When Honor launched the 9 Lite, it took no time to grab our eyeballs with its slim and shiny design. Not just that, but having four cameras and a decent processor for just Rs 10,999 is more than what one will ask for.
But then it was soon joined by the popular Redmi Note 4 successor-- the Note 5 at a similar price range. Although, the phone is more like an upgrade, it still is a feature-rich phone with up to the mark specifications.
At a price below 12K, the two phones right now are the best options to buy. The Honor 9 Lite also has a 4GB RAM variant priced at Rs 14,999, but it gets beaten by the Redmi Note 5 Pro at a lesser price and better value for money proposition. So we decided to pit the cheaper variant against the best in its range to find the ultimate winner.
Design and build
While writing this comparison, the only thing that I didn't find difficult to judge was the design. As the Honor 9 Lite has been putting the high-end phones to shame as soon as it debuted. I've mentioned this multiple times in our comparisons and reviews that the Honor 9 Lite has looks that's enough to convince you to buy it.
Contrarily, the Redmi Note 5, despite having a good hand feel, doesn't impress us with its dated design. The only substantial change is on the front, where the company has chopped off some bezels to extend the display. From the back, it still looks like you are holding a Redmi Note 4. Sure, Xiaomi has added some curves to the back and sides which makes it more handy, but that's never enough.
If kept side by side, as I said, the Honor 9 Lite is the one I would put my hand on. The only factor that Note 5 is better at is the durability. The glass body on the Honor 9 Lite is fragile and prone to finger stains. But the 9 Lite is slimmer and 30 grams lighter too.
So if you don't care how your phone looks, and all you need is a more sturdy phone, Note 5 will suffice there.
But looks, single handed operations, feel and everything else is superior on the shiny Honor phone.
Performance, storage and software
Both the phones are usually smooth in operations for day to day tasks, but the 9 Lite has a chipset clocked at a higher frequency. The Honor 9 Lite runs a Kirin 659 clocked at 2.36GHz, while the Redmi Note 5 runs on Snapdragon 625 clocked at 2.0Ghz.
The main difference here in specification is in the RAM and storage. As this variant of the Note 5 has a 4GB RAM with 64GB storage and the 9 Lite has a 3GB RAM with 32GB of storage. Although, the difference in performance in not huge, you have the option to opt for more RAM and double the storage by paying extra Rs 1000 on Redmi.
However, the Redmi Note 5 does feel slightly smoother, thanks to a better tuned MIUI.
The Honor 9 Lite, like all Honor phones, runs on a EMUI (v8.0) on top of Android 8.0 Oreo, and the Note 5 runs company’s custom MIUI (v9.0) based on older Android 7.1 Nougat.
If you prefer stock, or near stock Android experience, none of the phones promise anything close to that. But there are elements on both, which seem better over each other.
While the MIUI looks neater and well optimised for its hardware, the EMUI offers an app drawer, smoother navigation, and some convenient gesture control options. But overall, I would go for MIUI as it is easier to get used to and also, it offers plenty of customisation options.
The Honor 9 Lite takes the lead here, as it has the latest version of Android that is topped with Oreo exclusive features that the Note 5 misses. One good example of such a feature is splitscreen window.
While the Redmi Note 5 has a 5.99-inch FHD panel, the 9 lite has a smaller 5.65-inch FHD display. Both have the in-trend 18:9 aspect ratio and look immersive. Visually, the Honor 9 Lite has a more vibrant and saturated display, in comparison to Redmi's more pleasant to eye display.
Honor 9 Lite has a yellowish tint, that makes the whites look better on Redmi, but some users like the warmth.
So it all boils down to a matter of preference, the Redmi has a bigger and subtle display for those who like consuming multimedia on their phones. On the other hand, the Honor 9 Lite has a more compact and attractive display for those who prefer a handy phone.
Otherwise, both the displays offer colour saturation, sharpness, and are viewable from extreme angles.
Like I said for the design, Honor is the clear winner. In terms of battery, the Note 5 undeniably dominates. It has a 4000mAh battery to compete with 9 Lite's 3000mAh one, so it definitely beats it by a good margin.
It's not that a bigger battery always lasts longer, but the difference here is huge and the Snapdragon 625 has proven to be a good chipset for better battery optimisation.
To get a clarity, we ran PCMark’s Work 2.0 battery test on both the phones and the results said it all. The Redmi Note 5 lasted for 720 minutes and the Honor 9 Lite went up to 415 minutes.
We also ran a battery drain test on both the phones-
Redmi Note 5
Video- 3% in 16 minutes
Browsing- 6% drop in 30 minutes
Honor 9 Lite
Video- 6% in 16 minutes
Browsing- 7% drop in 30 minutes
The Honor 9 Lite has a dual camera setup on both front and back, which is commendable for a phone at this price. While the Redmi Note 5 still has a single camera on the back, which Xiaomi included in the Redmi Note 5 Pro, for which you need to pay Rs 2000 more.
In day light, the Redmi Note 5 captures more details, as you could see in the picture of the flower below. Honor 9 Lite on the other hand has its own advantages like a better stability, punchy colours and the leverages secondary camera to for bokeh effect.
In low light, the Honor 9 Lite beats the Redmi Note 5 in almost every scenario. It reduces noise without compromising with the details. Even the colours look better the Note 5. The last picture in the gallery below is a good example of how Redmi reproduces washed out pictures and Honor handles lights really well.
Overall, the Honor 9 Lite is a better camera among the two in most cases. It's the day light where the Redmi is comparable.
Which one to buy?
Both phones excel in some or the other department, but the Honor 9 Lite is a better device overall. It has a better design, superior cameras, a newer and more feature-rich version of Android. So the tradeoff here is of the battery size and display size.
I would recommend having a phone with a slightly smaller battery if there's so much more attached to it. Redmi Note 5 is costs Rs 1000 extra, has a dated design with nothing that particularly stands out.
One might say that the Redmi Note 5 would offer better multitasking as it has an extra GB of RAM, but it has a minimal impact on the phone's performance. If it's about the 64GB storage, you always have an option to expand it using microSD card.