing several hundred pounds, you’ll be relieved to know there are increasingly solid and affordable options, such as the Honor 9 Lite, which retails for a penny shy of £200.
A couple of years back that might have been a warning sign for a not-so-hot phone, but times have rapidly changed. Indeed, the Honor 9 Lite – which we spent a morning tinkering about with – has all the design cues, features and attractive hallmarks of a phone several times its price.
Design & Display
- 5.65-inch FHD+ (2160 x 1080) 18:9 FullView display (428ppi)
- Glacier Grey, Sapphire Blue, and Midnight Black finishes
- 3.5mm headphone jack, in-ear headphones included
- Rear-positioned fingerprint scanner
- 151 x 71.9 x 7.6mm; 149g
Keeping in with the 2018 trend, the Honor 9 Lite has an 18:9 ratio screen – meaning it’s slender in the hand, not nearly as large as the 5.65-inch (diagonal measure) might sound on the brain. One-handed holding is no problem, it won’t weigh down your purse, nor rip an unwanted hole in your jeans. As size goes, it’s hit the sweet spot in our view – and it’s even more trim than its bigger brother, the original Honor 9, which is an added bonus for the less-powerful newcomer.
Other than its size, however, it’s the finish of the Honor 9 Lite that’ll immediately grab your attention. Honor has been experimenting with different finishes over recent years, with its choice of blue becoming an almost hallmark for the brand. We say almost, because it’s never quite consistent: there was the ultra-shiny finish of the full-fat Honor 9; the matte and soft-touch blue of the Honor 8 Pro, which lacked the same sheen; and the more subdued palette choice of blue for the Honor View 10. The Lite shifts things up again, delivering a glossy rear that’s similar to its bigger brother, but minus the distinctive mirrored reflections – which, actually, only makes it more the fingerprint magnet.
Fortunately the Lite hasn’t ditched one feature that’s been increasingly disappearing from phones: yup, there’s a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can plug in headphones and listen to your tunes no problem. There will be some in-ears in the box, too, so no need to buy extras if you don’t have any.
Logging into phones is rarely by PIN or pattern these days, with new-fangled tech allowing easier biometric methods from face recognition to fingerprint scanning. In the Lite it’s the latter which finds its way onto the device, nicely positioned to the upper rear portion of the product. We think this back position is far more logical in use than on the front, so the Lite model one-ups its bigger brother in this regard, too.
In the photos of this article we had to dumb-down the Honor 9 Lite’s screen brightness to get a better exposed picture, so while our shots don’t show the screen at its brightest, you’ll be pleased to know there’s ample illumination from this panel. And with a Full HD+ resolution, it’s higher resolution than its bigger brother Honor 9, plus many 18:9 screen competitors. Which, given the price, is quite exceptional.
That’s the thing that rings most true with the Honor 9 Lite: its affordable price point. With other former champs of this space now gunning for higher brackets – think OnePlus – there are seldom few solid phones at the £200 price point. Sure, you could look to the far larger Moto G5, but its price has been slowly creeping up to similar levels. In short: there are few rivals that really dominate this space. G’warn Honor.
Hardware, Software & Cameras
- Kirin 659 octa-core (4x 2.36GHz & 4x 1.7GHz), 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, microSD card slot
- Android Oreo 8.0 running Huawei EMUI 8.0 operating system
- 3,000mAh battery; Micro-USB charging
- Quad cameras: 13MP & 2MP front-facing cameras front and rear
At this price point something has to give, though, so don’t expect top-tier power. Not that the Lite is a write-off by any means, thanks to a octa-core mid-level Kirin processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB on-board storage and a microSD slot (or SIM slot two, depending on how you look at it) to further expand that if you want.
Given the slender design, the presence of a decent battery capacity is welcome – although it’s less capacious than its Honor 9 bigger brother and lacks USB Type-C charging too. Expect decent innings on this software setup, but it’s a shame to lack proper fast-charging.
The software arrangement is the same as parent company Huawei puts into its phones, meaning there’s the usual Google Android operating system in the background, over which is EMUI 8.0 to add some additional features and, well, quirks too. In its latest 8.0 guise that has benefits such as double knuckle-tap for screen grabs, app-by-app permissions and notifications controls, display colour temperature adjustment, and more besides. Unlike earlier versions of the software it’s less “fussy” in its deliverance of constant notifications, so while some will find it a tad quirky we think it’s reached a point that’s in-line with Android expectations.
Then there’s the headline feature: the Honor 9 Lite’s quad camera arrangement. That means two lenses on the rear, two more on the front. Each pair doesn’t use both to capture actual imagery, however, as there’s a 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel duo in each instance – the lower-resolution used entirely for capturing depth data, which can be used in software later to apply faux “bokeh” effects for blurred backgrounds or slight re-focusing.
We’re in two minds about the two dual camera arrangement. The software application of blur has limitations in its accuracy – just as all manufacturers’ versions of this idea do, to date – and we feel the full-fat Honor 9’s 20MP and 16MP colour and black & white sensor arrangement is an altogether more exciting proposition.
All in all, however, the power, software and camera setup is more than befitting of this price point. Using the Lite doesn’t feel like a cut-back lightweight experience – it’s not that far away from what the Honor 9 achieved, albeit for far less cash.
The Honor 9 Lite is more than a step beyond what its name may suggest, delivering an eye-catching design and great screen at that crucial sub-£200 price point.
It’s a shame there’s not current-gen charging, while power takes a hit compared to the full-fat Honor 9, but that’s entirely reasonable at this price point. And competitors beware, there’s no much else at this price to hold Honor back – including the Moto G5 and Nokia 6.