Huawei held an “Unlocked” event in Johannesburg last nght, and it didn’t reveal SA launch plans for the Huawei Watch or the mostly new, mostly great, mostly bigger P8 max. What we did get, though, is the highly anticipated P8 — and the R3500 (R199pm through selected network providers) P8 lite — the company hopes will whet our South African appetites for newer, better Huawei phones to come.
In fact, at first glance, you’d hardly be able to tell the different between it and the flagship version we came to launch. It’s clad not in aluminum, but a light — if sturdy — textured white plastic, and the 5-inch Gorilla Glass-coated 720p screen is bright and easy on the eyes. Unlike the Kirin processor we saw in the P8, this model sports a more familiar octa-core Snapdragon 615 chipset, along with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 2,200mAh battery. Oh, and the pièce de résistance? The microSD card slot (only expandable up to 32GB, alas) doubles as another SIM card slot, making the P8 lite the second cheap dual-SIM phone hit the Republic in as many months. I’ve only been fooling around with this thing at the launch, but my gut instinct tells me I’d prefer having a P8 lite around to the unrepentantly wide ASUS Zenfone 2 — Huawei has done a more thorough job painting over stock Android, but the effect still feels more elegant than what ASUS came up with. The P8 lite’s fit and finish is pretty remarkable, too: It’s a very light device (I do love me some heft) but it refuses to flex or creak even under duress. The original P8’s claim to fame was its camera, though, and I’ll have to spend a little more time getting a feel for what the P8 lite can do. Stay tuned!