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Huawei P10 Lite Camera Review: Not quite as Leicable, but still good

Huawei P10 Lite camera review: The Huawei P10’s second-generation dual Leica camera is one of the phone’s defining features and yet it’s completely absent from the simpler P10 Lite. Does a more sedate set of snappers undermine an otherwise solid smartphone or you can still snap happy with the P10 Lite’s camera setup?

Versus the full-fat P10, this Lite version sports a single 12-megapixel primary 1/2.8” sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and 1.25µm pixels, paired with a single LED flash, whilst an 8-megapixel autofocus effort with an f/2.0 aperture sits on the front.

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Huawei P10 Lite camera review: UI

Fire up the camera app and the experience on offer is a nice evolution of Huawei’s long-standing interface design.

The main viewfinder isn’t too busy, with some 13 modes just a swipe to the right and relevant camera settings always accessible by swiping left. You can download more from the mode selection screen and edit their order by tapping the pencil icon in the corner, making the experience wholly personalisable to your tastes and needs.

Some of the more unique native offerings that you’ll seldom find outside of Huawei’s handsets include Pro Video mode, Watermark and All-Focus (which lets you refocus shots after capture), along with more conventional but nonetheless useful inclusions like manual control and HDR shooting.

Tapping the mode name near the shutter will revert you back to standard still capture too, so no matter where you are within the camera experience it’s easy to jump back to simple snapping without having to swipe around first.

Beauty mode can be applied to subjects using either the front or back cameras, along with real-time filters that make your shots Instagram-ready in an instant.

Huawei P10 Lite camera UI: Light painting

Huawei has also tried to make the methods of capture as easy as possible, with a noise-activated shutter that responds to “cheese” or a hearty “Fus roh dah,” provided you’re loud enough, the option of touch capture; so you can tap anywhere within the viewfinder to take a picture and Ultra Snapshot; which lets you snap a photo from sleep by double-tapping the volume down key. It even gives you a sleep-to-snap time just to show off.

Essentially, the ways in which you can take a photo on the P10 Lite are many and varied and we appreciate that.

Huawei P10 Lite camera review: Picture quality

Shots typically appear accurately coloured and well-exposed with a pleasing amount of dynamic range on display, even if the resultant images look a little subdued as a result. Throwing HDR mode in on top of an already bright, well-exposed image doesn’t appear to make all that much of a difference, however.

Despite what seems like a relatively narrow aperture and the phone’s small sensor size, the main camera’s low light performance is actually commendable, with low noise and only moderate grain. Detail will take a hit when shooting handheld, whilst the flash does a good job of exposing subjects in a pleasing enough manner, even if the single LED arrangement is a little too narrow when firing off.

Pro mode is, of course, on hand so that you can set longer exposure times should you want to take cleaner night shots, but you can also simply tweak ISO, contrast, brightness straight from the normal photo mode settings.

As for the more exotic features on offer, Light Painting, in particular, can be used to great effect, whilst the beauty mode actually works right through the scale, with higher settings undoubtedly looking a little heavy-handed but not turning you into an extraterrestrial as some others do.

Huawei P10 Lite camera sample: Light painting

The 8-megapixel selfie machine also offers a well-rounded experience, colour depth and detail is certainly lacking compared to the Lite’s main camera, but the overall result is still pleasant, especially with such a competent beauty mode and effective screen-based flash on-hand.

Huawei P10 Lite camera review: Video quality

This mid-range P10 loses out on its flagship counterpart’s 4K video recording, so footage tops out at Full HD at 30 frames per second (we would have also liked the option of 60fps as we suspect the hardware is more than capable of pulling it off, but oh well). Pro mode lets you tweak exposure, white balance and focus method, whilst object tracking is the only other obvious option when you dive into the settings menu.

Even without it being switched on, the best attribute to the P10 Lite’s video recording is its autofocus; it’s just so damn fast! The phone seemed perfectly comfortable as I swung in close on a metal sign before quickly panning back to a wide shot, and all the while it kept everything looking clear.

Actual image quality appears to suffer when shooting in higher contrast environments, under exposing darker areas, and no apparent stabilisation tech seems like a significant shortcoming too. Audio meanwhile is clear and wind noise is handled well but the microphone(s) also pick up plenty background din and struggle to create clear stereo separation.

Huawei P10 Lite camera review: Verdict

Don’t pick up the P10 Lite expecting the same top-tier camera experience as its flagship brethren but at the same time, don’t let the branding fool you. Whilst this handset might be light on cameras, it’s certainly got ability where it counts.

It takes great photos in almost any condition, offers up a whole host of options to iron out troublesome shooting conditions and has some really fun extras to top it all off too. Video is sharp but falls down in other areas whilst the phone £299 price tag does put it up against the likes of the very capable Moto G5 Plus.

Read next: Huawei P10 Camera Review - This Leica 2 shooter is a Galaxy S7 rival

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