From Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, February 5 2018
The legendary Third Eye is said to provide heightened insight and the gift of enlightenment. Smart phones in 2018, will go one better and increasingly sport four eyes -- two apiece, fore and aft. And while it might not match the celestial gaze of Lord Siva, a quad-camera phone can still perform a mini miracle: turning dummies like us into semi professional clickers.
Huawei is something of a pioneer here, having launched the first ever dual-camera system in 2016 with the P9 phone. It went quadruple for the first time, last year with the Honor 9i, with twin lenses both front and rear. This was a product that at just under Rs 18,000 was out of the reach of many buyers. But following a practice it started with the Honor 8, Huawei has just launched the 'lite' avatar of its four-eyed flagship: The Honor 9 Lite costs just Rs 10,999 in its most affordable configuration (with 32 GB of on-board storage) but otherwise does almost everything that you can do with the 9i.
Fueled by an octa-core Kirin 2.36 GHz processor, the Honor 9 Lite 'feels' bigger screen-wise than it really is, thanks to the bezel-less 5.65 inch full HD ( 2160 by 180 pixel) screen. This is the phone equivalent of an infinity swimming pool and the 18:9 length-to-width ratio is how things are going to be in future. This is a 4G VoLTe phone that takes either 2 SIMs -- one nano + one micro -- or one nano SIM with 256 GB of micro SD storage. Both front and rear cameras are twin lens: 13MP + 2MP and while the rear has phase detection auto focus, the front provides a panaromic selfie mode. Twin lenses allow phone cameras to do some task sharing: dividing the field of view and achieving razor sharp focus, even when handled by the shaky hands of the amateur or the aged. I have been groping discover the real edge that multiple lens cameras on phones like the 9 Lite offer. Now I think I have it: the senior citizen's friend -- lightweight (at 149 grams) and arthritic finger-friendly shooting!|
This is one of the first phones that comes with the new Android 8 Oreo OS. But Huawei has its own user interface which it calls Emotion UI or EMUI 8. It is also among the early exploiters of Artificial Intelligence in some small but subtle ways: It adjusts screen brightness for day or night; it recognizes 13 different image scenarios -- sunrise, sunsety, beach, snow, portrait, food etc -- and shoots to optimise this. It offers live wallpapers that change with the time of the day and perhaps most usefully, it harnesses Microsoft's translate-on-the-fly tool, including many Indian languages. For Rs 3000 more you can opt to double the onboard storage to 64 GB. The India R&D team of Huawei has developed most of the features of EMUI 8 -- and added some of local interest like a panchang plus 14 desi-language support and the mandatory SOS feature ( press on-off button thrice).
This is one compelling bundles of specs and brings quad cameras to a much lower price band. Technology's moving goalposts will soon see other brands compete -- but right now, the Honor 9 Lite is a shining exemplar of how much value can be packed into a device costing less than Rs 11,000.