Honor 20 Lite review

Honor presents a triple threat to the budget phone category

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Interface and reliability

  • Android 9 Pie
  • EMUI 9.0

Android 9 Pie is the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, though it'll lose that title soon, as Android Q will start rolling out later in the year.

For now, though, the Honor 20 Lite is more or less up to date on the OS front. As is Honor’s/Huawei’s way, though, the Honor 20 Lite suffers from the EMUI skin layered on top.

EMUI 9.0 is cleaner and more fluid than it used to be. It also has its unique advantages, with an ability to tweak the phone’s settings and general appearance with themes in a way that stock Android can’t quite match.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

But as ever with EMUI, there are far more negatives than positives to wade through. At a basic level it’s just not a very appealing or attractive UI to use, with none of the cohesive design or polished flourishes of stock Android and iOS.

EMUI does attempt to emulate elements of both major mobile operating systems. Its app folders and icons look very similar to iOS’, for example, while it shares Apple’s distaste for a separate app tray (though you can add one if you wish).

But it simply lacks a sense of taste and finesse. You’ll get used to it, but the second you move back to anything close to stock Android or iOS will be a blessed relief.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Perhaps the most annoying part of EMUI, though, is the sheer number of duplicate and just plain pointless apps that come pre-installed. If you’re anything like us, your first minutes with the Honor 20 Lite may well involve shuttling apps into a folder marked ‘ignore me’.

Tips, Calendar, Notepad, Music, Gallery, HiCare, AppGallery, Email, and Booking.com all fell afoul of our own pruning efforts, to name just nine (nine!).

Movies, music and gaming

  • Single downward firing speaker
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 128GB of storage with microSD

Despite its budget nature, the Honor 20 Lite is a pretty strong media machine. From its large, bright display to its capable chipset (more on which in a bit), it renders games and movies well.

The presence of a 3.5mm headphone socket, meanwhile, makes it great for personal audio. Which is a good thing, because its single downwards-firing speaker is nothing to write home about.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the Honor 20 Lite from a media playing perspective is the sheer amount of storage it packs – 128GB is a decent amount for a 2019 flagship phone. In a budget handset, it’s downright outstanding.

Add to that the potential for expansion with a microSD slot, and you have one of the most media-ready budget phones on the market.

Specs and benchmark performance

  • Kirin 710 CPU same as Honor 10 Lite
  • 4GB of RAM, however, is an upgrade

We have mixed feelings about the Honor 20 Lite’s performance. It runs on the Kirin 710 chipset from Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon, which is the same Kirin 710 CPU that powered 2018’s Honor 10 Lite.

Though the two phones launched just six months apart, this still represents a lack of progress, which is a little troubling when you consider that we’re being asked to pay 25% more for the newer handset.

That being said, the Kirin 710 remains a capable chipset, and one that’s being used elsewhere in other strong budget phones like the Huawei P30 Lite. It also helps that the Honor 20 Lite packs 4GB of RAM, which is a considerable bump up from the 3GB of the Honor 10 Lite.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Our Geekbench 4 benchmark tests reveal an average multicore score of 5,404, which is very good at this end of the market. It trounces the Moto G7 Plus’s 4,877, for example.

It’s a strong performer in real world terms, too. We were able to play Asphalt 9 with the graphical settings cranked up to High, and only experienced the occasional stutter as a result of our tinkering. Similarly, fast-paced multiplayer shooter Guns of Boom moved along well in the top 60fps mode.

For all EMUI’s drawbacks, navigating through the Honor 20 Lite’s menus proves to be a constantly smooth, glitch-free experience. The phone unlocks quickly, jumps between open apps without issue, and hops into the camera app with only a momentary pause.