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Huawei Mate 20 lite hands-on preview: class, style and fun, but a few compromises too

The Huawei Mate 20 is not even here yet, but we already have the Huawei Mate 20 lite, a brand new device that shows Huawei can make some incredibly good looking devices to heat up competition in the mid-range phone segment.

The Mate 20 lite is made of glass and feels exquisite. It has a dash of Mate styling with the glass back and the vertical accent around the cameras, and it feels slim, elegant, premium.

Apart from the usual Huawei spicing in the interface with the custom EMUI skin, you have some unique features like Huawei's own animoji. Yes, animoji are a gimmick, but there is a way to make a gimmick fun and Huawei has mostly succeeded. In fact, we like the animoji in the Mate 20 lite more than the somewhat creepy Samsung ones (but not quite as much as the ones you can find on the iPhone X).

Before venturing into all the details about the Mate 20 lite, let's first take a quick look at the specs:

There are a few highlights here: the first one is the Kirin 710 chip, an upper mid-range chip with an octa-core CPU (it runs two high-power Cortex A73 cores at 2.2GHz and 4 efficient A53s at 1.7GHz). All of this hums along with 4GB of RAM, and overall our initial impressions are that the device performs smoothly in the daily grind, not a big surprise as most Huawei phones are well optimized in this regard.

Since this will be an affordable phone, we like that Huawei still includes a quite spacious 64GB of on-board storage and you can further expand that via microSD cards.

In terms of cameras, there are dual cameras on both the back and the front. On the back, it's a 20MP + 2MP combination, while up front you get a 24MP + 2MP mix, and in both cases the secondary 2-megapixel cameras serve to gather depth information and help create the blurred background for portrait mode shots. You don't have secondary telephoto cameras or anything of that kind, in fact, you can't even switch to either of the 2MP secondary cams because they have a supportive role.

Don't get your hopes too high up for these cameras, though: they should do a fine job in daylight, but Huawei keeps premium features like the P20 Pro's Night mode to the premium models and you get noticeably more noise with the Mate 20 lite night shots. You also get the trendy AI mode in the camera which recognizes a few scenes and boosts color on them.

What is a lot more fun is the animated 'animoji' characters that are pretty much a copy of Apple's animoji. They look cute and we had fun playing around with them.

One of the biggest advantages of this new Mate is that it has a big, 3750mAh battery that will last you a full day and probably some more. You also have a USB-C port on the bottom for charging and quick charge support that should top up the phone in less than 2.5 hours.

Price, Release Date and Availability

The Huawei Mate 20 Lite will (predictably) miss the United States where Huawei phones are banned from entering, but it will be available in a number of European countries and across the globe. In the United Kingdom, Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse will sell it from September 5, and EE will follow up in October.

The Mate 20 lite price is set at around €400 in Europe and at £380 in the United Kingdom. This puts the Mate 20 lite on par with phones like the Samsung Galaxy A8, Moto Z3 Play and the Honor 10 in fact. Would you prefer it over these rivals, or do you think the Mate 20 lite has what it takes to take over mid-range phones?

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Mate 20 lite


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