Huawei P20 Lite review

Huawei's mid-ranger is a notch or two below its brothers

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Battery life

  • 3,000mAh battery will easily clear a day
  • Fast charging can get you 40% in 30 mins

The Huawei P20 Lite packs a 3,000mAh battery, which is about normal for a phone of this spec. It’s the same as the similarly equipped Honor 9 Lite, with predictably similar results.

This means that light users will be able to get surprisingly far into a second day of usage before feeling the pinch, while moderate users won’t need to sweat about running out of juice between bed times.

In our standard stress test, which entails playing a 90-minute looped video with the screen brightness cranked up to full, the Huawei P20 Lite consistently lost 17% of its power.

That beats the Moto G6 on 21%, though it falls short of the Moto Z2 Play (arguably a more direct rival) which lost just 10%. It’s pretty decent but nothing to rave about, in other words.

The phone’s battery stands up to 3D gaming about as well as expected, too. We found that 15 minutes of sustained Guns of Boom play drained 6% of its energy, which is about normal.

Charging up is appreciably swift, however. We found that the phone zipped from 38% power to 79% in just 30 minutes.

Huawei also provides an extensive suite of optimisation tools that help you fine-tune your setup, homing in on power-hungry apps and habits. Even if you are struggling to make it through a day, there are things you can do about it - including two power saving modes and the ability to drop the screen resolution.


  • 16MP + 2MP camera enables bokeh-adjusting wide aperture mode
  • AR lens lets you apply silly facial effects

You don’t get the same headline AI camera mode as the Huawei P20 and Huawei P20 Pro with the Huawei P20 Lite, so you’re just going to have to decide the optimal settings for shooting your cat for yourself.

In truth, the latter was a fairly gimmicky feature of the flagship models (low light shooting aside), so it’s no great loss. Far more keenly felt is the inevitable downgrade to the core camera tech. It isn’t anywhere near as capable a snapper as its big brothers.

Huawei has equipped the P20 Lite with a dual-camera setup, like the P20. As before, the 2MP secondary lens is purely there to assist the 16MP primary lens with extra depth information, largely for the included wide aperture mode.

Just like with the Honor 9 Lite and the Honor 7X, wide aperture mode lets you adjust the level of the bokeh effect on your photos after they’ve been taken, between f/0.95 and f/16.

It’s possible to get some nice blurred background effects with this, but in practical terms you probably wouldn’t want to opt for the lower end of the spectrum with many of your shots. It’s just too aggressive and artificial-looking.

In general use you won’t really notice the second lens going about its business. To all intents and purposes, this is a fairly ordinary camera that can generally be relied upon to get you usable images in decent lighting.

There are one or two quirks however, such as a strange tendency to overexpose and boost colours to a somewhat artificial extent in close-up shots.

It’s a shame, too, that you have to manually activate HDR mode in the settings menu. Still, we found HDR mode itself to be admirably restrained, gently balancing out extremes of shade and light only when absolutely necessary.

Booting up the camera isn’t the instantaneous affair you tend to get with flagship phones, but nor does it take overly long. Actually taking shots is a pleasantly snappy experience, with none of the shutter lag you can get with entry-level handsets.

Low light conditions, as ever, are where this middle-of-the-road camera comes a little unstuck. You’ll get plenty of noise and poor focus in many indoors shots, as well as Huawei’s irritating instruction to hold your phone still while it sharpens the image.

Away from the usual photographic settings - including a Pro mode for fine-tuning each individual setting - there’s a dedicated AR lens mode. This automatically sticks silly overlays onto the faces of you or your friends. Think bunny ears, kitten ears, love heart cheeks - all the usual cute stuff. If nothing else, it’s a further example of how solid Huawei’s face-tracking software is.

You also get a Watermark mode, which stamps each image with its location and time in a stylish font, and a Document scan mode that will quickly locate and align text for quick record keeping.

Around front you get the kind of 16MP camera that never seems quite as sharp as the megapixel count would suggest. As always, we’d recommend deactivating or at least reducing the weird Beauty setting, which smooths out your skin to an inhuman degree.

Camera samples