Honor 10 Lite: To Be… or Not To Be

 

The question for us is whether the Honor 10 Lite is able to produce images that give it a competitive edge in a crowded mid-segment. K Madhavan Pillai finds out.

Honor 10 Lite

The Honor 10 still stands as one of the best value for money photography oriented phones we have tested. In a sense, while this raised our expectation with the Honor 10 Lite, we also knew that the latest iteration of the Lite would be competing in a very crowded mid-segment, from where we have yet to see a truly high-end camera offering that truly impressed us.

What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?
A large, vibrant 6.21-inch Full HD+ display with narrow bezels, pre-applied screen guard, dewdrop notch for the front camera, graduated mirror-finished back, and a reasonably slim profile, makes the design of the Honor 10 Lite quite exemplary, among the best looking phones in its price range. The back and sides are plastic (looks like glass), and prone to scratches. A transparent PU cover comes in the package.

It sports a mid-level, but speedy, power efficient Kirin 710 processor, paired with 3GB/32GB (base variant), with a 3400mAh battery, and is preloaded with Android 9 Pie-based EMUI 9.0. In terms of handling, speed, and battery life, the Honor 10 Lite does very well against other devices in its price bracket.

With DOF effects, after losing some good images to very poorly detected edges and renditions for blurs, with both rear and front cameras, I was happier just leaving it off. Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

The Honor 10 Lite is nowhere close to the Honor 10, in terms of its cameras (a bit of a let down, but not unexpected). It has an AI enabled dual rear camera setup—13MP f/1.8 main unit, supported by a 2MP depth sensing camera. The front camera is the highlight—24MP f/2.0, using a Sony IMX576 sensor that clubs pixels in low light.

The Cameras in Use
Camera modes include a Pro mode (but no RAW), a Panorama mode, nicely effective Light Painting modes (including star and traffic trails), HDR, and a Time-lapse video.

With regular photo and portrait modes, unfortunately, image processing is just too heavy-handed. Even with parameters like Beauty Level dialled all the way down and with Bokeh disabled, details are smoothened, and badly smeared when the ISO ramps up noise in low light levels. Detected faces are brightened to a large extent. Editing images shows distinct halos around faces, without ‘studio lighting’ options on. The Bokeh mode does not detect edges or differentiate background objects well enough. Images from the front camera are affected by these factors as well.

The front camera provides good detail in bright light, but suffers in low light. Images from both front and rear cameras are just too excessively processed, regardless of lighting condition, and JPEGs are highly compressed. Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

For those who are serious about image quality, the Mi A2 (4GB/64GB) rules the roost, especially at its recently lowered price point that puts it in direct competition with the Honor 10 Lite. However, for those who are not going to enlarge images much more than the phone’s screen size, and enjoy its superior design aesthetics, coupled with its otherwise good performance, the 3GB/32GB variant, at Rs. 13,999, makes a good buy too.

AT A GLANCE
SPECIFICATIONS 13MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/2.4 dual lens rear camera, 24MP f/2 front camera, 6.21-inch Full HD+ display, Kirin 710 processor, 3400mAh, Rs. 13,999.
WHAT WE LIKE Aesthetically pleasing, dewdrop notch, good display, speedy performance
WHAT WE DISLIKE Underwhelming front and rear camera performance
WHY BUY IT In a hotly contested mid-range segment, the Honor 10 Lite stands out as one of the best designed phones that looks much more expensive than it is
FINAL RATINGS 82%
CAMERA FEATURES 25MP Sony IMX576 front camera, AI enabled, Beauty Levels 21/25
IMAGE QUALITY Extremely poor image processing and DOF implementation 22/30
VIDEO QUALITY Full HD videos at 30fps/60fps, no IS, H.265 encoding available 11/15
HANDLING Intuitive OS interface, good handling with narrow bezels 14/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS Speedy phone with no lag 14/15
Tags: Cellphone Review, February 2019, Honor, Honor 10 Lite, K Madhavan Pillai