Huawei isn’t necessarily a household name in the US smartphone environment quite yet. They’ve been making a stronger push to get into the US market recently, but they’ve been a leader in the Global market for some time, as their #3 global ranking in smartphone shipments can attest. The company may have even caught Google’s eye as there have been rumors swirling of a Huawei branded Nexus device. Rumors are rumors, but Huawei has made their mark on the mobile industry with some quality devices. Today I’ll be talking about one item in particular in my Huawei P8 Lite review. Keep reading to find out how this budget-friendly phone from Huawei performs.
The Huawei P8 Lite comes with the following configuration:
- 5.0-inch 720p HD screen
- Android 4.4 Kit Kat
- Powerful Octa-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615 processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Storage
- Ultra-fast 4G LTE connectivity with support for all US GSM LTE bands
- Intuitive and easy-to-use Emotion UI 3.0 interface
- 2200mAh battery with ultra-power saving mode
- Unique photo capture options including:
- All Focus: Change the focal point of saved images
- Ultra Snapshot: access the camera instantly, even from sleep mode
- 13MP rear/5MP front-facing camera
- 7.7mm ultra-slim, 2.75mm narrow bezel design
- Dual-SIM/SIM+Expandable MicroSD up to 32GB
One of the first things you’ll notice when opening the box for the Huawei P8 Lite is simply the fact that it probably isn’t boxed in a way that you’re accustomed. While most devices come to you packed flat, the Huawei P8 Lite stands on its side sandwiched between the rest of the packaging ready to be pulled out into the world. The remaining packaging includes some basics like the wall plug and micro USB cable in addition to the SIM eject tool.
Once you remove the P8 Lite from the case, you’re greeted by a pretty standard rounded rectangular device with almost no side bezels and minimal top and bottom bezels on the front of the phone. The front houses the 5” 720p HD screen along with a front facing camera, lighting sensors, and phone speaker grill. The top section of the back of the phone includes the 13MP rear camera with flash on a slick plastic backing while the rest of the back of the phone is covered in a lightly textured brushed plastic coating emblazoned with the Huawei logo. The top of the phone holds the headphone/mic jack, and the bottom has the micro USB input and grills for the speaker and mic. The right side has the dual SIM ports in addition to the power button and volume rocker. The left side of the device is simply an empty section of the metal band surrounding the phone.
I’m not accustomed to having all of the buttons on one side, but it wasn’t a particularly difficult adjustment. The power button is slightly smaller than I’m used to, but it was positioned perfectly, and sat exactly where my thumb rested when held with my right hand, and my middle finger hit it squarely when holding the P8 Lite in my left hand.
The P8 Lite is equipped with a 720P HD screen with a resolution of 720 x 1280. Obviously not top of the line, but some corners have to be cut when putting together a budget-friendly phone. In this instance, the screen is adequate though. It looks good while displaying photos, videos, and apps. If you’re really that concerned though, you can always look at the P8 Lite’s bigger sibling, the Huawei P8. The P8 Lite display does include a configuration tool for color temperature, and an LED notification light.
The phone is running on Huawei’s Emotion UI 3.0 sitting on top of Android 4.4 Kit Kat. I can already hear the outcry over the lack of the newest and shiniest versions of Android, but Emotion UI does give Kit Kat some new toys and definitely breathes some life into the older OS. A few of the most notable changes to the UI include a lock screen quick-launch app drawer which includes links to a voice recorder, calculator, flashlight, and camera. There are also quite a few customization options, from page transitions to theme support.
One notable exception in the Emotion UI is the Android App Drawer. It’s missing the app drawer entirely, opting instead for a more iOS-centric home screen where all apps live. When using folders it’s a workable solution, though it’s also nice to be able to have some apps sitting in the app drawer and away from your home screens. One other very minor difference: The back, home, and recent buttons are slightly closer together than they are on my Nexus 5. Not the end of the world by any means, just something that I noticed while using the phone.
Otherwise, Huawei has included their own Support and Community apps as well as some other tools such as a voice recorder, weather, backup, and mirror apps. These are system apps and cannot be uninstalled, but can be thrown into a folder and ignored if you so choose. It would be great if you could delete these apps to open up some of the internal storage, but at least the P8 Lite has expandable storage to offset some of the internal storage woes. That said, you’ll start with right around 10GB of the available 16GB of storage to work with.
While there are two grills on the bottom edge of the P8 Lite, only the left grill has a speaker. Considering it’s a mono speaker, it honestly gets pretty loud, though at higher volume it does get distorted pretty quickly. At medium volume you can get some decent sound though. If you keep the media volume at around 66% you’ll have better results than going any higher.
You might expect that a budget friendly phone might be a bit weak in areas of performance, but I didn’t have any such issue with the P8 Lite. Homescreens transitioned quickly and smoothly, apps started up quickly, and though there were a few hiccups here and there – cutscenes in Final Fantasy Tactics stuttered ever so slightly on occasion, phone unlock might pause ever so slightly – there was nothing that really gave me too much trouble. While it isn’t quite the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series, the included Snapdragon 615 is capable of providing a good experience.
The cameras on the P8 Lite do have a few cool tricks up their sleeve. The 13MP rear camera takes some decent shots as can be seen in the gallery below (conveniently taken at a car show, lots of Corvettes), but that’s only part of the story. The included All Focus mode allows you to selectively focus on any area of the photograph after the picture is taken. This option isn’t on by default, but can be easily turned on from the same hamburger menu where you’ll toggle options like HDR, Panorama, Best Photo (a burst mode that allows you to choose the best photo taken to save), and other camera settings.
The camera app does provide some good advanced settings such as limited ISO control, white balance, saturation, contrast, and brightness. Also included is a Smile Detector which takes a picture whenever smiles are detected. We won’t talk about how long I spent making stupid faces and smiling to see how well this feature worked, but suffice to say that it works pretty well. It routinely snapped a photo when I was actually smiling and didn’t when I wasn’t.
The front facing camera even gives you a nice target to stare at when taking photos to ensure that you won’t be cross-eyed in your selfies. It’s a little touch, but is something that many will undoubtedly appreciate in their selfie-taking extravaganzas.
You can also apply filters to your photos either after you’ve taken them or even in the camera app itself. The viewfinder will show a preview of what the filtered photo will look like and you can choose whichever filter fits your mood.
I didn’t honestly have the best luck with call quality during my time with the P8 Lite. It may have simply been from a small sample size, but in some areas where I’m able to make calls with my Nexus 5, the P8 Lite came through slightly garbled or quieter than usual. I don’t make a ton of phone calls by any means, so your mileage may vary.
I got roughly the same data speeds on T-Mobile as I’m used to with my Nexus 5 so from that standpoint there wasn’t an issue. Speedtests came through with what I’m used to seeing, maybe slightly slower but well within normal tendencies.
Battery life is a bit tricky for me to hammer down too as most of my testing was done on WiFi without a SIM card. With that said, the time spent with a SIM card using mobile data obviously taxed the 2200mAh more than cruising along on WiFi. I’m not one for running benchmarks, but with light to moderate usage I was able to make it through a full day on one charge when using mobile data. Using WiFi only that number definitely skyrockets as you’d expect.
The P8 Lite is running Android, and while it’s a slightly older version you should still have access to all of the apps, games, etc. that you’d expect to find in the Google Play store or Amazon App store, provided they don’t require Lollipop.
Available unlocked at $249, the Huawei P8 Lite is definitely friendly to your wallet. While there are a few drawbacks, and several missing bells/whistles the P8 Lite is an acceptable device if you don’t need to be on the bleeding edge of specs and benchmarks. There are loads of customization options available right out of the box which may appeal to some, and the overall performance is really adequate for the needs of most people.
Not every phone is able to be a flagship, but that doesn’t mean your experience has to suffer. The Huawei P8 Lite is a budget friendly phone with enough power to satisfy most users. You can undoubtedly find other phones that can do one thing or another better than the P8 Lite, but in the all-around package of price, features, specs, and intangibles the Huawei P8 Lite is an overall solid package.