Huawei P9 Lite review: Close to budget brilliance

Price when reviewed

The Huawei P9 Lite remains a solid budget offering, although the Chinese manufacturer has since followed its P9 range with the Huawei P10. If you want to grab the Huawei P9 Lite SIM-free you’re currently looking at a price of £232 on Amazon, compared to £339 for the P10. What are your other options? Well, you could try the excellent Honor 7X out for size.

Huawei has also teased its upcoming Huawei P20 for late-March reveal. That handset is set to be on the more premium side of the market, so expect a larger price tag. Then there’s the Huawei P45, which doesn’t exist unless you get fired from working at Huawei.

Alan Martin’s original Huawei P9 Lite review continues below.

“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “Hasn’t the Huawei P9 Lite been out for ages?” No, you’re thinking of the Huawei P9, or maybe the P9 Plus. Those handsets first appeared back in April 2016, so maybe this should be the Huawei P9 LATE, amiright?

Puns that make you want to self-harm aside, the naming convention is a touch confusing, because while the existing P9 range costs between £449 and £549, the P9 Lite comes in at a wallet-friendly £229 via Amazon UK (or $218 on Amazon US) it’s  – less than half the price of the P9, and it looks just as stylish at a glance.

What you have here is a phone that should give the budget king, the Moto G4, a real fright. And it does, but a couple of frustrating missteps leave it just short of must-buy budget greatness. Read on to find out what it gets wrong, and what it gets oh-so-right.

Huawei P9 Lite: Design

When I said it’s hard to tell the P9 Lite from the P9, I wasn’t kidding. Both have 5.2in screens, and at a glance they look remarkably similar. There are a couple of telltale giveaways if you happen to have both in your hand at the same time, the main one being that the P9 Lite eschews the aluminium back of its more expensive sibling for a smooth plastic finish. It’s clear that saves a few quid, but it doesn’t make it objectively worse for it. Not only is the P9 Lite less of an invitation for house keys to do their worst, but the smooth plastic feels very nice in the hand. It reminds me of the reassuring feel of Nokia’s Lumia phones, only without the bright primary colours.[gallery:1]

Elsewhere, the changes are more subtle. Both have the same chamfered edges and clean lines, and both feel slim and sleek. The Huawei logo is bolder on this handset, and the Leica branding is dropped from the camera as they’re no longer in charge of photography duties. You’ll also find a micro-USB charging port rather than USB Type-C, but for me that’s a good thing, as someone who refuses to give up on the dozens of old-school charging cables that litter my desk.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual, right down to the square fingerprint reader on the back of the handset. People will debate the best position for this, from the home button to the power button, but this one works well enough for me.

Huawei P9 Lite: Screen

So a good start, but things get better with the screen. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if the Huawei P9 Lite uses the same panels as found in the P9, because the 1,920 x 1,080 screen (424 pixels per inch) is excellent.[gallery:2]

First off, the contrast is very impressive, at 1,532:1, allowing for sharp images with plenty of impact. The brightness is good, too, at 482cd/m2, and in terms of sRGB coverage it’s right up there with far more expensive phones: 98% of the colour space is covered.

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