Many Android OEMs bank on the name recognition of their popular, high-end smartphones by releasing different versions that share the flagship name. As manufacturers have tended to do, this is seen in the form of Plus iterations, that indicate a bigger size in general, and in some cases, more powerful specifications, and Lite versions, that take things down a notch in terms of size, specs, and most importantly price. This has become an increasingly common practice across the board, and Huawei is certainly not a stranger to it. A couple of months after the launch of the flagship Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, we now go hands on, and give you the first look, at the Huawei P9 Lite!
The Huawei P9 Lite shares a lot of the design elements with its premium counterparts, but there have been subtle changes made across the board to help make this device more affordable. For starters, instead of a full metal unibody construction, the P9 Lite features a metal frame that is coupled with a polycarbonate backing. However, the use of plastic isn’t evident at first glance, with the backing having the appearance of a brushed metal finish as well.
With a 5.2-inch display, the same as what is available with the P9, the device remains relatively compact, and allows for a good handling experience, helped along by the subtle curves along the sides of the back. The volume rocker and power button are on the right side, and the headphone jack and microUSB port are at the top and bottom respectively. Flanking the microUSB port are what two grills, that give the appearance of dual stereo speakers, but this is just for aesthetics, with there being only a single speaker unit. On the back, below the thin strip that houses the camera is a fingerprint sensor.
The P9 Lite comes with the same display as its flagship counterpart, and features a 5.2-inch IPS LCD panel with a Full HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 424 ppi. The display is vibrant, saturated, and bright, along with good viewing angles, and will allow for a good viewing experience. Huawei uses InCell technology, making for almost zero gap between the display and the glass, which makes the display look really good. However, one point to note is that the glass is of the Corning variety, so a screen protector of some sort may be a good idea if you are worried about dropping the phone.
Performance and hardware
Under the hood, the P9 Lite comes with a HiSilicon Kirin 650 processor, clocked at 2 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T880MP2 GPU and 2 or 3 GB of RAM, with the amount of RAM seemingly dependent on the market. The performance seems to be smooth and snappy for the most part, and while you won’t get the incredible speed available with current generation flagships, this processing package should prove to be quite capable.
16 GB is the only storage option available, but can be further expanded via microSD card up to an additional 128 GB. However, this utilizes the second SIM slot, so users will have to make the choice between expandable storage and dual SIM capabilities.
The device comes with a fingerprint scanner, placed on the back to be within easy reach of your index finger. The sensor seems to be fast and accurate so far, and apart from unlocking the phone, comes with a few other features as well. A swipe down opens the notification shade on the display when the phone is unlocked, calls can be answered and ended, taking selfies are easier, and you can also swipe through images in the gallery, using the scanner.
The Huawei P9 Lite comes with a 3,000 mAh battery, which comfortably allow for a full day of use, if not more, but of course, more testing will be required here before we can arrive at a conclusion.
The Huawei P9 Lite features a 13 MP rear camera, with a f/2.0 aperture, but there unfortunately doesn’t seem to be OIS here. There is also an 8 MP front-facing camera which comes with a LED flash, to really light up those selfies. There has been a much larger focus on the performance of smartphone cameras recently, with even affordable devices featuring really good cameras. We can’t wait to put the P9 Lite through its paces to see how it fares against the competition in this aspect of the smartphone experience.
The Huawei P9 Lite, like its high-end siblings, is running Emotion UI 4.1, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. As usual, this is a feature packed, and rather bloated, take on Android, and can take some getting used to. For starters, there is no app drawer, leaving users dependent on folders to keep things organized. There are also quite a few pre-installed apps and games out of the box that really clutter the UI, and may not be to everyone’s liking.
There are some useful features to be found in the mix though, including motion gestures, a floating dock, one-handed mode, voice wake up, a “Do Not Disturb” mode, and more. There is also a very robust Themes store with numerous themes available to completely change the look and feel of the user interface. Finally, Huawei has included a battery manager that gives you a lot of control of battery related features. Given that both smartphones run the same software, you can find out more about what the Huawei P9 Lite has to offer by checking out the Huawei P9 software feature focus.
5.2-inch IPS LCD display Full HD resolution, 424 ppi
2 GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 650 processor Mali-T880MP2 GPU
16 GB expandable via microSD up to 128 GB
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n Bluetooth 4.1 GPS+GLONASS NFC microUSB 2.0
13 MP rear camera, f/2.0 aperture, LED flash 8 MP front-facing camera, f/2.0 aperture, LED flash
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
146.8 x 72.6 x 7.5 mm 147 grams
So there you have it for this quick look at the Huawei P9 Lite! Huawei continues to bolster their mid-range portfolio, and the P9 Lite is another great addition to this list. The design and build quality are impressive, the display is really good, and the only real concern may be the software experience, that can take some getting used to. The Huawei P9 Lite is expected to be on the affordable side of the price spectrum as well, which is another big positive for this device. If you’re in the market for a solid mid-range smartphone, the Huawei P9 Lite should certainly be under consideration.