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Huawei P20 Lite Unboxing, Quick Review: Meet Huawei’s New Mid-range Contender

We unbox the P20 Lite!

When Huawei unveiled the P20 and P20 Pro in Paris a few weeks ago, there was one member of the family that was silently left out. The P20 Lite has had its fair share of leaks leading up to the event, and we were a little disappointed not to see the mid-range smartphone make an appearance in the city of love.

That’s why we were pleasantly surprised to see a retail sample of Huawei’s latest mid-range phone on our doorstep a few days ago. While the P20 Lite wasn’t paraded in Huawei’s global unveil of their two new flagships, the new phone will still be made available in the Philippines by the Chinese company in the coming days.

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

Packaging and contents:

The P20 Lite’s comes in a plain white box with the phone’s name in the front. Inside you’ll see the phone, headphones, a USB Type-C cable as well as a USB fast charger.

We’re a little surprised to see that Huawei didn’t include a soft jelly case in the package (which they usually do) nor include a screen protector on the phone, though that may change once the phone is offered to the public.

Initial impressions: looks as pretty as its more expensive brothers

Huawei’s P20 Lite understandably borrows heavily from the design of its more expensive brothers, though at a drastically reduced price point. The rear camera layout mirrors the one in the P20 with the sensors arranged vertically on the upper left side of the phone’s rear. There’s no Leica branding this time of course, and there’s now a fingerprint scanner on the back as well that breaks up the whole point-and-shoot aesthetic that the P20 and P20 Pro have.

The P20 Lite uses a combination of glass and metal in its construction. While our black review unit is, well, pedestrian and boring, Huawei claims that its Klein blue variant uses a new generation of glitter cover film which gives it a unique texture. The Sakura Pink model also gets special juju in the form of 3D bright pearl powder. Long story short: don’t get the black version if you can help it.

Flipping the phone over, you’ll peep a design choice that you’ll either hate or love: the notch. Yes, just like its more expensive bros, the P20 Lite has a notch on top of its 5.84-inch FullView 2.0 full HD+, 19:9 aspect ratio, 2280 x 1080 display panel. But just like its bros, you can opt to “hide” the notch if you don’t want it there.

The phone’s layout is pretty typical, with the power button and volume rocker on the right. The 3.5mm jack is on the bottom, along with the speaker grille and USB Type-C port. The phone uses a hybrid SIM/microSD port.

The fingerprint scanner works flawlessly, and the phone has the option for facial unlock as well. We did find that the phone was noticeably slower to unlock the phone via facial recognition compared to the P20 and P20 Pro, since the P20 Lite’s chipset doesn’t have the same AI capabilities as its brothers.

The phone uses a 16-megapixel rear camera paired with a 2-megapixel secondary sensor, while the front camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. While the phone doesn’t have the same AI-powered camera of its more expensive brothers, it’s still a pretty capable shooter, at least according to Huawei: it has light rebalancing tech that integrates light from different sources to optimize image brightness and reduce signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) by 300 percent; a smart photography assistant which allows users to enjoy gesture control photograph, background replacement, and AR effects; as well as 4-in-1 light fusion that produces brighter photos in low-light conditions.

Powering the phone is Huawei’s home grown Kirin 659 octa-core processor, paired with either 4GB/64GB of RAM and storage or 4GB/128GB. Huawei’s own marketing material that accompanied the P20 Lite make references to 128GB variant, so you can expect that particular phone model to make its way to our shores over the 64GB model.

Despite just being a mid-range phone, the P20 Lite also offers quick charge tech for its 3000mAh battery, with Huawei promising that 30 minutes of charging gives the phone around 43 percent of battery capacity.

The P20 Lite looks like a legit challenger to the mid-range offerings of its fellow Chinese compatriots like vivo’s V9 and OPPO’s upcoming F7 smartphone. From the looks of it we’ll be seeing a three-way fight at the top of the sub 20K price bracket – we’ll see if the P20 lite can hold its own against its two rivals.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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6 Comments

  1. My guess is that will undercut Vivo and OPPO by pricing it at 16990 or 15990, since other than the 19:9 screen USB-C and updated cameras, this is essentially a Nova 2i (spec-wise). So hitting a sub-16k price point would not be impossible.

    Depending on final pricing, OPPO might have a slight advantage thanks to its much more powerful processor. But I feel Huawei beats the Vivo V9, thanks USB-C and better software. VIVO does have expandable storage (versus hybrid Sim).

    But my vote goes to Huawei as long as they priced it at 16k or lower. The Kirin processor is good enough for 95% of what most people usually use their phone for.

  2. I’ll wait for the pricing of the Asus Zenfone 5 before I decide which one to buy.
    This years midrange is exciting!

  3. Looks like nova 2i with a notch. Recycled kirin 659 proc again. How many huawei devices carries this cpu already?

  4. I think these would be a 4 way battle with xiaomi redmi note 5 pro. SD 636 would run around these SOC’s and with a converted tag price of 12k. I don’t seem that there would be a worthy challenger with that kind of price.

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