Both the Honor 9 Lite and Redmi Note 5 offer a compelling set of features for under $200.
Honor has rolled out budget phones at a steady clip over the last two years, and the Honor 9 Lite is the latest addition to its portfolio. The phone made its debut in China at the end of last year, and went on sale in India followed by a launch in Europe last month. Available for £199 ($275) in the UK and ₹10,999 ($170) in India, the Honor 9 Lite ticks a lot of boxes: it has an 18:9 panel, comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, and features a total of four cameras.
The Redmi Note 5 is no slouch either — Xiaomi decided to stick with the same internal hardware as last year, but introduced an 18:9 panel and lowered the price point to ₹9,999 ($153), making it a real bargain. With two great options on offer at the same price, it's time to find out which phone to pick.
What the Honor 9 Lite does better
Of the two phones, the Honor 9 Lite has the better design. The 2.5D curved glass at the back has a mirror finish, and it looks striking — even more so when light reflects off it. The blue color option in particular looks gorgeous, and there's no denying the fact that this is one of the better-looking phones in the budget segment.
There's similar 2.5D glass up front, which when combined with the rounded corners makes it easy to grip the device. 18:9 panels in general are unwieldy because of the tall nature of the display, and that's the case with the Honor 9 Lite as well. The 5.65-inch panel comes in at 151mm, which is less than the 158mm height of the 5.99-inch display of the Redmi Note 5, but one-handed usage is going to be a stretch unless you have huge hands.
The Honor 9 Lite is one of the better-looking budget phones out there.
Thankfully, you can enable fingerprint sensor gestures to pull down the notification shade. The phone is particularly light at 149g, or 31g less than the Redmi Note 5. That's because of the smaller battery and the fact that the mid-frame is made out of plastic and not aluminum. Nevertheless, it sports a metallic finish, and the device overall has top-notch build quality.
The Honor 9 Lite also wins out when it comes to the software side of things, as the device runs EMUI 8 based on Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. The Redmi Note 5 is still running Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and there's no mention of when the device will pick up Oreo.
The key difference between the variant on sale in India and the model available in Europe is that the latter comes with NFC, enabling Google Pay compatibility in the UK.
What the Redmi Note 5 does better
The main thing in the Redmi Note 5's favor is battery life. Sporting a 4000mAh battery under the hood, the phone offers two days' of battery life on a full charge, significantly more than what the Honor 9 Lite manages.
The Redmi Note 5 is a battery monster.
On average, you'll get over nine hours' worth of screen-on-time between charges, so if battery life is a priority for you, then the Redmi Note 5 is the device to get.
The phone also has one of the best 18:9 panels in this category, and the screen itself isn't as reflective as the Honor 9 Lite. Sunlight legibility is also better on the Redmi Note 5, particularly in harsh climes like India.
Which should you buy?
If you're in the UK, the Honor 9 Lite is a solid option, particularly considering it comes with NFC and Oreo out of the box. For £199, there aren't many phones that offer quite as much as the Honor 9 Lite.
But if you're in the market for a new budget phone in India, there are better alternatives available. The Redmi Note 5 Pro, for instance, is available for ₹13,999 ($215), and handily beats the Honor 9 Lite in every area.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a Snapdragon 636 chipset, a 4000mAh battery, and a 12MP camera at the back that's currently the best in this category. You also get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage as standard, and the same variant of the Honor 9 Lite will set you back ₹14,999 ($230). The Redmi Note 5 is pretty great for ₹10,999, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro trounces it in terms of value.