The budget segment is becoming an exciting market thanks to a bunch of smartphone makers from China led by Huawei and Xiaomi. Last year, the Honor 7X started selling in India and although it’s a remarkable device with a great price tag, it has recently been surpassed by the even more striking Honor 9 Lite, which started selling in India a while back and is continuing to garner some impressive reviews from around here.
In a few weeks’ time, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 will be available for purchase outside China, making the budget segment even more interesting. While the Honor 9 Lite and Redmi Note 5 have their own similarities, they also have quite a number of differences.
So, the question is should you buy the Honor 9 Lite or wait for the Redmi Note 5?
Honor 9 Lite vs. Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Specs
To answer this question, let’s begin with a side-by-side comparison of the Honor 9 Lite and Redmi Note 5 specs.
|Honor 9 Lite||Xiaomi Redmi Note 5|
|Design||Glass (front and back) and aluminum frame||Glass (front) and aluminum back, frame|
|Dimensions||151 x 71.9 x 7.6 mm||158.5 x 75.5 x 8.1 mm|
|Weight||149 grams||180 grams|
|Display||5.65-inch LCD, full HD+||5.99-inch LCD, full HD+|
|Processor||Kirin 659||Snapdragon 625|
|Software||Android 8.0 with EMUI 8.0||Android 7.1.2 with MIUI 9 (planned upgrade to Oreo)|
|Primary camera||Dual 13MP+2MP, PDAF, LED flash, 1080p video recording||12MP, f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, dual-tone LED flash, 4K video recording|
|Secondary camera||Dual 13MP+2MP, 1080p video recording||5MP, 1080p video recording|
|Extras||Bluetooth 4.2, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack||Bluetooth 4.2, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack, fast charging|
Both the Huawei Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 have been around the office for a while now. For anyone looking for a budget phone that is not limited by its price tag, these two are the best available on the market. But of course, chances are you won’t be buying both.
Design: The bold and the beautiful
Both phones sport minimal bezels and 18:9 designs, but in terms of the overall looks, there’s no going past the Huawei Honor 9 Lite. The phone has an undoubtedly beautiful body that is for sure hard not to love. From a distance, you’ll be forgiven for thinking the Honor 9 Lite is a flagship phone.
If you are in this purely for the stunning looks, you already have your pick, however, if you want something that trades some of the stunning looks of the Honor 9 Lite in favor of robustness, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is your answer.
We know how vulnerable glass can be on a phone and the Honor 9 Lite has plenty of it. Although it is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass technology, this doesn’t make it damage-proof. This is where the Redmi Note 5 carries the day with its aluminum back. This is a phone you can pick up after a fall and find no damage, but the same cannot be said of the Honor 9 Lite.
Better still, if you can do with a transparent case that adds some robustness to the phone, the Honor 9 Lite is a great option.
A bigger display is better. Or not?
Smartphones are getting bigger every day. It’s only a few years ago that the Google Nexus 6 was stealing the show with its massive 5.96-inch display, but today, we have an even bigger Samsung Galaxy Note 8. While the 5.99-inch screen and full HD+ resolution on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 mean you get a slightly less crispy display compared to the 5.65-inch full HD+ panel on the Honor 9 Lite, this is not really a problem because that’s something the naked eyes won’t notice.
Sure, the bigger Redmi Note 5 gives you more room to enjoy those great photos, watch videos, scroll less when reading messages on Facebook and WhatsApp or even enjoy movies when on the go, but in no way does a 5.65″ screen can be called small, right? After all, when that makes the device so easy to use thanks to bezel-less design in use, the 9 Lite is way easier to use while also sporting a display that’s big enough.
So, in case you are not really after a 6-inch display, or if you got not-big hands like me, the Honor 9 Lite, which is 7.5 mm shorter, should be a definite pick. The only setback is that you’ll get an equally smaller 3000mAh battery compared to the monstrous 4000mAh unit in the bigger Redmi Note 5, though that is easily set-off by that gorgeous design, plus the battery life is pretty good too even if slightly shorter than the Redmi Note 5.
Software and updates
The fact that the Honor 9 Lite comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box means it has an edge over the Nougat-powered Redmi Note 5. Of course, the latter will get an update to Oreo, but it misses out on one of the best features that debuted with Oreo – Google Project Treble.
And that’s not all. You can certainly expect Android P to arrive on the Honor 9 Lite, but since we have seen Xiaomi give its users only one Android platform upgrade, we’re kind-of certain the Redmi Note 5 won’t see a day in Android 9.0.
The ultimate decision
While this article can go on and on, the final decision will always rest with the final buyer. And this is where the money comes in. If you are looking at these two devices as your next phone, you are most probably running on a budget or maybe you no longer feel like spending huge amounts of money on a phone.
Whatever the case, both the Honor 9 Lite and Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 are your best answers. The former starts at Rs 10,999 and the latter is expected to come in priced at Rs 10,000 for the same memory configurations, making them the best for their price tags. The difference of INR 1,000 isn’t much, but if your dad agreed to INR 10,000 only after a month of mind-boggling efforts from your side to do and not do things, we can understand if you would just buy the Redmi Note 5 for that amount.
So, the Honor 9 Lite might be INR 1,000 more expensive than the Redmi Note 5, but from where we are seated, it is quite a steal at this price point. This is not to say the latter isn’t a great device. In fact, if you are looking for a robust phone with a long-lasting battery, adequate performance and a pretty impressive camera for its price, the Redmi Note 5 is what you should get. However, the Honor 9 Lite is a better choice in our eyes because of that sumptuous design and fine package overall.