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Honor 10 Lite Review: Good at almost everything
Honor 10 Lite is a great start for budget smartphones in the year 2019. It runs the latest Android, offers an all-screen design and a capable 24MP selfie camera
Huawei might be going through a tough time in international markets for various reasons; however, the company's sub-brand Honor has given a good start in India at the start of the year 2019. Honor has today unveiled the company's first handset for 2019 in affordable price category- the Honor 10 Lite. Priced at Rs. for the 4GB + 64GB variant, the smartphone is aimed at young tech-savvy smartphone users who don't want to compromise on looks and performance.
- Premium design at a budget price
- Crisp edge-to-edge screen with a tiny notch
- Smooth performance
- Handles games pretty well
- Latest Android 9.0
- Best-in-class Night mode in this price segment
- No Fast charging
- Fingerprint magnet, gathers scratches easily
- Battery life could have been better
- Underwhelming camera and audio performance
Honor 10 Lite is loaded with latest trending smartphone features and takes on highly popular Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro and Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2. As I have also reviewed the other two handsets, the following review will inform you about the good, bad and worse of the three handsets to make a better decision. Let's start with the key specifications of Honor 10 Lite.
Honor 10 Lite Specifications
Honor 10 Lite sports a 6.21-inch screen offering Full HD+ (1080p x 2340p) resolution. The handset runs the company's EMUI deployed on latest Android Pie OS. For the camera, Honor 10 Lite features a 24MP selfie camera and a 13MP + 2MP dual-lens rear camera setup. The smartphone is backed by the company's in-house Kirin 710 chipset paired with 4GB and 6GB RAM configuration. For storage and battery, Honor 10 Lite offers 64GB internal memory with microSD card support (up to 512GB) and is powered by a 3,400 mAh battery unit.
The above-mentioned specifications look very compelling when you consider the price of the smartphone. But as we know that on-paper specs don't always translate to complementary real-world performance, we subjected the handset to our standard testing routine by using it as a daily driver. Here's what we found out.
Design: Most premium looking smartphone in sub 15k
The first thing that most of us notice while buying a smartphone is the design and how the phone actually feels in hands. Having said that for a smartphone priced at Rs. , Honor 10 Lite is a looker. It is crafted beautifully and doesn't come across as a budget device. Honor 10 Lite can be used with one hand as the handset is very lightweight and ergonomic. Honor has done a wonderful job of packing a massive screen in such a compact form-factor, thanks to Chip-on-Film technology and 1.8mm bezels on sides of the screen.
Unlike Redmi Note 6 Pro's metal body, Honor 10 Lite is made out of plastic but it's of very good quality and does not make the device look and feel cheap by any means.
Dewdrop notch gives an all-screen design
Some key design elements that make Honor 10 Lite the best-looking budget smartphone are; Dewdrop notch, massive all-screen front, gradient color, and the 3D curved edge design. The only design letdown is the glossy back panel that is a fingerprint magnet and also catches scratches easily. The Midnight Black variant I am using has already gathered multiple scratches at the back panel. Make sure you use the handset with the bundled clear case in the package if you want to avoid any damage to your phone.
Buttons offer good tactile feedback
The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side of the handset and offer satisfactory tactile feedback. The fingerprint scanner is also placed at the sweet spot for a struggle-free unlocking experience.
Overall, Honor 10 Lite is a premium looking smartphone available at budget price-point. If design is one-of-the biggest deciding factor while buying a mobile device for you, Honor 10 Lite is our pick in sub-15k price-point.
Massive 6.21-inch edge-to-edge display
The big 6.21-inch Full HD+ display makes Honor 10 Lite a good device to stream videos and to play games. The 91% screen-to-body ratio makes video streaming and gameplay quite a delight. Honor has used an IPS LCD panel which is bright and crisp; however, it is not as vibrant as the screen on Redmi Note 6 Pro. Therefore, the gameplay and video playback lacks a certain punch which makes the viewing experience more immersive. I also noticed a slight bluish tint while using the screen for everyday purpose. I would recommend using the phone with the vivid mode (Under Display settings) for videos, gameplay and even for regular use.
As far as screen durability is concerned, Honor 10 Lite uses some protection glass but we haven't got the official branding of the screen protection used by the company. We will update this space as soon as we get the correct information. Overall, there are some issues with the screen but they are not deal-breakers when you consider the starting price of Rs. 14,000 for this handset.
Camera: Underwhelming camera output
As I have mentioned in my first impressions of the smartphone, Honor 10 Lite is the company's first smartphone to boast AI in both front and rear cameras. There's a massive 24MP selfie camera with Sony IMX 576 sensor and a 13MP + 2MP rear camera setup. Honor has added a lot of AI in the cameras. The front camera can recognize more than 200 scenarios across 8 categories. The rear camera can recognize over 500 scenes in 22 categories and can automatically apply the best settings for a perfect shot.
Good AI Implementation but images look animated
Does this make Honor 10 Lite a great budget camera phone? The answer is No. The camera performance is rather underwhelming. The AI implementation is pretty good but the end results are mostly average. What this means is that the camera is quite smart at understanding different elements in the frame such as Blue Sky, Greenery, Flowers, Beach, Stage performance, Night, Indoor and Snowscapes but the images just don't turn out good. The images shot by the rear camera in daylight are very crisp and show good detailing but the software is too harsh at bringing out sharpness. The end result can be pretty animated. The AI mode helps to some extent but then it has a tendency to saturate the colors. Some shots even show bluish tint. Portrait shots are pretty good for the budget price-point but show some inconsistent blurring at various spots. There's no 4K video recording and 1080p at 30fps videos are very shaky as the phone doesn't support OIS.
Best-in-class Night mode in sub 15K price-poin
What's good is the newly added ‘Night mode'. The shots are vibrant and show impressive detailing. Images show significant noise but clarity is where shots stand out. You can read more about Honor 10 Lite's camera in my detailed comparison of the handset with Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and Redmi Note 6 Pro.
24MP Selfie Camera is also pretty average
I was expecting some amazing results with the 24MP selfie camera but it also delivers pretty average results. The selfies lack that crispness you would want to see from a 24MP shooter. The images look soft and colors look washed out in daylight. Portrait mode is a savior for the phone as it delivers some good results but only when the lighting is good.
Honor 10 Lite is the first sub 15k handset by Honor to be powered by the in-house Kirin 710 chipset. On papers, the processing unit delivers 75% better speed and 130% boost in graphical performance when compared to company's Kirin 659 CPU. Honor 10 Lite also gets GPU Turbo Tech 2.0 which ideally should improve the gaming performance of the handset. In real life, this budget smartphone feels really snappy. Even the games ran smoothly and there were far fewer jitters during gameplay when compared to the company's previous budget handsets. Game titles like Shadow Fight 3, Guns of Boom ran without any lags. The handset even managed to run graphically intensive game Asphalt 9 pretty smoothly. You will not face any issues with everyday tasks like calling, video streaming, photo-editing and while running multiple applications at a time. Overall, Honor 10 Lite offered slightly better user experience when compared to Redmi Note 6 Pro and Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2, the handset's biggest rivals.
EMUI 9.0: Snappy and loaded with useful software features
On the software side, the smartphone runs on EMUI 9 based on the latest Android Pie. While there are not any major differences between EMUI 8 and EMUI 9 in terms of UI and features, the latest iteration of Google OS adds some useful software features like Digital Wellbeing and Gestures navigation. Digital Well-being is a great tool to keep a track of your smartphone usage. It offers important insights like hours spent on individual apps, screen-on time and a lot more. Gestures navigation feels half-baked on Honor 10 Lite but delivers a seamless full-screen user experience.
Coming back on the EMUI 9, it is very well optimized and packs in some neat tricks under its sleeve. You can choose the home screen layout, set magazine style wallpapers, swipe down to access universal search bar, customize display color tone and can even tweak the display resolution to save some battery life. Besides, the EMUI 9 also offers some other useful apps like Password vault, Ride mode, Smart assistance, etc. Last but not least, EMUI 9.0 also brings in HiTouch feature, which is basically added to give you an experience of Visual Shopping. While browsing web pages on Honor 10 Lite, you can simply hold two fingers on any particular image and the phone will find similar products by fetching online database. The feature can come quite handy in everyday routine. Make sure you have configured it otherwise the popup to configure the feature can be pretty annoying.
Battery life, Audio and Connectivity
Software, display, and cameras are really important but what truly makes or breaks a phone is battery life, call quality, and connectivity features. For battery backup, Honor 10 Lite draws its power from a 3,400 mAh battery unit which is considerably smaller than the standards set by Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and Redmi Note series handsets. In my testing, the handset rarely managed to last for one full day. I had to refuel the battery cell twice a day and you would also need to do the same if you stream videos, play games and click a lot of pictures. And sadly, the handset does not support fast charging. If battery life is your number one priority, look for other options.
As far as audio is concerned, the speakers on this budget handset are not very powerful and mostly feel underwhelming. Call quality, on the other hand, is pretty solid. One useful connectivity feature is Wi-Fi Bridge that lets you share your phone's Wi-Fi network with other devices.
Honor 10 Lite offers a premium in-hand feel and works brilliantly as a multimedia device, thanks to the crisp 6.21-inch edge-to-edge display with a tiny notch at center. At a starting price of Rs. 13,999, the smartphone also offers the latest Android OS and a snappy chipset. However, if the camera and battery life qualify as your major priorities, I would recommend the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro.