Huawei Mate 20 Lite review

A stylish mid-range phablet, but not the best value

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The Huawei Mate 20 Lite apes the Huawei P20 Lite in offering an accessible entry point to the company’s flagship family. For less than £400 (around $500 / AU$665) you get a premium-looking phablet with a large, attractive display and some novel features.

Huawei has brought its AI photo enhancements down to this mid-ranger, and combined with some decent dual-camera optics the Mate 20 Lite can take some pretty decent shots.

However, the asking price gives you access to an awful lot of the market, and you can generally get more for your money, particularly in terms of performance.

Who’s this for?

If you’re after a sleek, premium-feeling phablet with a larger than average display and solid camera skills for around half the price of a genuine flagship, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite is worth considering.

It’s a stylish mid-range option with the kind of looks and layout that should appeal to those who are fans of the iPhone XS design - but not its eye-watering price tag.

Should you buy it?

The Huawei Mate 20 Lite is a stylish mid-range phablet with a big, bright display and a highly competent camera. However, it lacks the processing punch we’d expect at this price point. It’s not slow by any means, but for similar money (and even a little less) you can get near-flagship levels of performance.

Indeed, much of that rivalry comes from within the Huawei stable, whether through its better-value Honor label or last year’s more impressive high-end efforts, which have since dropped in price. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Lite is a perfectly decent phone, but it simply doesn’t look like great value in the current market.

Not sold on the Mate 20 Lite? Consider these alternatives:

Honor Play

The recent Honor Play offers a similar experience to the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, including a 6.3-inch notched display, a dual-camera setup, and of course Huawei’s EMUI interface.

That aforementioned dual-camera isn’t as good as the Mate 20 Lite’s, but the Honor Play hits back hard in two areas. It has got a much faster chipset, and it comes in £100 (roughly $130/AU$180) cheaper.

It’s not the first time we’ve said this, but Huawei’s given itself a bit of a bloody nose with its own Honor sub-brand.

Read our full Honor Play review

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

More undermining from within, this time from one of the Huawei Mate 20 Lite’s direct predecessors.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro might be getting on a bit, and it’s due for imminent replacement in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. But a noteworthy side effect is that it’s now available for a similar price to the Mate 20 Lite.

With its great camera, performance, and OLED display, it’s simply a better phone than the Huawei Mate 20 Lite in virtually every way.

Read our full Huawei Mate 10 Pro review

Nokia 7 Plus

Nokia has produced a real middleweight marvel in the Nokia 7 Plus, with an all-round accomplished package that can currently be grabbed for around £300/AU$600 (roughly $400 but it's not available in the US).

Good battery life, exemplary build quality, and a decent camera make it seriously worthy of consideration if you’re after quality in the mid-range.

Compared to the Huawei, the Nokia wins points for its bloat-free pure Android OS and its more mainstream Snapdragon 660 chipset. And of course, it’s a good chunk cheaper.

Read our full Nokia 7 Plus review

First reviewed: September 2018