No doubt about it, the mid-range market is heating up, even in places where unlocked and contract-free phones have typically undersold. This morning Chinese smartphone maker Huawei announced the Ascend P8 Lite, a new offering for the US that has its sights set on competitors like the Moto G. The $250 phone is available right now from Huawei's online store in black or white, and it doesn't look like the company is interested in selling through conventional carriers.

p8light-phone-accordion

The Ascend P8 Lite occupies the middle ground in basically all its specs. The 5-inch screen is 720p, which is a bit low for the current market, and the Snapdragon 615 chipset and 2GB of RAM walk the line between the high power of the 800 series and the more conservative 400 series. The rear camera is a respectable 13MP with an F/2.2 lens, paired with a 5MP selfie-grade front-facing shooter. The battery is a disappointing 2200mAh, but it can be removed, which is something of a feat considering the slim 7.7-millimeter body. The body seems to be the biggest draw for the phone: slim bezels and a unibody design with a make for a clean and understated phone. (Update: Huawei informs me that the battery cannot be removed.)

The GSM phone packs a variety of LTE bands: 2, 4, 5, 12, and 17, which means it should work with both AT&T and T-Mobile LTE service. It can work with both at the same time, in fact, since this is a dual-SIM phone. Storage is the standard 16GB, but can be augmented with a MicroSD card (not a given for a phone so thin), and the software is Android 4.4 underneath Huawei's EMUI skin. Not terrible, but a bit underwhelming since Lollipop has been available for more than half a year - shoppers might also want to consider the OnePlus One, currently (erratically) on sale for $250 for the 16GB model.

It looks like Huawei is offering a $50 discount on new phones and $50 of Net10 credit for buying new phones from the US store. Nice.

Press Release

Huawei Brings Great Design within Reach with New Unlocked P8 lite Smartphone

New unlocked purchase benefits make P8 lite and other
Huawei unlocked devices even more attractive

PLANO, Texas [June 3, 2015]: Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology solutions provider, today launched the Huawei P8 lite in the U.S., making it possible for U.S. consumers to have premium design and features at an accessible price. Available for just $249.99 USD, the P8 lite will be available as an unlocked device, giving consumers the option to take their phone to the network* of their choice.

"With a perfect balance of style, functionality and value, the P8 lite gives consumers a premium yet easily accessible device and experience,” said Mr. Zhiqiang Xu, President of Huawei Device USA. “We are expanding our smartphone, wearable and tablet portfolio to meet U.S. consumers’ needs and are committed to delivering the right devices at the right prices with a tremendous consumer experience.”

Accessible Design

With design and craftsmanship inspired by the company’s premium global flagship devices, Huawei P8 lite’s ultra-slim 7.7mm profile and thin bezels make it perfectly compact and well-balanced in the hand. Demonstrating sophisticated design and quality craftsmanship, the metallic appearance of the phone’s back panel is achieved through a layered design of contrasting hues and a hand-crafted satin coating that feels smooth to touch, but glimmers in direct light.

Accessible Technology

The P8 lite isn’t just beautiful— it’s also elegantly functional. The 5-inch HD Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 display is designed for visual clarity and utmost durability. The 13 megapixel rear camera has built-in low light and autofocus capabilities which, along with the multi-frame noise reduction algorithm, ensure photos are clearer and brighter.

In addition to the solid camera performance and streamlined design, the Huawei P8 offers:

  • 5.0-inch 720p HD screen
  • Powerful Octa-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615 processor
  • Ultra-fast 4G LTE connectivity with support for all US GSM LTE bands
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use Emotion UI 3.0 interface
  • 2200mAh battery with ultra-power saving mode
  • Unique photo capture options including: All Focus: Change the focal point of saved images
  • Ultra Snapshot: access the camera instantly, even from sleep mode
  • 5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Dual-SIM/SIM+Expandable MicroSD up to 32GB

Transforming the Unlocked Experience

With the launch of the P8 lite, Huawei is transforming consumers’ unlocked purchase experience. While more than 42 percent1 of consumers use or intend to purchase an unlocked device, there are still significant barriers that give consumers pause or reason to lack confidence. Among the leading roadblocks to purchasing an unlocked device are concerns about after-sales service, phone price and sales channels2. Huawei is addressing all of these concerns by introducing new benefits throughout the unlocked device purchase process.

Huawei is introducing a new two-year warranty on unlocked smartphones launched this year, including the SnapTo, introduced in April, and the all new P8 lite. Consumers need only register at GetHuawei.com to receive the warranty’s benefits for an extended term. The two-year warranty joins Huawei’s already strong commitment to post-purchase support, with local customer service, localized repair and a variety of contact channels for consumers.

Though the unlocked purchase model provides more freedom and choice, there is still an up-front cost for the device. Huawei is removing device sticker shock and giving consumers more flexible payment options by partnering with financial services leader Affirm. Now, consumers who purchase devices on www.GetHuawei.com have the option to select fixed installment plans of three, six and 12-months at the point of sale for device purchases of $99 or more. And once a purchase is made, consumers can have the confidence that it will arrive as promised and with easily accessible customer support thanks to Huawei’s partnership with trusted fulfillment provider Amazon.

“With the introduction of new unlocked benefits and with close collaboration from our valued partners, Huawei is taking the next step forward to make buying a quality unlocked device worry-free for consumers,” said Xu. “At Huawei, we are committed to not only delivering great devices at the right price, but also the services and support that let consumers purchase our products with confidence.”

Availability

P8 lite is available beginning today, June 3, through Huawei’s ecommerce site, GetHuawei.com, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, B&H in-store and online, Fry’s Electronics in-store and online and various dealer networks. P8 lite will also be coming soon to select Best Buy stores.

In celebration of GetHuawei.com’s one-year anniversary, consumers who are registered or register on the website between June 3 and June 6 will receive promotional incentives good for discounts on select products, including the newly launched P8 lite, Mate2 and SnapTo.

For more information about the P8 lite, visit http://www.gethuawei.com/p8lite.html.