Great to look at and sporting some impressive tech under its hood, the Huawei P8 Lite 2017 is a remarkable phone when you consider the price. The plastic design makes it feel a bit cheap, but then, of course, it is.
Huawei sure likes to confuse us when it comes to naming its smartphones. Back in 2015 the Chinese firm released the flagship Huawei P8, along with a low-cost sibling in the form of the P8 Lite.
We’ve since had the Huawei P9 and the P9 Lite, not to mention the brand new P10 and P10 Plus, but Huawei has decided to revive the P8 Lite for a second release with this more powerful 2017 edition.
Confused? You may well be, but ultimately what you get here is a stylish mid-range offering powered by an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655 chipset and sporting a 1080p 5.2-inch screen, all for less than £200 (around $245/AU$320).
The handset is running Android 7.0 and comes with NFC, as well as a large 3,000mAh battery with fast charging, a fingerprint scanner and dual SIM support, so on paper there’s a lot here for the money, but does it stand up to low-cost rivals like the Lenovo P2 in practice?
Glass front and back with a plastic frame
Bright full HD 5.2-inch display
While it’s hard to argue that any smartphone is truly unique in terms of appearance these days, it’s pretty easy to see where Huawei is getting its inspiration from.
The rounded edges of the P8 Lite 2017 instantly call to mind the iPhone 7, as does the 2.5D “arc” glass used on the screen.
Flip the device over however and it’s impossible not to think of the Google Pixel, especially with that rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. It’s quite possible that the P8 Lite was in development before either of these handsets broke cover, but there’s no denying that it shares a lot of the same design language.
However, while those phones – and Huawei’s leading flagships – make use of metal bodywork, the P8 Lite betrays its budget status with a plastic frame.
This runs around the edges of the phone and gives it a slightly cheap feel, but this is mitigated by the fact that it has tempered glass on both the front and the back, calling to mind the LG Nexus 4 from a few years ago.
While we weren’t brave enough to conduct our own drop test, it goes without saying that having glass on both sides means you’ll ideally want to clad the 2017 P8 Lite in some kind of protective case. Those shiny surfaces are magnets for smudgy fingerprints, too.
Huawei has kept things simple when it comes to inputs. The power and volume buttons are located on the right-hand side of the phone, while the aforementioned fingerprint scanner is on the back.
On the bottom edge there’s the micro USB port (not Type-C, we’re sorry to say) and to the right of this is a mono speaker. To the left there’s another grille, but we’re assuming this contains the in-call microphone as there’s certainly no speaker behind it.
On the top-left edge of the P8 Lite 2017 you’ll find the SIM tray, which has two slots – one of which can be used to house a microSD card, if you so wish.
Dual SIM support is a neat extra if you have two different contracts – one for business and one for personal use – but it’s something which is more popular in Huawei’s native China than over here, at least for the time being. Finally, on the top edge of the phone we have the 3.5mm headphone socket.
Full HD displays aren’t that common on smartphones costing less than £200 (around $245/AU$320), which is what makes the P8 Lite’s 5.2-inch, 1080 x 1920 resolution screen all the more surprising.
Of course, the number of pixels you can cram into a screen means nothing if the panel isn’t up to scratch, but thankfully the display on the P8 Lite 2017 is excellent.
The auto-brightness setting can be somewhat aggressive at times and makes the screen look quite dull, but at full brightness it’s positively striking, with bold colours and sharp contrast. Viewing angles are also superb.