The HONOR 20 Lite is the first of a new generation of smartphones following HONOR’s rebranding exercise such that their brand name is all in upper caps along with all their signage, including the packaging for their latest devices.
In terms of packaging, the HONOR 20 Lite comes in the brand’s distinctive blue hue and has a modest selection of additional accessories in the form of a USB charger and a microUSB charging cable. For units sold in Malaysia, HONOR is throwing in a free TPU casing but our review unit did not come with a case.
Externally, the HONOR 20 Lite benefits from the design language of its predecessors such as the 10 Lite with a curved backplate, rounded edges all around as well as a mirrored gradient finish available in either Phantom Blue or Phantom Red.
The right side sports a power button and volume rocker while the left is unadorned. The top sports a hybrid SIM card slot while the base comes with a microUSB port to charge the phone and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The backplate sports a triple camera array, the first for any phone in HONOR’s stable along with a rounded fingerprint reader. Up front, the HONOR 20 Lite has a 6.1-inch waterdrop notched display with 2,340 x 1080 pixel resolution, pleasantly thin bezels and a pre-applied screen protector to protect it from the odd nick or two.
Our test unit, which comes in a shade of Phantom Blue starts off with a deep mirrored purple that slowly shifts to a light blue near the upper half of the phone. In terms of overall tactility and build quality, the HONOR 20 Lite is a delight to hold with a decent heft and feel along with an attractively eye catching and reflective finish though it is also a fingerprint magnet.
HONOR 20 Lite Specifications and Performance
The HONOR 20 Lite comes with an array of specifications that are ideal for its modest RM949 price tag. For your money, you’re getting the aforementioned 6.1-inch waterdrop notch Full HD+ display, a midrange Kirin 710 octacore processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. The phone runs the latest Android Pie 9.0 with their EMUI 9.0.1 user interface overlaying it. This puts it somewhere along the lines of older phones in their line-up that also sport a Kirin 710 processor but weaker dual camera arrays like the Honor 8X that we reviewed a while back.
Among the refinements to EMUI 9.0.1 is a ‘ride’ mode for those who are using a bike so that the phone so that it doesn’t interrupt the user with incoming calls when they’re weaving through traffic and instead leaves a voice or text message and, if you deign to do so, decline a call automatically until you leave ‘ride’ mode.
Other features include the ability to tweak colours to your exact specifications on screen in the settings as well as the option to enable an ‘eye comfort’ mode that filters out blue light; handy if you’re reading after dark. You can also swap out themes and wallpapers as you see fit from a range of free options available. You can also turn on a performance mode that ramps up clock speed at the expense of faster battery drain and heat for intensive tasks like gaming and the like though we found marginal benefits from doing so.
In terms of benchmarks on normal settings, the HONOR 20 Lite offered fair performance and had slightly better ratings all around than what would be considered the baseline for phones with a Kirin 710 processor, presumably on account of optimised firmware.
In 3DMark’s Sling SHot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1 test, it got a score of 841 while in the Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan test it got 1,332 points. In PCMark, it got a score of 5,601 in the Work Performance test. In GeekBench 4.0, it got a single-core score of 1,534 and a multi-core score of 4,883 while in Antutu 3D it got a score of 116,027 points.
When performance mode is activated, the phone yielded better test scores though it also got warmer in the bargain. In 3DMark’s Sling SHot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1 test, it got a better score of 984 while in the Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan test it got 1,354 points. In PCMark, it got a score of 7.059 in the Work Performance test. In GeekBench 4.0, it got a single-core score of 1,554 and a multi-core score of 5,320 while in Antutu 3D it got an improved score of 140,793 points.
Under more practical scenarios, the phone acquitted itself in a competent fashion with fairly fast web browsing and navigation about the menus. It also tackled gaming in a decent fashion with PUBG handled at medium settings and the likes of Modern Combat Versus handled with smooth frame rates without chugging and relatively fast load times.
There were some marginal improvements in loading times and frame rates for games with performance mode on but after a few minutes, the HONOR 20 Lite became rather warm while incurring faster than usual battery drain. If you’re using it to game around a plug point, it’s a viable proposition but you’ll by and large be keeping the phone to its normal settings when out and about to retain battery life.
For gaming and movie watching duties, the HONOR 20 Lite’s display was quite serviceable with pleasant, if slightly over saturated colour rendition and sufficient brightness for legibility of the odd line or two under daylight. The sole mono speaker at the base of the phone doesn’t do much to break out of the mold and like many others of its ilk with similar placement in a phone chassis, it’s easily muffled when gaming landscape style and what sound is generated has poor sound staging or treble but is enough for catching a video or two on YouTube or a PUBG match.
HONOR 20 Lite camera performance
The HONOR 20 Lite is the first camera from the brand to sport a rear triple camera array. In keeping with its price range, none of the cameras in the HONOR 20 Lite has optical image stabilisation though it does use phase detection autofocus on the primary rear camera. What you get is a primary 24-MP F/1.8 camera with PDAF, a secondary 8-MP F/2.2 camera with an ultrawide lens and a third 2-MP F/2.4 depth sensor. Up front, the phone has a 32-MP F/2.0 selfie camera.
The camera user interface has the usual plethora of options including the increasingly common option to turn the AI on which helps you tweak the colours of a shot for better results, activate a dedicated HDR mode and turn on a night mode for better low light shots. A slider on the side also allows you to select the primary camera or the wide angle camera.
The primary camera itself takes some pretty good shots in daylight and there is an appreciable enhancement in dynamic range for shots taken after sundown with the AI on.
The wide angle camera does quite well, allowing you to take in more of the scenery with a surprisingly decent amount of detail and nary the usual distortion you’d get from a wide angle lens as it’s corrected via software before it appears on your display.
The selfie camera is competent though it tends to be somewhat overzealous in ensuring faces are properly lit, resulting in blown out background highlights though your visage will remain pleasantly viewable even in our strongly backlit test shot with the late afternoon sun behind us. As far as cameras go, the HONOR 20 Lite has a surprisingly good set of front and rear snappers for what you pay for and competes favourably with phones in it price range by a slight margin.
HONOR 20 Lite price, battery life and conclusion
The HONOR 20 Lite is powered by a 3,400mAh non-removable battery juiced by a microUSB port at the base of the phone. Under a normal usage scenario with either the WiFi or data on from dawn to dusk, about an hour of gaming, constant use of social media and fairly liberal use of productivity apps like Gmail, Google Docs and the like, it was able to achieve about 10 plus hours of battery life with constant use which is more than enough to run through the average work day with enough to spare for the commute home.
This is likely on account of the efficiency of the Kirin 710 processor and other optimisation at the firmware level in EMUI. With the bundled 5V/2A charger, the phone was able to reach 50% capacity in about 30 minutes from dead zero which is typical.
All in, the HONOR 20 Lite brings to the table a decent midrange processor paired up with a generous amount of storage and HONOR’s first triple camera array to make it a fairly compelling bargain as sub-RM1,000 phones go. Granted, there are cheaper midrange phones out there but the HONOR 20 Lite edges out with a well considered blend of good looks, fair performance and a decent rear triple camera too in the bargain.
What we liked Sturdy build quality, good snaps from the rear triple camera array
What we didn’t Still uses a microUSB port, middling mono speaker
We say The HONOR 20 Lite offers fair performance for its price range, generous storage capacity and a good rear triple camera shoehorned into a shiny looking package.
Display 6.1-inch LTPS LCD, 2,340 x 1080 pixels, 415ppi
Processor Kirin 710 octacore
OS Android 9.0 with EMUI 9.0.1
Memory 4GB RAM/128GB storage
Camera 24-MP F/1.8 + 8-MP + 2-MP (rear) / 32-MP (front)
Size/Weight 154.8 x 73.64 x 7.95mm/164g
Review unit courtesy of HONOR Malaysia. To purchase the HONOR 20 Lite swing by their official page here.