The Huawei P10 Lite may be quite a few features short of the flagship P10, but that's actually fine. We expected lower specs and we got them but the internals are not bottom-of-the-barrel either.
Good looks and quality build, a high-res screen, solid performance, a very capable camera, and some nice software perks, the Huawei P10 Lite has enough to offer the right users - and well within budget too. We just wish the resemblance to the P10 stretched further than the name.
The Huawei P10 Lite is not the only budget alternative of the top model. The Huawei nova 2 and the P8 Lite (2017) will also compete for the crowd's attention - most likely without overstepping each other. With a huge domestic market to serve, as well as keen to be all over the place - SEA, Europe, the Americas - Huawei needs a strong force in the midrange.
And this is by no means a Huawei invention. Over at Samsung, a mini used to go with every Galaxy S until they were eventually replaced by the A-series and the J-series. HTC and LG too used to pair their flagships with a low-cost package. Sony was the only one to get this right if you ask us, although the latest Xperia X Compact took a rather sharp turn towards the midrange.
Back to the point though, without being a super-charged mini itself, the Huawei P10 Lite has enough to get your attention and keep it. It's an affordable package that offers some meaningful upgrades over the preceding P9 Lite: refined design, double the storage, better chipset and fast charging and fresher Android.
If the P10 managed to put Huawei on your radar but you're not keen on breaking the bank, the recently announced Huawei nova 2 should be on your list. It has an all-metal build, a similar chipset and screen to the P10 Lite, and while it didn't get any Leica treatment, it still has a dual cam combo involving a 12MP sensor with a bright f/1.8 lens and a secondary 8MP telephoto camera for zoom and bokeh effects. That's just about enough for the nova 2 to justify its slightly higher price asking price compared to the P10 Lite.
If you can live without the latest EMUI 5.1, especially considering you still get Android Nougat, the even cheaper P8 Lite (2017) will do a fine job. This affordable package is also known as the P9 Lite (2017), Honor 8 Lite or Nova Lite, depending on where you are. It has pretty much the same design, screen, chipset, camera, and even battery capacity. The only difference between the 2017 P8 Lite and the P10 Lite is the shape of the fingerprint scanner and the EMUI version. The P8 Lite (2017) and its various incarnations cost €80 cheaper, which sounds like quite a good deal.
The Sony Xperia XA1 may only have a 720p screen, but it makes up for that with a higher-res 23MP main camera. The XA1 is a looker itself and offers similar overall performance while scoring higher in our battery test regardless of its lower battery capacity. It costs about the same as the P10 Lite, so you have to decide where you need more pixels - on your screen or on your camera sensor.
Samsung's Galaxy A5 (2017) costs more than the P10 Lite, but you get a Super AMOLED screen, a water-tight body and a higher-res selfie cam for the extra €50 or so. The rest of the specs match the P10 Lite's, give or take.
The Moto G5 and G5 Plus are good options to look at if you prefer your Android not tinkered with. Both have 1080p screens, fingerprint readers, reasonably good computing power, and the G5 Plus is even capable of 4K video recording.
Finally, Xiaomi's Mi 5 and Mi 5s are pure flagship breed and will offer top-notch performance, screen quality, still imaging and even 4K videos - for a fraction of the price of a big-name flagship. The only issue with the Mi series is their limited availability, especially in our part of the world.
No such worries with Huawei. On the contrary, it has a phone for every corner of the globe. A lite version, a budget version and an economy version of the flagship - which itself has 2 versions to start with. Isn't this too many phones? Not for Huawei obviously who wants to have a finger in every pie, from China to the Americas.