Huawei rarely creeps into the budget category because it's got Honor to tackle the needs of tight pocket customers. So, what is a Huawei P series smartphone doing at ₹19,999?
My best guess is, it's picking up the leftovers from the P20 Pro’s party. Our top smartphone right now, you know. That said, the P20 Lite has little in common with its medal-winning sibling. It’s more of an Honor than a Huawei.
Should you expect the same fidelity as the P20 Pro but consized? Nope but at twenty grand it’s notch a bad thought either.
Huawei P20 Lite design and build: Slipping away
The size is what might sway us into touching the P20 Lite a little more than required. Sporting a 5.8in display with the notch, the phone can sit firmly in your mitts. Those rounded edges deserve more credit here albeit the glass back is seriously something to worry over.
Fingerprint smudges are a curse we’re willing to accept but the slipperiness of this device is downright scary. I dropped it once myself and as a tech reviewer, that didn’t go down well for my sanity. I’d slap a case on this bad boy first thing, which sadly isn’t included in the box from a Chinese manufacturer that sometimes ends up putting a scratch guard too. Weird.
Moving on, there's a notch, you can see it, I can see it. All the Chinese manufacturers want you to see it. So, we’ll bicker about it down in the OS section. Till then let me tell you how good the screen is. At FHD+ (2280 x 1080 pixels) resolution and 432 PPI the screen is quite impressive with nice colour accuracy and great brightness levels. You can still catch up on IPL live without the notch distributing your concentration as well. The P20 Lite blacks it out when playing any video.
Huawei P20 Lite camera: hairy situation
The 16MP + 2MP dual cameras on the back click some really good shots but then Huawei’s own processing swoops in and makes an over sharpened mess out of it. How do I know this? The slow processing told me. In daylight, the shots are crisp and the colours appear to be really natural. Even the 24MP front facing camera gets the colour tones right.
The Portrait mode is weirdly pointless over the wide aperture mode that clearly does its own job and the Portrait mode’s as well. The edge detection isn’t consistent and the over sharpening genuinely needs a heartfelt letter of concern.
Swiping between my two selfies uncontrollably and forcing the processing to choke, it showed me a glimpse of how the shot looks before sharpening was applied. I could tell that the phone can take really good shots if it would allow me to stop it from oversharpening them somehow.
The light painting feature is amazing. It smartly stacks up tiny long exposure shots to create a perfect light trail without exposing the light from the surroundings. Huawei has also added AR filters which are basically like Snapchat filters but heavily focused on the Kawaii culture. If you don’t know what it is, Google it or scroll through the camera samples we’ve put below. It's the ones that will make you laugh.
Huawei P20 Lite power and battery: Hua-why you do this?
Would you believe it if we told you Huawei has packed in a Kirin 659 processor. The same Kirin processor that is inside Honor 9 Lite (₹10,999), Honor 7X (₹12,999) and Honor 9i (₹17,999)? It's so strange and slow for a smartphone that asks ₹19,999.
Daily apps like WhatsApp and Instagram work smoothly but throw in a couple of more apps and the stuttering is evident. The 4GB RAM helps enough to keep us from complaining too much but we expected a bit more smoothness from the overall smartphone experience.
The 3,000mAh battery lasts an average of seven to eight hours. You’ll have to juice it up in the office if there are plans for an after work pub crawl. The USB Type-C charger that comes in the box uses no fast charge magic. In case fast charge is something you’d be looking for, plonking this to any Huawei fast charge adapter will do the job.
Huawei P20 Lite OS and features: Keepin’ it clean
The EMUI 8.0 skin atop of Android 8 is light and keeps things nifty. With plenty of options to tweak and customise the skin to your choice, it feels better and lighter this time. Like Samsung and every other skin planting smartphones, there are plenty of Huawei’s unnecessary apps here as well. Safe to say, I dumped them all in one folder and forgot about it.
There’s 64GB of storage with an option to add a memory card should you need. The speakers are average at best.
Coming back to the notch, you can add black borders to allow symmetry back into your life thanks to the chin. While most apps are not optimised for the notch on Android, Instagram stories being the main culprit, it’s a problem with all notch-dwelling smartphones so we can only wait and hope. Or stick to black borders. Your choice.
Most Androids these days have an option to flit between regular on screen buttons and gesture controls. Huawei P20 Lite doesn’t have gesture controls. In the next update maybe? Don’t know.
Huawei P20 Lite Verdict
The P20 Lite is more Honor than a Huawei and with that mantra it brings the notch to budget segments. The size and the screen is really good which sacrifices a bit on the battery life.
The Kirin 659 processor is a bit underwhelming, we reckon after Android P arrives it might stumble even more. As for the cameras, the pictures come out fairly decent for this price but oversharpening of facial hair can be seriously evident.
The P20 Lite doesn’t bring much to the table except the notch. Even in terms of sheer bang for your buck, it doesn’t justify that cost. We’ll be happy to wait this one out for a better Honor smartphone to come along.