While one brand has made a couple big changes and brought about a phone in the market, without even having the major reason why people like their previous phones, the other one continues to hit the market with yet another smartphone in the same segment, but with no similarity in the looks with the other ones. If you have been following the recent developments, you’d know I am talking about Xiaomi and Honor. The Mi A1 from Xiaomi doesn’t have the MIUI and still, it is a good phone, but on the other side, the Honor 9 Lite is made and brought to just flaunt itself with that killer design, retaining mostly everything else from the leader Honor 7x.
In the recent comparison that we did between the Honor 7x and the Xiaomi Mi A1, it was clear how the latter had to give up in some important aspects. But now, how does the same phone fare in comparison to the newly launched Honor 9 Lite? Let’s check it out.
As usual, let’s start with the design and display. That’s where the big marks are already given to the Honor 9 Lite. Not just for the glass body, but also for the size, even though having a marginally bigger display, and a better resolution. The Xiaomi Mi A1 has a metal unibody while on the other side, the metal part on the Honor 9 Lite is only on the side frame, while the back of the phone has a 2.5D glass sheet that is reflective and looks so good. Now, while having a 5.65-inch display when compared to the 5.5-inch display on the Mi A1, the Honor 9 Lite still is smaller and rather more comfortable to hold.
That size is achieved due to the 18:9 aspect ratio that uses up more space on the front and thus you don’t see a lot of area wasted unlike how it is on the Mi A1. The display is quite comparable on both of them, only except the fact that it is a taller display offering more screen estate to view content.
Call it a disappointment but the Android One project that the Xiaomi Mi A1 came as a part of, isn’t doing any justice to the name. The software updates are untimely and that is disappointing because Android Oreo update is still due and suspended for a good time. On the other side, even though the EMUI updates don’t really matter because the UI is completely different with experience and features offered, but it is good to see Honor giving Android 8.0 Oreo based EMUI 8.0 on the Honor 9 Lite.
As for the features as well, since there is no MIUI, the Mi A1 from Xiaomi has only a countable number of extra features to make things easy and better for them. The Honor 9 Lite has a plethora of gesture features, including the One-handed UI, Motion control gestures, and if someone wants to take full advantage of the screen area and take off the navigation menu, that can also be done by replacing it with a navigation dock shortcut. In short, while latest Android OS doesn’t matter usually with custom interfaces, the latter having it here brings in some newer functions like replying to messages in multi-window while doing something else.
Now, one of the major aspects with every Honor devices is the way cameras work. The Honor 7x had a single front-facing camera but this time, the company has given the depth sensing camera for both, the front and rear shooters and so, there are four cameras in total. A 13MP + 2MP combination on both the sides is what is offered. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is no less when it comes to the rear camera because while the primary camera is similar with the resolution (12MP vs 13MP) and aperture size, the secondary camera here has the telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom. Also, with the portrait shots, there is a close competition and it is hard to call out a winner. The regular captures are better on the Honor 9 Lite with the color reproduction and the contrast adjustment in the end captures.
For the selfie lovers, there is no way I would suggest the Xiaomi Mi A1, as the camera is much inferior. To add to the goodness of the primary sensor on the front, there is also that depth sensing camera to help in great portraits while capturing selfies. The colors are so well retained and that is usually not seen with the front cameras that are otherwise only optimized to bring out the best for faces.
A tough fight is again seen with the battery life, as the phones have got almost the same battery life, offering about a day’s usage, except for the fact that there are different charging rates and the ports (MicroUSB on Honor 9 Lite and USB Type-C on Xiaomi Mi A1). The standby tends to be better on the Honor 9 Lite that keeps the background activities at the minimum when the phone is not being used, and along with that, there is also the fact that EMUI along with Android Oreo’s goodness of Doze feature work together to lessen the drain of battery when the phone is idle. Otherwise, during the regular usage, both the phones do quite well and almost the same with the battery performance.
As far as the actual performance of the phone is concerned, the homegrown Kirin 659 chipset has a lot to offer, standing no less when compared to the Snapdragon 625, a proven-good mid-range processor from Qualcomm. While the Mi A1 does so well and the stock Android interface also helps in the phone being snappy, the mix of EMUI with the chipset that is made to understand and work to offer the best performance on the Honor 9 Lite is a sweet combination. If we’re comparing here, the 4GB RAM variant of the latter has great RAM management and the phone rarely tends to slow down and it is able to handle all the intensive tasks, which was also the case with Xiaomi Mi A1.
Final Conclusion – Stock Android vs. EMUI, or Glass vs. Metal?
While the interface, as I always mention, is a rather personal choice, I’d suggest an interface that has features making the user experience better and in this case, the Honor 9 Lite takes it away. For the other aspects, while the competition was tough enough to decide one particular choice for performance, battery life, and the rear camera, the Honor 9 Lite is a clear winner for the selfie camera as well as for that design and display. A smaller sized phone, it still has a larger display and is far more comfortable to hold and has an added advantage of that glossy good-looking back.
Just to note if you are wondering how do they compare with the price, the 4GB RAM variant of Honor 9 Lite is priced at Rs. 14999 while the Xiaomi Mi A1 is now priced at Rs. 13999. But, if you are choosing the 3GB RAM variant of the former, it is available for just Rs. 10999, which is a steal if you are not a heavy multitasker and are good with a GB lesser RAM.