Huawei’s attention might be mostly attuned to the Mate 9 and its Porsche-inspired sibling, but the company nonetheless quietly announced the Mate 9 Lite, a slightly watered-down version of the original.
On the outside, the glass front and aluminum back curve at the edges, with the two thin antenna lines blending in pretty well. The front features a 5.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display and an 8-megapixel selfie camera, while a fingerprint sensor and dual-camera setup can be found around back. More specifically, we are looking at a 12MP and 2MP setup, quite the step down from the Mate 9’s 20MP and 12MP combo. Even so, that secondary camera is used as a depth sensor, which gives pictures a bokeh effect.
Under the hood, Huawei’s 2.1GHz octa-core Kirin 655 processor runs the show, with either 3GB or 4GB RAM accompanied by 32GB or 64GB of native storage, respectively. Unfortunately, unlike other Huawei phones, the Mate 9 Lite’s storage cannot be expanded, so make sure you will be happy with either storage option.
Regardless of the storage option, the Mate 9 Lite packs a respectable 3,340mAh battery that should be enough to carry you through the day. Lastly, and arguably most disappointing, the phone runs Huawei’s EMUI 4.1, the company’s take on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This is one of the bigger downgrades from the Mate 9, which runs the newer EMUI 5.0 above Android 7.0 Nougat. In our preview of the Mate 9, Digital Trends noted the improved design, the return of the app drawer, and fewer taps needed to access different functions.
Overall, the Mate 9 Lite certainly lives up to its name in more ways than one, but is still a strong midrange phone. Availability and pricing are still unknown at this point, though it might be safe to assume the Chinese market is one destination. When it does launch, the phone will be available in gold, gray, and silver.