Huawei P8 Lite (2017) Review – Much Improved

Thomas Wellburn
April 3, 2017

[nextpage title=”Introduction” ]

Product Type: Smartphone | Manufacturer: Huawei | Price: £199.99 | Where to buy: Vodafone | [et_social_share]

The Huawei P8 Lite 2017 edition offers a substantial update to its predecessor, improving things in almost every area.

The Huawei P8 may be an old phone by today’s standards, but that doesn’t seem to stop Huawei from releasing an updated 2017 Lite variant for consumers. The last Lite variant was released in 2015, around the same time as the flagship P8 was unleashed. Carrying slimmed down hardware and a more affordable price-tag, this cut-down flagship looks to offer mid-tier performance on a budget. It brings an updated design more akin to the Honor 8 that will no doubt appeal to the fashion concious. With the lower tier now incredibly cramped and full of competition, does it have what it takes to stand out? Let’s find out…

Technical Details

OS Android 7.0 Nougat

Processor HiSilion Kirin 655

Screen 5.2 inches

Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels (424 DPI)

Memory 3 GB RAM

Storage 16GB

Micro SD compatible? Yes, up to 256GB

Rear camera 12MP

Front camera 8MP

Video 1080p

Connectivity WIFI b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC

Dimensions 147 x 73 x 7.6 mm

Weight 147g

Battery 3,000 mAh


[nextpage title=”Design and Screen” ]

Coming in a glass composite build, the Huawei P8 Lite reminds us quite heavily of the Honor 8. It’s an attractive device that goes beyond the price-tag, though the plastic edges do take away from the premium feel. One of our main concerns with the Honor 8 was it’s inability to stay still on a flat surface and unfortunately, the P8 Lite suffers from the same issue. The glass rear makes the device slide uncontrollably across all but the most textured surfaces, leading to several occasions where the handset fell off my desk by mistake. Equally, if you’re trying to hold the P8 Lite with gloves, I wouldn’t bother. It just doesn’t feel safe enough in the hand.

The overall design of the handset is quite simple, with little to see aside from a few logos. It might not have the metal trim of the previous P8 Lite but it still manages to look like a premium device. You get a fingerprint sensor on the back which works nice and speedy, plus a camera sensor nestled away in the corner. The arrangement puts it quite close to the edges, meaning you’ll sometimes cover the sensor by mistake. The lack of a bezel to differentiate between camera and body can make this annoying at times, but we’ll let it slide because of the sleek design.

The screen takes up a sizeable portion of the front panel, with only a camera sensor and the Huawei logo flanked either side. On the bottom is a micro-USB port and two speaker grilles, though only the right one is actually functional. The lack of USB-C may put some people off, however at this price-point we really don’t see it as much of an issue.

Finishing off the device is a headphone jack at the top, controls on the right side and SIM slot on the left. It’s worth noting that the Huawei P8 Lite can function as a dual-sim device, though if you want to expand memory you’ll lose that second slot. With just 16GB internal storage, chances are you’ll be buying a microSD card pretty quickly upon purchase. The power button and volume controls are plastic and feel a bit flimsy, though they both have a nice solid click.

The Huawei P8 Lite has a 5.2-inch 1920x1080p LCD panel, which has solid viewing angles and a very high maximum brightness. We found that the colour tone leans towards the warmer side, though it’s only subtle and certainly not unsightly. Colour reproduction was okay but fell short of leading panels, with some images struggling to display the full colour palette in comparison.

Readability on the Huawei P8 Lite is very good, with plenty of brightness for those situations where direct sunlight is an issue. If you’re going to be using the handset outside a lot, then you’ll be happy here.


[nextpage title=”Camera” ]

Huawei has a pretty decent reputation with providing solid budget shooter and the rear camera on the P8 Lite carries on this tradition. While it doesn’t take the most amazing pictures we’ve ever seen, it is nonetheless a satisfactory camera given the price-point. Overall detail is good, which is evident in most images. Depending on the scene, we found that some shots veered towards the softer side but it wasn’t enough that it became an inherent problem.

Colour reproduction is very natural, though it can border on dull. All of our images were taken during a sunny spring day in London, but it’s hard to tell from the results. There seems to be a washed out cast that gives everything a rather moody tone.

The sensor did a respectable job of handling harsh exposures, as demonstrated by the images taken at midday in London. The sky was evidently blown out, with highlights saturated and devoid of information. That said, it managed to capture the detail in the foreground without adding a stark contrast to the whole image, meaning that this device should be suitable for snapping in bright conditions.

Shooting in macro allowed us to get very close to objects, more so than a lot of other smartphones we’ve tried in this category. Despite the lack of optical image stabilisation, the sensor still managed to capture a large amount of detail. Impressively, there’s also a decent of bokeh to be had from macro images. We were quite surprised by the quality of macro shots in the Huawei P8 Lite.

Low-light photography is always an Achilles in budget devices and the P8 Lite is no exception. It does an admirable job of trying to pull light from the surrounding area but sadly, you can only really make out the outline in our test images. Switching to Pro Mode does alleviate this, but you’ll need some long shutter speeds to make out dark scenes.

On the topic of modes, the Huawei P8 Lite ships with a very good Pro Mode that offers plenty of manual controls. You get pretty much everything you could want including ISO, Shutter Speed and focus modes.


[nextpage title=”Performance and Software” ]

At this price-point, you can hardly expect stellar performance. Yet somehow, the Huawei P8 Lite manages to cram in a HiSilicon Kirin 655 and 3GB RAM. This puts it on a similar level to devices costing a little more and performance reflects this. A Geekbench 4 score 783 in single-core and 3257 in multi-core of puts it in the lower end of the mid-tier. This is reflected in the AnTuTu score of 57,387 respectively. Devices such as the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 and Huawei Nova perform better but are also in a completely different price bracket. Something more comparable to this would be the Samsung Galaxy A3/A5, which the Huawei trounces in almost every area.

Browsing the UI was mostly smooth, with the occasional jerky animation whilst running a demanding application in the background. The 3GB RAM really came into it’s own while multi-tasking, allowing us to use multiple apps without any considerable slowdown.

Gaming performance is one area where Kirin chips usually fall short, so we’re happy to say this isn’t the case here. Lower intensity games such as Candy Crush breezed through our play-session, while more demanding titles stood up equally well. Asphalt: Xtreme on the Huawei P8 Lite was a smooth and fluid experience, even on the highest settings.

Running on Android 7.0 Nougat straight from the box, you get all the latest features such as data saving and better handling of notifications. The EMUI is still one of my least favourite Android Launchers but it’s nice to see that Huawei is making steps to improve it. The first thing I noticed while using the P8 Lite was an updated notification tray that is now far more akin to the stock Android experience. This is a welcome change and means no more swiping to get shortcuts.

Huawei also seems to have toned it down regarding system notifications; I didn’t notice one instance where the device decided to bug me about memory issues or battery consumption. On older devices, this was almost constant and would quickly clog up your notification tray with needless warnings.

The newest version of EMUI still decides to forgo the app tray in favour of an more iPhone-like experience, meaning you’ll need to use folders or risk the home screen getting rather cluttered. Unlike older versions, a downward gesture on the screen will now bring up a search bar with your most most frequently used apps underneath. It’s far more intuitive than the pinch-to-open seen on older variants and embraces one-handed operation. The quick-launch bar still exists at the bottom of the screen and can be accessed using an upward stroke on the lock screen.

Bloatware on the device is very low, with only the Huawei included applications and nothing more. These replace the Google equivalents, though it’s still possible to switch default apps from within the settings. Removing the Huawei applications is not possible, but this is expected and not dissimilar to other competitor devices. The company continues to use Swiftkey as the default keyboard, which is a damn sight better than most included keyboards.

Huawei provides a 3,000mAh battery in the P8 Lite, which is up there with the best. Our 30 minute drain test playing Asphalt 8: Xtreme at 50% brightness saw the battery decrease by 10%; a very good result. The AnTuTu battery test took 78 minutes to drain the battery by 20%. By our calculations, this equates to roughly 6 1/2 hours of on-screen time which is well above other handsets in this range.


[nextpage title=”Conclusion” ]

There’s tough competition at the budget end of the market, but Huawei has managed to make a solid phone out of the new P8 Lite. Improving over the original in every way, it’s definitely one of the leaders in the sub-£200 bracket. If you’re after a handset that offers a good balance of design, performance and battery life, you could do far worse than the new P8 Lite.



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