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We’re only two months into 2017 and already Huawei has launched two very good budget mobiles. The Chinese giant started the year strong with the Honor 6X, a solid 5.5-inch phone boasting a dual-lens rear camera for just over £200. And if that’s not enough for you, have a bit of the Huawei P8 Lite 2017 also called honor 8 lite and Huawei Nova lite in some markets.
This 5.2-inch phone costs under £200, making it even cheaper than the Honor 6X, yet still crams in some solid specs. You get a Full HD screen, the latest version of Android and loads of bonus Huawei features, giving impressive value for money.
Here’s everything you need to know about P8 Lite 2017.
These days more and more phones are launching with a glass finish, something popularised by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy flagship handsets. Huawei dipped its toe in the glossy waters with the Honor 8 and now the P8 Lite 2017 continues what could be an aesthetically pleasing trend.
The P8 Lite’s matt edging gives way to a shiny glass back which looks cool and stands out from the rest of the plastic and metal crowd. Sure, it does pick up greasy prints and marks when handled, but not to the extent of other phones like the HTC U Play. Besides, it’s nothing a quick spit and polish won’t sort.
At 5.2-inches the P8 Lite 2017 is quite easy to handle with a single hand. You’ll most likely struggle to stretch your thumb up to the top of the screen, but thankfully Huawei’s Emotion UI offers ways around this.
At the £200 price point you can’t pick up too many Full HD phones just yet, with the Moto G4 Plus and Lenovo P2 being two of your only options in the UK. Now you can add the P8 Lite 2017 to that (short) list. And it’s cheaper than both of them.
The P8 Lite 2017’s 5.2-inch screen boasts a 1920×1080 resolution, so visuals are gorgeously crisp. Great news if you enjoy catching up on shows and movies on the go. Colours are reasonably punchy, breathing life into photos and the rest. And if you pump up the brightness levels, you’ll easily be able to see through the most irritating of glare.
Huawei has also added an ‘eye comfort’ mode, which filters out blue light for an easy-on-the-eye viewing experience. This is best used at night, so the screen seems less harsh when turned on. You can manually activate eye comfort at any time, or – more usefully – have it automatically switch on at a set time.
Features and OS
Huawei’s Emotion UI 5 visibly modifies the looks of Android 7, but it is a bit more flexible than Google’s stock Android: For example, the user can launch “Basic Mode” that facilitates use when large icons or only few functions are needed. It is also possible to decide whether all apps are displayed on the home screen or whether app drawers are used and arranged like the menu buttons. At first glance, the system makes a somewhat fragmented impression due to the small font size, but this can be changed in the settings and the text then becomes legible also for users with weaker eyesight.
Thanks to the preloaded “HiCare” app, it is possible to quickly access Huawei’s service offers or open instructions concerning the smartphone. “HiGame” contains some basic mobile games for downloading, and a phone manager provides security and cleaning features. Useful tools, such as a compass or file manager, are found in the tool folder. However, some affiliate apps, such as “Gameloft”, “TripAdvisor”, and “Twitter”, are also preloaded.
Huawei has added some one-handed functions, including the ability to shrink the screen or pull down the notifications bar with a new toolbar button. You can easily check how much memory is being used by your apps, as well as keep tabs on battery hogs. And you can even change up the screen transitions and activate gesture support, if that’s your bag.
On the back of the P8 Lite 2017 you’ll find a circular fingerprint sensor, sunk into the middle of the plate. When you pick up the phone you’ll find your index pinkie lands right on that sensor, so you can tap and unlock in no time at all. It’s impressively fast to recognise and act.
The P8 Lite 2017 packs the same processor as the Honor 6X, as well as 3GB of RAM. And as with the Honor 6X, everyday performance is pretty smooth for a budget device.
HiSilicon’s Kirin 655 is the installed SoC. It has a considerably higher clock rate than the Kirin 620 in the predecessor and is a variant of the Kirin 650 with a slightly higher clock rate in one of the processor’s two clusters. They consist of four cores each and clock at a maximum of 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz. The SoC supports 64 bits and belongs to the mid-range. Compared with the predecessor, its performance has been notably increased from 20 to 50 percent depending on the benchmark. Huawei’s P8 lite (2017) is also quite fast compared with comparable modern smartphones.
An ARM Mali-T830 MP2 graphics chip that clocks at 900 MHz is installed. It also offers performance rates that are at least equal to those of current mid-range smartphones, and which are sometimes even much higher.
For the more tech-savvy of our readers, the P8 Lite 2017 spat out an AnTuTu score of 57k – a serious step up from the Moto G4 Plus’ 45k, although not quite as strong as the Lenovo P2’s 63k result.
Compared with the predecessor, the battery capacity has been increased considerably to now 3000 mAh or 11.4 Wh. Huawei’s P8 lite (2017) thus achieves a much longer battery life than its predecessor. The user can browse the Internet via Wi-Fi for a bit over 10 hours, which is a good rate that most comparison devices do not achieve. Only Asus’ Zenfone 3 Max with its gigantic battery can outrun the review sample. 4:43 hours of load are a very impressive rate for Huawei’s P8 lite (2017).
Two normal workdays are possible. The handset will only have to be recharged daily when used very often or intensely. Unfortunately, Quick Charge is not supported and recharging a completely drained battery takes quite a long time with almost 3 hours.
The P8 Lite 2017 has a 12-megapixel rear camera featuring a f/2.0 lens. You get Phase Detection Autofocus built in (otherwise known as PDAF), which helps the lens to quickly snap onto your subject, ready for a photo. However there’s no optical image stabilisation (OIS) to help eliminate any blurs and judders from your photos and video, caused by hand motion.
On the front of the P8 Lite 2017 you’ll find an 8-megapixel f/2.0 lens. Both cameras can shoot up to Full HD video; no support for 4K sadly. For that you’ll have to look to the Lenovo P2, one of the few phones below £200 to feature Ultra HD video recording.
Camera features and UX
The P8 Lite 2017 packs in loads of camera features, which can be quickly and easily accessed at any time.
The default shooting mode is full auto, where you simply point and shoot to take a photo. Huawei’s autofocus is bolstered by PDAF, now a common feature even on cut-price handsets, so the lens locks onto your subject in next to no time. The result is a nippy shutter speed.
From the main camera screen you can quickly switch between the front and rear snappers, add a filter or beauty mode effect and toggle the flash. You can also swap between stills and video with just a tap of an on-screen button. It’s a relatively clean but useful UX, giving you fast access to the most essential features.
Swipe left and you’ll bring up a full camera settings menu, which allows you to tweak the P8 Lite 2017’s snapper in various ways. As well as changing the resolution of your photos and video, you can add GPS tags and timers and toggle the likes of smile capture mode and object tracking.
There’s also an option to double-press the volume down key to instantly load the camera and (optionally) take a quick snap, even when the P8 Lite 2017 is hibernating. This is a useful feature if you take lots of spontaneous shots, to save you from unlocking the phone, fumbling for the camera app and so on.
Swipe right from the main camera screen and you’ll bring up a selection of special camera modes. Pro Photo and Pro Video allow you to manually tweak the likes of white balance and focus, handy if you’re not getting the results you’d like, while the HDR mode helps with tricky contrast (shooting against bright skies, for instance). We’d have preferred HDR to be built into the auto mode, but at least the option’s there.
You also get the likes of Time Lapse and Slow-Mo video, Panorama mode and Huawei’s favourite, the Light Painting feature. That’s enough to keep snap-happy users busy for some time.
The P8 Lite 2017 really impressed us when we reviewed our test photos. That 12-megapixel rear camera can capture good-looking, detailed photos in all but tricky conditions, proving one of the best mobile snappers at this price point.
On full auto you can depend on the lens to keep your subject nice and crisp, as long as they aren’t bombing around like a loon. We found that the auto function coped well with everything but low light situations, even handling strong contrast without losing detail or oversaturating sections of the photo.
Close-up shots came out clean every time, again with plenty of detail packed in. Colours are accurately reproduced too.
In low light, the P8 Lite 2017 sadly stumbles like pretty much every other budget blower. Night snaps are often murky and grainy, although the single-tone LED flash can at least illuminate whatever’s directly in front of you.
Around the front of the P8 Lite 2017 you’ll find an 8-megapixel selfie camera that’s again a solid rival for similarly priced rivals, such as the Moto G4 Plus and Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus.
That wide angle design means you can fit a lot of BFFs into the frame at once, with a beauty mode on standby if you’re all looking a bit rough. There’s a ‘flash’ of sorts too, similar to the flash mode on the Galaxy S7 and other handsets. This basically beams a bright white image from the screen, which quite effectively illuminates your face when you’re in the dark.
With 3 GB of working memory and 16 GB of storage, Huawei’s P8 lite (2017) is up-to-date. However, some smartphones offer even higher storage capacities in this category. The USB port is not implemented in the USB-C format, and it only supports USB 2.0 speeds. At least it allows connecting external storage devices via USB OTG.
Two SIM cards can be inserted into Huawei’s P8 lite (2017); a single-SIM version also exists on the market. The storage can be expanded by up to 128 GB via a micro-SD card but in favor of one SIM slot. Apps can be moved to the SD card although Huawei takes a different approach than some other manufacturers: Either the internal storage or the micro-SD card is selected as the standard storage. When the SD card is selected, data from compatible apps are moved to the SD card automatically and future apps, photos, and data are stored there. App2SD does not have to selected for every individual app. The card cannot be formatted as internal storage, and thus it can still be used with other devices.
The Huawei P8 Lite 2017 is a great affordable smartphone that’ll suit even quite demanding users on a tight budget. For £185 you get a decent media machine, a dependable portable camera, smooth everyday performance and very respectable battery life. Huawei’s crafted a solid user experience in almost every area, wrapped in some slick hardware.