We review and compare the Huawei P9, P9 Plus and P9 Lite, three versions of the same smartphone with different specs and features, to see which is best for you. Here’s our full P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite comparison review.
It’s been three months since we reviewed the Huawei P9, a premium flagship phone that – so far – is the closest Huawei has come to beating rival blowers like the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s. Some gorgeous hardware matched with solid battery life and a pleasingly rich dual-lens camera experience makes for an enjoyable mobile, although the P9’s software could use some serious overhauling.
Now we have two new spin-off models of the P9: the P9 Lite, which is a more budget-friendly version of the P9, and the P9 Plus, which is a bigger, almost phablet-sized model. So, how do these three P9 mobiles stack up in terms of specs and which is best for you?
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: At a glance
|Phone||Huawei P9||Huawei P9 Plus||Huawei P9 Lite|
|Press Touch screen?||No||Yes||No|
|Processor||Kirin 955||Kirin 955||Kirin 650|
|Rear camera||12MP Dual Leica||12MP Dual Leica||13MP|
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: Design
We’re big fans of the P9 design, from those iPhone-esque metallic curves to the funky and distinctive camera bar on the rear. It’s a skinny and reasonably light handset that’s easy to use one handed, and pleasingly rugged to boot.
We’re pleased to see the P9 Plus carry over that design ethos, with an almost identical appearance to the P9. However, the P9 Plus blows up the original P9 from a 5.2-inch mobile to a 5.5-inch handset, which means it’s bigger, heavier and best suited to two-handed use. That said, there is a one-handed mode that can be quickly accessed by swiping your finger across the lower toolbar, which shrinks the desktops towards one corner of the display for easier use.
You might expect the P9 Lite to be a more compact version of the P9, like the Xperia Z5 Compact, but in fact the P9 Lite’s screen size is 5.2-inches, just like the original P9. In fact, the P9 Lite is actually a tad chunkier and heavier than the P9 – that ‘lite’ moniker comes from the stripped-back specs, not the design.
The P9 Lite shuns the premium metals of its more expensive brothers and makes do with a basic plastic backing instead. It’s not a bad looking phone by any means, but it’s a far cry from the stand-out aesthetics of the P9 and P9 Plus.
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: Screen and media
The original P9‘s 5.2-inch IPS screen is a well-designed panel, boasting strong brightness levels, wide viewing angles and realistic colour reproduction. So, how do the P9 Plus and P9 Lite displays compare?
Well, the P9 Plus boosts the dimensions to a 5.5-inch panel, which makes for an ever-so-slightly bigger viewing space when relaxing with a movie or indulging in a YouTube marathon session. It’s also an AMOLED screen, which makes for more punchy colours.
You actually get complete manual control over the P9 Plus display’s colour temperature, something also found in the standard P9, which proves handy if you use the handset a lot at night; just make the screen warmer and it’s easier on the eyeballs. However, the P9 Plus also comes with a ‘Vivid Colour Mode’ feature which boosts colour richness, as well as a View Mode feature that can shrink or grow the smartphone’s fonts.
Another difference is the P9 Plus’ support for what Huawei calls ‘Press Touch’. This is just Apple’s 3D Touch by another name, allowing you to jump straight to specific app features by pushing forcefully on the app shortcut and selecting from a menu of options. You can also zoom into photos by pushing at varying degrees on the screen. Press Touch isn’t available outside of the P9 Plus, but ultimately it’s a fluffy feature so won’t be missed.
The P9 Lite sports a more basic 5.2-inch IPS screen. Viewing angles aren’t as strong, nor is the P9 Lite’s panel as bright as its rivals here. Likewise, you get only very limited control over the colour temperature and there’s no Vivid Colour Mode.
Still, Huawei hasn’t trimmed the P9 Lite’s resolution, so you once again get Full HD visuals which keeps your content looking nice and sharp. And all three phones also boast microSD memory card support to expand the on-board storage.
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: Features
When it comes to the everyday features and user experience, there isn’t much at all between these three phones.
All three run Android Marshmallow, with Huawei’s own Emotion UI spread neatly over the top, giving Google’s OS a unique look and feel. That means none of these handsets have an apps tray, so like the iPhone and iPad, you’ll need to store all of your apps on the desktops.
The P9, P9 Plus and P9 Lite also sport their own fingerprint sensor, for quickly and securely unlocking your phone. In fact, when it comes to features, the main point of difference between these handsets is the camera tech; check out our camera section for more info.
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: Performance and battery life
We haven’t fully tested the P9 Lite’s performance and battery life just yet, but so far it’s proved to be a dependable handset. That’s despite Huawei slashing the P9 and P9 Plus’ Kirin 955 processor down to a Kirin 650 chipset for the P9 Lite.
Android Marshmallow runs well on the P9 Lite, as it does on the other P9 phones, and so far we manage to get a solid day and a half of life from a single charge, even with regular use. The P9 also enjoys at least a day and a half of existence per charge, unless you hammer it with non-stop YouTube streaming or something similar. And the P9 Plus, with its enlarged 3400mAh battery, can just about stretch to the same – after all, it has that larger screen to power.
Both the P9 and P9 Plus boast the latest Type-C USB port for charging up, which is fully reversible and also supports faster data transfer when connected to a computer. However, the P9 Lite has a bog-standard USB 2.0 port, to cut costs.
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: Cameras
The P9 and P9 Plus both sport a very cool dual-lens 12-megapixel snapper on their rear, which can capture some very good-looking shots with minimal effort. However, the P9 Lite ditches this dual-lens setup for a more basic 13-megapixel camera that isn’t quite as strong in most areas.
Check out our complete P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite camera comparison feature for our full thoughts, photo and video samples.
Huawei P9 vs P9 Plus vs P9 Lite: Verdict
The P9 and P9 Plus are very closely related, if not quite twins because of that size difference. You may get the option of a more vibrant screen with the P9 Plus, but the major deciding point is always going to be dimensions. Crave a phone that can be easily operated with a single mitt? Go for the vanilla P9, then.
However, the gulf between the P9 Lite and its sibling smartphones is quite wide. If you drop down to the P9 Lite you lose a lot of aesthetic appeal, and have to make do with a more basic screen and stripped-back camera tech. Considering the gorgeous design and awesome cameras were the best bits of the P9 to start with, we’d recommend giving the P9 Lite a bit of a berth and opting for something like the Moto G4 instead.