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Already available in Europe, the sleek and affordable Huawei P8 lite was announced in London on April 15, 2015 alongside its high-end sibling the Huawei P8. The P8 lite has now been officially introduced in the US market and we had the opportunity to get our hands on it early on, during a private briefing with Zhiqiang Xu, President, Huawei Device USA and Haito Cui, Executive Vice President Huawei Device USA.

Except for the 1.5 GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and the Operating System (Android Kitkat at launch), the US model is almost similar to the European one that launched with Android 5.0 and features a HiSilicon Kirin 620 processor.

Except for the 1.5 GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and the Operating System (Android Kitkat at launch), the US model is almost similar to the European one that launched with Android 5.0 and features a HiSilicon Kirin 620 processor.

What sets this new Huawei mid-range smartphone apart is its impressive build-quality for the sweet price: at $249, I am sure a number of people would like to get an unlocked GSM smartphone with good performance and a fashionable look. According to the Chinese manufacturer, “up to 42 percent of consumers use or intend to purchase an unlocked device in the US”.

The Huawei P8 lite is available in the US since June 3rd, from Huawei website: http://www.gethuawei.com/p8lite.html and from Amazon.com, B&H store, Fry’s Electronics in-store and online, Target.com and various retailers.

I have played with a P8 lite review unit for a while, and it was a very good experience for a mid-range smartphone.

What’s different?

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Sold as an unlocked phone with dual SIM-card slots

Pursuing its strategy of becoming one of the top three smartphone vendors in the US, Huawei is clearly going after the first-time smartphone users. Getting rid of the carriers with an affordable and high-end looking device is indeed the smartest way to attract a large part of the market.

The presentation we saw emphasized the fact that a growing number of consumers are interested in buying an unlocked device, probably to have the freedom of choosing the carrier that suits their needs the best, and feeling free to switch (or travel) more easily. This is not to say that subsidies are ending soon, but Huawei thinks that the trend is sufficient to establish a significant foothold.

Additionally, the dual-SIM slot is practical for users who travel abroad and have to buy local sim-cards and for the ones who need to operate a secondary phone number. It is pretty rare to find dual-SIM smartphones in the US, whereas it is very common in Asia.

However, knowing that smartphones have become a real social statement, we do not know if a majority of consumers will decide to buy a quite unknown brand and thus, risk their coolness status if they do not go for either Apple or Samsung.

Better warranty than competitors, localized support

To make sure people will have more reasons to hesitate to go for the comfort of the known territories, Huawei offers a two-years warranty with a highly localized customer service for repair and support. Most manufacturers offer one year of warranty.

Specifications Highlights

  • Dimensions: 5.62 x 2.77 x 0.30 inches – 143 mm x 70.6 mm x 7.7 mm
  • Weight: 4.62 oz – 131 grams
  • Resolution: 720×1280 (dpi)
  • Display Diagonal: 5″
  • Processor/Soc: Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 8-core CPU  1.5 GHz
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Internal storage : 16 GB
  • Dual SIM and MicroSD up to 32GB provides up to 64 GB memory extension
  • OS: Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • Front Camera: 5  MP
  • Rear camera: 13 MP auto-focus
  • Battery Capacity: 2200mAh
  • Huawei P8 lite specifications

See below a gallery of the Huawei P8 lite software and user interface

Industrial  Design (Excellent for the price)

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A hair thicker than the Huawei P8 lite vs iPhone 6 Plus (7.1mm) and the Huawei P8 lite vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 (6.8mm), the P8 lite (7.7 mm) delivers an impressive build-quality and fashionable look.

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The unibody chassis is made of plastic, but achieve a great metallic look for the frame running around the edges and the subtly textured back cover, labelled layered design of contrasting hues” by the manufacturer.

Compared to the S6, the design of the physical and printed elements  on the back cover is better balanced and much more toned down. The logo is very small and is slightly engraved in an elegant light gray color that integrates smoothly in the “satin coating”.

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The camera module does not stick out and is nicely integrated in the white and glossy white stripe that runs across the top on the back.  All the buttons are laid on the right edge, alongside the two SIM card slots. one of the slot can be used for a MicroSD (up to 32 GB).

On the front, the bezels look way smaller than they really are, part of them have been painted in black. This clever approach conveys a sleeker look and feel to the front which is emphasized by the absence of a physical home button.

Similarly to the back side , the logo is printed in very small size at the bottom of the screen. Despite Huawei’s need of brand awareness, it is good to note that the design team made the decision to be way more subtle than Samsung for the branding. The advantage of an unlocked phone is that there is no carrier logo to ruin the design… (See phone comparison pictures)

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Ultimately, the P8 lite manage to convey its unique look, thanks to rectangular form factor that sets it apart from both the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S6 review. The slightly textured backside achieve to make it really different from its most famous competitors while delivering elegance and a comfortable grip.

Display (Very Good)

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We cannot compare the display to the most advanced flagship smartphones in the market, namely the Samsung Galaxy s6 and the LG G4, since those devices features Quad HD resolution and are sold at a high price (street price at launch $735 for the S6 and LG G4 unofficial range estimate $600-$650). The 5-inch capacitive touch screen delivers a sub-average resolution of 720×1280 pixels (dpi), however, the image quality is very good. The bright display offers deep contrasts and vivid colors.

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Despite what I wrote above, I did compare the Huawei unit with the best displays featured in the best smartphones currently on the market, and although the P8 lite’s screen delivers blacks that are a little less black than the LG G4, the quality is very good for the price point. The Galaxy S6 displays black that are less deep than the G4, and a little better than the P8 lite (picture below).

Video Playback Experience (Very good)

Watching a video with the P8 lite was a great experience, the display quality combined with the surprising quality of the powerful speaker, (despite its ultra-thin body) delivered an above-expectations performance.

When compared to the Quad HD displays on the market,  of course the image quality is less detailed (depending on the original video quality), however the contrast and color rendering are  almost on par.
The audio quality was comparable and very powerful for such a sleek chassis. The LG G4 was able to produce a higher volume than both the Galaxy S6 and the Huawei P8 lite.

Performance (Good, for the price)

The Snapdragon 615 SoC (system on chip, or main processor) is a octa-core mid-range processor that is indeed less powerful than the Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 810.  The whole point of the P8 lite is to deliver good performance for a reasonable price point, $400 to $485 less than the most powerful Android smartphones out there.

After running the benchmarks on the Huawei unit, we can see that the measured performance is really what it should be for that type of processor.
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The Basemark OS II benchmark, which shows general system performance reveals a score very similar to the LG G2 which used to be a high end phone at launch two years ago, and now cost roughly the same as the P8 lite.

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The single-thread (single-core) performance in Geekbench 3 is not very impressive but it is still faster faster than the Huawei Mate 2 which had a very decent user experience – the many-core presence compensate that somehow, but read our article Are More Cores. Better? to understand the trade-offs.

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In the Geekbench 3 multi-thread (multi-core) test, the Huawei P8 lite gets a decent score comparable to the LG G3 or Xperia Z3 which are last year high-end phones.

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In term of gaming graphics performance, the GFXBench benchmark show very clearly that the phone isn’t designed for high-end 3D gaming. Casual games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush wil run fine of course, but stuff like Asphalt 8 and other edgy eye-candy games will be much slower than on more expensive phones.

Camera (Good)

As we all know, the battle of the smartphones is raging and the main battlefield resides in the camera, which is the second most important use after communications.

LG and Samsung recently impressed us with the high quality of their respective rear shooter in the S6 and the G4, LG getting a short advance with their amazing manual controls and the ability to shoot in RAW.

Camera technology is expensive, so we cannot expect a $250 smartphone to be on par with $600 / $750 devices, but the P8 lite still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

See below a gallery of the camera settings and user interface, one downside: the UI is only displayed in portrait mode even when you are shooting in landscape.

Special Features

All Focus

Change the focal point of saved images. This is a feature that has been included in other high end smartphones for a while, and it is good to see that Huawei did the same for the P8 lite.

Ultra Snapshot

You can access the camera instantly, even from sleep mode: by double tapping on the volume rocker (on the volume down side) you can take a photo instantly even when the phone is asleep. The Samsung Galaxy S6 provides a similar feature, however, when you double tap the home button in sleep mode, the camera awakes immediately but it does not take a shot until you press on the shutter icon or on the volume up button.

Image quality

The P8 lite features a good 13 MP rear camera that delivers a good image quality in broad daylight. The contrast, color rendering and sharpness is a little less accurate than the results you get from the best shooters out there, namely the Samsung Galaxy S6 (16 MP / F1.9) and the LG G4 (16 MP / F1.8). However, it is very good for the price difference and the image quality is comparable to the iPhone 6 Plus in regular lightning condition.

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Comparison shots iPhone 6 Plus, Huawei P8 lite, LG G4 and samsung Galaxy S6 full resolution file here

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Comparison shots iPhone 6 Plus, Huawei P8 lite, LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 full resolution file here

The iPhone 6 Plus camera tends to have lower performance than  the S6 and the G4, especially in low light.

Compared to the S6 and G4, the Huawei device is not very impressive in low light, either for still images or videos, although it does a decent job for a regular camera phone. The iPhone 6 Plus is also behind those two first-class shooters in low light (see the low light photos below and the night photos samples at full resolution in our Flickr account here.)

Comparison shots iPhone 6 Plus, Huawei P8 lite, LG G4 and samsung Galaxy S6 full resolution file here

Comparison shots iPhone 6 Plus, Huawei P8 lite, LG G4 and samsung Galaxy S6 full resolution file here

We took some photos with the P8 lite, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6+ to have a sense for how each would look. Be assured that all are excellent camera phones, and for uses like Facebook or direct view on the display, they all fare well as you can see above…

Battery Life (Good)

The 2,200 mAH battery capacity is not really noticeable in itself, however the battery lasted quite a long time with moderate use. (see screen shots)

Overnight depletion (Very good)

I have measured the battery depletion over night from 2 am (15%) to 8.30 am (13%) to be 2%, which is good performance. During that time, the device was connected to Wi-Fi but no 4G and no Bluetooth. The best we have measured so far was 1% overnight depletion.

Battery life – moderate usage (Regular)

With moderate usage, when I measured the battery depletion over the course of 11 hours, it dropped from 60% to 15%, which is regular among the latest smartphones on the market.

Battery life – intense usage (Very good)

For the intense usage, our usual test is running for 60 minutes a locally stored 1080p video with the display set at 150 nits. The battery dropped from 96% to 83%, the equivalent of a 13% depletion and 7.7 hours of continuous video playback.
Most of the best smartphones on the market deliver 12% to 14% depletion during that test.

Charging time (Slow)

Using the out of the box charger, the Huawei P8 lite managed to get 51% charged in one hour, which is 19 mAh per minute. The fastest we have seen is the Samsung Galaxy S6 at 1.66% per minute that manages to get a 50% charge in 30 minutes with its fast charging USB charger.

Conclusion (Very Good for the price)

The Huawei P8 lite offers an impressive product design for its affordable price point, and the Chinese manufacturer made clever material choices to make the build-quality look high-end. The ultra-thin and elegant body packages good performance that delivers high quality video playback.

The 13 MP rear shooter cannot be compared to the most expensive camera phones out there, however it delivers an overall good image quality.

We expect that the sweet price point will attract people who are interested in getting a stylish and good quality smartphone that is unlocked, allowing them to choose the best carrier for their needs.
Huawei is also pushing the envelop on the customer care side by offering a 2 year-warranty alongside  a highly localized customer service for repair and support.

Overall product rating: 8/10

Filed in Cellphones >Featured >Reviews. Read more about Android, Android 4.4 KitKat, Huawei, Huawei Reviews, mobile and smartphone.

Huawei P8 Lite
5"
1280x720 IPS LCD
Price
180 USD
13 MP
Ff/2.0 Aperture Size
Weight
131 g
2200 mAh
Speed
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2GB RAM
HiSilicon Kirin 620 + MicroSD
Gaming
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Huawei P8 Lite Review
Ubergizmo Rating: 8/10
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