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Huawei P9 vs Huawei P9 Lite: What’s the difference?

Huawei’s latest flagship 2016 phone, the Huawei P9, has been available in the UK for a few months, and the P9 now has a cheaper sibling in the P9 Lite. So what’s the difference between these two P9 phones in terms of specs, features and the rest?

Huawei P9 vs Huawei P9 Lite

UPDATE: We’ve since played with all three Huawei P9 phones, so check out our Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite comparison for our full thoughts.

Huawei P9 vs Huawei P9 Lite: At a glance

  Huawei P9 Huawei P9 Lite
SCREEN SIZE 5.2-inches 5.2-inches
SCREEN RESOLUTION Full HD (1920×1080) Full HD (1920×1080)
WEIGHT 144 grams 147 grams
OS Android 6.0 w/ EMUI 4.1 Android 6.0 w/ EMUI 4.1
REAR CAMERA 12-megapixels 13-megapixels
FRONT CAMERA 8-megapixels 8-megapixels
PROCESSOR 1.8GHz/2.5GHz octa-core Kirin 955  1.7GHz/2.0GHz octa-core Kirin 650 
MEMORY 3GB RAM 2GB RAM
STORAGE 32GB. Expandable up to 128GB 16GB. Expandable up to 128GB
BATTERY 3000mAh 3000mAh

Design

Face on, both phones are markedly similar, they’re about the same size and weight, feature the same rounded, chamfered metal edging and both sport 5.2-inch displays; at a distance you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart. Contrary to the name, the P9 Lite is actually the larger and heavier of the two phones, although only by a small margin (144g vs 147g), but it’s the back where the cosmetic differences are more obvious.

Both phones pack a centrally positioned fingerprint sensor, which lends itself well to ambidextrous use, but the P9 Lite’s camera arrangement is a more conventional affair. The P9’s flagship standing brought with it a brand partnership with Leica and a notable dual camera setup, the P9 Lite looks closer to last year’s Huawei P8, with a single camera set within a squared surround.

The Lite also isn’t quite as future-proofed as its flagship counterpart, relying on an older microUSB connection at its base in place of the P9’s newer reversible Type-C USB port.

Screen

As was already mentioned, both phones boast 5.2-inch displays. Both panels rock a conventional Full HD 1920×1080 resolution and IPS LCD technology ensuring strong overall brightness, accurate colours and decent viewing angles.

The P9 takes the lead by a whisker by leveraging JPD’s IPS NEO LCD technology, which promises even better contrast and colours as well as lower power consumption.

OS

Huawei’s most recent skinned take on the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow has been dubbed Emotion UI (aka EMUI) 4.1 and both the P9 and P9 Lite feature this same user experience.

It does away with some Android staples, like an apps drawer and instead brings in some handy new features like a one-handed mode, lockable apps, extended screenshots. With Marshmallow underneath, both phones also feature Google’s latest tools, such as Now on Tap and individual app permissions, for greater control over individual applications.

Performance

The most obvious differences on paper are those that you can’t see. The P9 runs Huawei’s top of the line HiSilicon Kirin 955 octa-core SoC, whilst the Lite uses the mid-range Kirin 650 and depending on the skew you’ll either pick the P9 up with 3GB or 4GB of RAM, with the P9 Lite up for grabs with 2GB or 3GB of RAM.

The flagship P9 also comes with double the internal storage at 32GB, as opposed to 16GB inside the P9 Lite, but luckily both phones share in support for microSD expandability by up to 128GB, high definition audio and each comes with a non-removable 3000mAh battery.

As we’re yet to review the P9 Lite, we can’t officially make any claims on battery longevity, but if it’s anything like its flagship sibling, it should be a reliable device. In our battery tests the Huawei P9’s 3000mAh cell lasts just shy of two days on a single charge.

Cameras

Not all cameras are created equal and despite the higher megapixel count from the P9 Lite (13-megapixels in place of 12 of the P9) we have a sneaking suspicion that whilst it’ll produce good shots most of the time, they won’t come close to the clarity, quality and overall versatility output by the P9’s dual camera arrangement.

The P9 uses its distinctive Sony Exmor RS IMX286 dual sensor to capture stills in colour or black and white, with better low light performance as a result of larger 1.25µm pixels. The P9 Lite uses the same IMX214 sensor found on HTC’s Desire EYE and the front-facing camera in the Sony Xperia M5. As such it’s a competent unit, but not excellent, especially by comparison to the newer tech in the P9.

One noteworthy feature across both handsets is that they pack the same camera UI, which Huawei instigated following the Leica branding partnership of the P9. They also both come with 8-megapixel front-facing cameras.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a phone with an equivalent level of fit, finish and polish to the likes of the P9, then the P9 Lite looks like it ticks all the necessary boxes. Its lower level internals and camera aren’t a massive surprise and the phone will likely feature a reduced price tag to match when it hits store shelves later this month.

Read next: Huawei P9 Review: In Depth

You can grab the Huawei P9 from O2 from £33 per month

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