It’s a little challenging to describe exactly what kind of device the HONOR 20 Lite is.
Taking one look at the price you might get the impression that the quality of the phone matches the cheap cost, but it performs beyond that. At the same time, I also can’t call it a mid-range phone as it doesn’t reach the standards set by others in the market such as Google’s Pixel 3a.
At first glance, the HONOR 20 Lite looks alluring to the eye. The distinct neon pink and lavender gradient design featured on the back of the phone that I had was a big talking point. Indeed, my colleague was excited over how the phone matched the outfit she wore when I was showing it off; this is likely to be a big hit with people who like to dress up.
The device is also surprisingly thin. Having this phone in my pocket is comfortable and doesn’t restrict leg movement, particularly when travelling around on foot or bike. It’s very reminiscent of Apple’s iPhone 6 which had a skinny body. Comparing the two, the HONOR 20 Lite is only marginally thicker.
A closer look into the build though, that’s when the experience gets soured a little. After the fanfare died down and everybody in the office had gotten their fill of using the device, the look of the once remarkable back design was vandalised by the multitude of fingerprints and stains that stemmed from the oil secreted from our skin.
So while the design is very eye-catching, the constant maintenance of cleaning the phone to maintain the look isn’t something that a person will look forward to. Of course, the problem can be alleviated with a phone case, but then that defeats the purpose of the design itself as a case will cover it.
The front display is a little better. You get a 6.21-inch 1080p Full HD display to play around with. Despite utilising an LCD panel instead of OLED for its screen, the screen still displays the colour gamut with a beautiful vibrancy; even at half brightness, the screen seemed brighter than other phones at the same level.
The size of the display itself is a matter of personal preference. In combination with the small “teardrop” notch, you get a bigger screen-to-body ratio to browse and view content with; watching YouTube or Netflix is especially great with the large, near bezel-less display. That’s all well and good, but then you sacrifice the ability to use the device one-handed.
As a person with a slightly smaller hand and scrawny fingers, navigating through the phone has been something of a challenge. I had to constantly adjust the position of my hand in order to reach the top of the screen to swipe down for quick settings, and even then there were many times I would bring up the search menu instead.
Aside from that, browsing on the phone is relatively pleasant. Scrolling is fast and snappy, and the same goes for toggling between apps. There’s no noticeable slowdown as well when you have multiple apps running in the background.
Speaking of apps, let’s talk about the camera. A significant point that HONOR wanted to highlight is the triple camera setup at the back.which has features like night mode and ultra wide angle shots. Starting with the default photo mode, images captured were crisp and sharp; you can pick up minute details like object textures even when moderately far away.
The same goes for the ultra wide-angle mode. It doesn’t go as wide as the current wide-angle champ Huawei P30 Pro, but at least that means that it doesn’t suffer from the same distortion problem plaguing that device.
What does plague this device’s camera, however, is this; inconsistency. The camera has a special aperture mode that lets you adjust the aperture in the lens, allowing you to manually adjust the level of bokeh in your shot. The problem is that the camera has trouble discerning the depth of particular objects, creating shots with objects half clear and half blurred.
Night mode also has similar issues. I took a shot of the indoor waterfall found in Jewel Changi Airport, expecting a beautiful picture that brightened up the then-dark environment I was in. Instead, what came out was an image that while had nicely lit up the surrounding environment, also caused the bottom half of the image to be obnoxiously blurry.
That being said, I don’t want to disregard the night mode for this camera completely, it does take really good night shots. I’ve since taken several more shots, and they don’t seem to produce the same effect shown in the Jewel shot even with minor movement, at least to that extent.
With all that playing around with the camera and other apps, you’d be forgiven if you thought the phone would be dead quick. Luckily, the phone packs a respectable 3,400 mAh battery that will have no problem lasting you beyond a day.
What’s disappointing though is that when you eventually do need to charge the device, you’d have to wait. The HONOR 20 Lite uses a Micro-USB port instead of USB-C, so that means no fast-charging capabilities.
My overall experience with the HONOR 20 Lite after 120 hours leaves me feeling neither happy nor frustrated. Yes, certain things exasperated me when using the phone, but at that price point, could you fault it? Plus it does some things quite well. So who do I recommend this device to? I’ll leave it to you to decide if my gripes are your gold.
Photos by Soloman Soh and Goh Jing Wen of the DANAMIC team.