Huawei P20 Lite Review: No Leica, No Problem

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We review the P20 Lite!

Huawei’s on fire with their P20 series of phones. The P20 Pro is one of the most revolutionary phones we’ve ever used in the past few years, and the company hopes that some of the magic that made their latest flagship great rubs off on the P20 Lite. The P20 Lite is a legitimate selfie powerhouse that’s obviously aimed at the mid-range segment of the market, and despite missing many of the highlight features of its two bigger brothers it’s still a very capable shooter on its own.

Huawei P20 Lite specs

  • Kirin 659 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.84-inch FullView 2.0 full HD+ display, 19:9 display aspect ratio, 2280 x 1080 resolution
  • 64GB/128GB of storage, expandable via microSD
  • 16-megapixel primary camera sensor, 2-megapixel secondary sensor with PDAF and LED Flash
  • 16-Megapixel f/2.0 camera sensor
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner, USB-C
  • 3000mAh battery with Fast Charging
  • Android Oreo with EMUI 8.0

A few styling changes make for better ergonomics

It’s not surprising that the P20 Lite shares many of the same design and styling cues of the P20 and P20 Pro. The vertically arranged camera module on the rear is similar to its more expensive brothers, though the phone feels flatter and lacks the gentle curves that the P20 Pro has. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the rear that ruins that whole “looks like a point-and-shoot” illusion that the P20 Pro had going, though that means there’s no unsightly chin on the front.

Despite being tagged as a “lite” version of their flagships, the P20 Lite doesn’t skimp out when it comes to the materials used in its construction. The frame, for example is made out of metal and the rear of the phone is made out of glass. The two color variants also have unique finishes. Specifically the Klein blue variant uses a new generation of glitter cover film which gives it a unique texture, while the Sakura Pink model also gets special juju in the form of 3D bright pearl powder. Our black review unit looks pretty boring, so get those two color options if you have the chance. The rear glass is scratch-prone though since there’s no kind of protection on it, so make sure to swaddle your phone like a newborn child until you get a phone case of some sort for it.

Controls are on the right side of the phone, while the microSD card is on the left side. The USB Type-C port is on the bottom while the 3.5mm audio jack makes a welcome return.

There’s a notch, but you can remove it

The phone has a 5.84-inch FullView 2.0 display with a 19:9 aspect ratio and 2280 x 1080 resolution. Yes, there’s still the dreaded notch at the top, but like the P20 Pro and P20, you can remove the notch via software which puts two black bars at either end of it. The display panel has a a wide
color gamut of NTSC 96 percent and uses the DCI-P3 color space.

As far as the actual display, it looks great for what it is. The removal of the chin at the bottom helps with the overall aesthetic, and the phone’s front looks better for it. Color reproduction look great, and the panel looks better than your average notched display at the price point.

Kirin 659 is good, but the competition is getting better

Huawei’s homegrown Kirin 659 is six months old by this point, but despite its age the chipset performed well during its time with us. We’re well acquainted with the chipset’s performance and limitations, especially when it comes to graphically intense games.

Huawei lists the P20 Lite as having either 64GB or 128GB of storage, but local reps have clarified that the phone that they’re bringing into the country will only be the 64GB version. The phone does have expandable storage, though you’ll have to sacrifice one of your SIM slots if you want more room though.

The chipset is good enough to ensure hassle-free navigation, and the 19:9 aspect ratio gives you more space to play with when you’re going through apps like Facebook.

As good as the 659 is, it’s showing its age compared to the competition. MediaTek’s Helio P60 has more graphical processing power, so does Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 and 626 which is used in the devices of its competitors. It’s a concern for sure, but if you’re not really that much into Android games it’s not going to matter much.

The P20 Lite has two biometric unlocking options: one is the fingerprint scanner on the rear, and the other is the facial unlock feature. As with other Huawei phones the fingerprint scanner works like a treat, quickly unlocking the phone every single time. The facial recognition feature isn’t as fast as we’re used with the company’s P20 Pro (to be fair almost no other phone is) since it’s not AI boosted but worked surprisingly well even under less than optimal conditions.

The P20 Lite has a single bottom firing speaker which is surprisingly loud especially considering the source.

Powered by the same UI as its big brothers

The Huawei P20 Lite is powered by Android Oreo, and runs on EMUI 8.0, the same Android interface that’s present on the company’s flagship offerings. EMUI offers added functionality like the Game Assistant, which gives users three game modes to choose from (including a setting for long battery life).

Does the P20 Lite deliver the goods when it comes to the camera?

Great camera for the price

Just like most of Huawei’s offerings in the mid-range market, the P20 Lite utilizes dual cameras on the rear: a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Both cameras come with f/2.2 aperture lenses, and both lack the Leica branding on the rear. Many of the imaging tricks that made the P20 Pro’s photos so amazing are missing in the P20 Lite, since the phone doesn’t have the same AI brawn as its more expensive brothers.


Despite that, the photos produced by the phone are pretty impressive nonetheless. There’s a lot of detail in the photos we took, and color reproduction looked solid without the obvious overprocessed look that’s in other phones. Just like the P20 Pro, the P20 Lite has a myriad of shooting modes available to it, and you can even shoot in RAW though it’s only supported in PRO mode.

The P20 Lite does have a bit of an issue with low-light shots, which we can chalk up to the aperture settings on the phones.

The front camera is no slouch as well. It’s the same megapixel count as the primary rear camera, though it has a lower aperture lens, at f/2.0. Selfies taken during the evening look good considering the conditions.

Long battery life, and fast charging makes life so much easier

Just like with the Nova 2i, the P20 Lite’s Kirin 659 processor doesn’t suck a lot of power, which means better longevity between charges. We usually clock in around a full day’s use with a single charge, and if we ran out Huawei’s fast charge tech had our back (provided you brought the included charger) filling up almost half of our phone’s juice in just 30 minutes.

Verdict: A solid contender for the mid-range, but competition is crazy AF

Huawei’s P20 Lite is yet another extremely solid smartphone release. From the looks of it Huawei can do no wrong with their new product launches lately, delivering phones with really solid specs and performance with fair pricing.

However, the mid-range space has never been as crowded and competitive as it is now. The F7 is the best phone OPPO’s released in a while and Vivo’s V9 is a compelling choice at the price point. ASUS’ ZenFone 5Q is another solid competitor at the space, undercutting the offerings of the two dominant “selfie” focused manufacturers. Huawei has their job cut out for them, and if they really are serious about competing – and winning – at the mid-range space, they will have to think long and hard about the eventual pricing of the P20 Lite when it finally launches at the end of the month.




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