[First Cut] Honor 9 Lite: Shiny and with four cameras too

One more into the budget breach

by: - Last updated on: January 17th, 2018

It has been a rather busy time for Huawei’s sister brand, Honor, with a number of devices hitting the Indian market. Just when we thought we had seen enough- the Honor 9i, the Honor 7X, and the flagship Honor View 10 have come in quick succession – the brand has come out with the Honor 9 Lite. There are some who would wonder why the Honor 9 itself has not made its way to Indian shores, but that is another story. At the moment, let us take a closer look at its latest relative.

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The Honor 9 Lite is a dazzler. There, we said it. We have no idea about its price at the time of writing (although speculation places it in the vicinity of Rs 15,000 – somewhere between the Honor 7X and the Honor 9i), but there is no doubt that it punches well above its weight in the sub-Rs 20,000 category as far as the design goes. All the talk has been about the four cameras on the device, but take it from us, the first thing you will notice about it is the shiny, mirror-like glass back. Unlike the 9i, which was a metallic affair, the 9 Lite is all glass resting on a metal frame that wraps around its sides. At 7.6 mm, it is only marginally less slim than the 7.5 mm thin 9i but is as slim as the 7X. Thanks to its 5.65-inch display, which is smaller than the 5.93 one on the 7X and the 5.90 one on the 9i, the 9 Lite is definitely on the lighter side (in keeping with its names) at 149 grams.

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In terms of basic design, the 9 Lite bears more than a little similarity to Honor’s recent device – the 18:9 aspect ratio display in front, with front-facing cameras (dual as in the 9i) with relatively narrow bezels on the sides and Honor branding just below it. The volume rocker and power/display buttons are on the right and the memory/SIM card slots on the left. The speaker grille and 3.5 mm audio jack are on the base, as is the micro USB port (Honor has continued to stick to micro USB ports rather than Type C USB ones – some might consider it regressive, but we have no real issues with it).

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But if the front of the phone seems business as usual, the back changes things rather radically. There are three variants – black, silver and blue – and we got the blue variant. And well, many is the head it turned with its mirror-like finish when it was placed face down on our cafe table. To be fair, many is the smudge it picked up in the process as well, so a case is a must for it, but there’s no doubting that that back ensures that the phone is amongst the most noticeable in its price segment. Right in the top left corner (rather than the center as in the 9i) are the rear dual cameras placed horizontally next to each other (not vertically as in the 9i), and below them in a more central position is the fingerprint scanner, which Honor claims is super fast.

Inside that frame is hardware that is very similar to what we have seen in 7X and 9i. The display has the same 2160 x 1080 resolution, although being the smallest of the three gives it greater pixel density, and once again, powering the device is Huawei’s own HiSilcion Kirin 659 octa-core processor, paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage (in our model), which can be expanded to 256 GB using the hybrid SIM slot. But there are differences too – most noticeably the UI, which is EMUI 8 running on top of Android 8, similar to the one we saw on the flagship View 10. For some reason, we couldn’t get the VoLTE working on the Jio SIM, but we guess a software update is around the corner.

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There is also the matter of quad cameras – there are 13.0-megapixel and 2.0-megapixel combinations on the front as well as the back, with the purpose of the second camera mainly being to bring on the bokeh by collecting and using depth of field information. We have been promised plenty of portrait mode magic here. At 3000 mAh, the battery is the smallest we have seen in recent Honor devices (the 9i and 7X both had 3340 mAh), but then Honor’s devices have had the knack of squeezing decent battery life out of even relatively smaller numbers, so as of now, we are not too worried. Regarding connectivity, we have the usual suspects: 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

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All of this at a price that has not been disclosed yet but which we suspect is going to be midway between the Honor 7X (Rs 12,999) and the Honor 9i (Rs 17,999) given the specs and design of the device. Just how well it does justice to its specs will be revealed in the coming days, but as of now, we think the Honor 9 Lite has the potential to daze its opposition, which is likely to include the likes of the Moto G5s Plus, the Lenovo K8 Note, and the Xiaomi Mi A1. And not just because of that shiny back.

Quick overview:

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We love:
The design (THAT back)
The quad camera set up
Android Oreo

We are concerned about:
The battery size
The smudges on THAT back

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