The "1-Minute" Review
- Weak low-light camera performance
- Weak battery for gaming and video
- So-so performance
- Questionable UI design
Huawei’s P20 Pro established itself as a major contender in the flagship market. But trimming a flagship powerhouse down to a more budget-friendly option is a tricky affair. The P20 Lite tries to do exactly that and bring the P20 panache to a much lower price point. But does it succeed?
While the phone doesn’t stand out from a design perspective, it is attractive enough and well built. The phone is thin and light, and reviewers found it slipped into their pockets with ease. The glass back -- as usual -- was a fingerprint magnet. Otherwise, reviewers loved the comfortable grip and clean lines on offer.
The back includes a slight camera bump in the upper corner and a fingerprint scanner in the middle. The scanner is responsive and easily reached without having to adjust your hold on the phone.
Around front, the 5.84-inch 1080p LCD panel received mixed marks. While there’s plenty of color and brightness, reviewers felt the screen lacked contrast. Though at 432 pixels-per-inch, you’ll have no problem noticing details in video and images or reading text.
There’s also the infamous notch in play here. If you don’t like it, you can try to hide it by adding a black bar to the screen in the phone’s settings. But according to reviewers, this doesn’t work well due to lack of screen contrast.
Performance reviews were also scattered. The octa-core 2.36Ghz Kirin 659 processor with 4GB of RAM is enough to keep the phone running smoothly for media consumption, multitasking, and everyday use. But crank up a newer game and the phone shows its mid-tier pedigree. While games ran fairly smooth, they were slow to load and settings needed to be dialed back.
The phone includes a generous 64GB of internal storage. Should you need more space, it also supports microSD cards up to 256GB.
The software was another area of contention for the P20 Lite. It runs Android 8.0 with EMUI 8.0. While Huawei has trimmed back some bloat from earlier versions of EMUI, many reviewers found the interface ugly and cluttered. Fortunately, it runs snappy and applies minimal changes to Android features. This means you can always pick up an alternate launcher from Google Play without missing out on important functions.
The phone’s dual-lens rear camera with a 16MP color sensor and 2MP depth sensor perform well in decent lighting. But as the lights dim, so does camera performance. The phone also lacks the AI processing of the bigger P20 Pro, so you’ll likely just want to leave things in auto and see how pictures turn out.
The front-facing 24MP selfie shooter captured respectable images, but the lack of flash puzzled many reviewers.
To keep things chugging along, Huawei included a 3000mAh battery with USB Type-C charging and Quick Charge support. In most cases, it lasted a day for reviewers. However, if you’re planning to stream video often or play games, you’ll want to keep the charger nearby.
Despite the praise, reviewers still had trouble recommending the Huawei P20 Lite. Ironically, it’s because they felt that other Honor phones -- Huawei’s budget-friendly sister company -- offered better value. The Honor 7X offers similar specs and features for slightly less while the Honor 10 offers better performance across the board for only slightly more -- and it looks better too.
Recombu explained this well, saying, “... this smartphone is perfectly fine as an everyday blower, even up to the challenges of online gaming and capturing good-looking photos… The main problem is that it’s not really much different to a whole load of recent Honor handsets...”