Huawei’s smartphones have been gaining in both quality and popularity in recent times, but until now it’s left the low-end to its partner brand Honor. That changes with the Huawei P9 Lite, a low-cost smartphone intended to take on the Moto G4 at its own game.
The P9 Lite is the third P9-branded smartphone we’ve reviewed recently and the cheapest of the lot. Not that you’d know it at first sight. Visually and physically, the P9 Lite is remarkably similar to its P9 siblings, and yet it costs only £190 – that’s around half the price of the full-whack P9.
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It shares the lovely chamfered edges and clean lines of its pricier brothers and it’s just as sleek and slim. The shiny aluminium finish has been dropped in favour of an all-black, textured plastic body, but that’s a good thing – I found the P9’s rear picked up scratches and scuffs far too easily.
In all, for a sub-£200 smartphone, the Huawei P9 Lite is uncommonly attractive. If looks are more important to you than all-round performance, then it’s more than worth the price of admission.
Huawei P9 Lite review: Display
But how about the rest of the phone? Let’s start with the display, which, surprisingly given the phone’s “Lite” moniker, is near identical to the standard P9’s. It measures the same 5.2in corner to corner and has the same resolution at 1,920 x 1,080 – it wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover it’s the same panel underneath.
Technically, it’s a top-quality display as well. It has a contrast ratio of 1,532:1, which is excellent, and this helps it produce images with plenty of impact. Its sRGB colour gamut coverage of 98% is great to see on a phone this cheap, seeing the P9 Lite stretch out a lead over the Moto G4 – our current budget smartphone champion – which achieves a less stellar 90% sRGB coverage.
Peak brightness isn’t bad either, at 482cd/m2. Sure, this gloomy British winter weather is hardly the best test, but this sort of figure means it should be readable when the sun eventually does come out to play. It’s not quite as bright as the Moto G4’s dazzling 539cd/m2 panel, though.
Huawei P9 Lite review: Performance and battery life
Inside, the Huawei P9 Lite looks to have performance nailed on paper. It has an octa-core Kirin 960 chip clocked at 2GHz and this is paired with 3GB of RAM. On the whole, it’s a reasonably nippy smartphone, and with 16GB of onboard storage (expandable up to 128GB), there’ll be just enough space for those important files and apps, too.
I had no qualms dipping in and out of multiple applications, and browsing the web on Chrome was fluid and generally glitch-free. It doesn’t feel as slick as its bigger siblings with their speedier Kirin 955 chips but, then again, the Lite is well under half the price of the P9.
Benchmark results are decent if not earth-shattering. The phone achieved a single-core score of 770 and a multi-core result of 3,359 in Geekbench 4, and running the Peacekeeper browser benchmark returned a score of 1,105. Both scores place it ahead of the Moto G4.
The P9 Lite comes up top trumps in games performance, too. An on-screen score of 8.3fps in the GFXBench Manhattan test might not sound like much but Moto’s G4 barely scraped by at 7. In-game performance wasn’t too detracting, with the slightest of frame drops only once the screen was crammed with enemies and laser blasts in Sky Force: Reloaded. All other games, such as Threes worked without a hitch.
It’s a shame then, that the P9’s battery life isn’t up to snuff. Lasting just over nine hours in our continuous video-playback test, it lags only slightly behind the similarly priced Wileyfox Swift, and it’s well behind the Moto G4’s long-lasting 13hrs 39mins.
Considering the phone’s battery is quite large, at 3,000mAh, this is a disappointing outcome, especially when the regular P9 squeezed out more than 11 hours in the same test. You can expect to have to reach for the charger before you go to bed most days.
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