Huawei Launches $249 P8 Lite Premium Smartphone in U.S.

The new unlocked P8 Lite has a 5-inch HD display, a 13MP rear camera, 4G capabilities and a two-year warranty, all to entice U.S. buyers to try it.

Huawei P8 Lite smartphone, smartphones, unlocked phone

NEW YORK—Huawei just launched its third smartphone in the U.S. market, the $249.99 unlocked P8 Lite, with an optimistic goal of taking on the big players in America and getting this device into the hands of many millions of consumers here.

The P8 Lite was shown off at a special press event here on June 2, where the fully featured phone, which is aiming to compete directly with Apple iPhones, Samsung Galaxy 6 phones and other flagship devices from other major manufacturers, was on display for brief hands-on evaluations.

With a bright 5-inch HD display, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage (expandable to 32GB with a microSD card), a 13MP auto-focus rear camera, a 5MP fixed-focus front camera, a nonremovable 2,200mAh lithium-ion battery and 4G, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, the P8 Lite is a lot of phone for less than half the price of an iPhone 6. The P8 Lite's display is covered with tough Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for durability and scratch resistance, while the handset runs on Android 4.4 KitKat.

The P8 Lite, which is available immediately, also comes with a two-year warranty and U.S.-based support and service to make buyers feel more at ease with trying a device from the Chinese company. Free shipping to and from Huawei is also included if a phone needs to be sent back for service.

Zhiqiang Xu, the president of Huawei Device USA, said at the event that his company is able to produce and sell this new phone for a reasonable price with lots of highly desired features by minimizing advertising and promotion and instead focusing its attention on the products and customers.

"Customers should only pay for exactly what they purchased, for the product itself," without having to add more to the price to cover a company's advertising and marketing, said Xu.

By offering the unlocked P8 Lite, U.S. consumers will have complete choice to get a phone and select the mobile carrier and plan of their choice, said Xu. "This is good because they have the freedom to choose the phone networks and rate packages that meet their own needs," he said.

The P8 Lite feels luxurious in the hand, with a brushed-look plastic rear cover, brushed metal sides, rounded edges and an attractive appearance, all wrapped up in a thin 0.30-inch profile. The phone measures 5.72 inches in length and 2.77 inches in width.

The phone is also dual-SIM capable, with one slot offering a dedicated SIM slot and the other one usable either as a SIM slot or as a slot that accepts a microSD card up to 32GB for added storage.

Plus, the P8 Lite includes an All-Focus feature that allows users to alter the focus of an image after it is taken, as well as a separate capability that lets users take photos without having to first unlock or wake their phone.

"You can't find a better deal on the planet Earth for a phone like this," said Xu.

Huawei also is now offering financing for phone purchases from its partner, Affirm, with installment plans for three, six or 12 months for customers. The devices are being sold through the company's Website and from well-known U.S. retailers to help bolster public confidence in the products. The phones can be purchased from Amazon, Best Buy, Fry's, Target and B&H.

Buyers who buy any of the company's three U.S. smartphones from the Website in the first 72 hours after the launch of the P8 Lite will also receive a special limited time deal—a $50 discount on their phone, a free Net 10 SIM card and a $50 airtime and data card, a free Huawei Bluetooth dial stereo speaker (valued at $99.99) and a free snap-on protective case. The offer is only for customers who have subscribed to GetHuawei's email list and is only available while supplies last, according to the company. The promotion is being offered to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the site.

The P8 Lite smartphone follows the company's unlocked $179.99 SnapTo 4G LTE-enabled Android smartphone, which was unveiled in April, and the unlocked Ascend Mate 2, which launched in June 2014 for $299.99.

Huawei, which is still fighting to make a name for itself in the crowded and competitive U.S. market, is well-known throughout much of the rest of the world as a maker of Huawei and white label phones, which are built for other resellers.