Huawei P30 Lite Review

May 21, 2019 | Amy Davies |

Introduction

With the proliferation of expensive smartphones on the market, it can be easy to assume you need to spend a fortune to get something decent.

However, there is a healthy range of cheaper mid-range phones that, with a few sacrifices, make for great choices when it comes to the quality of the on board camera.

On paper, the Huawei P30 Lite sounds like one such model. The pared-back sibling of the P30 Pro, it includes a well-featured camera, especially for the price.

A triple camera is found on the rear of the P30 Lite, giving you a 48 megapixel wide angle f/1.8 lens, an 8 megapixel ultra wide angle lens and a 2 megapixel “bokeh lens”. On the front is a 24 megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera.

In terms of keeping the price low, some features which are different from more expensive phones include restricting video recording to full HD, rather than 4K, an LCD screen, lack of raw format shooting in the native camera app and no possibility to expand storage by using an optional memory card.

There’s also no telephoto lens present, with any zooming achieved digitally.

Still, if you need a new phone and don’t want to spend a huge sum - at its current retail price of £329 - the Huawei P30 Lite could be a tempting proposition.

Let’s find out how it shapes up...

Ease of Use

Despite the Huawei P30 Lite coming very much under the “budget” umbrella, it still has an attractive outward appearance. We’ve been using the “Peacock Blue” colour, which has an ombre type effect between blue and purple and is very distinctive. The other two colours available are Midnight Black and Pearl White.

The P30 Lite is slightly smaller than the P30 Pro, with a screen size of 6.15-inches. Although you do sacrifice some screen space, arguably it makes it better suited to one-handed operation and makes it less cumbersome to use, too.

Huawei P30 Lite
Front of the Huawei P30 Lite

There are a number of ways to unlock the P30 Lite’s screen. You can use face recognition, a PIN or pattern code, or you can use the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone. Unlike the P30 Pro, the P30 Lite uses a cheaper LCD screen, so it’s not possible to have a scanner built in to the screen itself.

Alternatively, if you only need to access the camera, you can drag up from the bottom right hand corner of the screen for direct access. If you do this, you’ll only be able to view images you’ve taken during that shooting session - you’ll need to unlock the device properly to access any images taken prior to that.

If you’ve used any of Huawei’s (or Honor’s) phones before, you’ll be familiar with the native camera app. If you haven’t, it’s one of the best camera apps on the market, giving you a huge degree of control and options - even with the more basic model like the P30 Lite.

Huawei P30 Lite
Rear of the Huawei P30 Lite

By default, the app will launch in standard “Photo” mode. You can jump straight into taking photos with the “1x” or ordinary camera. If you tap a circle with “1x” written in it, you will immediately jump to “2x” (digital zoom), or if you tap again the “Wide” camera will be activated. An alternative method to access the wide angle camera is by pinching inwards on the screen. If you pinch outwards, you can zoom past the default 2x option, too, all the way up to 6x.

Along the top of the screen (or on the left if you hold the Huawei P30 Lite in landscape orientation), you’ll see a number of options. There’s a flash icon for switching on or off the inbuilt flash, an option to turn on and off “moving picture” - whereby a short video clip is recorded with every image, the option to switch AI on or off, and a cog icon which takes you through to additional settings.

Having the AI icon directly on the camera screen is great. If left switched on, the P30 Lite will recognise a wide range of subjects, including pets, flowers, blue skies, overcast skies and so on. Once detected, it will apply settings which it feels are most appropriate to the shooting situation - but occasionally it can go overboard and make images look unnatural - being able to quickly switch it off can be very useful in such situations.

Huawei P30 Lite
Front of the Huawei P30 Lite

In the expanded settings, you’ll find a range of different options - including resolution, GPS tagging, the option to add a watermark and so on. The options vary slightly depending on the shooting mode that you’re in. For example, if you switch to Pro mode, you’ll find additional options in the settings menu, such as the option to switch on a Horizontal level - but note that raw format shooting is not available as it is with other phones like the P30 Pro.

Along the bottom of the shooting screen, or to the right if holding the Huawei P30 Lite in landscape mode, you’ll see a variety of different shooting modes. There’s the default Photo mode, but you can select others by tapping to the left or right. To the left, there’s AR Lens, Night and Portrait. AR Lens allows you to record selfies of yourself as different characters or with different effects.

Night mode is something we’ve seen on previous Huawei phones - it recreates the effect of using a slower shutter speed by merging together several short exposures. Portrait is used for taking people pictures, and again is something we’ve seen in previous Huawei phones. With it you get the option to choose different lighting effects, as well as different bokeh shapes for the out of focus areas.

Huawei P30 Lite
The Huawei P30 Lite In-hand

To the right of Photo mode, you have Video mode. As this is a cheaper model, you can only record at Full HD, rather than up to 4K. Finally there is a More tab which reveals a host of other shooting options - including Panorama mode, HDR shooting, Pro mode, Time-lapse and Aperture. Pro mode gives you the option to change a variety of different parameters, while the Aperture mode works in a similar way to Portrait mode but can be used for any subject - human or otherwise. With aperture mode, you can also adjust the aperture after you’ve taken the shot in playback.

To take a photo, you can either use a virtual button on the display, or you can use one of the physical volume buttons on the side of the Huawei P30 Lite. The phone will choose an autofocus point for you, but if you want to select a different subject, all you need to do is tap on the screen in the relevant place. When you tap, you’ll also see you’ll be able to adjust brightness by swiping your finger up and down on the screen - which can be useful when shooting in very high contrast areas.

On the whole, focusing is pretty quick and generally accurate - it’s worth keeping an eye on which focus point the Huawei P30 Lite selects when shooting quite close up, tapping to change it if it selects the wrong subject.