Huawei Mate 20 Lite

Price: £379 inc VAT from fave.co/2QX1fj0

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

With Huawei fans ea­gerly await­ing the launch of the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, the com­pany has whet their ap­petites with the Mate 20 Lite, the cheap­est mem­ber of the new line.

It’s a slightly odd strat­egy, but one that prob­a­bly serves the Mate 20 Lite it­self well, as it’s freed from com­par­isons to faster (and pricier) sib­lings and in­stead gets its own time in the spot­light. That doesn’t save the phone from com­par­isons to the rest of the mid-range mar­ket though, and the Mate 20 Lite can’t quite keep up with the com­pe­ti­tion.

De­sign

Fol­low­ing on from the P20, it’s no sur­prise to see that the Mate 20 Lite boasts a big, notched dis­play, though it’s ac­tu­ally a slightly wider notch, a nec­es­sary change to cram in dual selfie cam­eras.

The rest of the de­sign is pretty typ­i­cal for 2018. With an 81 per­cent screen-to-body ra­tio, Huawei has kept the build con­densed, de­spite the 6.3in dis­play, mea­sur­ing 158x73mm and just 7.6mm thick.

The rear of the phone is glass, and has an­other two cam­era lenses in the cen­tre, bor­dered by the trade­mark Mate brushed metal stripe. De­spite the glass there’s no wire­less charg­ing here, nor is there any wa­ter­proof­ing, but you do get a head­phone jack.

It’s only avail­able in blue or black, which adds to the sense that the de­sign here is mostly func­tional. That’s not to say it’s an unattrac­tive phone, but it’s a far cry from the colour­ful, de­sign-led P20 range. That’s in keep­ing with the Mate’s usual fo­cus on busi­ness cus­tomers, but is a bit strange given that Huawei is ac­tu­ally push­ing the new Lite as a selfie phone, with a younger de­mo­graphic in mind.

Dis­play

First up, that big 6.3in dis­play. It’s Full HD+, clock­ing in at 2,340x1,080 in a 19.5:9 as­pect ra­tio, which means it man­ages a very re­spectable pixel den­sity of 409ppi. It’s an LTPS LCD dis­play, which makes sense for the price, and it looks great in per­son, with solid colour range and con­trast. It’s bright too, with a max­i­mum bright­ness of 405cd/m2 – one of the higher scores we’ve seen, es­pe­cially at this price point.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

Here’s where things get more in­ter­est­ing. The Mate 20 Lite is the sec­ond phone pow­ered by Huawei’s Kirin 710 chip, an octa-core pro­ces­sor with four cores run­ning at 2.2GHz and an­other four run­ning at 1.7GHz.

It’s likely a far cry from the per­for­mance of the Kirin 980 – which we ex­pect to un­der­pin the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro – but it of­fers solid mid-range per­for­mance, es­pe­cially paired with 4GB of RAM as it is here. As for stor­age, it comes with 64GB built-in, ex­pand­able with mi­croSD up to an­other 256GB.

We’ve sadly been un­able to prop­erly bench­mark the phone, as it stub­bornly re­fuses to in­stall any of our usual bench­mark­ing soft­ware – though don’t worry, it’s in­stalling other apps just fine.

In real-world us­age it’s pretty zippy, as we’ve re­ally come to ex­pect from any mid-range de­vice now. The

Kirin 710 is clearly fast enough to han­dle day-to-day phone tasks with ease, but it does be­gin to strug­gle and slow if you pit it up against more de­mand­ing stuff like gam­ing – even with sup­port for Huawei’s GPU Turbo op­ti­miza­tion tech.

Still, you can get the sub­stan­tially more pow­er­ful Kirin 970 in the Honor 10 for the same price or in the Honor Play for £100 less (ad­mit­tedly with a bit of a down­grade to the cam­eras) the Mate 20 Lite prob­a­bly isn’t the phone to go for if per­for­mance is your top pri­or­ity.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio

As we men­tioned ear­lier, you get a head­phone jack (hooray), along with USB-C for charg­ing and data trans­fer. There’s also Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth (but only ver­sion 4.2, not the more re­cent and re­li­able 5.0), though sadly no sup­port for NFC, which rules out us­ing Google Pay.

As for se­cu­rity, there’s a finger­print scan­ner on the rear of the phone, or you can use the dual selfie cam­eras for face un­lock, which will now work no mat­ter what an­gle you hold the phone at, mean­ing you can use face un­lock in land­scape mode.

Cam­eras

The cam­eras are what Huawei is re­ally push­ing with the Mate 20 Lite, es­pe­cially the front-fac­ing ones, seem­ingly in an ef­fort to ex­pand the Mate brand be­yond busi­ness users. The dual selfie lenses are 24Mp (f/2.0) and 2Mp, with the lat­ter pri­mar­ily in­tended for depth sens­ing to pull off the bokeh ef­fect.

That’s an aw­ful lot of cam­era just for self­ies, and it’s nat­u­rally backed up by a suite of AI-driven soft­ware, in­clud­ing au­to­matic (op­tional) beau­ti­fi­ca­tion, AR over­lays, an­i­mated emoji, and por­trait light­ing. Huawei is even pack­ing in ev­ery pos­si­ble way to take a photo, with op­tions to take a shot by tap­ping on the screen, smil­ing, or us­ing ges­ture con­trols.

To show off its com­mit­ment to the selfie, Huawei has ac­tu­ally packed more megapix­els into the front of the cam­era than the rear – on the back you just get 20Mp for the main lens and a sim­i­lar 2Mp backup, though the lower f/1.8 aper­ture might give the rear cam­era the edge. Self­ies are im­pres­sive to be fair, with crisp, de­tailed por­trait shots and bright

colouri­sa­tion with a bit of help from the AI mode. The main shooter isn’t bad, but it’s noth­ing too spe­cial ei­ther. While it han­dles low light well, as you can see in our test shot op­po­site it strug­gles more in com­plex light­ing en­vi­ron­ments like a gig.

AI stuff has been amped up here too. The now fa­mil­iar scene recog­ni­tion is back, au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just­ing set­tings and ap­ply post-pro­cess­ing de­pend­ing on whether the photo is of a dog or a sun­rise, but Huawei has added four new scenes to bring the to­tal to 22 – though we do ques­tion how much use you’ll get out of ad­di­tions such as ‘an­cient build­ing’ and the gen­uinely baf­fling ‘panda’.

The AI pho­tog­ra­phy can be a bit un­pre­dictable though – the two shots of the St. Pan­cras build­ing shown op­po­site and on page 55 were taken im­me­di­ately af­ter one an­other, but as you can see the AI set­tings pro­cessed them very dif­fer­ently, with con­trast­ing re­sults.

Bat­tery life

Huawei is also big­ging up the phone’s bat­tery life. With a 3,750mAh bat­tery in­side, the hand­set lasts a while, with Huawei claim­ing that the av­er­age user will get 2.3 days out of it, with even a heavy user last­ing 1.5 days.

That’s not too far off what we’ve seen in our us­age. We just about stretched it past the two-day mark once, but for the most part we were ready to reach for our charger to­wards the end of the sec­ond day. Ei­ther way, you’d have to work hard to empty the bat­tery over a sin­gle day, which is prob­a­bly what mat­ters to most peo­ple.

Soft­ware and apps

Along with An­droid 8.1, the Mate 20 Lite ships with Huawei’s EMUI 8.2 skin. Man­u­fac­turer An­droid skins are al­ways a bit of a thorny is­sue, and EMUI has its fair share of de­trac­tors. It does give you a de­cent amount of con­trol though, and there are a few de­sign choices gen­tly bor­rowed from Ap­ple that make it an easy tran­si­tion for any­one com­ing from an iPhone.

The new ad­di­tions in ver­sion 8.2 are mi­nor, and mostly the sort of AI tweaks we’ve al­ready dis­cussed, such as scene and ob­ject recog­ni­tion (now ex­panded and im­proved in the gallery app too), im­proved au­to­matic switch­ing be­tween 4G and Wi-Fi de­pend­ing on sig­nal strength, and the op­tion to hold down on an im­age of a prod­uct to au­to­mat­i­cally find it on Ama­zon.

Ver­dict

The Mate 20 Lite is a dif­fi­cult phone to place. It looks at­trac­tive enough, if not ex­actly strik­ing, and of­fers

de­cent mid-range per­for­mance while fall­ing short of the flag­ship pro­ces­sors found in sim­i­larly priced Honor phones. All of that would make for a solid mid-range busi­ness phone, but the em­pha­sis on the selfie cam­eras throws things off. This isn’t an ex­cit­ing enough phone for the Snapchat crowd, while busi­ness users can get bet­ter per­for­mance for less money else­where, mak­ing this a phone that doesn’t re­ally have an ob­vi­ous au­di­ence. Do­minic Pre­ston

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6.3in Full-HD+ (2,340x1,080) 19.5:9 IPS dis­play

• An­droid 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2

• Kirin 710 pro­ces­sor (4x 2.2GHz Cor­tex-A73, 4x 1.7GHz Cor­tex-A53)

• 4GB RAM

• 64GB stor­age

• Mi­croSD card slot (up to 256GB)

• 4G LTE

• Dual or sin­gle SIM (dual uses mi­croSD slot)

• Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 4.2 with aptX HD

• Finger­print sen­sor (rear)

• GPS

• Dual rear-fac­ing cam­eras: 20Mp, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), PDAF; 2Mp, depth sen­sor

• Dual front-fac­ing cam­eras: 24Mp, f/2.0, 26mm (wide); 2Mp, depth sen­sor

• USB-C

• Non-re­mov­able Lithium-ion 3,750 mAh bat­tery

• 158.3x75.3x7.6mm

• 172g

The Huawei’s dis­play looks great in use

Stan­dard shot

There’s a finger­print scan­ner on the rear of the phone, or you can use the dual selfie cam­eras for face un­lock

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