When Huawei contacted me recently and asked if I would be interested in spending some time with the new Mate 20 Lite I jumped at the chance, not just because I love getting my hands on new tech but because it also presented me with a new opportunity.
You see, I’ve worked in the mobile industry for a long time now and every time I treat myself to a new phone I always look at flagship devices, doing the job I do affords me the luxury of getting my hands on high-end handsets at relatively low prices so I’ve always gone for what I consider to be the best phone available at the time – but one thing I’ve started to realise lately is that the line between mid-ranger and flagship seems to be a lot less clear than it was a few years ago. There are phones on the market today which retail at around the £400 mark that can give phones twice the price a run for their money, which is why as a P20 Pro user I was excited to see what this phone could do. This is where my week with the Huawei Mate 20 Lite begins.
Unboxing and first impressions.
The first thing that strikes you when you first lay eyes upon the Mate 20 Lite is just how much it doesn’t look like a “lite” phone, aesthetically the phone screams premium with its glass design and dual-camera setup, it’s clear Huawei are focusing a lot on the look and feel of this device and by retailing it at under £400 it should really appeal to those people who want a high-end phone but perhaps aren’t prepared to pay a high-end price.
Looking at the front of the device you’ll notice the notch and this time it’s even larger than the ones found in the P20 and P20 Pro, but there’s a very good reason for this – unlike those phones the Huawei Mate 20 Lite houses 2 cameras in that notch, the 24MP sensor that we have come to know and love from the P-series but alongside it is a 2MP camera to help with those artistic bokeh effects.
The screen itself is a 6.3” full-HD IPS display which is very bright and performs well in direct sunlight and one welcome change for me is the lack of a dedicated home button, instead we have software keys along the bottom and the fingerprint scanner has been moved to the back of the phone which, for me at least, is the best place to put it. Speaking of the back, just above the fingerprint scanner we have 2 vertically aligned camera modules (24MP and 2MP) and this is where the phone gets really interesting.
As a photography fan the thing I look for in a new smartphone is a good camera, so obviously the first feature I wanted to try out here was those dual-cameras on the back so I decided to do what I did when I first received my P20 Pro, I took my kids to the park on a nice sunny day. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by how good this phone is at taking photos, there is no Leica branding here but the 20MP sensor captures a ton of detail and the addition of that 2MP secondary camera really helps to take some fantastic portrait shots which is something a lot of phones struggle with.
There are a ton of different modes to choose from which have been found in previous Huawei handsets such as the aperture mode and night mode but there’s also some new features such as the ability to enable HDR Pro which enhances colours and something Huawei calls '3D Qmoji', which is basically their take on Apple’s Animoji and uses augmented reality to display live graphics on your photos and selfies. This is a fun little feature which im going to spend some more time using in the next few days.
The big draw here however, and something Huawei are really pushing with this phone, is AI. Yes this is not the first Huawei handset to use AI in its cameras but the difference here is it works with the front facing ones too, using eight different scene settings to really enhance your selfies. The Mate 20 Lite uses AI and the power of the new Kirin chipset to automatically detect scenarios and adjust the cameras settings accordingly, so for example on a sunny day like today it was automatically enhancing the blues in the sky and the green of the grass. Serious photographers may want to instead use the dedicated Pro mode to adjust settings themselves but for the generation of users who love to take photos to share on social media this is a welcome addition which will really help make their photos look great.
At the end of the day...
My first full day with the Huawei Mate 20 Lite has been a really pleasing one. I wanted to get out and test the camera and im really happy with the results of that, it’s quite a capable shooter. Over the next few days im going to look at other areas of the phone and get a general feel of what it’s like to use on a day-to-day basis but my first impressions are very positive, for a phone that costs half of what my current device did there is a lot to love here.
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