Huawei P30 Lite review: amazing device with little compromises

Huawei has been aggressively pursuing its goal to keep dominating the midrange and smartphone market with frequent smartphone launches. Earlier this year, the Chinese mammoth introduced its midrange Huawei Y7 Prime 2019 (Review) in Pakistan, and now it launched Huawei P30 Lite, the toned down version of its flagship P30 Pro.

As the name suggests, Huawei P30 Lite inherits the P30 series DNA, so it borrows a lot of characteristics from its elder siblings, but at the same time, it also retains its own identity of being a mid-range phone in an affordable price bracket.

The smartphone was launched in Pakistan with a price tag of Rs. 47,999 and comes with some specs. It features a large 6.15 inches of display, 4GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It is powered by Kirin 710 chipset which we previously get to review in Huawei Nova 3i, Honor 8X, and Honor 10 Lite smartphones.

Following the trajectory of P30 Pro, it comes with triple cameras at the back with 24MP main snapper, an 8MP ultra wide lens, and a 2MP depth sensor and a 32MP selfie camera that sits inside the waterdrop notch. It also packs a 3340mAh battery supporting 9V fast charging capability so we can expect some long-lasting performance during our day.

Looking at specs sheet and the launch price of the smartphone, we can see it is quite an attractive mid-range phone but does the Huawei P30 Lite make good use of its specs to deliver a smooth performance. Let’s find out in our real life review.

Design

When it comes to mid-range smartphones, both Honor and Huawei are known to deliver amazing build quality in their devices which was very much evident in Huawei Nova 3i (Review) and Honor 8X (Review); and Huawei P30 lite is no exception.

 

The smartphone boasts a glass body, a pleasant surprise considering that fact that most of the phones in this price segment, of likes OPPO F11 Pro (Review) and Vivo V15 (Review), still come with a plastic back. While the plastic body is more durable, glass body of P30 Lite gives it an edge over others in terms of beauty.

Huawei P30 Lite has a premium design and the 3D glass body on the back curves seamlessly into the sides, which makes it easier to keep a firm grip on the phone.

Our review unit came in Midnight Black color while globally it was launched with two more color options, Peacock Blue and Pearl White, unfortunately, Pakistani users do not have the option to opt for the latter one yet.

The external beauty of the P30 Lite is irresistible thanks to the premium glass finish.

Looking at the back of the smartphone, we can see the triple camera module nested on the top left corner similar to the placement we saw on P30 Pro. It is flanked by the traditional fingerprint sensor which we found to be within our finger’s reach.

The power and volume buttons sit on the right side of the phone and are easily accessible without a need to stretch your thumb. However, they feel plasticky and are reminiscent of much cheaper phones like the Honor 10 Lite (Review). On the top lies the phone’s SIM tray which does not come with a dedicated microSD slot.

Though we love the glass body of the smartphone, it does get smudges quite easily and needs to be wiped down frequently to maintain its beauty. As always, the soft Silicon case that comes with the smartphone is an excellent choice to save it from harm’s way and protecting the back from the fingerprints.

Display

Huawei P30 Lite comes with a 6.15 inches Full HD+ display, having a screen resolution of 1080 x 2312 pixels. The company claims the phone has a 90% screen to body ratio, but it actually hovers around 84.2% which is still pretty high.

Huawei P30 Lite Display

The reason for such discrepancy is mainly because companies measure the display area in ratio with the screen size and not the whole body. For example, OPPO Find X was celebrated to have a 93% screen to body ratio, but it turned out to be 87%.

As far as the display quality goes, Huawei P30 Lite comes with a pretty great screen that has deep blacks despite the presence of an LCD panel. The colors and the viewing angles are not compromised, even in direct sunlight.

So if you are someone who spends most of the time outdoors, merely turning the brightness settings to full can help you clearly see the content on your smartphone. In the quick settings, you can also enable eye comfort toggle to filter the blue light and to reduce strain on your eyes.

Huawei P30 Lite Notch display

Galaxy A50, Samsung’s new mid-range smartphone also lies in the same price segment and offers a SUPER AMOLED screen which is ideally a far better option than the LCD panel on P30 Lite. However, the display quality of the IPS LCD on the Huawei P30 Lite punches well above the mark in terms of color reproduction, viewing angles and outdoor legibility which helps it to stand firm on its ground.

Software

Huawei P30 lite runs on EMUI 9.0.1, Huawei’s proprietary OS based on the Android Pie (installation guide). In the last few years, the custom UI from Huawei has evolved from a flimsy skin to a sophisticated OS.

Huawei P30 lite bloatware

Though it comes with many useful features, one thing, however, hasn’t changed all along, the amount of bloatware inside the phone. It comes with a lot of preinstalled apps, but you do have the option to uninstall them to free up your smartphone’s space.

EMUI 9 comes with some fantastic features in Huawei p30 Lite. If you are not too fond of traditional navigation buttons, you can opt gesture navigation or the dock navigation options. Conveniently, the placement of navigation buttons can also be changed through the phone’s settings.

Huawei P30 lite App lock settings

For security and privacy, it offers app lock feature which demands a PIN code or your fingerprint to access a specific app on the device. File Safe is also a safety feature which can be used as a vault to place your important stuff like documents, pictures, and videos.

Private space is another great security and privacy feature which creates a whole new parallel space on your phone and can also be used as the guest mode if you don’t want anyone to peep into your personal stuff.

Huawei P30 lite Private Space settings

The most attractive thing about this feature is that you can use a different fingerprint for accessing the private space other than the one that you use regularly. So whenever you place that specific finger on the scanner, your device will take you directly to the private space.

Performance & Battery

It’s been almost a year since the Kirin 710 chipset debuted in the Nova 3i. Since then Huawei has included it in many of its latest mid-range smartphones like the Honor 10 Lite and the Honor 8X.

Huawei P30 Lite also comes with the same chipset that is accompanied by a 4GB RAM coupled with a 128GB internal storage which can be enhanced up to 256GB via microSD card.

Huawei P30 lite Benchmarks

In terms of benchmark performance, even the Helio P60 in the much cheaper Realme 3 (Review) blows the P30 Lite out of the water.

For moderate and light users, the device works flawlessly and easily processes anything you throw at it. A little bit of everything like the calling, social media usage, snapping some pictures and other routine tasks, is never a problem for the handset.

If you use the device outdoors for long, even with minimal burden, it tends to get hot after some time, but it isn’t noticeable if you have the protective case snapped on.

While Kirin 710 is sufficient for most people and gets the job done pretty quickly, it’s wearing out over time, which we easily spotted during the heavy usage test.

To provide better performance with the aging chipset, Huawei has also offered the GPU Turbo technology 2.0 in the device which helps the device to deliver better gaming experience and boosting up the performance of the handset while optimizing the phone’s battery.

Huawei P30 Lite plays almost all the heavy games like the Asphalt 9, PUBG, Deer Hunter and the Dead Trigger 2, with ease, thanks to the GPU Turbo technology. Sometimes, the device does display minimal stutters, especially when you are switching from one resource intensive app to another but does not hinder the gaming experience on the phone.

Huawei P30 lite 3 Hours Battery Test

Huawei P30 Lite comes with a 3340mAh battery that sports a 9V fast charging feature. It is not as good as we expected and drops all too quickly as the phone warms up a little.

During our 1 hour of light usage, which included browsing through the phone, surfing social media, making occasional calls, and snapping a picture or two, the phone’s battery dropped by 16%. This test already raised a flag which indicated that the P30 Lite’s battery wouldn’t hold up in heavy usage and that’s precisely what happened.

Despite the battery optimization provided by GPU Turbo technology 2.0, Huawei P30 Lite devoured 22% battery in just one hour of heavy usage which included gaming, video calling, and heavy multitasking. Moreover, if you perform extended gaming, the device gets pretty hot, which is noticeable even with the protective case.

Looking at its overall performance, we can see that Huawei P30 Lite excels in light usage but suffers a great deal during heavy testing as no one wants to get their hands burned off by their smartphone. Due to fast battery drainage, the user will have to keep the portable charger on them at all times.

Camera

Huawei P30 Lite Camera

Even in 2019, the entire focus of the smartphone manufacturers is to provide the best camera phone to their users, and Huawei P30 Lite is a no different device. The phone capitalizes on this trend and comes with a 24MP main sensor along with an 8MP ultra wide lens and a 2MP depth sensor. On the front, you get a 32MP camera for taking selfies.

Both the front and the back cameras are loaded with AI features. The rear lens can identify 22 while the selfie camera is capable of identifying eight different scenarios for adjusting the settings automatically.

Photos, taken with the main snapper of the Huawei P30 Lite, look amazing in natural light with great color reproduction and details.

You can also choose to turn the AI on or off with a toggle in the viewfinder. Turning the AI on produces more saturated pictures which are perfectly tuned for your social media feed. The AI definitely enhances the colors but does not go above and beyond, so your photos don’t look artificial.

Image taken in Auto Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Image with Auto mode on huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Building Picture at day with Auto Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Building Picture at day with AI Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
AI Mode

An ultra-wide angle lens is also a welcoming addition in the camera arsenal of the P30 Lite as we found ourselves using it quite often. The contrast seems a bit on the high side in the ultra-wide images. Moreover, the pictures are not as detailed as the ones shot with the main camera. The colors, however, look natural and perfectly balanced.

Auto Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Ultra wide angle lens on huawei P30 lite
Ultra Wide Angle shot

Lahore Fort Picture with Auto Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Lahore Fort Picture with ultra wide angle lens on Huawei P30 Lite
Ultra Wide Angle shot

The HDR mode in the phone works perfectly fine in daylight and brightens up only those corners of the picture that need more exposure. It lights up the subject in the foreground if you are taking pictures in any backlit scenario.

Badshahi Mosque Picture with Auto Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Badshahi Mosque Picture with HDR Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
HDR Mode

Lahore Museum picture with Auto Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Lahore Museum picture with HDR Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
HDR Mode

Huawei P30 Lite takes full advantage of its multi-camera setup and offers aperture and portrait modes well. While the subject recognition is great and the outlining is also appropriate in the portrait mode, it’s not up to the mark in aperture mode and gives the picture an artificial feel.

The background blur is also stronger than it should be for natural looking pictures.

Portrait Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Portrait Mode

Wide aperture Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Aperture Mode

As soon as the light leaves the frame of the Huawei P30 Lite, the image quality also starts to suffer. It fails to take impressive pictures during night time.

Looking at the Auto mode, the first thing you will notice is that the picture is overexposed, which is the reason why the lights are blown. You can also see that the overall photo has this white shade over it because of the poor light treatment along with a lot of grain in the picture.

The same picture when taken from HDR mode shows the aggressive post-processing which subdues the grain and noise in the image, but in doing so, it makes the picture even brighter and adds to that whitewashed and blown-out look.

Building Picture at night with auto mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Auto Mode

Building Picture at night with HDR mode on Huawei P30 Lite
HDR Mode

The night mode tends to increase contrasts and enhance colors, but at the same time, the image also looks very artificial and aggressively processed.

Ultra wide angle lens exhibited the same behavior that it did in the daylight camera result. The picture comes out blurry, and loss in detail is clearly visible.

Building Picture at night with Night Mode on Huawei P30 Lite
Night Mode

Building Picture at night with Ultra Wide angle lens on Huawei P30 Lite
Ultra Wide Angle Shot

The 32MP selfie camera is a decent snapper, and even with bright backlit background, it captures quality images. The skin tone is just how it should be, clear, and natural. A fair amount of detail can easily be observed.

Portrait mode in the selfie is not as good as the regular one. Though it does not smoothen the skin artificially, it definitely enhances the brightness too much, which in turn buries some details in the skin tone. The edge detection could have been better also as the camera struggles to outline the subject and blurs out the parts in the foreground too.

Selfie with Huawei P30 Lite

Verdict

Huawei P30 Lite comes with a premium design and a great display. Though the Kirin 710 is getting weary, you still won’t notice any significant lag in the device’s performance thanks to the GPU Turbo technology. The triple camera setup also offers amazing photos in natural light but tends to struggle in low light or night time scenarios. The smartphone’s battery also drains pretty fast, and during extended heavy usage, the phone tends to overheat to the extent that the user has to put it aside to protect their hands.

So, should you buy it?

Well, if you are a design enthusiast and prefer the looks over everything, this is definitely the one for you. Similarly, it is an excellent option for those who prefer watching videos and movies on their smartphone.

However, if you are someone that travels a lot and wants maximum juice out of their phone, Huawei P30 Lite might disappoint you, and you should look for the Vivo V11 Pro (Review) which even though adds a small jump to the price but can give you a much better battery time.

The camera on this phone is a mixed bag and produces good images in daylight but not so much during night time. So if you want a smartphone for night time photography, you will have to splurge some more for Oppo F11 Pro (Review).

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