According to a recent article posting by Strategy Analytics, China-based smartphone maker Huawei has surpassed Microsoft as the world’s third largest mobile phone manufacturer. Despite being a big player, the brand is barely familiar to users here in the United States. We were able to spend some time with the Huawei P8 Lite and have much to say about it in this review. Let’s review the specs before going into further details on the device itself.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
- Display: 5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (294 ppi) IPS LCD
- Memory: 2 GB of RAM
- Storage: 16 GB, with expandable microSD up to 128 GB
- Camera: 13 MP rear-facing camera, 5 MP front-facing camera
- Battery: 2,200 mAh battery
- OS: Android 4.4 (Huawei EMUI 3.0)
Design & Build Quality
When we first looked at the P8 Lite, the device reminded us fondly of the Sony Xperia Z3. It has relatively squared edges and it’s really thin, measuring at a thickness of only 7.7 mm.
Along the right edge of the device, users will find the volume control buttons, power button, followed by the microSD card slot and microSIM slot. At the bottom of the device, users will find the microUSB port as well as a 1 Watt stereo speaker. Like most manufacturers, Huawei decided to place the 3.5mm audio jack on the top edge corner of the device.
On the back side, users will find a 13MP camera with a single-LED bulb while on the front is where the speaker grill, ambient sensor and a 5MP front facing camera is located. There is also a hidden notification LED on the top left corner of the device.
The P8 Lite does have a stripped down construction compared to it’s older sibling the P8. However, don’t be fooled because it is still very attractive and has a premium feel to it. The side edges are constructed of metal, with the back made of a matte plastic material with horizontal brushed patterns running along it. The buttons are also textured and has great feedback when pressed.
Overall, we do enjoy the build quality the device. It felt really solid resting on the palm without adding too much weight (4.76 ounces), giving the user a sense of premium feel despite its low price point.
The P8 Lite has a 5″ 720p IPS display that is capable of 294 ppi. Due to the lower pixel density, we did notice the colors were not as vibrant or vivid compared to higher end devices like the Nexus 6 or iPhone 6.
The display met our expectations for screen sharpness and clarity despite being only at 720p. We had no issues using it under direct sun light or viewing websites with smaller fonts.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC for the US market – this processor has a total of 8 cores clocked at 1.5Ghz with 2GB of RAM. Though not comparable to those of the HTC One M9 or Samsung Galaxy S6, the device felt very snappy and responsive for daily usage.
Benchmarking with Geekbench 3, the P8 Lite scored a rating of 2602 for multi-core score. This is almost on par with the rating that the LG Nexus 5 got which runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC. We also did not notice any difference in performance, with resource-intensive games such as ShadowGun and Riptide 2 had no noticeable lags.
Huawei fitted the P8 Lite with a 2,200 mAh non-removable battery. This device was able to last us a whole day of regular usage on a single charge, thanks to its less power hungry processor and screen size. We also did not experience any overheating on the device while the screen is left turned on.
We ran our usual battery test in which we run continuous video while the device is connected to LTE and Wi-Fi with both the Bluetooth and GPS turned on but not connected. We also set the display to 1/2 brightness. We were only able to get 7.5 hours out of it. However, we managed to get about 19 hours of mixed usage out of the device, which includes mixed network usage (part 4G, part Wi-Fi).
This device touts a 13 MP camera and we would rate the camera quality as clear and acceptable under bright lighting conditions. Images turned out vibrant and sharp outdoors while still showing some softer spots. On the other hand, images tend to get very noisy and grainy under low light conditions and we were unable to capture any satisfactory shots.
The camera app that came with the P8 Lite was easy to use but yet packs enough options for the daily user to choose from. Options from various filters all the way up to HDR is easily accessible through the camera menu on the top right corner.
Overall, the camera is acceptable and would suffice for capturing casual pictures in decent lighting conditions.
Audio & Call Quality
While utilizing the AT&T network running on 4G LTE coverage area, calls were crisp and clear while making and receiving calls. We did also notice a very slight static at times during calls but nothing that would disrupt the call quality.
Audio coming out of the two speakers along the bottom edge sounds decently loud for most situations. And like most devices out there, plug in the earbuds and the audio improves dramatically.
The P8 Lite comes with Android 4.4 KitKat with Huawei’s EMUI 3.0 user interface. Despite being a dated version of Android, the EMUI 3.0 was a welcome to us – the design was simple and minimalistic. It was very easy to use and provides very good user experience. Seasoned Android users might struggle with the absence of the app drawer – Huawei opted for the iOS styled display where all the apps are available by scrolling to the right from the home screen.
The dialer has one of the most mature and elegant design that we have experienced on any Android UI. Something that we would like to see further improve in future version of EMUI.
The pull down menu that comes standard on most Android OS also got an overhaul in EMUI 3.0. It features a timeline style notification which we thought was really creative and nifty.
Users are also welcomed with a huge list of quick access shortcuts in the pull down.
For users who wants an unlocked device that is stylish and affordable, the Huawei P8 Lite should definitely be on your shopping list. Being an unlocked budget device, Huawei was able to provide a great user experience to users both from the hardware and user interface. It has a great iOS inspired user interface, strong battery life and a very slim profile. It even looks sharper compared to our now dated LG Nexus 5.