At An Affordable $338, Is The Honor 20 Lite A Steal?

As its name suggests, the Honor 20 Lite is the budget-friendly version of the Honor 20. But even with the budget label slapped on it, there are still features that are definitely not so “budget” about it. And just like Google and its Pixel 3a — a phone with excellent photographic capability with great value, the Honor 20 Lite adopts the same philosophy, but with an even friendlier price tag.

A Quick Look

Upsides:

  • 32MP selfie camera
  • Triple-lens rear camera
  • Great screen-to-body ratio

Downsides:

  • Disappointing speaker
  • Micro-USB charging port

Display & Design

The first thing you’ll notice is the screen. With a sexy 91.6% screen to body ratio, you’re getting a big display with small bezels. Just like how everyone likes their screen today. Don’t even worry about an ugly notch ruining the experience (ahem, Pixel 3XL). Thankfully, Honor’s adopted a pinhole selfie camera, right in the middle at the top of the display.

 

With its attention-grabbing holographic glass design on the back of the phone, it’s quite obvious that the Honor brand is targetted at the youthful demographic.

According to Honor, this “Dynamic Holographic” design is achieved in two stages. First, a depth layer using nanotech to engrave millions of miniature prisms. Second, a 3D curved glass, colour and depth layer are assembled. So when light passes through the prisms in the depth layer, light is reflected and refracted in all directions. To let you know how much thought is put into designing the back, Honor says for every 100 back covers, only 20 meet the stringent standards. Impressive.

Features

Same as its predecessor, a 3,400mAh battery powers the Honor 20 Lite. It’s a solid all-day phone if you’re a moderate user and should leave 20-30% in the tank at the end of the day. Wireless and quick charging are sadly absent.

Also, not so impressive is the micro-USB port (we’re not living in 2017!). With most devices out there transitioning to USB-C, it makes no sense for me to carry an extra cable just for this phone. The audio quality coming from the speaker is disappointing as well. Turn the volume up 70% and audio quality is still alright but any higher and there’s quite a bit of noticeable distortion.

On a brighter note, there’s a hefty 128GB internal storage with the option to expand it up to 1TB with a microSD card (uses the shared SIM slot).

Camera – Rear Lens

Now, for the main act — its camera. The Honor 20 lite features a triple rear lens set up: 24MP f/1.8 main sensor + 8MP wide-angle lens and a 2MP depth sensor. At this price point, most other phones would have a dual-camera setup so you’re getting a pretty good deal with the Honor 20 Lite. So, how does it fare?

View of surrounding HDB flats with the Honor 20 Lite Rear Camera.

Overall, image quality taken with the rear cameras were good but not great. The smart AI camera mode helps somewhat. According to Honor, the AI automatically senses the scene from 500 plus scenarios and 22 categories and adjusts appropriately so images fare better with a bit more pop. Nights shots require a steady hand to get a photo due to the longer exposure times but could lead to overexposed photos.  Check out this side by side comparison with another taken by the iPhone XS.

 

It’s obvious the iPhone’s image turned out more detailed and had more accurate colours compared to the Honor 20 Lite. In fact, you can tell the Honor 20 Lite’s images are overexposed. But hey, it’s not surprising that a higher-end more expensive phone takes better images.

The wide-angle lens was a promising feature but reviewing the images, I just found it to be less detailed and quite blurry.

Taken with Honor 20 Lite’s Wide Angle Mode

Note how blurry the trees are. You might want to avoid taking low-light shots with the wide camera altogether.

 

Talking about low-light, most, if not all of Huawei’s phones have a night mode. I took these two images in my house with the only source of light coming from the kitchen. While the Mate 10 definitely took the better night shot, the Honor 20 Lite’s still did a decent job. Remember, we’re comparing a budget-friendly phone to a higher-end one.

Camera – Selfie Lens

On the front is the much-celebrated 32MP selfie camera. One that the younger audience should get a greater kick out of it.

 

A side-by-side selfie comparison (courtesy of my sister) taken by the iPhone XS (left) and Honor 20 Lite (right). The 32MP selfie camera really stands out from the iPhone XS, capturing a good amount of details in good lighting. While both images (taken indoors) are somewhat noisy, the Honor 20 Lite handles artificial lighting and processes truer colours better. If you take a lot of selfies, this could be the phone for you.

Processor & Software

The phone features a mid-range Kirin 710 processor with 4GB of RAM and loaded with Android 9 Pie with the EMUI 9.0 skin. It’s also interesting to note it’s the same processor found in the P30 Lite. I had no performance issues playing resource-intensive games like PUBG and Mobile Legends. Just that it gets somewhat hot to handle after an hour of gaming, and of course, the battery drain.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a stylish and all-around capable smartphone that won’t empty out your wallet, this is the one. The large display, camera and larger than usual storage are all good reasons to get it. But with the cloud of uncertainty looming over Huawei and its sub-brands, it might deter some buyers.

If that’s the case, there are other smartphones you can consider. Just put in about a hundred bucks more and the Samsung Galaxy A70’s a really good alternative. It’s got the same (if not better) triple rear camera and 32MP selfie camera, beautiful all-screen display and also the 128GB storage. However, for forking out just a bit more, you’ll be getting a very attractive 4,500mAh battery, AMOLED display rather than the Honor 20 Lite’s LCD. Oh, and there’s fast-charging to boot and none of that dated microUSB port.

The Honor 20 Lite is available now in Phantom Red or Phantom Blue at $338 from authorised Huawei retailers or its official store on Lazada online. Click here for more info.

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