Hands-On, Smartphone

Honor 20 Lite Lands in Malaysia for RM949; A Striking Mid-Ranger

Honor just launched the Honor 20 Lite in Malaysia. Sporting a modest set of hardware and an affordable price tag, the 20 Lite is a rather interesting mid-ranger. Plus, it’s quite a sleek-looking phone too – just look at the back design.

That being said, the Honor 20 Lite faces stiff competition from a number of strong contenders, including the recently announced Oppo F11 and the Redmi Note 7. Can the 20 Lite stand toe to toe with these devices? We spent some time with the new phone to find out.

At a glance, the Honor 20 Lite’s back panel definitely makes an impression. The Phantom Red model we have here is a looker with its gradient finish, and even the Phantom Blue colourway looks equally stunning. Yes, the back panel is made of plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap or plasticky.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the plastic frame of the phone. It doesn’t feel particularly nice to the touch, and unlike other devices in this price segment, the inner parts of the microUSB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and speaker grille are not painted.

As a result, the phone doesn’t look…well, “finished.” It may save some cost here and there by leaving some parts of the phone unpainted, but if other phone makers can paint the ports of their devices and still keep the prices low, why can’t Honor?

Anyway, let’s get back to the Honor 20 Lite. On the front, it has a “Dewdrop” notch at the top of the 6.21-inch 2340 x 1080 display. It’s not an awfully big notch, but it’s still a noticeable cutout. Thankfully, the bottom bezel of the phone is reasonably small, lending to a more modern-looking design.

How about the screen quality itself? Quite decent. It can get really bright, viewing angles are good, and colours are punchy. For a mid-range smartphone, you’re getting an adequately good display with the Honor 20 Lite.

Powered by a Kirin 710 processor, this phone feels pretty fast and responsive. Said to be equivalent to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset, the Kirin 710 should be able to provide a good level of performance. Gaming on this phone should be quite pleasant too.

In the software side of things, the Honor 20 Lite runs on EMUI 9 based on Android 9 Pie. For the most part, EMUI 9 looks to be a standard version of Android. It’s not remarkably different from the rest (which is a good thing), and besides the absence of an app drawer, I like the fuss-free, lightweight nature of EMUI 9.

Then again, this is only my first impression with the software – there may be some issues here and there that I’m not aware of…yet.

And then we have the Honor 20 Lite’s camera performance. On the front, it sports a 32MP f/2.0 selfie shooter. As for the rear camera, it’s a triple camera system made up of a 24MP f/1.8 primary shooter, an 8MP f/2.4 ultra wide camera, and a 2MP f/2.4 sensor for capturing depth information. So how does the triple camera system perform?

Well, it’s…adequate. The image output isn’t anything to shout about, and even though the camera interface is quite responsive, the autofocus speed is frustratingly slow. Of course, there’s only so much one can expect out of a mid-range smartphone, but even other similarly priced devices have better camera performance than the Honor 20 Lite.

Set to go on sale in Malaysia on 24 April next week, the Honor 20 Lite will retail at RM949 on our shores. That kind of money gets you 128GB of expandable storage and 4GB of RAM; good value for money right there.

However, that puts the 20 Lite in the exact same price point as the Redmi Note 7, which has better build quality, camera performance, and battery life. After all, the Note 7 has a large 4,000mAh battery, while the 20 Lite only comes with a 3,400mAh cell.

To be fair, I’ve only spent a brief time with the Honor 20 Lite. Perhaps it would prove to be a really good smartphone once I’m able to review it thoroughly. And for RM949, it offers reasonably good value for money too.

And the back panel looks really good.