Looks matter for the Honor 10 Lite

The Honor 10 Lite punches above its mid-range weight when it comes to looks, but is otherwise a competent all-rounder that does not do anything particularly well.

It is basically a watered-down version of the flagship Honor 10. At $288, the 10 Lite costs a little over half the price of its older sibling.

But Honor, a sub-brand of Chinese smartphone-maker Huawei, has done well in giving the 10 Lite the look and heft of a much pricier phone.

Even before I turned on the phone, I was already impressed with the glossy silvery-blue back panel of my review set.

The phone is also available in red, white and black.

Sure, the back panel is plastic, like the rest of the 10 Lite's body, but strangers jealously eyeing your phone on the daily commute will not know that.

Going all-plastic also means the 10 Lite is lighter and easier to grip than if glass or metal were used, a usability bonus which those on a budget will enjoy, although plastic is easier to scratch. The phone includes a headphone jack too.

Still, I was a little puzzled by the decision to go with a micro USB charging port as USB-C cables seem to be the way forward for new phone models.

There is also no option for fast charging or wireless charging. The 10 Lite takes about 1hr 30min to go from 0 to 100 per cent battery.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $288

    PROCESSOR: Kirin 710 (octa-core 4x 2.2GHz, 2x 1.7GHz)

    DISPLAY: 6.21-inch Full HD, IPS LCD, 2,340 x 1,080 pixels, 415 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: EMUI 9.0 (Android 9.0)

    MEMORY: 64GB, 3GB RAM

    REAR CAMERA: 13MP+2MP, (f/1.8 + f/2.4) aperture

    FRONT CAMERA: 24MP (f/2.0)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,400mAH battery

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

That being said, I feel that these are quibbles which can be overlooked, given the 10 Lite's price point.

The 6.21-inch screen is larger than that of the Honor 10 - 5.84-inch - and boasts a screen-to-body ratio of about 90 per cent and a "water drop" screen notch - another nod to a look normally seen on more premium models.

The screen works well in both bright and low-lit conditions, but does suffer under sunlight from being a little too reflective.

Battery life is decent, too, if not outstanding. The 10 Lite lasted about 10hr 30min in the video-loop battery test, which translates to a full day of moderate usage.

The phone comes with two cameras on its back and a selfie camera on the front. The 13MP back camera does most of the work, supported by the secondary 2MP depth-sensing module.

I am not fussy about my photos and the cameras performed well within my expectations. The shots I tried with ample ambient light were serviceable, less so in dim conditions, but this is an issue common to most lower-tier phones.

The AI mode tends to over-saturate colours a little, but I am fine with it.

A pleasant surprise was discovering that the 10 Lite comes with Android 9 Pie, the latest Android OS, with Huawei's user interface EMUI added on top of it.

One feature of Android 9 Pie that I like is the digital well-being function that tracks your screen time and app usage. This can be found in the 10 Lite under "Digital balance".

The 10 Lite also offers fingerprint and facial recognition features. Of the two, facial recognition worked more smoothly for me. The fingerprint sensor tended to lag slightly.

There is also a lag when gaming. The 10 Lite was not supposed to be a powerhouse and it will struggle on occasion with graphics-intensive mobile games such as Injustice 2.

• Verdict: What you get is not what you see with the Honor 10 Lite, but that is actually a major plus for a phone targeted at the budget market segment. As an average-performing model with top-tier looks, it is excellent value for money.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'Looks matter for the Honor 10 Lite'. Print Edition | Subscribe