Review: Huawei P30 Lite
If you’re after a new Android smartphone, but don’t want to spend £1,000+ on the newest cutting-edge models, Huawei’s latest version of their P30 Lite is a great option.
The P30 Lite, as the name suggests, is a cut down version of their fantastic P30 model. As you’d expect it shares a lot of DNA with the P30. A striking design, a large vibrant screen, and a triple camera set-up all make the cut. Performance, camera quality, and screen quality are all slightly toned down. And totally cut are things like wireless charging and an in-screen fingerprint scanner. But don’t let the removed features put you off, the P30 Lite is still a great phone, that punches way above its asking price of around £189!
Let’s start with the best thing about the P30 Lite. Visually it looks stunning. It looks every bit as good as its bigger brothers, the P30 and the P30 Pro. The glass back on the model we reviewed is a beautiful two-tone colour that starts purple at the bottom and merges into blue at the top. Flip the phone over and you’re greeted by a large 6.15-inch LCD 1080p screen with a tiny teardrop notch at the top. It looks fab. When you unlock the phone and the IPS comes to life you’ll be happy to read it looks every bit as good on as it does off. For an LCD the vibrancy Huawei have achieved on a smartphone costing under £200 is amazing.
Colours look better than you’d expect, and your content looks almost just as good as it does on the OLED screens of the P30 and the P30 Pro. Almost. If you really look hard you’ll find a few flaws. The viewing angles aren’t great, and the brightness very slightly drops off around the edges of the screen, but this is only noticeable on a white background. But for a phone in this price range these complaints are minor. The bottom line is the screen looks great, gets very bright, and colours pop from it.
But what’s a great screen without great performance? The answer to that question is ‘pretty useless’. Thankfully, ‘pretty useless’, the P30 Lite is not. For the price you’re paying performance is mostly excellent. It uses Huawei’s mid-range Kirin 710 chip which handles most tasks with ease. General use is excellent and games run well. The only time it ever really slowed down for me was when a lot of apps were running at the same time. Something I wasn’t really expecting with the 6GB of RAM, but closing a couple of them solved the problem instantly. The real king in this category though is the battery. It is mighty! A 3340 mAh battery ensures the P30 Lite will last you all day with power to spare. Charging is handled by the quick charger that comes in the box, which will take the phone from 0% to 80% in just 35 minutes. Again, like the screen, this phone definitely performs way above its price in terms of performance.
Now, onto the main selling point of the P30 Lite, the three cameras on the back. Summed up in a sentence, the cameras are better than you’d expect for its price. You must be sensing the theme of this review by now… On the back of the P30 Lite, Huawei have included a 48 MP main sensor, an 8 MP wide angle, and a 2 MP depth sensing camera. These three cameras combine to give this smartphone an amazing amount of versatility when shooting. Obviously the quality isn’t going to be at the same level as flagship smartphones, but in the context of the price I was pleasantly surprised. As long as the main camera is getting a lot of light, the pictures it takes are quite clear and sharp. The ultrawide isn’t quite as good, with pictures often coming out a bit soft, but the fact it’s there on a sub £200 smartphone in the first place is great. The main camera also has a night mode, which works fairly well, but it’s not spectacular. The depth sensing camera is there just for shooting people in portrait mode, and the results are pretty special for a phone of this price. The main issue I had when using this camera was shooting in situations where there just wasn’t quite enough light. This can produce pictures that are lacking in detail and look quite flat. Oh, and no telephoto lens means the digital zoom is bad.
When it has enough light I’d say the camera hardware is decent. But, switching on Huawei’s camera A.I, the P30 Lite’s camera goes from decent to good. As far as I can tell Huawei are using the same camera software that they use in their flagships on the Lite. This means, provided there’s enough light, colours in your pictures are going to look absolutely fantastic. Huawei’s camera department has shown its might with this phone. Spot on colours and impressive dynamic range mean this camera seriously punches above its weight!
Other things I like are the generous amount of storage Huawei offers (128GB or 256GB), the fact it will take a MicroSD card if you need even more storage, the inclusion of a headphone jack, the surprisingly good speaker, and the 32 MP front facing selfie cam. I did have a couple of niggles during my time using the phone. For the life of me I just couldn’t seem to get the face unlock to work smoothly. Setting it up it would see my face just fine, but then trying to unlock the phone would be insanely inconsistent. Sometimes it would recognise me instantly, other times it just refused to. Maybe it just didn’t like my face… Thankfully the fingerprint scanner on the back is fast and reliable. Another annoyance is placing the phone face up on a flat surface. The large camera bump causes the handset to wobble quite a bit, but whack a case on and that’s taken care of.
All in all the P30 Lite is a great phone if you’re looking to buy on a budget. In most categories it punches way above its weight, and the phone feels and performs like one worth twice as much. The screen is great, the performance is great, and the camera is great. A few little issues here and there are annoying, but they won’t stop me from recommending this phone. On top of all of this, as it comes from a time before Google was banned from working with Huawei, so you’ll still get all your Google apps with it!