There can be no doubting that the P20 Pro is very much the Huawei flagship. But if the P20 Pro makes people gasp with its photographic prowess, performance and well, price (yes, our review will be up soon), there is no doubting the Huawei device that is actually likely to attract just as much attention is the Huawei P20 Lite. It might be a relative lightweight in the spec department when compared to its flagship namesake, but at Rs 19,999, it brings a touch of premium class to the mid-segment of the highly competitive Indian smartphone market.
At first glance, there is no doubt that the P20 Lite cuts a very fine figure indeed. We would say that when it comes to premium appearance, it almost matches the very good looking Moto X4 at this price point with its all-glass design (we think the spherical camera unit wins it for the X4, but only just). We got the Midnight Black edition and it is pretty much the tuxedo in the phone room, with its jet black glass front and back. It is very compact, thanks to a 5.84-inch 19:9 aspect ratio display (5.99 and above is the general rule in 18:9 aspect ratio land) – it is a mere 148.6 mm long, which is much smaller than the Huawei P20 Pro (155 mm) and is an impressive 7.4 mm thin (the iPhone X is 7.7 mm). No, we are not going to say that it is easy to use with one hand, but it is surprisingly compact in this era of tall devices. And at 145 grams, it is definitely on the lighter side.
The front, of course, is all about the 5.84-inch display, and this one has a notch which contains a front facing camera and an earpiece, which endows it with the rather odd sounding 2280 x 1080 resolution. The bezels on the side have been trimmed heavily, but the ones above and below the display are very visible – Huawei has even placed its branding below the display, for some reason (brand name on the front of devices is sorta dated now, and a plain black front would have looked so gorgeous). The sides curve out gently towards the back and contain the volume rocker and power/display buttons on the right, the speaker grille and USB type-C port on the base, and the SIM card/memory card slot on the left. The top has been left plain.
Which brings us to the most spectacular part of the device. Yes, the back. This is jet black and yet shiny, with the dual cameras in the top left corner in a vertical arrangement (in a capsule-like unit) with the flash. The fingerprint scanner is round and right in the upper middle part. The words “Dual lens” are below the cameras (no, no Leica here, folks – that’s for the P20 and P20 Pro) and there is again Huawei branding on the back. And of course, as the back is shiny black glass, it does pick up smudges and stains like no tomorrow. Thankfully there is a clear plastic case in the box – we advise slapping it on right away.
But if it scores heavily in the design department, the real challenge the P20 Lite faces is in the spec one. For, the chip that powers all this – the HiSilicon Kirin 659 is the same that is found in the Honor 9i, the Honor 7X and the Honor 9 Lite, all of which come at lower prices (the 9 Lite is almost half the price of the P20 Lite), have 4 GB/ 64 GB variations similar to the one seen on the P20 Lite. What’s more, all those devices also have 18:9 aspect ratio displays with full HD+ resolution, albeit minus that notch. The 16 megapixel and 2 megapixel “professional bokeh lens” camera combination on the back and 24 megapixel selfie camera (easily the biggest in megapixel terms in the Huawei/Honor family in India) in front also will have a lot to do to prove that they are significantly better than the ones on their sister brand siblings. Even the Android 8.0 with EMUI 8.0 (ironical, when one considers that the P20 Pro comes with Android 8.1 and EMUI 8.1) on it is matched by the Honor 9 Lite. The 7X even has a larger battery – 3340 mAh as compared to the 3000 mAh on the P20 Lite (incidentally, the Honor 9 Lite too has a 3000 mAh battery – see what we mean?).
And that actually sums up the challenge the P20 Lite faces. Viewed externally, its premium design and materials make it stand out from most of the competition. But drag it into a spec war and it will find itself taking on not only its own siblings but even the likes of the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Moto X4, then Nokia 6 and the recently released Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. A lot is going to boil down to what that notch and cameras can do. Stay tuned for our detailed review.