8.1 Awesome

The P20 Lite turned out to be a mixed bag mid-ranger with impressive design and display, compact and lightweight, decent camera quality but with average performance, software and battery. The TechSeer will give it an 8.1 out of a solid 10.

Huawei has made available the P20 Lite smartphone as the latest mid-ranger that lies in the P20 series but it’s a more trimmed down version of the high-end P20 and P20 Pro. The series replaces the Chinese company’s last year’s P10 series.

Huawei P20 Lite Review:

While the P20 and P20 Pro have become popular primarily for their advanced cameras, the P20 Lite still excels in the camera department and has a glass design along with a notch like the iPhone X but with a reduced battery life. You can get the P20 Lite at a starting price of $299 in the US and from $396 AUD in Australia. Can the P20 Lite compete against the likes of Nokia 7 Plus? Read on to find out.

The Pros

  • Beautiful and shiny design
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Remarkable display
  • Decent camera performance

The Cons

  • Less Battery capacity compared to the competitors
  • Too much bloatware
  • Average Performance

Huawei P20 Lite Specs

Category Huawei P20 Lite  
Operating System EMUI 8.0
Android 8.0 Oreo
Display 5.84-inch 2280×1080 IPS LCD panel
432ppi pixel density
SoC Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659
Four Cortex A53 cores up to 2.36GHz
Four Cortex A53 cores up to 1.70GHz
GPU Mali-T830 MP2
RAM 4GB
Storage 32GB/64GB
microSD slot up to 256GB
Rear camera 16MP (f/2.2) + 2MP
PDAF, LED flash
1080p video recording
Front shooter 16MP with f/2.0 lens
1080p video
Connectivity LTE with VoLTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS
USB-C, 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio
Battery 3000mAh battery
USB-C (18W)
Fingerprint Rear fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 148.6 x 71.2 x 7.4mm
Weight 145g
Colors Midnight Black, Klein Blue, Sakura Pink

The Design

  • Lightweight (145 g)
  • Headphone jack
  • USB type C

Have a close look at the Huawei P20 Lite and you will find how closely the design is similar to iPhone X. There’s the familiar notch but it’s smaller than the iPhone. With a build of glass and metal and rounded corners, the phone is incredibly thin as inspired by the iPhone X. With dimensions of 148.6 x 71.2 x 7.4 mm, it is equally lightweight as well (just 145 g). This allows the device to be more comfortable and pocketable than the bigger brothers of P20 series. On the right, you will find the power button and volume rocker, on the left is a hybrid slot, which was a bit disappointing. On the top, there’s only a noise-cancellation mic while the bottom the resides the 3.5 mm headphone jack, another mic, a normal speaker and USB type C slot for charging. At the back, there’s a dual camera setup, a fingerprint sensor, and the Huawei branding. The back looks shiny and beautiful in three different splendid colors.

The Screen and Display

  • Good viewing angles
  • 500 nits brightness

Huawei has done a remarkable job in terms of the display. It comes with a screen size of 5.84 inches which is almost bezel-less, a 19:9 aspect ratio and Full HD+ resolution, given the device’s dimensions. It’s an IPS LCD and has a maximum brightness around 500 nits, which is acceptable for a mid-range device. This makes it quite readable even in direct sunlight. The colors on the screen are accurate and balanced and you will enjoy watching videos and movies and running different apps and games. The viewing angles are also good.

The Cameras

  • No Leica Branding
  • No 4K video recording or slow-mo feature
  • Camera struggles in low lights

The P20 and P20 Pro focus on camera and this one also does not fall short of expectations. The smartphones come with dual 16 MP sensor with f/2.2 + 2 MP sensor (f/2.4) with phase detection autofocus and LED flash on the back. The Leica branding is absent here, unlike the P20. The device is great for taking everyday photos and videos in well-lit conditions but suffers a bit in dim and low lit areas. The 2 MP sensor is for the Bokeh effect. But its performance is only satisfactory and not accurate. There’s no support for 4K video recording or slow-motion video either. There is a Pro mode which allows adjusting various camera settings though. Huawei has provided a 16 MP snapper on the front with f/2.0 aperture. It captures brilliant images as long as there is ample light but struggles in low light. There’s no front LED flash and the screen flash feature works but not worthy enough to replace the absence of LED flash. The dual snapper capture videos at 1080p@30fps while the front sensor can capture videos at 1080p.

The Software

  • Ugly and untidy icons
  • Optional Notch

The P20 Lite comes with EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.0 which is the latest offering from the Chinese giant. Despite being the customized version of the Google OS, EMUI 8.0 is pretty fluid though we found some inconsistencies in the icons as some look ugly and untidy. The app drawer is disabled by default to make the interface look more like the iOS but it can be enabled. One feature we liked is the search function by dragging down from the mid of the home screen which allows searching for apps, messages, contacts and more. You can also customize the home screen as per your needs. Another useful feature we found is that the notch can vanish if you don’t want it. Despite all these features, the phone comes with much bloatware that does not only include Huawei’s own apps but also several apps under the Tools category along with a few pre-installed games. The trendy Face Unlock feature is also supported. Huawei has improved on the software part, but it needs to do more to make the interface clean and clutter-free.

Performance

  • Old 2017 chipset
  • Sometimes lags on multitasking

Huawei’s own octa-core Kirin 659 chipset powers the P20 Lite that is coupled with 4 GB RAM and 32/64 GB onboard storage. The chipset is the same that was used in last year’s P10 Lite and Honor 7X. It would have been better if the company had upgraded the processor for the P20 series member. But the phone offers decent performance when opening and resuming apps for normal usage. We did encounter some stutter and lag during multitasking with several apps open at the same time as the EMUI 8.0 tends to put quite a load on the processor which tends to “stuck” the device occasionally. The benchmark scoring is a bit lower as compared to the competition. This phone performed considerably well in playing current heavy graphics games such as PUBG Mobile on low to medium settings but there was a noticeable lag in highest settings. Some older games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne can be played in highest settings. Another concern is the heating issue that is prominent and the glass back tends to heat more. So this can’t be called a gamer’s device.

The Battery

  • 3000 mAh battery
  • Fast charging option

The battery is another department where P20 Lite suffers with only 3000 mAh capacity. Given its price tag, Huawei should have provided a battery of around 3500 mAh at least. For instance, the Nokia 7 Plus comes at almost the same price tag and has 3800 mAh battery. If you are a heavy user then you may find the need to get the phone plugged in the evening after day’s use. If you use it for mainly calls, messages and occasional browsing, watching videos and playing games, then it may last for more than one day. A fast charger of 18W is included which can charge to 17% from 0% in 15 minutes. It usually takes about two hours to fully charge the phone.

Verdict

The P20 Lite turned out to be a mixed bag mid-ranger with impressive design and display, compact and lightweight, decent camera quality but with average performance, software and battery. For all the pros and cons, it seems a bit high on the price given that it has to compete with smartphones such as Nokia 7 plus. The smartphone is available at a starting price of $297.95 in the US and 439.99 AUD in Australia.

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