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?
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.
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.
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.
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 with 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.