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The Honor 200 Lite isn’t the best performer – here’s why I’m still recommending it

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £280
inc VAT

The Honor 200 Lite didn’t impress in my performance testing but its excellent battery life and main camera got me back on board

Pros

  • Wonderfully thin and light
  • Dazzling main camera
  • Massively improved battery life

Cons

  • Few performance improvements
  • Stilted and bloated software
  • Mediocre colour accuracy

The Honor 200 Lite and I got off on the wrong foot. Considering that it’s replacing one of our favourite budget phones from last year – the Honor 90 Lite – and the numbering bypasses the hundreds entirely to jet up to 200, I expected an equally astronomical leap in the hardware and was initially left disappointed.

Beyond the iterative performance and camera improvements, however, I found several bright spots that helped to drag the Honor 200 Lite back from the precipice of a negative review. The build is incredibly slim and lightweight, the main camera remains a terrific shooter and battery life is massively improved over the Honor 90 Lite.

Throw in a bright and vibrant AMOLED display, and the Honor 200 Lite pieces together enough positive attributes to balance out its shortcomings. For anyone looking for decent battery life and a strong camera under the £300 mark, the Honor 200 Lite is well worth a second look.

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Honor 200 Lite review: What you need to know

The most notable change with the Honor 200 Lite is that the 6.7in display is now an AMOLED panel. The resolution is marginally higher than the Honor 90 Lite’s (2,412 x 1,080 compared to 2,388 x 1,080) but the refresh rate remains at 90Hz.

Inside, we’ve got a new MediaTek Dimensity 6080 chipset, paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of non-expandable storage. The battery is once again a 4,500mAh unit and charging speeds remain at 35W – and there’s still no charger in the box.

On the rear is a triple camera array, with the 108MP main lens joined by a familiar pairing of a 5MP ultrawide sensor and a measly 2MP macro shooter. On the front, meanwhile, a solid 50MP selfie shooter sits underneath the display. 

Honor 200 Lite review: Price and competition 

At £280, the Honor 200 Lite is £30 more than the Honor 90 Lite was at release (it can now be picked up for £179). There’s not much in the way of direct competition at this price and most of the phones that retailed in this range have since been discounted closer to the £200 mark.

One such handset is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 5G, which originally retailed for £279 but can now be picked up for £239. The big advantage here is the microSD slot, which allows users to expand the storage, but it also has an excellent AMOLED display with a smoother 120Hz refresh rate. On the downside, battery life is fairly mediocre and the cameras are only okay.

There’s also the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G at £209 and the Motorola Moto G73 5G at £195. Both offer decent performance and battery life for their prices but neither has the photography chops to stand up to the Honor 200 Lite.

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Honor 200 Lite review: Design and key features

Lite doesn’t just refer to the streamlined feature set; this is a seriously lightweight phone. The 161 x 75mm height and width are fairly standard but the 6.8mm thickness is notably on the slimmer side, as is the 168g weight. Despite the airiness, it feels solid enough in the hand – though it’s worth noting that there’s no official IP rating, so I’d avoid getting it wet.

The rear is a frosted plastic that does a decent job of masking fingerprints and doesn’t look half-bad, either. My review unit came in the Cyan Lake colourway but you can also pick Midnight Black or the lighter Starry Blue. The camera housing is more of a rounded rectangle than the oval style that features on the Honor 200 and 200 Pro, which is attractive enough but does feel like a misstep in creating a unified design language for the series.

In terms of features, there’s no 3.5mm jack or microSD slot, but the power button on the right edge has a fingerprint reader and the selfie camera offers face unlocking. The pill-shaped cutout around it also houses the new Magic Capsule feature, which I first encountered earlier this year on the Honor Magic 6 Pro. Similarly to Apple’s Dynamic Island, this feature shows notifications around the selfie camera, allowing you to keep an eye on timers or skip songs on Spotify while using other apps on the phone.

The Honor 200 Lite ships with Android 14 and the MagicOS 8 launcher pasted on top. This is one of the more cluttered and gaudy Android variants I’ve used, and little has improved this time around. The split notification bar and lack of an app drawer as standard still don’t feel particularly user-friendly and there’s too much bloatware, including Honor’s clones of Google apps and familiar bugbears like Ali Express and booking.com. On the bright side, Honor is, at least, offering two years of software updates and three years of security patches.

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Honor 200 Lite review: Display

Switching to an AMOLED panel means that the black and contrast levels are as close to perfect as phones get, but the Honor 200 Lite’s display has a few other things going for it. Brightness in particular is on the better end of things, hitting a peak of 533cd/m2 on manual mode and going as high as 993cd/m2 on auto brightness with a torch shining on the light sensor.

The Vivid colour mode does exactly what you’d expect it to, punching up the colour palette for more vibrant viewing that’s very well-suited to streaming and gaming. The Natural profile proved better for more authentic shades: I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 91% and a total volume of 93% – both of which are fine, if unspectacular. The average Delta E colour variance score, however, came back at 2.02, which is further from the target of <1 than I’d like to see at this price, and not even as good as the 90 Lite’s 1.66 result.

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Honor 200 Lite review: Performance and battery life

My biggest problem with the Honor 200 Lite is that the new 2.4GHz MediaTek Dimensity 6080 chipset barely surpassed its predecessor in the Geekbench 6 benchmark tests – we’re talking around 6% in the single-core section and a measly 2% bump in the multi-core.

Looking at the rest of the competition, the Honor 200 Lite is firmly middle of the pack. The Motorola Moto G73 5G, in particular, puts the Honor to shame with leads of 16% and 20% in the single and multi-core benchmarks, respectively.

Honor 200 Lite reviewIt’s a similar story over on the gaming side of things: the GPU technically ekes out an extra frame in both onscreen and offscreen portions, but it still trails behind the rest of the competition.

Realistically, you’re not looking for a serious gaming machine at this price, however, and for simple games in the vein of Candy Crush or Solitaire, the Honor 200 Lite performs well enough.

Honor 200 Lite reviewThings finally take a heel turn in the battery life testing, where the Honor 200 Lite blows away the competition with an excellent result of 25hrs 17mins. That’s a massive improvement over the Honor 90 Lite’s 16-hour stamina and one of the best results we’ve seen on a sub-£300 phone.

Honor 200 Lite review


Honor 200 Lite review: Cameras

The 108MP (f/1.8) main camera isn’t all that different from the Honor 90 Lite’s, but it’s such a competent shooter that it’s hard to be too mad about that. In good lighting conditions, it captures plenty of detail: the brickwork and roof shingles on the buildings pictured below are all well-defined, while the colours are nicely vibrant without drifting into overprocessed territory.

Quiet close with houses on the right and trees on the left

The night camera isn’t the fastest around, taking roughly four seconds to take the shot, but it does a decent enough job at boosting the brightness and the colours are fairly natural. Detail isn’t amazing, smoothing out the ground and the trees, but for this price, it’s not a bad effort.

Dark close at night, houses on the right and trees on the left

It always feels wasteful when the tired duo of 5MP ultrawide and 2MP macro lenses show up on a budget smartphone – for my money, it would be better to save the cash and just focus on one or two good rear cameras.

As expected, the 5MP (f/2.2) ultrawide camera is the definition of fine; it expands the scope well enough, but it blows out the exposure and the detail capture isn’t great, particularly towards the outer edges.

Wide angle view of a quiet close with houses on the right and trees on the left

Dedicating so few pixels to a lens intended to capture minute detail always feels a little backwards, so it’s unsurprising that the 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera is also quite mediocre, with inconsistent focus around the subject and a smudgy background blur.

Close up of a daisy in a wild meadow

The Honor 200 Lite shoots video in 1080p at 30fps like the 90 Lite before it, but the selfie camera gets a big boost with a new 50MP (f/2.1) lens. Portraits captured with this do a solid job of adjusting the skin tones to more natural shades and the extra detail is definitely noticeable – especially if you turn off Honor’s overzealous beautification feature.

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Honor 200 Lite review: Verdict

My recommendation for the Honor 200 Lite was on the fence for a minute there; the lack of meaningful performance improvements coupled with a £30 retail price increase rubbed me the wrong way, and the slightly weaker colour accuracy and mediocre secondary cameras did little to assuage my concerns.

Those are all still valid criticisms – there really should have been more in the way of hardware advancements – but the Honor 200 Lite just about inches over the line thanks to its terrific main camera and impressive battery life. The lightweight build and bright AMOLED display are well worth the price of admission, too, but it’s ultimately the Honor 200 Lite’s stamina and photography chops that earn it our Recommended award.

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