Huawei P10 Lite Review – Not As Lite As It Sounds

The Huawei P-series is well known for offering 3 devices that fits into 3 most important segments in the smartphone market, offering something for consumers of each segment. The latest P10 series does not differ, offering the regular P10, the flagship P10 Plus and the entry level P10 lite. We’ve reviewed the P10 and P10 Plus, and this time round we’ll take a look at the entry level device to the highly popular smartphone range – the Huawei P10 Lite. Being an entry level device and only costing RM1299, does the P10 lite feel left out compared to the others? Let’s find out.

Design

Compared to the P10 and P10 Plus, the P10 Lite does feature a totally different look compared to the rest of the line-up. The design language practiced here is Huawei’s older design language, to some people it may look old, but looks are subjective, and on the bright side, as a mid-range device, the design is still one of the top in the class, and does not suggest its mid-range class either. Its overall size is perfect and does not feel uncomfortable while holding it, especially with the 7.2mm thickness.v

The choice of materials and the build quality is solid too. The materials used are totally different from its bigger siblings, but it’s still pretty good too. The front and back are covered with premium feeling glass, with equally premium metal bands running on its sides. The overall build quality is solid to, and its well-weighted at 146-grams. Both the front and back glass have slight curves on all 4 sides, the chamfered edges give it a premium look. Overall, it is unique and still feels premium on its own.

On the front of the P10 Lite is where the 5.2-inch display lies, with minimal but acceptable bezels on both sides which rarely picks up accidental inputs. The top left sits the 8-megapixel front-facing camera, along with some sensors and an earpiece. There’s really nothing much going on the front apart from a Huawei branding at the bottom. Like the rest of its siblings, it utilizes on-screen Android navigation controls, and the orientation of the buttons can be controlled in the settings app. There is also a notification LED located on the top right corner.

The left of the device is where the SIM-tray lies, in which contains the same setup as most of the phones we’ve seen recently. Two slots can be found here – a dedicated primary nano-SIM slot and a secondary hybrid slot which takes either a nano-SIM as well or a microSD card for storage expansion. It will be a bummer for those who had to give up on dual-SIM functionality for storage expansion should they think the built-in 32GB storage isn’t enough, but on the bright side, it takes microSD cards up to 256GB. The volume and power button casually sits on the right.

The 3.5-mm audio jack has been separated from the rest of the ports and is living on the top, which leaves the microUSB port at the bottom with the mono speaker and a noise-cancelling microphone.

The design of the back panel is pretty simple, and the glass definitely gives it a more upmarket look. Instead of the Leica dual-lens setup, a single 12-megapixel sensor is located on the top left of the back panel, to the right of the single-LED flash. There’s really nothing much going on the back apart from a simple fingerprint sensor conveniently located in the middle, and a Huawei branding at the bottom. One good thing about the rear glass is that it picks up less visible finger greases unlike it other brothers, so it looks clean for most of the time, and it is easy to clean. But like other devices we’ve seen in the past, the premium looks does impact on its durability, so we’d recommend putting the included case all the time.

Our review unit comes in Gold colour, and there are 2 other colours to choose from – Blue and Black. Both are classy looking, especially the blue with alluring reflective back glass, which is the same found on the Honor 8.

Huawei P10 Lite Exterior Photos

Specs and Performance

Apart from the exterior, the specs on the Huawei P10 Lite has been toned down compared to its brothers. The processor in the P10 Lite got a slight bump compared to its predecessor, and now features an in-house developed Kirin 658 compared to the 650. The Kirin 658 receives a slight bump in clock speeds, with it’s primary cores now clocked at 2.36GHz, while the rest are clocked at 1.7GHz, and this setup makes the Kirin 658 a very efficient processor, with the lower-powered cores handling the easy tasks, and the primary cores kick in only when needed. Huawei also throws in 4GB of RAM into the mix.

So what do those numbers translate to reality? Well, rather surprising to say, the performance of the P10 Lite does not disappoint, and is rather close to its more expensive brothers. Light tasks are well handled, and slightly heavier tasks are handled without too much fuss. It does perform well in its class, despite having a heavy user interface to deal with. The back of the device does get warm under long heavy use, thus draining the battery rather quickly. Overall, like it’s more expensive brothers, the performance will not blow you away, but it will be as reliable as Huawei’s other devices. We do get random short freeze while using certain third-party applications, but it is a small problem to deal with, and it rarely repeats itself.

For its price, the connectivity options offered are pretty decent. While the P10 Lite is offered with a dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, rather surprisingly, the variant that we got here was not offered. So instead, we were stuck with a single-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi with Hotspot and Wi-Fi Direct feature. Bluetooth 4.1 are standard as well, along with 4G LTE connectivity. Unlike its brothers who have jumped on the USB-C bandwagon, the P10 Lite remains the same microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data transfer.

A fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device remains and unlike its brothers, it’s located at the back. The location of the fingerprint sensor is very convenient and can be easily reached, and its matte surface makes the fingerprint sensor works most of the time. We can safely say that the fail rate is probably lower than its brothers as the P10 Lite’s fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate. If you think that is a hassle even though it is the most convenient thing ever, you can use the other unlocking methods that are offered natively by Android.

Display

For its class, the display on the P10 Lite is rather good as well. For starters, the display measures at 5.2-inch, which is 0.1-inch larger than the regular P10. Yeah, we don’t understand that either. Screen resolution is also remained at 1080 X 1920, which computes to a pixel density of 424 pixels-per-inch. The display is sharp and does not lose out even when compared to the P10 and P10 Plus. You can hardly pick up the pixels.

The display panel used is a LTPS IPS LCD panel, which is the same panel used for other Huawei’s mid-range devices. The display is quite bright to begin with. It is totally usable under sunlight, and it goes rather dark too for those movie nights in a dark room. Colour reproduction is solid as well with the IPS display, and images are vivid, but with some natural form too it. You can also give credit to the deep black nature of IPS as well, and with no noticeable gap between the front glass and the display panel, viewing angle is not compromised.

The only software enhancements that are available is the ability to alter the colour temperature of the display to your liking, like most other Huawei devices. Most of the time we just left it in the standard setting as we think it is good enough. Also included is an eye comfort feature, which filters out blue light that harms your eyes. It can be turned on manually or according to a schedule.

Speaker

Like its bigger brother, the regular P10, the P10 Lite gets a downward-firing mono speaker. It sounds pretty much the same as other mid-range devices, which is pretty average. While it packs a punch, improvements can still be made for the loudness, clarity and bass department. It sounds slightly muffled, and while it does not distort during high volumes, it’s not very loud to begin with. So we are slightly disappointed by the loudspeakers, but it gets the job done.

Camera performance

The P10 Lite features a single-lens 12-megapixel sensor. This sensor has an aperture of f/2.2, and it is a pretty standard sensor. For a mid-range device, specs on paper sounds pretty good, even though the joint development of the dual-lens setup by Huawei and Leica was not found here.

Even though the setup is just normal, the results does not disappoint. In conditions with sufficient lighting, the 12-megapixel photos that we took turned out to be rather impressive. It has a vivid and true-to-life colours, with wide dynamic range. The colours are pretty solid and does not lose out too much even when compared side-by-side with samples from its bigger brothers with dual-lens setup. While it may not be the sharpest, it is still acceptable.

Unfortunately, things started to go downhill when it comes to low-light photography. While it is not bad and still gets the job done, the P10 Lite is a mixed bag when it comes to handling low-light images. At times there will be noticeable noise, and details are not quite great as well. This happens mostly when it comes to night landscape photography. Details are completely washed out and it is hard to get the image you want. If necessary, do try it with a tripod which keeps the device steady, and try to play with the ISO and shutter speed settings.

Huawei P10 Lite Sample Photos

The settings for video recording on the P10 Lite tops at 1080p at 30 frames-per-second, followed by 720p and goes all the way down to the usual MMS video. However, even at its best settings, videos are not as sharp as we’d liked, and while the colours are alright, dynamic range are not as wide. While the autofocus works well, it does get confused when you tap on the screen. In dark conditions, it overexposes everything, thus leading to autofocus getting really confused and lots of noise present in the video.

The front-facing camera features a setup with 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture. The picture quality is just average. It could really use a wider dynamic range, as once it is focused on your face, background colours tend to get washed out and create lots of noise. It works quite well under bright sunlight, but once you move into interior lighting or darker conditions, the situation occurs. Details are rather moderate as well. It also includes a software beautification feature which wipes off details from your face. As usual, the lower settings are the ones that makes more sense, as it looks unbelievably artificial when it is turned up to the max.

The camera app is the same as other Huawei devices. You do get a rather simple and straightforward interface, but can get quite complicated once you start digging deeper with the settings. Swiping left on the viewfinder brings up your settings, and swiping right brings up various features. In its default screen, the video, shutter and preview button remains on the right, while there are less clutter shortcut buttons on the left compared to its brothers due to the lack of features. Also available is a All Focus mode, which captures 6-megapixel photos and allows you to choose the focus point after the photo is taken.

Software

A big advantage when going for the P10 Lite is its software and optimisation. For starters, it runs Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box (being part of an important smartphone line-up, entry level isn’t an excuse). Like other Huawei devices, it comes pre-loaded with Huawei’s custom interface – EMUI 5.1 system. Like most other custom interfaces, there are little to no trace of vanilla Android interface, and despite the fact that the interface is quite heavy, overall performance is not too shabby, and performs well for its price. The overall interface is mature and straightforward too, with less clutter and more usable functions. It will also warn you of apps are using up too much processes in the background, and will prompt you to close it.

Huawei P10 Lite User Interface

Battery life

Built into the heart of the P10 Plus is a non-removable 3000mAh battery. There is not really much to praise about the battery life, but it will sure get you until the end of the day. Our usual mid-to-heavy usage returns around 15-20% at the end of the day, and depending on your usage, most people should be able to get a full day out of it.

The battery is charged over a microUSB cable, using a supplied 5V/2A wall adapter. The P10 Lite also loses out on any quick-charge technology, thus a 30-minute charge from 0% will only get you up to 35%, and takes just under 3 hours to get to full.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the P10 Lite is not only a great start to a popular Huawei smartphone line-up, as a mid-range device, it excels pretty well with its premium build quality and overall premium feeling when using the device. There are hardly mid-range devices that we think will work well, but the P10 Lite is actually a well-performing device and you should include it in your list if you are shopping for one in this price range.

Recap:
5.2-inch IPS display, 1080 X 1920 resolution, 424 ppi
HiSilicone Kirin 658, 4x 2.36GHz + 4x 1.7GHz 64-bit Octa-core processor
4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, microSD card support up to 256GB
12-megapixel rear camera, up to 1080p video recording
8-megapixel front-facing camera
3000mAh battery

Pros Cons
Good value for money Camera performance could be improved
Good build quality Battery life could be better
Premium quality used for the price point Does not feature fast charging
Fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate Earpiece volume is a bit low
Overall design is nice and functional Speaker performance is rather disappointing