The Huawei P20 Lite is the new mid-range flagship smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer. As in previous years, this version is less powerful but more affordable than its flagship. Marketed at a price of 369 euros (or around 450 dollars), a question arises: does it deserve its price? Do the latest design changes and features introduced to the Lite family justify the price increase?
- Design and finish
- Software interface
- Disappointing camera
A Lite version that isn't very affordable
With the P20 Lite, Huawei lets you enjoy some of the new features of its new flagship, the P20 Pro, for a more reasonable price. The smartphone is 369 euros (approximately 440 dollars). It is available in three colors: black, blue and pink.
Even though this price is more attractive than the P20 Pro, the device can still be viewed as expensive if you consider the device's technical specs. For comparison, the Honor 9 Lite offers the same Kirin 659 processor for around 200 dollars cheaper. Of course, Honor's phone come with 1 GB less of RAM, but that doesn't justify such a price difference.
An attractive design
Looking at the P20 Lite, the first impressions are that it is similar to the iPhone X. This isn't necessarily a bad thing considering that it's a mid-range phone. The P20 Lite isn't compromising on the premium glass and metal look. On the front it's a 5.84-inch, 19:9 FHD+ resolution display, which is almost bezel-less and has a notch. I won't go on about the advantages and disadvantages of the notch in this review. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but personally, I don't like this design element and I prefer the look of the Honor 9 Lite.
The P20 Lite has a FullView display with a notch
The slim body of the phone (71.2x148.6 x7.4 mm) with its rounded corners is definitely inspired by Apple, but at the same time, some features are also characteristic of the Huawei and Honor family of devices.
On the back, in addition to the fingerprint reader, there is another new feature for the Lite line: a double camera that protrudes slightly from the body. The USB Type C port is located along the bottom edge of the device to charge it. The physical keys remain on the right side and are easy to reach.
All in all, the Huawei has done a very good job in terms of the finishing. It is true that the black version easily attracts fingerprints on the body, but other manufacturers are in the same boat. If the smartphone isn't particularly original in terms of aesthetics, it remains pretty nonetheless and its compact format ensures a very good grip.
Apart from the notch, I regret that the smartphone doesn't offer a certification that protects the device from water, as is the case for many devices now.
A high-quality screen
Huawei opts for a 5.84-inch IPS screen and uses a Full-HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels. As mentioned above, the display comes with a 19:9 format, but no curved edges. The maximum brightness of the screen is 500 nits, which is sufficient. For the sake of comparison, the screen (IPS) on the new LG G7 reaches 1000 nits.
In everyday use I enjoyed the P20 Lite screen. It offers good contrast, balanced colors and excellent brightness, even in fairly sunny outdoor conditions. As always, Huawei also offers the option of adjusting the color temperature in its settings.
The viewing angles are also good (although they could be better) and the Full HD+ definition is also nice, making apps, games, and videos enjoyable.
Face recognition on the menu
As we mentioned, Huawei has included the notch, which was introduced by Essential and made popular by the iPhone X. This feature has already been adopted by several flagships and we can expect to see it on many more high-end phones this year. In this price range, however, it is still a rarity, and many users will appreciate this design choice. Of course, time will tell if the apps will work properly even if the notch is there.
The P20 Lite has a dual rear camera
In addition to the notch, the device can be unlocked with a smile! In other words, by using face recognition. In order to make this possible, the 16MP front camera comes into play: we will test the accuracy and timing of unlocking as soon as we receive the device in the editorial office, but I expect it will function in a similar way to the View 10.
Software: The P20 Lite's Achilles heel
As we've already seen on some Huawei Lite versions, the smartphone's software interface remains its main weakness. While the P20 Lite may offer Android 8.0 Oreo and EMUI 8.0, Huawei's phone suffers from some delays that hinder the user experience.
During my test I noted some unfortunate bugs that were disappointing, even for a mid-range smartphone. I've experienced some apps close unexpectedly, some overheating at times, generally slow animations and poor multitasking management. Another concern is that many apps aren't yet compatible with the notch and some information isn't displayed correctly. While the last update (Build Number ANE-LX1 126.96.36.199(C432)) fixed a lot of the problems, it hasn't fixed all of them. I hope that Huawei does something quickly to find a solution.
A convincing device?
If you look at the P20 Lite, you might think you have a high-end device. But if you look at the specs sheet, you'll immediately notice that the device closer resembles the Huawei P Smart more than it does the iPhone X. At the heart of the P20 Lite we find a Kirin 659, a chip that has already proven itself on other devices (such as the Honor 9 Lite).
Perhaps Huawei could have gone with a new chip, but with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable internal memory via microSD, the Kirin 659 is enough for daily use. It's just a shame that the software hasn't been optimized. While the transition between certain apps can sometimes take a while, fortunately the performance is sufficient to ensure a pleasant experience, but the device functions better if you don't ask too much of it.
Huawei P20 Lite benchmarks
|3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1||Geekbench Multi Core||PassMark Memory||PassMark Disk|
|Huawei P20 Lite||
Huawei P20 Lite audio
With the P20 Lite, you have a single speaker. The stereo sound of the P20 Pro unfortunately doesn't come on the Lite version. The sound is therefore rather disappointing, especially at high volume where the distortion causes a somewhat metallic sound. As for the audio output, it's quite average. Those who love good sound and have high-end headphones may want to look into other devices.
As far as communication is concerned, the Huawei P20 Lite gets the job done. Calls are clear and network coverage is very good (even if you're on the subway). The smartphone is compatible with all 4G bands.
Huawei P20 Lite camera
Until now, the Lite line has been limited to a single camera. Huawei made the decision to include two cameras on the P20 Lite, which are located vertically on the left, the same as on the standard P20 and iPhone X. The camera is slightly protruding and consists of two sensors with 16+2MP and f/2.2 apertures. The second sensor only serves to create a bokeh effect in portraits. Several modes are available in the camera (including Pro, Night, Panorama, HDR, and AR). You can also use the Wide Aperture mode to play with the blurring effects before and after taking the picture.
The quality of the pictures is quite disappointing for a smartphone that wants to compete with more upscale smartphones. This is correct but we clearly expected more from the smartphone. An Honor 9 Lite or Honor 7X offer better results. This photos lack details, the white balance remains a bit cold and the focus is sometimes hard to get right.
An enduring smartphone
The P20 Lite battery has a capacity of 3000 mAh. It offers very suitable autonomy in daily use. If you're a moderate user, it's easy to exceed the day and a half of autonomy, provided you're not a huge gamer. The Huawei P20 Lite withstood our benchmark PCMark test for almost 9 hours.
Huawei P20 Lite technical specifications
This is a mid-range device that has a premium look and that overall fulfills its mission. Its processor isn't the newest, but it has proven itself in other devices. Its RAM, internal memory, autonomy, compatibility with 4G and Android Oreo / EMUI 8.0 will provide a decent user experience for the majority of you.
The camera also has some small features that many users will find useful: dual SIM compatibility, USB Type-C, a dual camera, face recognition, and the notch... it's up to the users to see how this fares on a daily basis, but for a device in this range, it's a pleasant surprise.
We do, however, remain somewhat disappointed by this device that doesn't in any way stand out from the competition (particularly in comparison to the Galaxy A8). The price isn't really affordable, which makes the price-performance ratio quite unspectacular. You can definitely find devices with similar technical data that are cheaper, such as the Honor 9 Lite or Honor 7X.