On the 6th of March 2018, Honor held an event to officiate the Honor 9 Lite in the Malaysian market. It was quite a different approach compared to other brands that we’ve seen as Honor partners with fashion brands. However, we’re here to solely focus on the Honor 9 Lite itself.

The Honor 9 Lite is a pretty bland phone that is suited for everyday use, so we’ll condense this review as short as possible without compromising on the crucial information.

Let’s dive into the review of the Honor 9 Lite and have a look at what it truly has to offer at the price of RM749.

Unboxing

Honor 9 Lite

At first glance, we can see that the packaging design is as simple as it can be. Comes covered with Honor’s signature light blue color and white font, the packaging just doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

Honor 9 Lite
Just some feature highlights

At the back, Honor did not bother to print the briefest list of specs. Instead, there’s a large and color-contrasting red sticker that says void if tampered. It’s good that this sticker is prominent, but is rather disappointing that there are no specs listed behind.

Honor 9 Lite

Opening the lid reveals that the Honor 9 Lite is able to wiggle around quite a lot, and it’s wrapped in a plastic bag. A very simplistic packaging design indeed.

The Honor 9 Lite sits on a simple cardboard cradle. Underneath the cradle is where all the accessories are – the quick-start guide, warranty card, a hard-shell case, a charger, and micro USB cable.

Honor 9 Lite

One interesting packaging design here is how Honor made a little fold to house the tray ejector tool. Pretty smart, in my opinion. Don’t have to dig around the nooks and crannies inside the box to dig out the ejector tool like other brands.

Honor 9 Lite

Design

The entire Honor 9 Lite has a pretty common design. If you’ve used any Honor smartphones since the Honor 8 days, then I guess you’ll pretty much know what shape the Honor 9 Lite will be. At first glance, it seems like the Honor 9 Lite is just an enlarged Honor 8. These two phones are similar to the recently-released Honor View10 too, by the way.

Honor 9 Lite

Even the button placements are the same, where everything is placed at the right side with the volume rocker placed higher than the power button. The card tray is on the left side.

Though, there’s one main difference on the Honor 9 Lite. We’ve seen the multi-layered glass and beautiful light reflection and diffraction on the Honor 8, but this time on Honor 9 Lite, it has been replaced with a mirror-like finishing.

Honor 9 Lite

Honor chose their words carefully here – it’s “mirror-like”. It’s not made out of glass and silver to give off the reflections like a mirror. Yes, it’s reflective – but it is also prone to scratches. Let’s not forget that it’s a dust and fingerprint magnet too.

Honor 9 Lite
The boot screen matches the phone’s design perfectly

Though, I do love the all-blue design that the Honor 9 Lite has. It’s blue at the front, the sides, and the back. Even the SIM tray is blue!

When it comes to the included case, I think it’s a terrible design from Honor’s side. The case, though offers protection from drops, doesn’t provide enough protection from scratches. From internal scratches, I mean.

Honor 9 Lite

The case facing the phone’s back is covered in some sort of rubberized material, and it makes direct contact to the mirror-like finishing. Then, you get this sort of rainbow effect.

Honor 9 Lite

Also, if any debris is the get in between the case and the phone, it’ll scratch up the mirror-like finishing easily. Yet, the part of the case facing outside has a matte finishing – which defeats the purpose of the mirror-like finishing through the case.

At least the power and volume buttons are easy to press.

Honor 9 Lite

The entire Honor 9 Lite – sans the case – weighs in at 147 grams.

Display

Equipped with the latest 18:9 aspect ratio screen, the Honor 9 Lite has a 1080p IPS LCD display. Its colors are okay, though it does look like it’s a tad bit more bluish that what I’m used to. Perhaps a quick OTA update can recalibrate the white balance of the screen.

Honor 9 Lite

Many apps in the market these days are able to scale up to the 18:9 aspect ratio without any issue. In terms of pixel clarity, I do see some jaggies for certain texts. Though, it’s an app-specific issue and it has something to do with the software instead.

Connectivity

Again, nothing particularly special when it comes to connectivity. Honor decided to continue using micro USB for this category of smartphones. I’m not sure when will the transition to USB-C will be, but as far as I am aware, smartphones that are below the ~RM1.2k price range are using micro USB.

Honor 9 Lite
Comes with an audio jack too

The Honor 9 Lite also comes with 802.11n WiFi at 2.4GHz only. Also comes with Bluetooth 4.2 – which is pretty common when it comes to connectivity these days.

As for the cards, the Honor 9 Lite has a dedicated nano SIM card slot and another microSD/nano SIM combo slot. Bummer for those who want to use two SIM cards since the Honor 9 Lite only has 32GB of storage.

Honor 9 Lite

Camera

The Honor 9 Lite comes with a total of 4 cameras. Yes – four. If you’re thinking “why?”, then it’s simple to answer. We’ve talked about the differences of dual-camera systems in smartphones. One of the dual-camera system is the stereoscopic dual-camera system where there is one primary camera that captures the image and the secondary camera will only be gathering data for adding effects like depth of field.

Learn more about dual-camera systems here.

The Honor 9 Lite incorporates stereoscopic dual-camera system for the rear-facing cameras and the selfie cameras. That means you can have bokeh effect that is synonymous to portrait photography for both rear-facing camera and selfie cameras.

Let’s take a look at the picture samples. For the full image size and all the metadata, check out our Flickr album here.

Rear-facing camera

Let’s just say that the white balance on the Honor 9 Lite is quite… off. We took indoor pictures and the only thing we’ve seen here is a tint of blue all throughout the picture. I took a picture of a restaurant under the sun and I have no idea why there’s lens flare.

Generally, the pictures are noisy even in adequately lit places. For night shots, don’t expect to be able to capture anything good in auto mode.

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Selfie camera

Not much of a selfie person here, but i tried their bokeh mode specifically. It did a fairly decent job cropping me out, but the hair is so blurry that it looks like a patch of fuzz instead. The outline that it creates around me, the subject, isn’t particularly precise, but good enough for bokeh uses most of the time.

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Camera UI

It’s a little weird seeing that that the bokeh mode is available for selfies because the selfie camera on the Honor 9 Lite has fixed focus, just like most smartphones out there in the market. Your selfies won’t be sharp and crisp, but the background will be blurred depending on how much significant you want it to be.

With that said, to enable bokeh mode for selfies, you’ll have to turn on beauty mode first. The button placements aren’t the same for both selfie camera and rear-facing camera, and that inconsistency is an issue.

Software

Using EMUI 8.0 here reveals that on the surface of the UI design and overall concept, nothing much has changed since EMUI 5.0 that we’ve used on the Huawei P10 that we reviewed here. What have changed are the settings menu layout, and mostly under the hood software.

Honor 9 Lite EMUI 8.0

It’s a pretty bland phone when it comes to software. Nothing particularly special or different from other smartphones in terms of functionality, and the overall concept of EMUI 8.0 is pretty similar to what it has since EMUI 5.0.

Honor 9 Lite EMUI 8.0

Performance

Ah, performance. In short, the Honor 9 Lite just isn’t a performer. It’s what I consider to be an entry-to-mid-range smartphone, and its specs speak for itself. The benchmark further solidifies the fact that the Honor 9 Lite is not meant to be a speed demon. Or even to just perform everyday tasks smoothly.

  • 5.65-inch 1080p IPS LCD display
  • HiSilicon Kirin 659 chipset with octa-core
    • 4×2.36GHz Cortex-A53 + 4×1.7GHz Cortex-A53
  • Mali-T830 MP2 graphics
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • 3,000mAh battery

Honor 9 Lite Geekbench benchmark Honor 9 Lite Antutu benchmark Honor 9 Lite 3DMark benchmark

From my experience in using the Honor 9 Lite, it did stutter and lag at times when Facebook or the camera is open. Especially when Facebook Messenger’s chat head is floating about.

As for gaming? Well, it’ll be smooth in lightweight titles. I tried Honkai Impact 3 with the highest graphical settings right away, and oh lord it lags. It’s at an unplayable 18fps or so, and I can’t even dodge enemy attacks properly since it lags to the point where my button presses aren’t detected.

As for everyday use, it’s pretty okay. Just use Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite instead. It’ll help you save battery and data too.

Battery

As for the battery, the 3,000mAh battery isn’t going to do wonders here. The Kirin 659 chipset isn’t that wondrous either. Though it is fabricated using FinFET technology, for some reason, the Honor 9 Lite just heats up quickly and easily.

Learn more about why FinFET matters here.

We used our usual benchmarker to test the battery life, and it’s safe to say that… the Honor 9 Lite isn’t that impressive in terms of battery life. Compared to other phones with 3,000mAh battery, the Honor 9 Lite falls short.

7 hours and 44 minutes is all the Honor 9 Lite can do.

Honor 9 Lite battery life benchmark

Charger

The charger, on the other hand, has the same design as before. Though, it doesn’t support fast charging and its maximum output is 5V at 2A only.

Honor 9 Lite

The charging speed is quite standard. It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to charge from 12% to 100%. It can reach 50% battery in 45 minutes, and reach 75% battery at 1 hour and 15 minutes.Honor 9 Lite battery charging graph

Pretty standard charging speed, if you ask me.

Wrapping up the Honor 9 Lite review

For the price of RM749, I don’t think the Honor 9 Lite is worth the price. Sure, you’re buying a smartphone with 4 cameras – and you can have portrait mode pictures for both selfies and rear camera. But then again – is it really something that you’ll compromise performance for?

Honor 9 Lite

Sure, for RM749, there are other alternatives out there as well. We’ve reviewed the Redmi 5 Plus with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage – and that smartphone is actually about RM700 on Lazada. Just make sure you don’t get scammed, though.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Materials
7
Software
8
Connectivity
7
Screen
7
Specifications
6
Camera
6
Battery
7
Value
6
The enthusiastic nanoelectronic engineer who found his way into simplifying the world of tech for everyone. Introverted, but noisy. Nice to meet you!