When the Huawei P9 launched earlier this month it went big on its dual Leica cameras feature; that was what really sold it above and beyond its considerable competition. But if that's the gold-topped pint of milk then, well, the Huawei P9 Lite is red-top skimmed by comparison, as its solitary standard camera attests.
Thing is, the P9 Lite isn't pretending to be anything other than what it is: it's a stripped-down version of the company's flagship after all and, having handled the device at CES Asia, in Shanghai, we have to give kudos to Huawei for carrying off pretty decent build quality in this mid-level format. Not that the P9 Lite is the very same phone as the P9 proper, the latter phone which we've handled for a number of weeks in use as our day-to-day phone.
The first thing that struck us about the Lite is that it feels bigger. "It can't be", we thought. But, sure enough, it is: admittedly only a mere 0.5mm in thickness (of 7.5mm total) and a couple of millimetres in length and width - but being tuned to it we could feel that difference.
That therefore adds a few grams to the weight, but at 147g this metal-clad phone is certainly not heavy. It's well made too, aping the design of the P9 proper, not scrimping on the materials front or chamfered edges. Sure, it still has the not-so-nice white plastic "bars" that intersect the frame, but you'll not be staring directly at them.
Another difference is the fingerprint scanner to the rear: in the Lite it's more square and higher up the body than the P9's circular offering, nor is it recessed into the body, so doesn't feel quite as immediate in use. Still, maintaining such a feature in a mid-level phone shows the importance a fingerprint scanner has these days.
With the P9 only just arriving in UK stores, there's still no confirmation as to whether the P9 Lite will follow for a UK audience. We got to see the last-generation P8 Lite, albeit quietly, so that approach may be much the same this time around.
Price-wise, it's anyone's guess, but we'd expect it to fall between the £160-200 mark. The reflects the feature set: 2GB RAM, the mid-spec Kirin 650 (it's still octa-core, mind) and a single 13-megapixel camera to the rear. How that will come together to use we can't specifically tell you, having only dabbled in the Chinese version of Huawei's EMUI on the show floor, which isn't reflective of what would arrive in the UK, Android and full Google love included.
Lower spec ought to mean higher performance from the 3,000mAh battery that's tucked away in this slender shell, though. And with a 5.2-inch 1080p screen to power - which isn't quite as dazzling as the P9's - it's not touching next-level resolution either, not that it needs any more in our view.
So while it might be a low calorie take on the P9, sometimes the skimmed option does everything that you want: which is exactly the point of the P9 Lite. Fair price, fair performance and more than fair design lead the way here, the big difference being the shedding of those dual Leica cameras to the rear.