The Huawei Mate 20 Lite was one of the first phones to feature the latest mid-range SoC from Huawei/Hisilicon the Kirin 710, and it combined this with premium looks and at a mostly affordable price.

It was a superb phone but perhaps a touch expensive. Two new phones have come to the market offering similar looks and specification while lowering that price to the £200 sweet spot.

The Honor 10 Lite and Huawei P Smart 2019 look almost identical and I have been trying them out the past two weeks.

First up is the Honor 10 Lite which is available for £199 SIM-free or from £14.99 PCM on contract. The best deal I can find in my opinion is £24.99 PCM with no upfront on ID with 8GB of data, 200 mins and unlimited texts.

Specification

  • Body: Plastic body, 155.2 x 73.4 x 8.0 mm, 160g; Midnight Black, Aurora Blue, Sapphire Blue, Coral Red colour schemes.
  • Display: 6.21″ IPS LCD, 1,080 x 2,340px, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 415ppi.
  • Rear camera: Primary 13MP , f/1.8 aperture, 26mm equivalent. focal length; phase detect autofocus; secondary 2MP depth sensor.
  • Front camera: 24 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 0.9µm
  • OS/Software: Android 9.0 Pie, EMUI 9.
  • Chipset: Kirin 710: octa-core CPU (4×2.2GHz Cortex-A73 + 4×1.7GHz Cortex-A53); Mali-G51 MP4 GPU.
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM; 32/64GB storage; microSD card slot (hybrid).
  • Battery: 3,400mAh (sealed), 5V/2A charging (no Huawei SuperCharge).
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2; microUSB 2.0, 3.5mm jack.
  • Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor; single, bottom-firing loudspeaker; dual microphones (noise reduction).

This phone features the Hisilicon Kirin 710 chipset which sits a bit below the flagship 980 while still offering superb performance and delivering premium features such as AI.

The phone has 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage which can then be expanded further using microSD. Other countries get a 4GB model to choose from but we only have one option.  

The display is a 6.2″ IPS LCD running at 1080 x 2340px resolution with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 giving 415 ppi. This uses a small waterdrop notch giving you access to as much of the notification bar as possible.

The rear camera is 13MP and has a wide f/1.8 aperture with phase detection autofocus and the front camera is a 24MP lens with a narrower f/2.0 opening. There is no optical image stabilisation.

From what I can tell the camera set up is the only thing differentiating this from the Huawei P Smart 2019, which has a rear 20MP lens with f/1.8 aperture plus 2MP depth sensor then 8MP, f/2.0 aperture on the front.

Powering the phone is a 3400 mAh battery with 5V/2A 10W charging.

This also has NFC allowing you to use if for contactless payments, in recent years this has become my primary way to pay for things so find it infuriating when a budget phone lacks it, like most affordable Xiaomi phones.

The Honor 10 Lite comes with Android 9.0 out of the box and this is overlaid with EMUI 9.0.

Design

The design and build quality of affordable phones has improved exponentially in recent years and the Honor 10 Lite continues with this trend. Just looking at it, you wouldn’t know that it costs £200, it could easily pass off as an £600 phone. It is only when you pick it up and feel the plastic body will you realise this is not a flagship device.

I received a black version of the phone which is a bit boring, especially for photos, but it also comes in a more striking Sky Blue or Sapphire Blue. Sky Blue is actually the cheapest model on Amazon at just £190.

The fingerprint sensor is located on the rear of the device with the two cameras positioned to the side.

Sadly, Honor still insists on using microUSB for its budget phones. It is not a significant issue, but at the same time it is 2019, and you would expect them to have moved with the times by now. Thankfully you still get a 3.5mm jack, something I think is a requirement for a budget phone, to help keep the cost of earphones down.

Screen

The stand out feature is the waterdrop notched screen which is 6.21in IPS display that runs at a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 (FHD+) with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. This notch is less obtrusive than the Huawei Mate 20 Lite and gives you more notification space.

You can alter the screen setting to be in normal or vivid mode, with vivid changing the peak brightness s from 366cd/m² to 403cd/m² and makes colours pop. You can then further alter this by setting the screen temperature to warm or cold.

OS

The phone comes with Android 9 out of the box, which should be a given for a 2019 phone, but some manufacturers still use older versions. Huawei customises Android with EMUI, and the 10 Lite features version 9 which is the same as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

I personally have no problems with EMUI, in fact I quite like it, but it is a contentious piece of software, and some people are not fans at all.

The phone comes without an application tray by default, if you like that kind of thing you can leave it, but you can re-enable it via the settings.

The main feature you need to be made aware of with EMUI is the aggressive battery management. It is both good and bad, good because it works but it does affect some apps negatively, and you will need to disable the automated control within the settings.

There is quite a bit of additional software installed with EMUI but none of it is intrusive or spammy, like some other phones. This includes the App Galery, HiCare and Huawei’s own health app.

The overall UI feels fast and responsive and I don’t feel like it is a performance hog on the system. I previously own the Mate 10 Pro, and currently the Mate 20 Pro and have found no performance degradation over time either.

Performance

The UK version of the Honor 10 Lite uses the Kirin 710 chipset, combined with 3GB of RAM and 64GB storage.

For day to day use such as social media, web browsing and emails I can’t really tell the difference between this and the much more powerful Mate 20 Pro. The Kirin 710 is more than capable of handling anything you throw at it, and I experienced no legginess during my use.

I am not a huge gamer but for the sake of testing I ran a few games such as Game of Thrones, Asphalt 9 and Injustice 2. All these games ran without issue except for a couple of times when I switched between apps it caused a little lag while the CPU caught up.

I was unable Antutu running on this, this appears to be a common issue for some other reviewers, but the P Smart 2019 scored 132286 which is slightly behind the Mate 20 Lite due to the different RAM sizes. It is however, ahead of the Snapdragon 660 found in the similarly priced Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite (assuming you buy it in the UK).

Overall though, unless you are an avid mobile gamer or a power user, I doubt you would notice much difference between the performance of this and a far more expensive flagship device.

Battery life

The 3,400mAh battery isn’t the biggest in the world but it is plenty enough with a phone at this price with a mid-range chip inside. I was able to comfortably get over a days’ worth of use out of it, unless you are a very light user you will need to charge it every.

The charging is slower compared to Supercharge enabled devices, and I would estimate that it will take you over an hour to get a full charge. I didn’t find this to be too much of a problem as I just charged it when I went to bed. 

Camera

The rear camera with 13MP f/1.8 wide and 2MP depth sensors may not be toping any camera benchmarking charts any time soon, but I have found it to perform well. To be clear, I am a poor photographer and rely solely on auto mode.

Using the normal camera with AI mode on allows the phone to use AI to detect the scene and optimise the settings for that shot. For your average person wanting to take decent photos, this is great and takes a lot of the effort out of photography. The AI mode manages to capture sharp and vibrant images, and in good conditions my amateur eye struggles to tell the difference in quality between shots on this and shots on my Mate 20 Pro.

It does falter a little with lowlight shots, with it capturing a moderate amount of noise. I don’t have the steadiest of hands either which makes things worse. Huawei’s dedicated night mode helps with low light shots a lot, but the long exposure can cause issues if there are moving objects, or a shaky hand.

The front camera performs well, its high pixel count can do pixel-binning to emulate 1.8µm pixel size and recognises at least eight different scenes. It also learns from your selfies and optimises them with time. All of which is perfect for the selfie generation and is perhaps a reflection of the age group this phone is aimed at.

Video is captured in 1080p rather than 4K which is understandable due to the affordable nature of the phone. However, there is no images stabilisation causing significant shake in most footage your will take.

Conclusion

For the price this is an exceptional phone with superb performance is most areas. It is around the same price as the superb Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite and is a superior phone in almost every regard.

Granted, it is not perfect, there is no USB-C which is annoying, and the camera performance isn’t the best if the conditions are poor. These are small sacrifices you make for saving so much money compared to a high-end phone though.

Its strong selfie performance and good rear camera make this a perfect choice for teenagers and young adults keen to share their lives moments on social media.

Similarly, it is a perfect choice for anyone that is not a tech geek wanting to spend £1k on the phone. This does everything you want it to at an affordable price and it does it well.

Honor 10 Lite Review

Product Name: Honor 10 Lite

Price: 197.92

Currency: GBP

Availability: InStock

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