TECH BREAK: The Huawei P20 Lite is a pocket friendly hi-tech phone

Thursday May 03 2018

The Huawei P20 Lite has a premium feel to it. PHOTO | FILE | COURTESY


When Huawei announced their next flagship series, the P20 and the P20 Pro back in March, there was a lot of hype in the tech community surrounding the cameras and the design angle taken by the manufacturer.

But on the sidelines was the Huawei P20 Lite, the budget version of the P20 and the P20 pro. Jumia Kenya were kind enough to give us an early look before launching sales in Kenya. Here are my first impressions.


Straight out of the box, one would be forgiven for mistaking it for the iPhone X by Apple – they look strikingly similar. The top notch design we saw on the iPhone X is aped here albeit with a slightly different implementation, for this reason the P20 Lite has a very high screen to body ratio.


A comparison of the back of a Huawei P20 Lite and Apple iPhone X. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

The colour accuracy on the 5.84-inch FHD+ screen is very sharp, and bright as well. The notch on top adds a bit of aesthetics to the device though some find it ugly (you can add a black bar to give it a symmetrical look).


The chin at the bottom of the screen isn’t that big but it is noticeable. It is interesting that Huawei didn’t use this space for the functional keys.

The device has a premium feel to it at hand. The glass back and front makes it quite slippery with its curved edges and it has a very light feel as well.

With the choice of exterior materials, cleaning fingerprint smudges off the phone will be a common thing if you go for this device; it is extremely ‘fingerprinty’.

The P20 Lite lacks any noticeable downfalls in its performance.

With its HiSilicon KIRIN 659 processor and 4GBs of Random Access Memory (RAM), day-to-day tasks ranging from social media, web browsing and multimedia consumption are handled effortlessly.


A section of City Hall Way in Nairobi shot using the Huawei P20 Lite. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG


You also get 64GBs of internal storage that can be expanded up to 256GB via a microSD card. The device runs on Android 8.0 with Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 skin.

Gaming on this device is also splendid although the 3000 mAh easily takes a beating under heavy usage.

I was able to get just over six hours of heavy usage from the battery during my review, standby and regular usage times are better thanks to Huawei’s resource-allocation technology that minimises power-waste.

Charging it up again takes little time thanks to the quick charge technology.

I was blown away by the cameras on this device and their capabilities. Photos taken from the 16 MP main camera at the back are sharp and the colour accuracy is impeccable.

You get plenty of camera modes to play around with including professional mode, 3D panorama, light painting, time-lapse, slow-mo, and night shot that allows you to take crisp photos in low light conditions. The extra camera also makes for great bokeh photos.


A long exposure shot of night traffic on Thika Road. The photo was taken using a Huawei P20 Lite. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

Then there’s the Pro video mode. This one really got me going. Under Pro video mode, you can shoot videos with full manual controls of the camera including focus. This gives you the capability to shoot professional looking videos from your phone!

Upfront, the 16 MP camera does a really good job at taking selfies, even low light selfies are not that bad considering it lacks a front flash light. Beside it is the front facing earpiece and the proximity and ambient light sensors.


The back of the Huawei P20 Lite. It has two rear cameras. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG


In terms of security, you get a very snappy fingerprint scanner at the back of the P20 Lite unlike on its bigger brothers, where the scanner is at the front.

Other conventional unlocking methods like patterns and pins are available, but I found the face unlock quite remarkable.

The unlocking time is fast although I often found myself using the fingerprint scanner instead – habitual tendencies I guess.

And no, it can’t get unlocked with a photo of you or even when you are asleep.  

The main chassis is made of metal with a secondary mic on top, volume and power keys on the right while the bottom packs the earphone jack (thankfully, the P20 & P20 Pro lack it) main microphone and the main speaker, which, honestly, Huawei could have done better – the sound gets unpleasant at high volumes.


A section of Uhuru Park in Nairobi shot using the Huawei P20 Lite. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE SANG

To wrap it up, there is a lot I loved on the Huawei P20 Lite. The performance met the expectations I had, the design is sure to turn heads, and the cameras do a bang up job on it.


But I don’t think this is the P20 for me. The key feature of the P20 Pro is its triple back camera lens set-up that gave it a DXO score of 104 (DXO is a camera quality rating score), it is what got the hype going on the P20.  

In comparison, the P20 Lite has a 16MP & 2MP camera set-up, the P20 a 12MP RGB & a 20MP monochrome Leica cameras, while the P20 Pro has a 40 MP RGB, 20MP monochrome and an 8MP Telephoto lens. The photographer in me would rather have the Pro despite its higher asking price.

The P20 Lite is now available on Jumia, going for Sh31,999. The P20 and the P20 Pro go for around Sh64,000 and Sh100,000, respectively, on the international market.

The P20 Lite is available in Midnight Black, Klein Blue, Platinum Gold and Sakura Pink colours.