Finding a good camera smartphone in budget segment can be tough. Xiaomi so far has managed to dominate this area and even have their selfie focused Y series of smartphone. But seems no more because there’s a new Competitor in the market.
Honor is competing in this segment with its newly launched 9 Lite smartphone which boast of total 4 camera sensors. Now more cameras doesn’t necessarily means better image quality and as starting price of 11,000/- rupees it’s kind of hard to beat.
Starting with the design the Honor 9 Lite looks pretty striking and this is primarily thanks to the glass back. The reflective finish that it offers looks pretty awesome, this coupled with the rounded edges on the sides offers pretty good grip and its also very light phone thanks to the plastic build. However one downside of having a glass back is that it is pretty slippery and it also attracts a ton of fingerprints so it’s a real pain to keep it clean. On the left of the phone we have a SIM slot accepts two Nano SIMs or a single SIM and Micro SD card. On the right we have the power and volume buttons which are again made of plastic but have good tactile feedback.
Towards the bottom we have more connectivity like a 3.5mm audio jack, micro USB port and the single speaker grill. Now the micro USB port is a bit of a bummer over here given that USB type-C is pretty common these days and it seems like Honor is saving this port for its higher-end offering. The front of the Honor 9 Lite is dominated by the 5.65-inch 1080×2160, 18:9 FullView display, now this is a Full HD+ resolution, the brightness levels and colors are pretty good. The phone also has very slim bezels all around and there’s just enough space on the top to accommodate the two camera sensors, the earpiece and the LED notification light.
On the back there is other set of cameras along with the LED flash and the fingerprint sensor in the middle. Now the fingerprint sensor can be used for other task as well besides unlocking the phone, so you can swipe down to pull the notification shade or use it to answer call, take pictures or browse through your photos
Even though the pricing for the 9 Lite starts at 11,000/- rupees Honor hasn’t really cut down on the specifications too much. You still get the Kirin 659 SOC which is seen on the 7x and the 9i, both smartphones which cost more than a 9 Lite. Honor is offering two combinations of RAM and storage i.e. 3GB RAM with 32GB internal storage and 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which is priced at 15,000/- rupees and can be expanded via Micro SD card in the second SIM slot. The phone also supports 4G with VoLTE. The gentle app performance is good and the 4GB RAM really helps in multitasking as well, however it doesn’t really do too well with games, for examples we noticed a few frame rate drops in Asphalt 8.
On the software front you get Honor’s latest EMUI 8 based on Android 8 Oreo, which is real deal. Look and feel is quite different from the stock Android but it is east to get around. There are also ton of customizations, like you can change the theme and even the animations of the home screens. Some additional noteworthy features include Huawei Share which works like Apple’s airdrop except that it only works with Huawei devices. Wi-Fi plus is also a neat feature which automatically switches between your Wi-Fi network and your mobile data depending on which connection is stronger.
Then there’s Huawei Cloud which lets you backup your contacts, messages, etc. to the cloud. The phone also comes with bunch of trial games but thankfully you can uninstall all of them. The phone does get warm pretty quickly which is unlikely to feel on a Kirin Processor, for examples streaming music or downloading an app or using the camera for the bit does cause the upper portion of the phone to get warm. The audio from the mono speaker does get pretty loud however the bass is pretty flat and overall sound is bit tiny.
The main highlight of the phone are the cameras, we get two cameras on each side. On the back the primary camera is of 13-mp with Phase Detection Auto Focus and 2-mp secondary camera for the calculating depth. On the front we’ve got a 13-mp fixed focus primary sensor and the same depth sensing 2-mp camera. The rear camera does have a decently quick Auto Focus camera in daylight and landscapes and Macros of good detail but color seems bit dull and there is a bit of noise in the darker region of the photos.
In low-lit conditions as is the case with most cameras in this segment autofocus speed dips quite a bit and level of details isn’t very good. For the rear camera you’ve got two depth modes to choose from, the first is called wide aperture which lets you change the aperture value before and after you’ve taken the shot, however the effect is not very good and dropping the aperture below f/2.0 doesn’t really give a good image. Portrait mode does offer better quality depth effect and you can add a beautification mode to this. Apart from these mode you also get plenty of shooting modes like pro-photo, pro video, HDR and night shot, etc.
Now the front 13-mp camera does offer pretty good quality selfies, which offers good depth of field between you and the background, also the screen flash is enough to light up your face even in very dark environment. Video recording maxes out at 1080p however there is no EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) so videos are kind of shaky if you tend to move. Image quality is also pretty average and low light footage tends to get pretty noisy and details are quite blurry.
The battery on the Honor Lite is of 3000mAH, which will last from morning to evening by keeping the usage light. Battery level dips quickly when playing heavier games even for short durations. In order to squeeze out more battery life, you can enable smart resolution which automatically switches to lower resolution or you could do this manually
Now at 11,000/- rupees the base model is one of the better 18:9 smartphones in the market however the 4GB version feels expensive at 15,000/- rupees and also tends to overlap the Honor 7x, or if you’re ready to shell out 15k then there are better options like the powerful Moto G5s Plus or the Xiaomi Mi A1 with the power of stock Android and a better camera than the 9 Lite. Do let us know your views on this too.