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Huawei P20 Lite review: Cheap and gorgeous Moto G6 alternative

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The Good The Huawei P20 Lite looks more expensive than it is, has dual cameras and is very affordable.

The Bad Its battery life and performance are just OK.

The Bottom Line If $500 feels like too much for a phone, Huawei’s P20 Lite is a solid sub-$300 option.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Camera 7
  • Battery 7

Review Sections

Huawei's P20 phones are its best yet, with stunning designs and photography skills to envy. But there's one member of the family you may not have met yet.

Huawei's P20 Lite, or the Nova 3e as it's known in countries like Australia, doesn't have the camera prowess of its more expensive siblings, but it's a strong mix of capable and affordable. It looks great, has enough power for reliable performance outside intensive 3D gaming and costs just AU$399. It's more pricey in the UK, where it retails for £329, though that cheaper Australia price converts to $295. Unfortunately, the Huawei P20 Lite won't sell in the US, as with other Huawei phones

The P20 Lite is stiff competition for phones like the Moto G6, Motorola's excellent new budget handset. The G6 has a cleaner operating system and is a little less expensive in the US and UK ($249, £229, AU$399), but the Moto G6 design isn't as up-to-date as the P20 Lite's.

It's not without compromise, but Huawei's P20 Lite is a tremendous deal for those who think that even the OnePlus 6 is too expensive a phone.

huawei-p20-lite-2

Huawei P20 Lite

Huawei P20 Lite isn't light on looks

Though it's in the name, the Huawei P20 Lite doesn't share a strong resemblance to the Huawei P20 or the even brawnier P20 Pro, which has three rear cameras on the back. It's very much its own beast -- and a regal one at that.

The P20 Lite has a big ol' 5.84-inch, 2,280x1,080-pixel display. It's light on bezel, like most premium phones today, with just enough to cram a notch up top and a Huawei logo below the screen. The phone comes with responsive facial recognition, which is a smart touch for an inexpensive device, though keep in mind that face unlocking is more convenient than it is secure. For example, you won't be able to use this to validate mobile payments, unlike the fingerprint reader on the rear.

The phone's backing is similarly nice to look at, and with a glossy, reflective back looks like a snazzier Honor phone. Hidden antenna lines and a metallic fingerprint scanner add to the design, too. I got the Klein Blue model, which is extremely blue, though it also comes in Sakura Pink and Midnight Black.

Simply put, this phone looks more expensive than it is. Software is less remarkable, though. The phone runs EMUI 8.0, Huawei's take on the Android 8.0 Oreo operating system, and while it's OK, it's certainly not as clean and slick as the near-pure Android you'll see on Moto's phones.

Power and battery

The P20 Lite is a terrific budget phone, but it's still a budget phone. That means compromises are needed, and the Kirin 659 processor is mostly where you'll feel it.

It's not a slow handset, but there are moments of lag. Going from reading a news app to Googling a word definition to checking a Facebook message and then back to the news app, for instance, is a command sequence likely to stump the phone, if only for a couple of milliseconds. There were also a few times that audio from an app kept going even after I had closed it.

There's also enough power here for most 3D gaming. A game like Asphalt 8 runs fine, though bigger games that require more RAM won't run optimally here. In PUBG, for instance, I had to play at the lowest graphics settings.

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