Huawei P20 lite – the affordable P20 alternative with the same notched display

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If you like the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro but could not bring yourself to pay the hefty price for it, the Huawei P20 lite is yours for less than half the price of the P20 Pro and a third cheaper than the P20.

Huawei’s flagship duo the P20 and P20 Pro now has a sibling. In true Huawei fashion, every flagship is deserving of an equivalent budget edition, with the P10 it was the P10 lite, the new generation P20 flagship is not spared this treatment. For those who like the look and feel of the P20 and P20 Pro especially that notched display, here is your cheaper alternative, the P20 lite.

Huawei P20 Lite

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How is it different: P20 lite vs P20

The P20 lite is a closer phone to the P20 mainly because of the screen size. At 5.84-inch it is not far off from the P20’s 5.8-inch. Both displays is based on LCD with IPS technology. The P20 Pro on the other hand has an OLED panel measuring 6.1-inch.


Huawei P20 Lite

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However, the P20 lite is a mid-range phone with a very attractive and affordable price tag. Huawei P20 and P20 Pro on the other hand are Huawei’s flagship smartphones.

1. Display

Like the P20 it uses an LCD with Full HD resolution, It has nearly the same size at 5.84-inch, slightly bigger than the P20’s 5.8-inch. It even has slightly higher resolution display and more pixels per square inch. Both are FullView displays that wraps the top edge with rounded corners and a notch for camera, sensors and receive. The bottom of the display also features rounded corners but leaves a slightly bigger chin (bottom bezel), in P20’s case to accommodate the physical home button that also doubles as a fingerprint sensor. The P20 lite however has the Huawei logo on the front. The fingerprint sensor of the P20 Lite is located on the back.

The phones also use the new form factor but different aspect ratio. The P20 has a more standard 18.7:9 aspect ratio at Full HD+ resolution but the P20 Lite uses a slightly odd ratio of 19:9. This also gives it more pixel count on the screen and a higher pixel density.


  • P20 lite Display Size: 5.84 inches; Type: LCD with IPS; Colour: 16.7 M colours; Resolution: FHD 1080 x 2280, 432 PPI
  • P20 Display Size: 5.8 inches; Type: LCD with IPS; Colour: 16.7 M colours; Resolution: FHD 1080 x 2244, 428 PPI

You can’t really tell the difference between the two, display wise, they look almost exactly identical.

Huawei P20

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2. Facial Recognition and Unlocking

On both devices, you can use the front facing camera to unlock your phone if you prefer instead of the finger print sensor around the back on the P20 Lite and front facing fingerprint sensor on the P20. Huawei’s facial recognition technology on the P20 Lite isn’t just a hybrid software and camera setup. It uses sensors in the notch to unlock the phone and is capable of doing this even in the dark. It does this pretty accurately and quickly for a mid-ranger.

There is however, a caveat. Facial recognition may offer easy of use and speedy access to your phone but is not as secure as the finger print scanner. Use it if you don’t have anything to hide. You may also want to change the settings to make face unlock a default and enable auto wake function.

3. Design

If you like the notch on Apple’s iPhone X and again like the looks of those black cut-outs on the display of Huawei’s P20 and P20 Pro, you are not disappointed with the P20 Lite. Here is an affordable alternative for smartphones with a full display, almost bezel-less sides and a screen that features a notch.

The P20 Lite has a metal frame that holds the glass front and backplate. This is not entirely a bad thing as it means the phone is lightweight even though it is the same size as the P20. In fact, it weighs 20 grams less at 145 grams owing to smaller camera and battery. This also makes the P20 Lite slimmer compared to the P20.

Both the front and back plate has a super glossy finish making it a finger print magnet while the aluminium metal frame has an anodised finish making it slightly more grippy in the hand. You may consider a case with better grip to stop you from dropping the phone.

The P20 on the other hand has a strong metal frame with hardened glass body both front and back. When placed side by side, apart from the Huawei brand vs finger print sensor / home button, you can’t really tell the phones apart given its very similar foot print.

Dimensions & Weight

  • P20 Lite: 148.6 x 71.2 x 7.4 mm (5.85 x 2.80 x 0.29 in) 145 grams
  • P20: 149.1 x 70.8 x 7.7 mm (5.87 x 2.79 x 0.30 in), 165 grams

4. Chipset & Performance

This is where the main difference is with both P20 lite and P20. The P20 lite uses the slower and hence cheaper HiSilicon Kirin 659 while the P20 uses the same chipset found in the P20 Pro, the HiSilicon Kirin 970. To be honest, the HiSilicon Kirin 659 is showing its age. It is typically compared with the equally cheap Snapdragon 625 launched back in Q1 of 2016.

Fast forward to the end of 2017 and early 2018, we see HiSilicon Kirin 659 being used by Huawei in many of its budget devices. The Kirin 659 has higher clock speed and lower power consumption when compared ti older Kirin 650 and Kirin 655. This makes it great for normal day to day use, coping well with non-demanding apps but not much else.

The P20 lite uses SoC with octa-core processors exclusively with ARM Cortex-A53 cores while the P20 uses newer more powerful SoC with octa-core processors using the ARM Cortex-A73 combined with Cortex-A53 running at higher clock speed.

  • P20 lite Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 659 CPU octa-core (4 x 2.36 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4 x 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • P20 Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 970 CPU octa-core (4 x 2.36 GHz Cortex A73 & 4 x 1.8 GHz Cortex A53)

5. Memory and Storage

Once again, the budget P20 lite has to make do with 4GB RAM memory and 32 or 64GB ROM storage while the P20 comes with 4GB RAM memory and a huge starting storage of 128GB ROM. For those who are wondering, you can add up to 256GB of extra storage space using the SIM 2 slot on the P20 lite but no SD expansion for the P20.

6. Cameras

DxOMarkAnother major difference between the two phones is in the optics department. With the P20, Huawei partnered with Leica to make P20 a great camera phone.

For the main camera, it paired a 12MP RGB sensor with a 20MP monochrome sensor and with a combination of large image sensor, wide aperture lenses, AI image stabilisation and clever camera software, the P20 received DxOMark of 102, third only to Huawei’s own P20 Pro and the new entry HTC U12+ in the mobile camera benchmark honour list. (correct at the time of writing). The main rear cameras has superb low light performance, a dedicated Night Mode, a whooping and 960 fps Super Slow Motion video capture.

The front facing camera on the P20 received the same level of attention, with its 24.8MP sensor and AI driven 3D facial modelling technology, it will take perfect self-portrait every time, day or night.

Not much is known about the cameras on the P20 lite. It is certainly not Leica to keep the cost down but still a dual rear facing camera nonetheless. The pair of rear cameras are made up of 16MP f2.2 + 2MP f2.4 sensors. The camera module is also smaller and therefore lighter compared to that on the P20. The front selfie camera has a 16MP f2.0, FF sensor.

While the P20 Lite cameras are sufficiently good, it performs poorly in low light.

7. Battery

Fast charging with 18W fast charger and USB Type-C interface are already ticking the premium feature checklist. But the similarities stop there between the P20 and P20 lite.

The P20 lite has a smaller 3000 mAh battery. While it is sufficient and on par with other mid-range phones around the same size, it offers only around a full day’s use. But, recharging this is quick with the supplied fast charger. It takes only around 1.5 hours to fully charge the device.

The P20 however features a 3400 mAh battery with a fast charging time of also about 1.5 hours and boasting around 19 hours of talk time.

Both P20 lite and P20 runs Android 8.1 Oreo with Huawei’s EMUI custom skin

Final Thoughts

Sufficient for day to day use, the P20 lite not only looks good with its rounded corners and Most will mistake it for a high end phone because of the notched full view display and bezel-less screen.

The simple question to ask yourself is – to notch or not to notch. If you are looking for a budget smartphone with a notch, and like the looks of the P20 look no further. The P20 lite looks exactly like the P20 except for the fingerprint sensor around the back.

If you are after an even cheaper alternative, consider the Honor 9 Lite, from Huawei’s sub-brand’s Honor. The Honor 9 Lite offers the same performance but does not come with a notched display.

Huawei P20 Lite Specifications

  • Body: Front glass, aluminum frame, plastic back
  • Screen: 5.84″ IPS LCD of 1,080 x 2,280px resolution (432ppi)
  • Camera: 16MP + 2MP dual-camera with phase-detection AF, f/2.2 aperture; LED flash; 1080p video capture @ 30 fps;
  • Selfie cam: 16MP (Global) or 24MP (India, China); f/2.0; 1080p @ 30fps video
  • Chipset: 16nm Kirin 659, octa-core CPU (4xCortex-A53@2.36GHz + 4xCortex-A53@1.7GHz), dual-core Mali-T830 GPU
  • Memory: 4GB of RAM, 32GB / 64GB of storage; hybrid microSD slot
  • OS: Android 8.0 Oreo with Huawei EMUI 8.0
  • Battery: 3,000mAh Li-Po (sealed)
  • Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE-A (Cat.6 300/50Mbps); microUSB; Wi-Fi b/g/n; GPS/GLONASS; Bluetooth 4.2; FM radio; NFC (region-dependent)
  • Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader

Huawei P20 Lite

7.8

Performance

7.0/10

Display

8.0/10

Memory & Storage

8.0/10

Battery Life

8.0/10

Connectivity

8.0/10

Pros

  • Budget price tag
  • Good Full View display
  • Good memory & storage sizes
  • Dual main camera
  • Premium design & build

Cons

  • Battery life could be better
  • Old generation processor
  • Gloss backplate is a fingerprint magnet
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