Slap bang in the middle of 2018, Honor released the venerable Honor 10 smartphone, which were pretty big fans of. Why? For the simple reason that his drop-dead gorgeous handset offered impressive camera performance and near-flagship specifications for the palatable price of £ 399 (or € 449 in the Eurozone).
Now, Honor's followed up with the Honor 10 Lite. As the name implies, this is a cheaper version, with suitably scaled-down specifications. But before you write it off as an uninspiring entry-level phone, keep reading. It's actually really good ̵
For the past month, I've been diligently road-testing the Honor 10 Lite. On a recent trip to Beijing. Since then, it's served as one of my daily workhorses, alongside top-shelf models like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the Honor Magic 2.
Suffice to say, it did not feel like a major downgrade. The Honor 10 Lite offered decent day-to-day performance, alongside impressive battery endurance. Likewise, it's really good.
Like it said, it's really good. For the full verdict, read on.
Glancing through the Honor 10 Lite's specs, it becomes clear that this is a budget phone.
- HiSilicon Kirin 710 octa-core CPU (4x 2.2GHz, 4x 1.7Ghz)
- 3GB RAM  64GB ROM
- MicroSD support
- 6.21-inch display (2340 × 1080, 415ppi)
- 13MP + 2MP rear-facing camera (f / 1.8, PDAF)
- 24MP front-facing camera (f / 2.0)
- 3,400mAh battery (non-removable)
- Android 9.0 Pie
Budget phones often tend to be drab, unattractive affairs. That's not true of the Honor 10 Lite, which boasts a gorgeous reflective rear, paired with a truly diminutive notch and breathtakingly tight bezels.
Let's start with the notch, as it's inevitably the first thing most people notice about a phone. This is tiny, its width just a few millimeters. This drop-shaped area houses the Honor 10 Lite's solitary front-facing camera, and is so scarce that it's even there.
There is a catch though. Although smaller notches give you more screen real-estate, it's worth emphasizing that they limit what you can do. Bokeh-filled selfies are a facial recognition sensor, or a secondary camera for stunning bokeh-filled selfies. That's hardly a deal-breaker when you consider the bargain price, however.
While the Honor 10 Lite has tight bezels, the phone's "chin" is fairly substantial. Below this is the phone's solitary speaker, as well as a microUSB port for charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The speaker is not the loudest we've ever heard, but it's certainly good enough for simple tasks, like listening to podcast while luxuriating in the bath. And while I was delighted to find a physical headphone jack, I'm a little saddened to see the presence of microUSB on a phone launched in 2019.
On the rear of the phone , you'll see a stunning metallic gradient effect. While this is not elaborate as that found on the original Honor 10, it's still pretty eye-catching. TNW was provided with the blue model, and this fade from a chrome-tinged silver at the top.
The Honor 10 Lite comes with a physical fingerprint reader, which is located on the rear of the phone. This is easy to find with your index finger, and is pleasantly responsive, delivering lightning-fast unlock times. I actually prefer this to the now-vogue under-screen fingerprint reader.
At the top left of the phone, you'll find its two rear cameras. These are located slightly off the phone's chassis, and are led by an LED flash. We'll discuss the Honor 10 Lite's camera performance later.
The Honor 10 Lite comes with Android Pi, skinned with Huawei's EMUI 9 software. This will not be to everyone's tastes, admittedly, especially Android purists who prefer the stock experience.
Personally though, I like it. EMUI is a subtle and unobtrusive, with mobile phone features like the picture-identifying HiTouch. It's clear that Huawei has taken great pains to improve over the years.
There's a welcome lack of bloatware. Besides the usual stock Huawei Android apps (like Huawei Health), as well as the Microsoft-owned SwiftKey (which I immediately replaced with Google's Gboard virtual keyboard), there is not much to grumble about. I only wish the same about other manufacturers.
So, let's talk about performance. As noted the Honor 10 Lite is a step down from the original Honor 10. The model TNW had tested 3GB of RAM, compared to the 6GB found on its predecessor (though a more expensive 6GB model is available). In addition, the Lite comes with an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710 processor, rather than the more meaty Kirin 970 found on its predecessor.
Despite this relative downgrade, the Honor 10 Lite does not feel sufficiently compromised or sluggish. It handles media-rich content without breaking a sweat, or becoming bogged down. Similarly, it is possible to handle some games without excess stuttering. Huawei Mate 20 Pro, I was able to reconcile that with the fact that this is a budget phone.
The Honor 10 Lite comes with Huawei's GPU Turbo software. This promises improved performance and battery life when gaming.
The Lite comes in a In the Huawei / Honor stable.
 Huawei (and to the same extent Honor) are increasingly touting, and the Honor 10 Lite comes with it's Master AI camera software.
This works really well, but a consequence of using the software is inevitably end up looking at. From looking at them, it's obvious that they've been processed in some way. It's just something to consider.
The phone's camera software comes with the same impressive "night mode" first found on the Huawei P20 Pro (which we've previously gushed about). But while the P20 Pro had three cameras, a massive pixel sensor, and an ungodly amount of megapixels, the same is true, and it does not quite produce the same spectacular effects.
The Honor 10 Lite has a decent-enough 24MP front-facing camera. The master AI's "beauty mode," which softens and brightens skin to the extreme. This is a cherub-like look.
Punters in China have been able to get their hands on the Honor 10 Lite for a couple of months now, but It's being rolled out in the UK and Europe, where it'll retail for £ 199 and € 229 respectively. As is typical with Huawei and Honor.
Overall, I was impressed with the Honor 10 Lite. While it's clearly a budget phone, it's certainly one I would not embarrassed to carry around with me. Happiness is acceptable, given the price, while the camera produced decent-enough snaps for Instagram, based on Huawei's Master AI software.
We therefore liked that it comes with the latest-and-greatest version of Android, which is not guaranteed, especially when you're looking at the bottom of the smartphone market.
The absence of USB-C is a head-scratcher, especially in 2019. The camera thus noticeably struggled in low-light conditions. Broadly speaking though, this is a good phone, and one would not hesitate to recommend to friends and family.
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Published January 14, 2019 – 11:00 UTC
Product Honor 10 Lite by Huawei