Huawei's fighting for American attention with the $250 P8 lite

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Huawei's fighting for American attention with the $250 P8 lite

Huawei held an "Unlocked" event in New York City the other day, and it didn't reveal US launch plans for the Huawei Watch or the mostly new, mostly great P8. What we did get, though, is a less expensive of the P8 — the $250 P8 lite — the company hopes will whet our American appetites for newer, better Huawei phones to come.

Gallery: Huawei P8 lite press shots | 9 Photos

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You see, the P8 lite is only the third phone to be sold in the US through the company's GetHuawei webstore, and it's banking on that online sales strategy for success. The ultimate goal? That it'll eventually be able to turn itself into a respected purveyor of high-end, low-cost unlocked phones around here, nicely sidestepping the usual "walk into a store and sign your life away" process. Of course, that plan requires some worthy hardware, and the P8 lite packs a hell of a lot more grace and subtlety than the other phone you could buy straight from Huawei.

In fact, at first glance, you'd hardly be able to tell the different between it and the flagship version we first saw last month. 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 US in as many months. I've only been fooling around with this thing for a day now, 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!

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