Huawei Mate 20 Lite Review - Great Value 6.3" Tease
We are in the middle of a frenzy of smartphone launches just before the holiday season. Huawei teased us at IFA 2018 in Berlin with the announcement of the Kirin 980 chipset we are likely to see powering the Mate 20 Pro. At IFA they also announced the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, which is a 6.3” tease of what we may see announced on October 16th in London.
This is the Tech Travel Geeks review of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, which I am writing after more than two weeks of use, while at home in Edinburgh and travelling on a road trip on the West Coast of the United States of America. During that time the review unit of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite has been using a 3 UK SIM card with Feel At Home Roaming in the USA. The review device was provided by Huawei and will be returned.
Huawei’s Mate range is its second half of the year flagship portfolio, essentially their toc to their tic-toc annual device release. In recent years both the Huawei P Series (the tic) and the Mate Series (the toc) have had “Lite” variants, which share many of the design language and some of the software of the Pro versions. To keep the price in check and justify the “Lite” moniker there are some necessary trade-offs in terms of specifications or materials, but overall you get a premium mid-range experience as well as some premium image and branding.
Huawei Mate 20 Lite Technical Specifications
Display: 6.3” 1080 x 2340 pixels IPS LCD, 19.5:9 ratio (~409 ppi density)
Chipset: Hisilicon Kirin 710, Octa-core (4x2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A53), Mali-G51 MP4 GPU
Operating System: EMUI 8.2 (Android 8.1)
4GB RAM, 64GB Storage (expandable with up to an extra 256GB with MicroSD)
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 4.2 LE
GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Rear camera: 20 MP, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), PDAF with 2 MP, depth sensor
Selfie camera: 24 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide) with 2 MP, depth sensor
3750 mAh battery
The Huawei Mate 20 Lite feels like a true premium device, with a glass sandwich industrial design where the edges are rounded and the front and back glass are gently curved into the edges. The review device we were provided with is described as sapphire blue, and is much less punchy or shiny than what we saw in the phantom blue Honor 10, but tasteful and pleasantly reflective.
The right side of the device is where you will find the power button and volume rocker. There is nothing too exciting about the left side, apart from the hybrid dual SIM or SIM and MicroSD tray which sits flush with the rest of the edge.
There is little to report of the top edge of the device too: just a microphone hole.
The bottom edge of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite is where all the action happens: you’ll find a microphone hole, speaker grille, USB Type-C charging and data port, and a courage port (3.5mm audio jack port).
The front of the device is dominated by the 6.3” notched FHD+ (1080x2340) display and some very slim bezels. No fingerprint reader here (it’s on the back), and the notch has a speaker, sensors and a dual-selfie camera setup (24MP + 2MP).
The back of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite is where you will find the dual-camera setup (20MP + 2MP), single LED flash and fingerprint reader. The camera and fingerprint reader are in vertical configuration, where there is some subtle striping to highlight the area embedded in the surrounding glass.
Overall the Mate 20 Lite is pleasant to hold, has a reassuring heft to it and is well balanced.
Performance & Experience
The performance of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite was excellent: throughout the fortnight using the device I noticed no slowdowns in heavy everyday use and gaming (Goat Simulator). I even used it to play Pokemon Go occasionally and had no issues and experienced good battery life. Huawei have done a good job here: the 12 nm Kirin 710 chipset is powerful and efficient. Paired with 4GB of RAM and EMUI’s resource management most users won’t really have any issues or know that this is a “Lite” device.
EMUI is Huawei’s Android distribution on the Mate 20 Lite. In this case it is EMUI 8.2, based on Android Oreo 8.1. At time of writing the review device had the July 2018 security patch.
As with previous Huawei and Honor devices, the launcher has a certain fruitiness to it by default, but it is relatively simple to add a drawer if needed. I had no issues installing third party launchers, provided I remembered to change the default launcher to it in the settings.
EMUI contains a very long list of features and optimisations. To put it simply, it is one of the most complete if not overly fruity Android distributions out there. There is a lot to like, and in look and feel it differs from Google’s Android experience quite a lot.
The 20MP and 2MP dual-camera setup on the back is impressive for this category of device. In good lighting conditions the pictures were clear and packed plenty of punch. In low light it performed well and with night mode on and small tripod delivers some amazing low light shots.
An AI toggle in the camera interface enables you to allow the Mate 20 Lite to optimise camera settings according to what Huawei’s AI recognises in scene. There are 22 different types of scene which can be detected, and overall I found this useful. Depending on camera mode (AI on or off) there can be some excessive smoothing, but overall most people will find the camera results impressive and ideal for use on social media.
The video recording maxes out at Full HD 1080p at 30fps. For most users this is more than enough and the results are pleasant and carry plenty of detail and have good colour reproduction.
The 24MP and 2MP dual-selfie camera setup is ideal for Snapchat or Instagram sotries and provides a slew of filters, overlays as well as 3D Qmojis which replicate your face and expressions in cartoonish characters. If you go for more traditional selfies, it is a good camera once you find your preferred beautification levels. Portrait mode is the best in this smartphone category.
EMUI features of the camera, such as AI and Qmoji are definitely a feature which adds value to this premium mid-range device.
If there were one change I could make to the device, it would affect two features: an increased battery, maybe an extra 500 mAh, which would also make it slightly thicker and do away with the protruding camera modules on the back. Apart from that it is my personal opinion that Huawei’s team have put together an excellent product which as part of the overall Mate 20 series push will perform very well in its market segment.
Overall the Huawei Mate 20 Lite is an excellent device for the premium mid-range segment it sits in: plenty of power, good battery life, capable cameras and an overall premium experience and ergonomics.
At time of writing, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite retails for £379 SIM free or on a pay as you go basis in the UK. This equates to approximately 400 Euro or 500 US Dollars. For that you not only get a good value smartphone, but the looks and brand power Huawei is starting to be well known and admired for.
As we opened this review, I shall close it: the Huawei Mate 20 Lite is 6.3” tease for what is to come. If you are not really too fussed about spending a large sum of money on the best devices on the market, but still want a good smartphone which will perform well and satisfy most user needs, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite is a good option to consider.
I also took the Huawei Mate 20 Lite onto All About Android on TWiT TV. Below you will find a video of my review while I was in the studio and one of our unboxing.