Hands on Review: Huawei P9 Lite
12:00 AM, September 26, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:27 PM, November 01, 2016

Hands on Review: Huawei P9 Lite

First impressions:

Adding the word Lite often indicates a flagship having put through a severe diet. And as extreme diets go, the figure that comes out may be unrecognisable form the original. In case of phones, that may not be a good thing since you are counting on the original phones specialties to sell the lighter version. How far is the Lite from the stellar P9? Is it a powerful minion or a forgettable sidekick?

Design:

There is glass on the front, metal on the sides and a satin-finish polycarbonate back providing the premium tactile feel of Huawei phones as of late. It has a 5.2" LCD screen of 1080p resolution. While the P9 had an IPS-NEO screen this one just has an IPS but colors and viewing angles still remain excellent and good respectively. What IPS-NEO does is ensure no image quality loss even when viewed at extreme angles.

Hardware:

Powered by a HiSilicon chipset, the Kirin 650 has eight Cortex-A53 cores. In comparison half the P9s 955 chipset is powered by the more beefy A57. Also, the GPU is a Mali-T830. Our test P9 Lite came with the 3GB RAM option and 16GB internal memory. It also has a 2GB RAM version. Multitasking and game playing saw no hiccups whatsoever. As usual, I threw a fully loaded grid from Real Racing 3 to see if there is frame rate loss. Nope. None.

Software:

Running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow skinned with Huawei's Emotion UI v4.1, it offers a bit of familiarity for Apple users with an iOS style menu in the lockscreen that pulls up a shortcut for sound recorder, camera, flashlight and calculator. You don't like iOS then load a launcher. 

Camera:

Here's where the biggest difference comes in. Where the P9 offers two lenses, one capturing only black and white for better dynamic range, the Lite has a single 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front unit. Both have f/2.0 aperture lenses theoretically promising sharp low light photos. In natural light, the photos come out very well. Detail is good with very low noise and decent albeit slightly saturated color representation.

It's during low-light, indoor shooting that things fall apart a little. Try taking pictures of kids and any movement will be a bit on the blurry side. Turn on HDR mode 0 and things improve especially for still objects like a car parked in a garage.

In low light, noise increases and photos are treated with a softening that leaves sharp details a little muted. Where it shines most is taking panorama photos which result in very high resolution images that are superbly stitched together.

The front camera has a neat feature that directs your gaze to a box on the top left corner of the screen so that you appear to be looking properly at the camera while still getting your expression right. Detail is rich but if you zoom in, there is a lot of noise, more than you expect.

Video:

P9 lite records 1080p videos at 30fps but there is no 1080p @ 60fps like in the flagship. But it does have digital image stabilization and object tracking to capture smoother video of moving objects. The latter feature ensures a moving object stays in focus.

Battery:

All that processing power is supported by a 3,000mAh battery averaging 70 hours on a single SIM. It has a very active (occasionally over-bearing) app manager that automatically kills apps that consume too much power. Which throws up a surprise when you come back to load that game you were playing a few hours ago.

 

Verdict: 

So how far away has the diet taken the Lite from the flagship P9? It's a very quick and responsive device. Case in point is the fingerprint sensor unlocking with the slightest touch. The bottom mounted loudspeaker is, well, loud and it slips comfortably into formal trouser pockets. The camera is quite good but I wish it would be great because the flagship was mainly about the photos; something I feel the diet ate up more than it should have. Aside from that the P9 offers a premium build, excellent display and a terrific battery life making it a very winning mid-ranger. Definitely not just a sidekick.

SPECS

Display: LCD 5.2 inches 1080 x 1920 pixels (~424 ppi)

CPU: Octa-core (4x2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)

GPU: Mali-T830MP2

OS: Android OS, v6.0

ROM: 16 GB

RAM: 3 GB

Camera: 13MP Rear + 8MP (Front) 

Battery: 3000 mAh

Sensors: G-Sensor, Gyroscope sensor, Ambient Light Sensor etc.

Price: Tk. 24,990/-

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