Huawei has neglected the Indian smartphone market for close to two years, with the last product being the Huawei P9. Now Huawei is finally back in the Indian smartphone space with two new products, the P20 lite and P20 Pro. Both of the products are catered towards buyers looking for good cameras.
The P20 lite is the youngest sibling of the P20 Pro, featuring a similar design language of Glass and Metal. While the P20 Pro sports Leica branded Triple cameras on the back, P20 lite does away with the Leica branding and has dual rear cameras.
Let us now dive straight into the review!
We have been using the Huawei P20 lite for a couple of days now. The P20 lite comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, with Android 8.0 and EMUI 8 on top of it.
Huawei P20 lite Specifications
- Display: 5.84-inch IPS display, (1080 x 2280 pixels), 2.5D curved glass
- Software: Android 8.0 Oreo, EMUI 8
- Fingerprint Scanner: Yes
- CPU: HiSilicon Krin 659, 2.36 GHz Octa-core Cortex-A53 processor
- GPU: MaliT830-MP2
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Storage: 64 GB internal, microSD card support upto 256GB
- Main Camera: 16 MP + 2MP, dual-tone LED Flash
- Selfie Camera: 24MP with f/2.0 aperture
- Connectivity:USB Type C, 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
- Cellular: 4G LTE, Hybrid Dual SIM (nano + nano / microSD)
- Battery: 3,000 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
- Price: Rs 19,999
The box is fairly simple in design. As soon as you lift the top part, you are greeted with the smartphone. Underneath lies the documentation and the supplied silicon case followed by accessories.
A complete list of items you get inside the box:
- Huawei P20 lite
- Sim Ejector Tool
- Charging Brick
- Type C Cable
- Silicon Cover
- Warranty and User Guide
While looking at the design you can clearly make out the similarities that the P20 lite shares with the iPhone X right from the camera placement to the notch. This can be exciting for some users and not for other, but one thing is for sure ‘copying iPhone X’s design surely sells smartphones’. Huawei has gone for the premium look on the P20 lite with glass and metal. The P20 lite is available in two colors ‘Black’ and ‘Blue’. The unit we have is the ‘Black’ color one.
While looking at the display the P20 lite impresses with the almost bezel-less deign with a notch on top. The 5.84 inch 19:9 FHD+ display provides the P20 lite a respectable 80% screen to body ratio. The design is simple with the 24MP front camera, a circular earpiece and the sensors tucked neatly inside the notch. There’s a chin on the bottom with the Huawei branding in the centre. The overall slim profile and the rounded corners are very much inspired by Apple.
On the back you would find the fingerprint sensor in the centre and the dual camera module which is a first for the ‘lite’ series of smartphones. The camera module is placed vertically on the left top corner and protrudes a bit. The bottom of the smartphones houses the Type C port, 3.5mm audio jack and a speaker grill. The power button and the volume rockers are placed on the right side while the dual sim hybrid sim tray is placed on the left side of the smartphone. P20 lite packs in a 3,000mAh battery which makes the smartphone even lighter.
There is no mention of what kind of glass has been on the front and as well as the back of the smartphone. Overall we do like the design and the smartphone seems posh.
Huawei has fitted the P20 lite with a 5.84 inch 19:9 aspect ratio display, making the smartphone ideal for single handed use. The display is a FHD+ IPS panel with a resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels and with 432 PPI. This makes the display sharp and you can barely make out pixels. The display has good color reproductions and Huawei has thrown in a features to calibrate the display at your preference.
The display achieves 500 nits of brightness which is sufficient for good outdoor readability. Overall we didn’t have any complaints about the display. The resolution and the quality of the panel makes this display perfect for media consumption.
Out of the box the P20 lite ships with the latest version of Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 over the Android Oreo. Emotion UI has come a long way from the previous iterations and is constantly getting better, with improvements, like better RAM management, battery management to name a few. The UI tweaks are noticeable in the newer EMUI build.
One thing we would appreciate is the amount of bloatware that has been removed from the skin, making it light weight and breeze to use. There are plenty of useful features and shortcuts tucked away in the EMUI like the search feature which can be accessed by flicking down on any empty area of the home screen.
By default, the EMUI 8 doesn’t have an app drawer and it uses the same app layout like the one used on iOS or MIUI. This can be changed by going into the display settings. Apart from this you have the option to add themes and change icons. The Magazine lock screen features offers a bunch of wallpapers that get changed automatically after some time making your display different every time you wake up the display.
Apart from the usual pre-installed apps EMUI offers a file manager, a music app, a note keeping app, FM radio and Huawei’s Health app which can be used in conjunction with the Google Fit app to sync your fitness activity data.
The P20 lite also comes with face recognition feature which is among the fastest we’ve seen on the smartphones. The lift to wake feature activates the 24MP front cameras as soon as you lift the device and the face recognition kicks in.
The Huawei P20 lite is packed with the tried and tested Kirin 659, which is seen on other Honor smartphones like the Honor 7X and 9 lite. The Kirin 659 is not a heavy lifting chipset but gets the basic job done. It is closer to the Qualcomm 625 chipset in terms of performance. The Kirin 659 has a total of eight Cortex-A53 cores, four of those work at 2.36Ghz for intensive apps and the other four are clocked at 1.7Ghz for better power management.
The chipset is perfectly capable of running Android Oreo and EMUI 8 on top. We didn’t run into any force closes or lags during our testing period. The MaliT830-MP2 struggles with the graphic intensive apps, we were able to play PUBG at medium graphics settings without any stutter.
The apps load times are high when comparing to other smartphones in this price segment, but Huawei has worked on the RAM management.
Huawei has packed the P20 lite with a 3,000mAh battery which can be considered small. The battery charging times are high at times, though Huawei claims that the P20 lite has fast charging but the best it did was at 18W and not the 22.5W super charging that is seen on the higher models. The battery charging varies in the 2hr 30mins range. For moderate users the battery will last a whole day, but heavy users might need to charge it twice. The battery tweaks done in the EMUI 8 are proving to be good and we hope Huawei continuous to work it even more.
Coming to the audio, With the P20 Lite, you have a single speaker unlike the stereo speaker setup that you find on the P20 Pro. The sound is on the average side, with distortion caused at high volume. The output via the 3.5mm jack is satisfactory for a smartphone in this price category.
Unlike its older siblings, the P20 lite doesn’t come with the AI camera that is found on the P20 Pro for scene selection. Huawei has equipped the P20 Lite with a dual-camera setup, a 16MP main camera with f/2.2 lens, accompanied by a 2MP that is solely used to supply additional depth information to the main sensor for wide aperture mode. There is no optical stabilization or hybrid zoom found on the smartphone.
Camera interface is fairly similar to what you’d find on the Honor 7X or Honor 9 lite. The options are hidden in menus which you can bring up by swiping left or right from the screen. Basic shooting modes like the Night Shot, HDR, Panorama, Pro, Beauty, Light Painting are present. Apart from this there’s a Pro mode as well using which you can control shutter speed, manual focus etc.
In terms of image quality, the 16MP produces decent shots under good lighting conditions. The colors are accurate. The only gripe we have is with the aggressive image compression and over sharpening. The images are sometimes so much sharpened that they tend to loose details. The camera performance at times is comparable to the one found on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. The images that come out of the camera are particularly good for sharing on social media.
The low-light images are nothing special, they are often soft and noisy. Coming to the front camera, Huawei has swapped the 16MP selfie found on the global variant to 24MP on the Indian variant. This does boost the selfie game. You can enjoy portrait shots with the front camera too. Apart from the portrait mode, you get the basic beauty filters. In addition to this, Huawei has added AR lens mode, where in you can overlay filters and stickers over your face. Consider this feature similar to that of the filters in Snapchat. They work on point thanks to the excellent face tracking that is implemented in the camera software.
Huawei P20 lite Pricing
- 4GB/64GB – INR 19,999
- Attractive Design
- Excellent display
- Face Unlock
- Decent Battery
- No Gorilla Glass
- Camera suffers in Low Light
- Aged Processor
Verdict – Should you go for it?
The Huawei P20 lite is pitched in a category that doesn’t sees much action or competition. We feel the Huawei P20 lite is a tad bit overpriced, when being judged on the hardware side, since it has the same internal that are found on the Honor 7X and Honor 9 lite which are priced well under Rs 15,000. If camera performance is your main preference and specially the rear one, then this smartphone is not for you.
But the high quality design and display surely make it a head turner.
Other considerable options to the P20 lite are the Redmi Note 5 Pro (which is roughly Rs 5,000 less) and Nokia 7 Plus (which is a Rs 5,000 more).