Huawei P9 Lite Review: A smartphone that is light on price but strong on performance and design

Huawei P9 Lite feature1


The Huawei P9 Lite succeeds the P8 Lite as the mini version of the 2016 flagship – the P9. In comparison to the P8, there are a couple of improvements that have been made specifically to the battery, display and build quality.

The P9 Lite amazes you from the time you hold it in your hands to when you start customising and using it.  With the same design philosophy as the P8 Lite, the P9 Lite use a metallic frame and a polycarbonate back adding a fingerprint scanner and a couple of tricks that make using the P9 worth your dime.

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As lite as it is, the P9 lite packs in 2/3GB of RAM, 16GB ROM, a 3000mAh battery, a fingerprint scanner, and a 13MP camera. However, not all things are rosy about the P9. In this review we break it down showing you our experience, the pros, cons and most of the information you need to know about the P9 Lite. Let’s start with the unboxing.

Huawei P9 Lite Uboxing


For the device we got, the packaging was rather disappointing as we expected premium packaging. All we got was a white little non branded box with serial numbers on the side. If I got that from a shop, I would doubt how genuine the device is but since we got it from Huawei itself, we were satisfied. In the box was;

  • Huawei P9 Lite
  • Earphones
  • Travel charger with USB cable
  • Screen Protector
  • SIM ejection tool

The thing about the P9 Lite is the premium feeling you instantly get when you hold it in your palm. You begin to feel how solid the device is and when you power it on and set it up, it continues to wow you. Before we dive into what makes the P9 Lite wow, let’s see the specs its packs.

Huawei P9 Lite Specifications

Announced: April 2016
Available: April 2016
Colors: Black, White, Gold
SIM: Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual standby)
OS: Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
4G LTE Bands: LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 19(800), 28(700), 40(2300)
Dimensions: 1146.8 x 72.6 x 7.5 mm
Weight: 147 g
Display: 5.2 inches, FHD 1080 x 1920 pixels (~424 ppi pixel density)
CPU: Quad-core 1.7/2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
Memory: 16 GB, 2/3 GB RAM, microSD up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)
Camera: 13 MP, f/2.0, autofocus, LED flash, 8 MP, f/2.0
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, LE
Sensors: Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Proximity, Compass
Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery

What’s New?

  • Fingerprint Sensor
  • HiCare App
  • Huawei Health App
  • Better battery Management

Setting Up

Setting up the Huawei P9 Lite was easy with no complications. As usual we signed in with a Gmail account and later had to sign up for a Huawei account to access some of the Huawei services. The P9 Lite came clean with only relevant apps and no bloatware. This leaves you enough space on the device to do whatever you want with it. Everything else just worked out of the box and that heavily impacted on our experience with the device.

Huawei P9 Lite SIM Slot

Huawei P9 Lite Design

The P9 Lite carries the same design philosophy like it’s predecessor the P8 Lite with a few tweaks. The biggest though is that the P9 ditched the plastic body for a metallic finish. The Finish is so good you may think it’s all metal but it is not. Only the frame is while the back is made of polycarbonate. The 5.2 inch P9 Lite is as slim as 7.5mm and 147g light with a 70% screen to body ratio. The ear piece as usual was placed top centre with the front camera and proximity sensor to the left.

The notification light that so many have come to love sits at the top right and the Huawei Logo at the bottom centre. The earphone jack was placed at the top slightly to the right. The left side carries the SIM & SD card slot while the right has the volume rockers and power button. The charging port and speakers were placed at the bottom edge. The textured back features the the camera placed top left with the LED flash. Slightly below it is the fingerprint sensor and more huawei brading at the bottom centre.

Huawei P9 Lite in hand

 OS and Apps

The Huawei P9 Lite comes with the EMUI 4.1 based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Fortunately the P9 comes with a few must have apps and let’s you install the rest. We were excited about apps like HiCare, Health and Phone Manager.

HiCare allows you access the device manual, and vital information including locating the nearest store you can get your device repaired.

Health App is a more integrated health assistant that helps you stay active by tracking your diet and exercise. Even if there are apps that already do this, Huawei designed the app to work best with their devices.

Phone Manager is another Huawei smartphone optimizer that helps you boost your phone’s performance automatically. Once again there are apps that do this but this is better because it is free and will not be laced in Ads.

As usual Huawei’s Emotion UI doesn’t come with an app drawer but that is something that most if its fans are probably used to by now. Android 6.0 is highly customisable allowing you to make your device truly yours. The P9 will allow you to choose from 6 themes, create folders to organize your apps, customise colors, transitions, how you receive and respond to notifications among others.

Even if not yet officially out, we also hope that Huawei will release an Android Nougat 7.0 update for the P9 Lite.

Huawei P9 Lite Speakers & USb Port

P9 Lite Tips and tricks

  • Use the fingerprint scanner to access notification centre, scroll through pictures, take a selfie, answer a call and stop an alarm.
  • Choose between Standard and Simple UI
  • Set notification light to show different colors for different notifications
  • Customise Notification centre, notifications, how you receive them and what actions to take
  • Set up different user accounts for the same phone
  • customise navigation bar
  • Quick access floating dock
  • Flip to mute incoming call
  • Shifting keyboard and one – hand operation. Can shift the keyboard around the screen or reduce the size of the screen to help you use one hand.
  • touch disable mode keeps the device from accidental operation while in your pocket or bag
  • “Do Not Disturb” Mode
  • Battery Manager helps you conserve battery

Huawei P9 Lite Camera & fingerprint scanner

Huawei P9 Lite Camera

Forget the days when the battle was for hardware. If it was all about how many pixels, the Nokia Pureview with its 41MegaPixels would have been the world’s best selling camera phone. We now know that it is a combination of hardware and software interacting seamlessly to deliver crisp images.

The P9 Lite packs a 13MP primary camera and an 8MP selfie camera. The Camera features a 27mm SONY IMX214 lens, a 2.0 aperture and Back Side Illumination (BSI) technology that work together to give you crisp images. The P9 camera has a fast shutter and a good enough interpretation of low light enabling you to take photos in poor lighting conditions.

We had some time to take some still life photos and this is what we got.

P9 Lite Battery: Great battery performance but charges slow

After multiple charge and recharge cycles we put the P9 battery to a stress test to see how good the 3000mAh hold up and we were impressed. The battery holds up really good especially with normal usage.

if you only pick a couple of calls, check emails, social media every once in awhile and may be listen to some music, the P9 battery could last you a whole day.

The P9 has a couple of battery saving features plus an ultra Saver mode that gets you about 20 minutes on 2% charge. The battery is strained most when you game and watch movies or video constantly. What we didn’t like though was that it took us between 3-4 hours to get a full charge and that wasnt cool. Huawei should have combined the good battery management with a quick charge feature to help you stay powered up.

Entertainment: Full HD display, impressive graphics and sound

The Huawei P9 Lite comes with 16GB memory on board expandable to 256GB. It also comes with a Radio that is a favorite for many. The 5.2 inch display is just enough to help you enjoy your games, videos and movies with ease. You will have to invest in a high speed memory card and you will be good to go.

The earphones were also impressive delivering good quality sound amidst other functionality. Even if the Huawei looks like it has what looks like dual speakers, the sound actually only comes from the bottom right speaker with the left just complementing the design. That aside, the P9 Lite still delivers good quality sound that we found loud enough if you need it to be. We enjoyed Games, Video, Music and Radio

Huawei P9 Lite Vs. P8 Lite

SpecsHuawei P8 LiteHuawei P9 Lite
Dual SIMDual SIM (Nano)Dual SIM (Nano)
OSAndroid 5.0.2 Lollipop upgradable to 6.0Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Memory16GB, 2GB RAM16GB, 2/3GB RAM versions
Display5.0 HD, 720*1280, 294 dpi5.2 FHD, 1080*1920, 424 dpi
ColorsBlack, White, GoldBlack, White, Gold
Size7.7 mm thin, 131g heavy7.5 mm thin, 147g heavy
Camera13MP f.2.0/5MP13MP f.2.0/8MP f.2.0
BatteryNon Removable 2200 mAhNon Removable 3000 mAh
SensorsAccelerometer, Proximity, CompassFingerprint, Accelerometer, Proximity, Compass
PriceUgx 800,000Ugx 950,000

Thumbs Up

  • HiCare App
  • Huawei Health App
  • Fingerprint Sensor
  • Impressive Camera
  • No Bloatware/unnecessary apps
  • In built smartphone optimiser
  • Good battery Management
  • Highly customisable with interesting tricks

Thumbs Down

  • You have to choose between a second SIM card or Memory card – You can’t have both.
  • Slow charging
  • No gesture support

Huawei P9 Lite Price and Where to Buy

The Huawei P9 lite smartphone is available in Gold, black and white and can be accessed in Uganda countrywide at all Huawei affiliated dealerships and distributors, with retail prices ranging from Ugx 950,000 to Ugx 980,000 depending on the vendor.

Some of the dealerships include Banana Phone World Lugogo Mall, Kampala Road, Simba Telecom, MTN, Africell and Airtel Stores among others. We however strongly recommend that you purchase your devices from genuine vendors only who provide functional warranties.

Wrapping it Up

Nothing is perfect. I could have gotten into technical jargon talking about what Huawei could have done better and of course there’s a couple of things. In summary, we had an amazing experience with the P9 Lite and whatever wasn’t on point is something we could adapt or get used to. This is so especially because of the price point. If I reviewed a flagship costing an arm and a leg, I would be that lenient because we expect nothing but the best in a flagship device.

If you want a premium experience and good performance on a budget, then the P9 would be your best deal. It is a perfect upgrade to an entry level or mid range device. Huawei has gone ahead to create proprietary apps that make using the P9 fun and quite addictive. Combined with the affordability and customisation, the P9 makes for a good deal. We give it a Dignited Rating of 4 stars out of 5.