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Huawei P8 Lite Hands-On: $249 Unlocked Dual-SIM Smartphone

Huawei is looking to break into the U.S. market with the P8 Lite, a 5-inch unlocked smartphone with dual SIM card slots and a 13-MP camera. We went hands-on with Huawei’s newest handheld, available starting today (June 2) for $249, to see if it has a chance against other unlocked smartphones.

Not surprisingly, the P8 Lite looks like a smaller, less expensive version of the Huawei P8. Instead of a metal back, the P8 Lite is made of plastic, with a white brushed finish. I like the very thin side bezels -- just 0.11 inches -- as well as the overall thinness of 0.3 inches. That’s thicker than the 0.25-inch P8, but was still easy to hold in one hand.

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The P8 Lite features two SIM card slots, one of which can be used as a microSD card slot, supporting up to 32GB of storage. Both SIM card slots support 4G LTE on all U.S. GSM bands.

Its 5-inch, 1280 x 720-pixel display is both smaller and has a lower resolution than other unlocked phones, such as the $249 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, $300 OnePlus One, and $299 Asus Zenfone 2, all of which have 5.5-inch 1080p displays.

The P8 Lite’s 1.5-GHz Snapdragon octa-core 615 processor isn’t the most powerful, but acquitted itself well against its unlocked competition. On Geekbench 3, the P8 Lite’s score of 2,639 was better than the OnePlus One (2,504, 2.5-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor), and the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (2,029), which has the same CPU as the P8 Lite. The Asus Zenfone 2’s Intel's 2.3-GHz quad-core 64-bit Atom Z3580 CPU and 4GB of RAM scored a higher 2,832.

Like the P8, the P8 Lite has a 13-MP rear camera, but a lower-end 5MP front shooter. Also like the P8, the Lite’s camera has a Beauty mode, which softens your features. All Focus lets you change the focus of a picture after you’ve taken it. In my brief hands-on time, I found the camera to be fast, and the All Focus worked well -- though you have to enable this feature before you start taking pictures.

If the P8 Lite’s $249 price is too much to pay upfront, Huawei will also offer 3-month, 6-month and 12-month installment plans though Affirm.

Huawei says the P8 Lite’s 2200-mAh battery can last up to 11 hours on a charge. We’ll let you know exactly how long it gets in our full review, so stay tuned.