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Huawei Mate 20 Lite Review

Performance

This is usually where we show our Geekbench 4 and Antutu benchmarks, with comparisons to a range of other phones. Considering the Kirin 710 is a new chip from Huawei itself, I was pretty keen to see how it performs relative to the likes of the Snapdragon 660 or Kirin 970.

Unfortunately, it seems there is some kind of block on downloading benchmarking apps from the Play Store – whenever I tried to download Geekbench 4 I was met with an ‘error 501’ message. I have spoken to a few friends in the industry and this was also affecting their Mate 20 Lite samples, and at a guess Huawei has put this block on early models to prevent performance leaking before the phone released, and has not yet update the software to remove this block.

In any case, I can’t show relative performance for our usual benchmarks, but I can talk about day-to-day performance – and to be honest, it is pretty much what I expected. That means for the majority of the time using the phone, you won’t run into any issues. There are the tell-tale signs that this isn’t a flagship CPU, however, as apps can occasionally stutter and lag, while I also noticed some apps would take that split second longer to load.

That means the overall experience is pretty much the same as when using the Honor 10 and the ASUS ZenFone 5 – the Mate 20 Lite is fast enough to get the job done and most of the time you won’t notice it causing any issues. The longer I used it, however, the more I noticed it wasn’t quite up to the speeds I have been used to when using the likes of the OnePlus 6 or even the P20 Pro.

Much the same can be said of the rear fingerprint scanner – I very much appreciate it being positioned on the back within easy reach of my index finger, but it is not the fastest I have ever used and you do notice yourself staring at a black screen waiting for it to spring to life. It’s obviously all relative to price, so we can’t reasonably expect the scanner to be as fast as on a flagship device that costs twice as much, but you will notice the difference.

Also speaking of performance, I have to say the single downward firing speaker is quite poor. It gets reasonably loud, but it sounds very tinny and quite ‘crunchy’, meaning there is some quite noticeable distortion as well. Again, it’s not the biggest deal – I usually use earphones whenever listening to music on my phone or watching Netflix, but for a YouTube video or two the speaker is disappointing.

Software

In terms of its software, the Mate 20 Lite runs EMUI 8.2 – Huawei’s Android Skin. This sits on top of Android Oreo 8.1 – meaning there is no Pie support yet for the Mate 20 Lite.

I have been using what is essentially the same software on my P20 Pro over the last few months, and EMUI is now very familiar to me.

While I generally find it OK to use, I do think EMUI 8.2 needs a face lift – there are a lot of settings options, and the quick settings panel looks quite clunky and out of date.

I don’t think it helps matters that the EMUI 9 beta was launched alongside the Mate 20 Lite at IFA this year – with a more streamlined appearance and a brighter aesthetic which I personally prefer. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for this to publicly release to the Mate 20 Lite, even though the Mate 20 Pro has now launched with EMUI 9 as well.

 

There are some good features baked-in, though, including motion control options which turn the screen on as you lift it up, while you can also open different apps by drawing letters on the screen while it is off.

One thing I would like to see, however, is gesture navigation. At the moment, there’s no way to navigate the phone without some sort of button appearing on screen – be it the traditional home buttons, a single-key button or Huawei’s floating navigation dock. Considering the Mate 20 Lite has a relatively large 6.3in display, I’d really like to make the most of it and use gestures – negating the need for any extra options cluttering up the display.

This is something that is now included within EMUI 9 on the Mate 20 Pro, but I think Huawei missed a trick by not incorporating the feature into EMUI 8.2.

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