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Huawei P10 Lite Review: In Depth

3.5
Stripped back and refined at the same time

The Good

  • Well built
  • Beautiful screen
  • Smart user experience
  • Decent battery life

The Bad

  • Knuckle mode still sucks
  • Dated design
  • No image stabilisation
  • No USB-C

Huawei P10 Lite review: While the Huawei P10 features a metal body, Leica-branded dual cameras and a fingerprint sensor-laden home button, the much cheaper £299 Huawei P10 Lite has none of these traits. So is the P10 Lite simply hoping to ride the coattails of the company’s flagship phone, or is it a worthwhile mid-range mobile?

Huawei's big 2017 flagship phone, the Huawei P10, is a solid premium handset, yet far too expensive for what you get. As you'll see in our recent P10 re-review, it's barely dipped in price since its February launch and yet offers no standout features compared with premium rivals.

Despite this, we still love Huawei's design ethos and smart software, which is why we were so hungry to try out the Huawei P10 Lite. This mid-range phone is almost half the price of the original P10, yet still offers the same Emotion UI and some respectable specs. That said, the P10 Lite also changes up Huawei's aesthetics and scales back to a single lens camera, compared with the flagship's dual-lens snapper.

Have a look at our P10 Lite vs P10 vs P10 Plus comparison to see how Huawei's family stack up against each other.

The P10 Lite faces strong competition in the mid-range stakes from the likes of the Moto G5 Plus and the Honor 9, which offers a dual-lens camera and solid performance. So can Huawei's affordable phone stand up against its rivals? Here's our full review.

Check out our round-up of the best Huawei phones for more of the company's smartest handsets.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Design

Rather than taking cues from the P10 and P10 Plus, aesthetically the P10 Lite looks like a subtle evolution of its predecessor, the P9 Lite. You get a glass front and back with nicely rounded edges, a squared sturdy metal frame broken up by a few antenna lines and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Front Huawei P10 Lite review: Back

Like the company’s other phones, picking the right colour is the key to minimising the visibility of smudges and fingerprints, which are inevitable where glass-bodied handsets are concerned. We appreciate the tactile, textured hardware controls too but were hoping for the convenience and future-proofing that USB-C affords, rather than the now ageing microUSB standard that the P10 Lite sports.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Screen and media

You may have assumed that this stripped-back P-Series phone would be smaller than its flagship counterpart but in truth, the P10 Lite is actually fractionally larger in all directions, heavier and packs a bigger 5.2-inch display in as well.

Huawei p10 Lite review: Screen

It’s arguably one of the nicest aspects of the Lite, with impressive contrast, especially from a mid-ranger with an LTPS LCD. Its Full HD resolution renders text and imagery cleanly and it prioritises accuracy over vibrancy with regards to colour. The phone also possesses an Eye Comfort mode, which can be activated manually or scheduled to shift the colour temperature of the display into a warmer gamut for more comfortable viewing in low light environments or late at night.

As for the audio experience, there's a single downward-facing speaker behind a grille on the phone's bottom edge that pushes out clear but uneventful sound, and despite thinning down from its predecessor you can also expect a conventional 3.5mm headphone jack in there too.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Features and OS

Like the beefier P10s and Honor’s most recent efforts, the P10 Lite sports the latest iteration of the company’s Android overlay out the box: Emotion UI 5.1, running atop Android 7.0 Nougat.

We’ve already waxed lyrical about the huge improvement 5.1 is over older iterations of Huawei’s user experience but in practice, its talents fall into three key areas. Firstly, the company has tidied up the interface, with a simpler, easier to understand notifications pane and settings menu, along with the option to include an apps drawer and the presence of a global search bar, so you can locate an app, contact or message in seconds.

Secondly, customisation is as ever a fundamental part of this Huawei’s user experience. The Themes app lets you quickly swap out the wallpapers and app icons on display (although most of the default options are a little over-designed for our tastes) along with the ability to alter the transition animations between homescreens and other launcher behaviour like notifications badges.

Read next: Huawei P10 Lite Tips & Tricks

The third piece of the P10 Lite’s EMUI puzzle is the software’s talents concerning background optimisation. Huawei Ultra Memory & Ultra Response are two intelligent technologies that help ensure that the P10 Lite feels fast in everyday use and stays snappy over the course of its normal lifetime.

Ultra Memory does the equivalent of defragmenting on the regular to keep file systems neat and tidy paired with predictive memory allocation and compression that’s influenced by your usage, so the apps you use most often benefit from the most resources, whilst seldom-used programs don’t hog compute power of memory unnecessarily.

As for Ultra Response, EMUI also tries or predict where you’re going to tap and swipe within the phone’s interface so that those actions feel just that little bit snappier. Neither feature is unique to the P10 Lite but we’re glad they’re there.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Performance and battery life

This is the first phone we’ve encountered sporting the company’s own Kirin 658 and on paper, it’s comparable to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 - the chipset powering last year’s Huawei Nova and Nova Plus. It packs plenty of punch for everyday use and paired with 4GB of RAM on the P10 Lite, seem more than comfortable sporting split-screen multitasking and running 3D games.

Huawei p10 Lite review: Fingerprint sensor

As for storage, the UK version packs 32GB in internally but almost 10GB of that is occupied by the phone’s firmware. That said, the remaining 23GB should satiate most users need for apps and local media and if not there’s microSD support by up to a further 256GB.

There’s also a 3000mAh non-removable battery inside the P10 Lite and it’s another gem. You can expect just shy of two days of mixed usage per charge thanks in part to the company’s Smart Power-Saving 5.0 tech and Huawei’s 18W Quick Charger is on board too, so you can juice back up for another day’s worth of use in minutes rather than hours. Huawei quotes 30 minutes charge time for 43 percent charge and 97 minutes charge time for a full charge; in our real-world tests it took only fractionally longer.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Cameras

A set of Leica-branded dual rear cameras are one of the defining aspects of the P10 and P10 Plus but sadly Huawei didn’t transpose this signature hardware when selecting the snappers on the Lite. The phone instead uses a single 12-megapixel primary camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a single LED flash on the back, while an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture sits on the front.

The interface is feature-packed but also clean, with nearly all of the functionality you’d want spread across three screens: a mode switcher, the viewfinder and a settings screen. The Lite also packs some functionality seldom-seen outside of Huawei’s wheelhouse, including pro video, watermark and light painting modes.

As for picture quality, shots typically turn out well-exposed with an accurate colouring and a pleasingly wide-dynamic range when shooting in higher-contrast situations. Low light shots also come with a surprisingly low amount of grain and noise whilst more exotic modes like Light Painting work better than expected too

Image stability, or rather a lack thereof, is the main camera’s biggest shortcoming, meaning low light shots aren’t as crisp as we’d like and video recording (which tops out at 1080p at 30fps) retains even slight shakes or judders when shooting handheld. HDR mode doesn’t appear to make much of a difference to still either.

Our Huawei P10 Lite camera review will give you a full rundown of the phone's photographic talents and quirks.

Huawei P10 Lite review: Verdict

If it isn’t already apparent the Huawei P10 Lite is clearly more of a refinement upon the P9 Lite, than a stripped down version of the company’s P10 flagship, which is a bit of a shame.

Huawei p10 Lite review: 4/3rds

It lacks the standout features of Huawei’s current top dog and as such, feels like just another premium mid-ranger. That said, a dated design doesn’t detract from its capabilities.

The P10 Lite is well built, offers a great user experience and performs well. Its camera is reliable but needs work in some key areas to be truly great and the £299 price tag places it within firing range of the excellent Moto G5 Plus; a bigger, bulkier phone for sure, but one that can take on and even surpass the P10 Lite in some areas, for less.

Key Specs

  • 5.2-inches
  • Full HD (1920x1080)
  • 146 grams
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 12-megapixels
  • 8-megapixels
  • 2.36GHz/1.7GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 658
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB. Expandable via microSD up to 256GB
  • Yes
  • Fingerprint sensor w/ gesture support, Phone Manager app, Knuckle Mode

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