The Honor 8 was launched last year to critical acclaim, with praise particularly directed at its excellent dual-camera system at the rear. We reviewed it, and found it to be the only device that could pose any competition to the OnePlus 3, which is saying something. Therefore it’s fair to say that the newly launched Honor 8 Lite has a strong legacy behind it, and the expectations that come with that.
Priced at Rs 17,999, the Honor 8 Lite is priced significantly lower than the Honor 8 and competes more closely with the Moto G5 Plus and Lenovo P2. While it doesn’t quite pack in as many features as its big brother, the Honor 8 Lite does achieve the aesthetic quality of the Honor 8. We’ve put the phone through the paces, and here’s our review.
Honor 8 Lite: The Good
Something we really liked on the Honor 8 is the slim build and glass back panel, which creates a strong reflective effect at the rear of the phone. The Honor 8 Lite brings back this look, which helps in achieving a stylish aesthetic for the device, and one that is arguably much better than some of the other similarly priced devices in the Rs 10,000-20,000 price bracket. However, the device features a plastic frame, which although sturdy and well-built, doesn’t quite have the same premium feel as metal.
The back of the phone has one other significant difference; while the Honor 8 features a dual-camera set up at the back, the Honor 8 Lite comes with a traditional single camera set up, with a 12-megapixel standard camera sensor. The fingerprint sensor is still at the rear, while the USB port is now a retro USB Type-C affair. I’m a bit disappointed about this, since some manufacturers are opting to use the newer and more user-friendly US Type-C port on mid-range phones, and this was one design and engineering aspect on the Honor 8 that could easily have been carried forward onto the ‘Lite’ variant.
The front of the phone has a 5.2-inch full-HD screen, which is the same as that on the Honor 8 and carries forward the tradition of having a relatively compact phone with a high-resolution screen. There’s nothing much to complain about here, with clean visuals, good color reproduction and decent sharpness.
The Honor 8 Lite is fairly well-specified for a phone priced under Rs 20,000, with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage and Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 655 SoC under the hood. You also get dual-SIM connectivity with a hybrid SIM slot that lets you have either a second SIM card or a micro-SD card up to 128GB for storage expansion. You also get Android Nougat running on the phone out-of-the-box, with Huawei’s EMUI 5.0 on top. The interface was recently revealed with new features and updates, and the Honor 8 Lite is the company’s first phone to run the new UI out-of-the-box.
EMUI 5.0 has a lot of typical features and functions that earlier versions have been known for, including the excellent Magazine Lock Screen, which gives you a range of great images to use as your lock-screen wallpaper. Another key change is the possibility of having a two-layered home screen interface, creating a separate app drawer for all of your apps. A lot of users do prefer this in order to keep the phone’s home screens clutter-free, and Huawei departing from this is a welcome change. Of course, you can choose to go with the typical single-layered interface as well.
The interface has gone through changes in aesthetics as well, with the colors now easier on the eyes by following a white-and-blue color theme. Performance is good as well, thanks to a combination of the efficient interface and software, and the decent Kirin 655 SoC fabricated on the 16nm process. Games, multi-tasking and general use of the phone is efficient, quick and trouble-free for the most part. The fingerprint sensor is accurate and quick to unlock the phone as well.
The Honor 8 Lite’s 12-megapixel camera is fairly decent for a sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone, capturing enough detail and color in regular daylight shots. Although low-light shots do show some grain as would be expected, detail is usually retained. The front camera also works well to capture decent selfies, while video can be recorded at up to full-HD resolution. On the whole, it’s a decent camera for everyday pictures, but the lack of special features in the camera is particularly noticed when comparing it to the dual-camera toting Honor 8.
Honor 8 Lite: The Bad
The Honor 8 Lite’s only significant weakness is the average battery life. With a 3000mAh battery, the phone runs through its banked power a bit quicker than competing devices in the same price range. Part of this has to do with the Kirin 655 SoC, which isn’t quite as capable as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC on the Moto G5 Plus, Lenovo P2 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. This affects the phone’s ability to efficiently use its battery, and I found myself needing to charge the phone before the end of a full day. Additionally, the included charger is a woefully inadequate 5W unit, which means the phone is incredibly slow to charge as well.
And perhaps another key shortcoming of the phone is its lack of anything special that would help it stand out. Apart from the interesting looks, the phone doesn’t quite have a signature feature that it can bank on to help it capture attention among the competition. While Motorola has the advantage of near-stock software, Lenovo has the advantage of a big battery and Xiaomi has the advantage of a significantly lower price, the Honor 8 Lite simply does not have anything beyond its pleasant aesthetics to count on, while being priced slightly higher than even the Moto and Lenovo options.
The Honor 8 Lite is a good phone; it looks decent, works well for the most part and gives me very little reason to complain apart from te lack of focus on battery and charging. Improvements in EMUI, the decent camera and the good screen help in my giving the phone a favorable opinion, and if you want a good looking, reliable smartphone at under Rs 20,000, this is worth your money.
However, the Honor 8 Lite has very little beyond its looks to help it stand out. I would rather recommend the Moto G5 Plus, Lenovo P2 or Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, all smartphones that have similar levels of competence, apart from excelling in their own little ways. The only thing this phone has over its strongest competitors is offline availability, and that may indeed be a good enough reason for some to buy this over any of the other three phones I’ve mentioned. The phone is available now both online and offline for Rs 17,999, although looking around may have you find the phone at a slightly lower price.