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Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: The slick-looking Moto rival is no more

Nathan Spendelow Christopher Minasians
11 Mar 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
185
inc VAT

Despite stiff competition, the P8 Lite 2017 is a good budget smartphone

Pros 
Screen brightness
Expandable storage
Android 7 Nougat
Cons 
Rear glass
Display
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Update: Huawei P8 Lite no longer available

Since its initial inception, Huawei's P8 Lite was highly regarded as an excellent budget alternative. it might not have been Moto-levels of good but in the areas that matter, the P8 Lite offered plenty of goodies for a wallet-friendly price. 

Sadly, the P8 Lite is no more. Huawei's "Lite" variants of its flagship phones are still being offered, although you'll be expected to pay a little more than you would have done previously. Huawei's P20 Lite, which is its most recent cheaper flagship model, costs £230 and should be a solid choice if you didn't want to spend oodles of cash, without sacrificing too much when it comes to performance and design.

Regardless, Chris' original Huawei P8 Lite review continues below.

Huawei P8 Lite review

The Huawei P8 Lite 2017 is a dual-SIM smartphone that features a 5.2in Full HD display, a fingerprint reader and an octa-core processor, and runs on Android 7 Nougat. Its price? £185. In fact, you can now find it even cheaper SIM-free on Amazon.

This is nothing new, however, and the competition at this price is fierce, with handsets such as the slinky Honor 6X (£225), the long-lasting Lenovo P2 (£200) and the all-round excellent Moto G4 2016 (£150) all making a strong case. Can the Huawei P8 Lite step in and provide another solid alternative?

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best budget smartphones

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: Design and build

Huawei has shown in recent times that it knows how to make a good-quality smartphone, and the P8 Lite 2017 is no exception. It looks and feels just like an iPhone. Many phones do nowadays, of course, but with its distinctive curved edges and "Piano Black" finish, this phone looks uncannily similar to a Jet Black iPhone than most.

When you get closer to it, it’s clear this isn’t a premium Apple product, but it's decent design for a low-budget smartphone. It’s larger than the iPhone 7 for starters, but its 5.2in Full HD display is almost as easy to use one-handed, and it feels well balanced in your hand.

The fingerprint reader is at the back rather than at the front, a design choice I prefer over a front-mounted reader, and it’s accompanied at the rear by a 12-megapixel camera and single-LED flash. Around the front, there’s an 8-megapixel selfie camera, the display and the Huawei logo. There are no capacitive buttons, though: Huawei has opted to use onscreen navigation buttons instead.

It’s also good to see Huawei retaining the 3.5mm headphone socket, here found on the top edge of the phone, with the volume rocker and power buttons on the right-hand side, a dual-SIM slot on the left (SIM slot 2 can also take a 256GB microSD card), and a micro-USB charging port and a single downward-firing speaker on the bottom.

For the money, there’s no doubt the Huawei P8 Lite 2017 is a looker, but I do have issues with a few practical elements of the design. The plastic frame surrounding the screen, for instance, lowers the tone, as does the standard glass, which appears not to have been treated with an oleophobic coating. That means it picks up greasy fingerprints like crazy and it’s quite a challenge to keep it clean.

I was also shocked at how quickly and easily the phone got scratched. After a few days of simply putting it down and picking it up from the desk, it had already started to pick up unsightly scuffs and marks. I can’t imagine what would happen to it if you absent-mindedly dropped it in your pocket with a set of keys. A case and/or and screen protectors for the front and rear would appear to be essential purchases.

READ NEXT: Lenovo P2 review – sensational battery life

Best Huawei P8 Lite contract and SIM-free deals

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: Display

The P8 Lite 2017 comes with a 5.2in Full HD (1,080 x 1,920) IPS display resulting in a respectable pixel density of 424ppi. The screen’s biggest strength is its brightness: it’s among the brightest screens I’ve ever set my eyes on. I measured it at a blinding 700 cd/m2, meaning it’ll be readable in even the sunniest conditions.

The screen’s contrast ratio is pretty high, too, at 1,553:1, with deep black and bright whites contributing to dynamic images and video, and I had no problems with viewing angles either. The phone employs dynamic contrast, however, which can't be disabled, boosting its brightness levels when displaying white or light content onscreen, which could potentially have a negative impact on battery life.

The display’s weakness is its colour representation, which isn’t great. With an 86% sRGB coverage, images look slightly dull and murky when compared with the Lenovo P2’s 99.9% sRGB coverage display.

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: Software

Android 7 Nougat is a fantastic operating system, and I’m pleased to say that it’s included with the Huawei P8 Lite 2017. This isn’t a stock installation, though, as Huawei has its Android Emotion 5 UI (EMUI) skin installed on the phone.

EMUI is very much a love-it-or-hate-it thing. Personally, I don’t mind it at all. I find it user-friendly and it performs well without sucking too much performance out of the phone. Granted, it uses extra RAM as do all third-party launchers, but I’m still a fan of EMUI’s integration over other Android interfaces, such as Samsung’s TouchWiz.

I particularly like its storage cleaner, which quickly frees up space and wipes your phone’s cache. The power-management functionalities are also useful for prolonging battery life and roughly seeing how many hours you’ve got left.

I certainly didn’t experience any major hiccups with the software and felt it was able to handle everything I threw at it while providing a smooth yet snappy performance on a daily basis.

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: Performance

The P8 Lite 2017 is powered by an octa-core (4 x 2.1GHz Cortex-A53 & 4 x 1.7GHz Cortex-A53) Kirin 655 processor. It also has 3GB of RAM, which is plenty for your multitasking needs. I didn’t experience any hitches when using the phone as my daily driver.

Looking at synthetic benchmarks, the P8 Lite 2017 performs well when compared to its budget competitors. In the Geekbench 4 multi-core test, the Huawei P8 Lite (2017) achieved a result of 3,237, mere inches behind the Honor 6X and marginally better than the Lenovo P2 and Moto G4.

In the Geekbench 4 single-core benchmarks, the P8 Lite 2017 achieved a score of 780, putting it behind the Lenovo P2 (813) and the Honor 6X (784), while beating the Moto G4 (719). These aren’t differences that will make a huge difference in day-to-day use.

It’s a similar story with the phone’s Mali-T830MP2 GPU – it’s a reasonable performer, on a par with its main rivals, but falls far behind flagship phones. When playing Asphalt 8: Airborne and Temple Run 2, the phone coped well and didn’t feel jittery. Using GFXBench to benchmark the phone synthetically against other budget smartphones, its onscreen performance was on a par with the Honor 6X. The P8 Lite 2017 returned an average frame rate of 8.4fps in comparison to the Lenovo P2’s 10fps, Honor 6X’s 8.4fps and Moto G4’s 7.7fps.

Battery life is less impressive. The phone’s non-removable 3,000mAh battery helped it last 10hrs 24mins in our video-playback test. That’s nothing more than mediocre, and it lags a long way behind the Lenovo P2 and its 5,100mAh battery. That phone lasted an incredible 28hrs 50mins in the same test.

Even set against its illustrious opposition, such as the Honor 6X, whose 3,350mAh battery gave it a run time of 11hrs 18mins, the Huawei P8 Lite 2017 is a touch below average.

READ NEXT: Moto G4 review – one of the best budget smartphones of 2017

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: Camera

The phone’s 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with an aperture of f/2.0 isn’t bad for a £185 smartphone. The P8 Lite 2017 doesn’t have phase-detect autofocus or optical image stabilisation, but that’s to be expected for a phone at this price point.

It holds its ground in low-light conditions, producing images that aren’t riddled with noise. Looking back at my test shots on the PC, I felt the images had a vibrant tone to them, but also held the right balance, where the sample shots weren’t oversaturated.

I also found the white balance to be on point and automatic exposures well judged. However, I did notice a lack of detail on objects at a distance; as you can see in the test shot below, the brickwork is a little blurred.

^ Taken without HDR

This good performance extends to the camera flash. Although a fairly basic single LED, it was good to see that it didn’t add that unwanted blue hue to images. Many budget smartphones take on a blue tone, which spoils the colours in an image.

On a negative note, the camera’s HDR mode proved of limited benefit, with only minor improvements in my indoor shots and barely any differences when comparing outdoor HDR shots with non-HDR shots.

^ Indoor shot with HDR and background lighting

You can make more of a difference if you take the time to fiddle with the Pro camera mode. This lets you set white balance, exposure compensation, ISO and shutter speed, and allows you to fiddle with various metering and autofocus modes as well. There’s even a pro video mode that allows you to lock in white balance and set exposure compensation, metering and autofocus mode. Alas, there’s no way to lock exposure in pro video mode, which sort of defeats the object, and it can’t capture in 4K, instead it's limited to 1080p at 30fps.

^ Image taken with flash (HDR off)

Despite producing respectable images, however, the P8 Lite 2017 isn’t at the same level as the Moto G4, the best mobile phone camera at this price point. Images on the Moto G4 are sharper, have less image noise in low-light conditions and look more vibrant.

Huawei P8 Lite 2017 review: Verdict

The Huawei P8 Lite 2017 has stiff competition from the Honor 6X, Lenovo P2 and Moto G4, and it is this that ultimately proves its undoing. While it looks nice and performs well for a £185 smartphone, it's let down in other areas by its easily scratched glass back, its tendency to pick up dirt and grime, and its mediocre battery life. The camera is decent but is outshone by the Motorola Moto G4.

In short, while you certainly won’t be disappointed by the Huawei P8 Lite if you happened to buy one, there are other smartphones I’d recommend over it. If you want the very best battery life, choose the Lenovo P2; if you want the best all-rounder with the best camera, go for the Motorola Moto G4. The P8 Lite, alas, falls just behind both of these.

Hardware
ProcessorOcta-core (4 x 2.1GHz Cortex-A53 & 4 x 1.7GHz Cortex-A53)
RAM3GB
Screen size5.2in
Screen resolution1,080 x 1,920 
Screen typeIPS
Front camera8 megapixels
Rear camera12 megapixels
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage16GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD (256GB)
Wi-Fi802.11bgn
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Dimensions147.2 x 72.9 x 7.6mm
Weight147g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 7
Battery size3,000mAh

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