Huawei P9 Lite review
|Review: June 2016|
In a nutshell: The Huawei P9 Lite is one of our top-rated phones for 2016. Priced at just under £300, it's a mid- to higher-end phone with an impressively skinny metal design, a big 5.2 inch Full HD display, and an 8-core processor. A big battery life and 16GB of memory complete the package.
Best buy: Huawei P9 Lite from iD Mobile (£0.00)
P9 Lite: design & looks
Did somebody order a Chinese? Oh yeah, it was us. We ordered a "Lite" meal - the P9 Lite in fact, and it turned out to be a very tasty dish indeed.
The first thing we noticed about the P9 Lite was the bill. It costs about £150 less than the P9. That means you can get it for less than £300 sim free or pay as you go, and makes it a real bargain.
The P9 Lite is about the same size as the P9 - perhaps half a millimetre thicker, but still what we'd call ultrathin - and it weighs a gram or two more. It's a good weight for its size - not heavy, but feeling solid. That's not surprising for a metal alloy phone, of course. Available in Black, White or Gold, the P9 Lite shares the good looks and high build quality of the regular P9, with sleek design, chamfered edges that catch highlights, and twin speaker grilles at the bottom edge, giving it serious HTC-inspired looks. On the back of the phone you'll find a square fingerprint scanner, used to unlock the device.
The P9 Lite has the same size screen as the P9 at 5.2 inches. The screen resolution is the same - 1920 x 1080 pixels - making it both big and sharp. This Full HD display is bright, with well-saturated colours and good viewing angles.
8-core Kirin processor
Like the P9 itself, the P9 Lite uses an octa-core Kirin 64-bit processor. It's a slightly slower model, but still very capable, with 4 cores running at 2GHz and 4 at 1.7GHz. Fitted with either 2GB or 3GB of RAM, depending on the version, it's a good high-end CPU.
The P9 Lite has half the flash memory of its big brother, which is fair for the price. The 16GB of storage plus microSD card slot should be plenty for most users, and you won't find a phone with more memory for this kind of money.
Android 6 Marshmallow
The P9 Lite runs Android 6 Marshmallow, with the latest version of Huawei's Emotion UI on top. This Apple-inspired user interface adds some interesting features, but isn't our favourite mod. It doesn't appear to give the phone any noticeable performance hit however.
13 megapixel camera
Perhaps the most obvious reduction in specification compared with the P9 is the fact that the P9 Lite has a single rear camera, instead of the dual lens configuration of the P9. But we have no complaints. The 13 megapixel Sony BSI camera with autofocus and flash is as good as most mid- to high-end phones, and performs competently under most lighting conditions. It's a good everyday camera that will meet the needs of most users.
Similarly, the front camera will serve the needs of the selfie-seeker, with a fixed-focus 8 megapixel sensor, and wide angle f/2.0 lens. The screen lights up as a flash in low lighting.
The P9 Lite misses out on the USB-Type C connector of the P9, being equipped with a more conventional array of connectivity options - 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro-USB, NFC, and a headphone socket. GPS and Glonass positioning are included, as well as a compass.
Strong battery life
Often the "Lite" version of a phone loses out when it comes to battery life. Not so with the P9 Lite, which shares the heavy-duty 3000mAh battery of the P9. Considering that its Kirin 650 processor uses less power, this gives the P9 Lite an impressively long battery life - between 1 and 3 days in our estimate.
Conclusion - as good as the original
Of course the P9 Lite isn't quite as good as the P9. But when you factor in the substantially lower cost, we'd rate it as an even better buy.
The P9 Lite makes cuts in the right places - eliminating the dual lens camera, and opting for a lower-spec but still fast processor. The memory has been cut to 16GB too, but for the price bracket, we think that the P9 Lite gives more than any other phone. You might also consider the Samsung S5 Neo.
Huawei P9 Lite features include:
- Operating system: Android 6 Marshmallow with Emotion UI 4.1
- 13 megapixel BSI f/2.0 camera with autofocus and flash, 1080p video recording
- 8 megapixel front camera, fixed focus
- Display: 5.2 inches with 1920 x 1080 pixels
- A-GPS/Glonass positioning
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging
- Processor: Kirin 650, 64-bit, 8-core (2.0GHz x4, 1.7GHz x4)
- Sensors: Fingerprint sensor, Accelerometer, Compass, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (2.4GHz b/g/n), Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth, USB, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack
- Memory: 16GB, microSD memory card slot, 3GB RAM
- Networks: 4G LTE, 3G, Quadband GSM
- Size: 147 x 73 x 7.5 mm
- Weight: 147g
- Battery: 3000 mAh
Got a question? This is the place to ask it!
Please don't ask a question that has already been asked. Duplicates will be removed.
Can I use swipe instead of tapping letters when texting or searching?
on 16th Jan 2017
This is in my experience, a much faster way to type.
Which colour would you recommend (looks better), Black or Gold?
Asked by Sam
on 20th Dec 2016
Am ordering online.
Reply by Hui Qi
on 30th Dec 2016
Hey I would recommend the gold one, it makes the phone look more premium and it gives off a lovely shine under the sun or in any bright location.
Having trouble answering calls, do i swipe the screen or single or double tap the screen?
Asked by ben
on 9th Sep 2016
Reply by vivi
on 18th Sep 2016
You just tap the greeb button to answer a call.
Huawei P9 Lite user reviews
Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!
Average rating from 13 reviews:
Reviewed by Andy
from United Kingdom
on 15th Jan 2017
Got mine for £150 unlocked from Carphone Warehouse, WOW does everything you need. Dont like emui but I use Go Launcher. For the price best phone ever had, does everything I want that my s6 did. Little tweaks missing but these are ones you watch on reviews of samsung or iphone that you try and then never use. This is not a mid range phone its a high end phone missing stupid things you dont really need. To Huawei keep up the excellent work and low cost and I'll never use another brand again.
Reviewed by Joe
on 9th Jan 2017
After some looking around for a suitable replacement to my aging iPhone 5 I decided to spend less cash. I was looking at the Galaxy A5 2016 but I'm not keen on Samsung products generally.
I stumbled onto Huawei by mistake. I picked it up thinking it was a Sony Xperia Z3. I was allowed to 'try before I buy' but hadn't noticed Huawei on the front nor the rear. I was really surprised by the speed of the phone and the overall weight and looks. When I asked how much the Xperia Z3 was, I was then told it was the P9 Lite. I thought they were joking.
I've had the phone for several weeks and I have not issues with it.
My lesson learnt is 'don't be a brand snob'. The P9 Lite is 5 out of 5.
Reviewed by River_Reyes
on 7th Jan 2017
The best smart phone i owned! nothing compares! better than my Samsung Galaxy S6.
Reviewed by David
on 26th Dec 2016
I'm very impressed with my huawei p9 lite,to me it has everything I need and I think it's better than the iphones. It's fast enough for me, the colours are bright and the camera is pretty good, better than the samgsungs, and battery is amazing. I've got it in a leather case and being a elderly gentleman it's perfect the only gripe I've got is the keyboard seems small but other than that I'd say the manufacturers if they keep on producing phones like this will rival the other leading names. Well done huawei and thankyou for introducing a phone with so much going for it at a respectable price.
Reviewed by Steve
on 30th Nov 2016
I bought the P9 lite last week, as the reviews for it were good. The screen is clear and the sound good, but it's main attribute is the battery life, which is astonishing. I charged it last Wednesday when I bought it, and although it took over three hours, there was still 20% left on Sunday morning, after downloading apps, calls, and watching youtube. This is one of the best phones I've had.
Reviewed by Mike
from United Kingdom
on 25th Nov 2016
Bought the Huawei as a replacement for my old Iphone 5s. Fantastic phone, works very fast, screen is perfect resolution is great. Now for the most part battery life is just fantastic, Iphone could handle 5hrs of heavy usage, Huawei has an outstanding battery life, highly recommended, would not go back to Apple again.
Reviewed by Liz
from United kingdom
on 23rd Oct 2016
Great battery! That's all! Phone not as good as I thought. It will do till I can afford a Samsung!
Reviewed by Harry
on 21st Oct 2016
Very impressive low to mid range phone, great addition.
Reviewed by Mandy griffiths
on 16th Oct 2016
The p 9lite is a great phone .The only time I will change is when the next one is created.
Reviewed by Simo
on 15th Oct 2016
I have HUAWEI P9 LITE and I like it.
GOOD work HUAWEI.
Reviewed by Alice
from south Africa
on 2nd Oct 2016
Huawei foons will be the beste foons in next 20years from now.
Reviewed by Andy Hagan
on 17th Sep 2016
Superb phone. Superb value for money. Very fast. Great screen. Way way better than Moto G I had before. Can now buy for under £200, SIM unlocked. Absolute bargain. Reckon that in less than five years, Huawei will overtake both Apple and Samsung in global smartphone sales.
Reviewed by Lewis
on 14th Sep 2016
I like phones that many wouldn't think of owning. The Huawei P9 Lite is just such a device. I purchased mine the other day from Carphone Warehouse. The sales representative was keen to help and was even more keen to show me Samsung Galaxy s7's, iPhone 6S (he talked in length about the 7, YAWN!!!!).
At the time of purchasing the P9 Lite I had an iPhone SE. I liked the smaller format of the iPhone over the 6/6S (I use to have a 6 which bent and then the battery caught fire when I slowly straightened it). Although Steve Jobs said the 3.5" screen size was perfect for normal hands and can use it one handed, I actually preferred the 4" screen. I have no issue with iOS. I think iOS 10 (developer BETA) was very good on the SE, but I have fell out of love with Apple and the current product strategies. By this I mean to get the better camera with the 7 you have to buy the stupidly large 7 Plus. Why? I think I would have gone for the 7 if it had the same camera set up. Why the camera hump? I would have got the 7 if it had the same camera as the 7 plus and no camera hump. A slightly thicker iPhone 7 with dual camera and without camera hump means larger battery. I just don't understand the logic. Ok Huawei have done the same with the P9 range (P9, P9 Plus & P9 Lite) but the costs are not silly like Apple and Samsung devices
The P9 Lite feels premium for the cost. I got mine for £199 ($264, 234Euros). Bargain price for specification. Read S21's review for specs.
Once setup to my preferred way (installed Apex Launcher over the EMUI 4.0 and unlocked the bootloader and rooted ready for custom ROMS) I am now able to give my review.
I have nothing negative to say. Even if the phone cost twice the price I would not have a negative word to say. OK, 16gb on board storage is a little low, but adding an SD card takes care of that.
The P9 Lite is fast. the battery last 2 days with average use. I can get to the 3rd day before charging. The finger print reader is bloody fast (slightly slower when using the Apex launcher). It has all the connectivity required by me including NFC for Android Pay.
5 out of 5. Good on you Huawei for showing the world how to make a good smartphone at a good price.
Reply by Lewis
on 17th Sep 2016
I cannot fault the P9 Lite. It has performed admirably when comparing it to device twice the cost. Obviously I've been tinkering with it over the past few days setting it up to how I like. I think the EMUI 4.1 isn't great but I can live with it. I could install another launcher but this doesn't help the UI side of things.
I've unlocked the bootloader and rooted the device. Removed several system based apps, mainly Google stuff such as music, drive etc. This has lightened the ROM a bit and I find I have more available RAM with multiple apps open.
Speed - very good
Battery life - very very good
Build quality - very very good for cost
Screen quality - very good (good colours etc)
I'd buy Huawei again.
Reply by Lewis
on 24th Sep 2016
Since my first review 10 days ago I have had a software update. Being that I have the VNS-L31 Europe version I am now running software version C432B151 with EMUI 4.1.1 with Android Security Patch Level to 1 August 2016. Basically Huawei are being good with regular updates. EMUI isn't my preferred Launcher/UI but this minor update seems to have made a slight difference with smoothness. I only like one screen of apps I use all the time with the rest in the app draw. EMUI removes this app draw for an iOS style layout. EMUI is not the lightest Launcher/UI and does consume a bit more RAM than others. I doubt Huawei will drop EMUI.
As mentioned before I have removed unwanted apps via unlocking the bootloader and rooting the device. I like Android to run with only the apps I need. With 3gb of RAM I find I tick along only using 1 to 1.1gb of RAM with plenty in reserve. Something I have noticed is that EMUI doesn't multitask very well. Open a bunch of apps and despite the large amount of spare RAM I found apps refresh often. EDIT, EMUI 4.1.1 seems to have addressed this. I opened all the apps on my P9 Lite and found none had to refresh when going back to them, bonus.
I don't normally write lengthy reviews like this but I feel compelled to do so as I am very impressed by the Huawei P9 Lite and what it offers for the price. I got mine for £199 and although it isn't in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy 7 or 6 and iPhone 7 or 6s for that matter, it does hold up very well against them.
I agree with Andy Hagan's comment regarding Huawei overtaking iPhone, Samsung and others, only as long as they produce devices such as the P9 Lite etc.
Do we need phones with CPU's quicker than a PC. Do we need over 3gb RAM to power apps. I just don't think we do. The P9 Lite had the correct balance of everything.
I did buy a Moto G4 the other day. I use to own the Moto G 3rd Gen and liked the phone a lot. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the Moto G4. 5.5" screens are to big IMHO. The P9 Lite is just right.
Huawei all the way.
Reply by Lewis
on 1st Oct 2016
Great. My phone slipped off a chair and despite having a rugged case on the screen shattered. I've had screens crack before but this was like a car window type of shatter. Not impressed.
My negative is the screen is definitely not to gorilla glass standards.
Reply by Lewis
on 12th Nov 2016
Since my P9 Lite met its end I was lucky and acquired a iPhone 6S free of charge. Using iOS was easy and very familiar, but equally frustrating. If you have used iOS and Android you'll probably know where I'm coming from.
I decided to get another P9 Lite, carried out the same process as before, unlock bootloader, remove loads of junk I don't need to lighten the OS.
Still an amazing phone for the money. I stand by my comments already made.