Chinese Telco giant Huawei has long been associated with budget phones - at least that was until they launched the P8. Its solid specs, camera, sassy design and great affordability made it a hit. Now Huawei is back with the even more affordable, but oh so similar P8 Lite. The big question is this: Can lightening strike twice?
Look and feel
Superficially, P8 Lite is pretty hard to tell apart from the more costly sibling. My first impressions of the P8 Lite is that at just 7.7mm deep, it is an attractive piece of hardware.
Like the P8, the Lite comes in either black, white or with silver/gold accents. It speaks to the same design language as the P8 and features curved corners and chamfered sides, while both front and rear panels are flat, and like P8 the Lite has the no rear camera bump.
One of the first giveaways of the Lite’s more affordable design lies in its side edges, which, while looking metallic, appear to be fashioned out of metallic coloured/textured plastic.
This said, even though the P8 Lite is intended as a more affordable handset than the P8, it still has a decidedly premium feel to it.
The P8 Lite’s controls and SIM/MicroSD slots are also identically laid out as those on the P8. Its top edge has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on its bottom is the speaker. Its right hand edge has a volume rocker plus a power button, while Micro SIM and MicroSD card slots (the P8 Lite can take up to 32GB of additional storage) populate out its left hand side.
Where the rear panel on the P8 is fashioned out of glass, the P8 Lite’s rear is matte textured plastic along with a shiny area housing the camera sensor and LED flash.
Bells and whistles
The P8 Lite has a 5” 720p screen. It isn’t the 1080p HD goodness many may crave, but visually most would be hard pressed to tell the difference. A side benefit of this lower resolution screen is that it is less punishing on the battery. In use the P8 Lite’s display proved to be both crisp and bright with a wide viewing angle, even outdoors in sunlight.
The review unit I was sent was running Android 5.0.1 Lollipop. In use it felt responsive under normal usage scenarios, and pushing the envelope a little harder with games such as Grand Theft Auto saw the P8 Lite running smoothly with no hiccups or pauses.
As with other Huawei hardware, Android on the P8 Lite is skinned with Huawei’s custom user interface, EMUI 3.0. In use it feels very iOS-like and is intuitive.
Simple chores that can be a fiddly pain with so many other devices (such as enabling or disabling mobile data and roaming) proved to be pretty intuitive.
Nicer still, the EMUI interface can be customised with a large range of themes. Several are pre-bundled but more can be found with a bit patience and a lot of Google time (plus a Mandarin to English app - here’s hoping Huawei launch an easy to reach store locally).
Although the P8 Lite is a mid-range device, it has a few nice tricks up its digital equivalent of a sleeve. To quickly mute and reject incoming calls, text messages or alarms you can flip the P8 Lite over (which is dead handy when in meetings) when you’ve forgotten to mute its ringer.
Pressing the volume button twice launches the P8 Lites camera in about 1.6 seconds (even if the P8 Lite is locked) which is great for catching that otherwise impossible to get photo of kids or pets. I also liked the power saving mode which helped stretch out battery life when I out and about, away from a convenient wall socket.
As with the P8, the Lites 13MP camera impressed. Daytime photographs were correctly exposed and colours, all rendered accurately.
This said, the P8 Lite lacks the night shooting mode of the P8 as well as the light painting mode.There is however still a bunch of useful shooting modes, including HDR, best photo, burst shot plus all-focus (that allows selective focus/defocus focus to be applied to photos shot using all-focus mode).
Testing the P8 Lite out on both 2degrees and Vodafone at several locations over the course of a week/weekend, saw varying data speeds.
Download speeds ranged from 4Mbps during peak times and in poor reception conditions, through to a more zippy 19-20Mbps other times where coverage was more optiml.
Upload rates also varied, ranging from 2-4Mbps through to 12Mbps, however much of this variance is probably more to do with network load and coverage than the P8 Lites hardware.
Under its hood, the P8 Lite has 2GB of RAM, a 2,200mAh non-removable battery and uses Huawei’s in-house developed HiSilicon Kirin 620 chipset and Octa-core 1.2GHz CPU.
Battery life was good, with the P8 Lite’s 2,200mAh battery typically making it through an entire day without demanding a charge. I was also able to extend this out by a few more hours using the power saving mode.
For those on tight budgets who want a lot of phone for their money, Huawei have done it again with the P8 Lite.Not only does it offer solid form, function and performance, but manages to do so for a very reasonable pocket pleasing $399.
Dimensions: 143 x 70.6 x 7.7 mm
Display: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 5” (720 x 1280 pixels (294 ppi)
OS: Android OS, v5.0.1 (Lollipop)
Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 620
CPU: Octa-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53
Memory: Card slot MicroSD, up to 128 GB
Storage: 16 GB
Camera: (Rear) 13 MP, (Front) 5 MP
Connectivity: WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.0, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
Battery: Li-Ion 2200 mAh battery