Huawei P30 Lite (2019) review

Outgunned

Huawei P30 Lite
  • Huawei P30 Lite
  • Huawei P30 Lite
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Above average battery life
  • Versatile camera

Cons

  • Underwhelming performance
  • Boring design

Bottom Line

Like many of this year’s cutting edge mid-tier smartphones, the P30 Lite is only really compelling for as long as you forget that the Pixel 3a exists.

Would you buy this?

Should I buy the Huawei P30 Lite (2019)?

Devices like the Pixel 3a, Reno Z and Galaxy A-series are pushing boundaries for just how good a phone you can get when it comes to the mid-tier. By comparison, the Huawei P30 Lite feels like a beast of bygone era. 

It’s not that dated but it’s biggest claim to fame - having one of the cheapest triple-lens cameras on the market - just doesn’t have the same sort of cohesive allure of the competition. The software has the same problems that Huawei’s software always has had, the design is a little bland and it lacks the bundled-in headphones of last year’s Nova 3i

The Huawei P30 Lite feels like a pretty good camera with an OK phone attached to it. 

It’s a perfectly competent mid-tier smartphone that hits all the marks you expect it to. However, with the bar having been raised so high in recent months, it struggles to make a strong case for itself. 

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the Huawei P30 Lite can be found through JB Hi-Fi at a recommended retail price-point of $499.

Huawei P30 Lite (2019) full review

Huawei’s Nova smartphones used to have the distinction being the most premium and feature loaded fare in the sub-$500 price-point. Nowadays, stuff like the Pixel 3a and Oppo Reno Z are pushing boundaries when it comes to just how good a phone that cheap can be. 

And, on paper at least, the Huawei P30 Lite looks poised to do much the same. It’s equipped with a 6.15-inch FHD display with a teardrop notch, Kirin 710 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 3340mAh battery, 32-megapixel selfie camera and a triple-lens camera. 

Compared to the mainline P30 and P30 Pro, the P30 Lite has a headphone jack and opts for a fingerprint sensor on the back instead of underneath the screen. Aside from these inclusions, it’s got a pretty similar physical footprint overall. 

Credit: Huawei

And, even if the hardware on the P30 Lite isn’t as accomplished as its big brother, the P30 Pro, it’s still capable of delivering some pretty impressive results for the price-tag. The P30 Lite’s biggest claim to fame at launch was that it’s the cheapest triple-lens camera on the market. Since then, Huawei have pushed things even lower with the Y9 Prime. 

Regardless, this camera array remains the device’s strongest selling point.

Unfortunately, when it comes to software, things are a bit same-old, same-old. Huawei’s latest incarnation of EMUI is better than it used to be, and the gestures here are arguably the best on Android. However, as an experience, it still aesthetically falls short of the bar set by smoother and more intuitive offerings from Google’s Pixel devices and Samsung’s One UI. It’s nice to look at but it’s not that nice to look at. 

The Huawei P30 Lite is a perfectly competent mid-tier smartphone that hits all the marks you expect it to. However, with the bar having been raised so high in recent months, it struggles to make a strong case for itself. 

Price

In Australia, you can buy the Huawei P30 Lite through JB Hi-Fi at a recommended retail price-point of $499.

You can’t buy the Huawei P30 Lite on any postpaid plans but you can pair it up with a SIM-only plan by using the widget below:

Design - Look, Feel, Features and Camera

If nothing else, the Huawei P30 Lite made me weirdly nostalgic for the Nova series. Now seemingly-extinct within the Australian market, Huawei’s Nova smartphones used to have the distinction being the most premium and feature loaded fare in the sub-$500 price-point. 

Nowadays, that niche is quite different. Stuff like the Pixel 3a, Reno Z and Galaxy A-series are pushing the expectation of what a mid-tier smartphone should offer to new heights. 

And, on paper at least, the Huawei P30 Lite looks poised to do much the same. It’s equipped with a 6.15-inch FHD display with a teardrop notch, Kirin 710 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 3340mAh battery, 32-megapixel selfie camera and a triple-lens camera. 

Credit: Huawei

Compared to the mainline P30 and P30 Pro, the P30 Lite has a headphone jack and opts for a fingerprint sensor on the back instead of underneath the screen. Aside from these inclusions, it’s got a pretty similar physical footprint overall. 

The screen on the P30 Lite boasts some pretty thin bezels and curved edges. Unfortunately, the display actually feels like the weakest part of the package here. It often comes across a little dim and certainly cheap by comparison to come of the other options playing around the same space. If you want it, it won’t be hard to find a phone with a much nicer screen for only a few hundred more dollars. 

As for the back half of the device, it’s made of curved glass and tinted with a cool gradient finish. The P30 Lite’s biggest claim to fame at launch was that it’s the cheapest triple-lens camera on the market. Since then, Huawei have pushed things even lower with the Y9 Prime. Regardless, the rear camera on the P30 Lite remains its strongest selling point.

This rear-mounted array consists of a 24-megapixel wide-angle lens, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

And, even if the hardware on the P30 Lite isn’t as accomplished as its big brother, the P30 Pro, it’s still capable of delivering some pretty impressive results, at least for the $500 price-tag.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

The results are particularly good in low-light, which is an area where mid-tier smartphones like the P30 Lite have often struggled in the past. The night mode results you see below aren't amazing but they are an upgrade over the inky splotched offered by some of the other devices playing in the same price-range.

Night Mode onCredit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Night Mode on
Night Mode offCredit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Night Mode off

Of course, the one area where the P30 Lite falls most noticeably short of the mark is zoom. There’s no telephoto lens so you just don’t get the same sort of powerful zooms you can with Huawei’s other P-series devices and even other mid-tier devices.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

I found this to be a particularly annoying limitation to work with. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Still, aside from that absent telephoto lens, what doesn’t the P30 Lite have?

Well, you don’t get any sort of wireless charging. You don’t get any sort of in-display fingerprint sensor. You don’t get any kind of water resistance. There’s also no NFC - which means mobile payments like Google Pay are out of the picture. Some of these things are premium perks to be sure but others, like NFC, are a definite blow to the everyday usefulness of this particular device.

Performance - Specs, Software, Benchmarks and Battery Life

Specs

  • Processor:  Kirin 710

  • Operating System:  Android Pie With EMUI 

  • RAM:  4GB

  • Storage:  128GB

  • MicroSD slot:  Yes

  • Headphone Jack:  Yes

  • SIM:  Dual

  • Battery:  3340mAh

  • Connectivity:  Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2

  • Rear Camera:  24-megapixel wide-angle lens + an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens + 2-megapixel depth sensor 

  • Front-Facing Camera:  32-megapixel

  • Dimensions:  152.9 x 72.7 x 7.4 mm

  • Weight: 159 g

Software

The software experience here is a fusion of Android Pie and Huawei’s own EMUI skin. 

Huawei’s latest incarnation of EMUI is better than it used to be, and the gestures here are arguably the best on Android. However, as an experience, it still aesthetically falls short of the bar set by smoother and more intuitive offerings from Google’s Pixel devices and Samsung’s One UI. It’s nice to look at but it’s not that nice to look at. 

Still, it is easy enough to customize and modify EMUI to your liking. I hope Huawei take a serious look at improving the consistency of the out-of-box experience here sooner rather than later. Apps sometimes unexpectedly close for no clear reason and support for picture-in-picture playback remains frustratingly inconsistent. There’s also still way too much pre-installed apps & services - some of which are from Huawei and some of which are from third parties. 

EMUI 10 is right around the corner and might address some of these issues but, if you’ve used a Huawei device released in the last two years, you probably know what to expect when it comes to the software experience on the P30 Lite.

Benchmarks

When it comes to the benchmarks, the P30 Lite failed to distinguish itself amongst the competition. It lagged behind the Oppo Reno Z in a big way and Huawei’s Kirin chipset failed to keep up with the Motorola One Vision, Google Pixel 3a and Samsung A70 as well

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

The one front where the Huawei P30 Lite did manage to hold some ground was in Geekbench’s Multi-Core CPU test. However, even so, it’s not really the kind of result that Huawei should be proud of.

Battery Life

The Huawei P30 Lite doesn’t exactly blow away the competition with its 3340mAh battery but the results are pretty respectable regardless. 

On average, we’d get a solid day and a half out of the P30 Lite. That number might shrink or rise depending on how intensely you use it or how much video content you churn through each and every day but there’s more than enough wiggle room here to get by. If you’ve used many Android phones, it’ll probably be better than you’re used to - but not by as much as Huawei’s flagships deliver.

The Huawei P30 Lite supports 18W fast-charging via USB Type-C. It does not support wireless charging. 

The Bottom Line

The Huawei P30 Lite is a basically competent mid-tier offering with a somewhat-powerful triple-lens camera and above-average battery life. However, the design doesn’t do much to endear itself and the software side of the equation isn’t much better.

If you’re looking to settle for a pretty cheap phone that can do the basic things you expect a phone to be able to do, it’ll be a good fit. If you’re looking for the best cheap phone, I’m a little more hesitant to recommend it. There are many superior options out there. 

Credit: Huawei

Like many of this year’s cutting edge mid-tier smartphones, the P30 Lite is only really compelling for as long as you forget that the Pixel 3a exists.

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