There's a growing list of phones out there for you if you're not able or willing to spend big bucks on something from , or . The OnePlus 5T ($186 at Amazon), for instance, offers flagship performance from $499. If you just need the basics, does everything for $229.
Now there's a new phone to add to this list, Huawei's Mate 10 Lite, a solid option in the middle of those other two phones. It officially retails in Australia as the Nova 2i for AU$499, which converts to $380 and £280. But if you're looking to import, which you'll have to since it doesn't have an official US or UK release, sites are offering it for around AU$350, which is more like $270 and £200. At that price, the Mate 10 Lite is a steal.
It has four cameras -- two on the front and two on the back -- though they're more show than go. That's OK though, because the Mate Lite also has a vibrant 2,160x1,080-pixel display, premium touches and more than enough power to browse the web and watch videos smoothly.
Doubling down on dual cameras
Dual cameras have become the. With the Mate Lite, Huawei doubles down on dual cameras by doubling up: The phone has dual shooters not only on its back (16 plus 2 megapixels), but on its front too (12 plus 2 megapixels).
This is all good and fun, but quantity only counts as long as there's quality too -- Google's Pixel 2 ($115 at Walmart), with its one rear lens, proved that. And since the biggest gap between midrange phones and premium ones is often camera quality, you shouldn't expect the world of the Mate Lite's cameras.
They're competent, and can shoot some decent photos in good light conditions. But they're not particularly noteworthy in any way, despite their number. They struggle in both high and low light: The former often leading to overexposure, and some of my low-light photos came out a little grainy. Plus, many pictures I shot looked artificially over-sharpened too.
Still, it's nice to have both its front and back shooters capable of bokeh-style photos, which mimic the depth-of-field effect of a DSLR camera, even if it doesn't handle fine details like people's hair as well as other phones. Software can be a saving grace here: Huawei's tech lets you adjust the aperture after you take a portrait shot, meaning you can change how blurred the background is. This is helpful, because the phone blurs backgrounds too much as a default (see above photos). There's also a beautify option for the selfie camera, which is a common feature that softens lines for a smoother skin tone.
Better than budget
The Mate Lite is without some key features of new phones, like NFC options and waterproofing, but one of its biggest strengths is that it doesn't feel like a budget phone.