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It’s raining devices this week. Vying for my SIM cards’ attention this time, it’s the Huawei P30 Lite, the smartphone that arguably dragged Huawei into the spotlight in its P8 Lite guise.
That device, which both my parents still use, now seems like a distant memory as budget devices have grown into the sub-R6000 mark, sport more than a single rear camera, and have screens so large they could’ve easily been considered television screens back in 1980.
The P30 Lite is no exception. Arguably, it’s Huawei’s most important phone of the year, appealing to a much larger market than its flagships.
With that said, I’ve had the Huawei P30 Lite in hand for two days, loaded with two SIM cards, and used as my daily driver. Here are my fleeting initial thoughts about what I love, dislike and can’t quite get my head around.
Huawei P30 Lite: everything there is to love
- The P30 Lite is really indistinguishable from its more expensive sisters from a distance. Seriously, this phone looks a lot more expensive than R6000, and it’s a mature step up from the juvenile styling of previous Lite devices in Huawei’s range.
- It’s surprisingly light, but that’s probably because it’s more plastic than glass and metal. I’m okay with this. Glass is a daft material to use on something you’re almost definitely going to drop at some point during its lifespan.
- Still build quality is good. There’s not a creak to be heard, and the materials used are solid.
- At 6.1 inches, the screen displays more than enough content without feeling too large. This is probably the new Goldilock’s zone for smartphone size in my opinion.
- The screen itself, for an LCD panel, displays surprisingly deep blacks. There’s very little if any backlight bleed too. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was an OLED panel.
- Headphone jack? Yes.
- USB-C? Yes. Sidenote: I’m not sure why Honor is still using microUSB on its devices.
- Dual SIM and dual LTE standby? Hell yeah. It’s the principle reason to grab this device. It also supports VoLTE and WiFi Calling.
- I like that EMUI is slowly drifting away from its heavy inspiration from iOS and more towards general Android styling and functionality. It’s starting to look like its own Android skin, and that’s a good thing.
- The rear fingerprint reader is reliable and quick making Huawei’s facial recognition system almost pointless.
- Battery life is stellar. In the past 48 hours, I’ve charged this phone one and a half times.
Huawei P30 Lite: *wiggles hand*
- Huawei now has “Privacy notices” for some of its apps, including HiCare, which explains to users what data the app gathers, as well as the “data controller”. I don’t know how to feel about this.
- Thanks to the enormous camera hump mounted off-centre, the P30 Lite will wobble on a table if you’re one of those lazy texters or Reddit browsers. Deal breaker for some.
- I like being subtly reminded by the elements I like in EMUI, like the alphabetical scrolling accelerator on the notifications management page, but marvel at the fact this feature’s absent from the actual app management page.
- Like all Android devices, stock animations are dreadfully slow. Speed them up in Developer settings or prepare to wait an eternity for the home screen to appear.
- Weirdly, the eye comfort screen filter tends to temporarily switch off when using the app switcher.
- 2019’s the golden year for fingerprint magnet smartphones it seems, but at least seeing how grubby your device is will prompt you to clean it more often. Swings and roundabouts.
- I can’t get to grips with Huawei’s stock EMUI launcher. I hate it. It’s clumsy, doesn’t allow for much customisation, and won’t let me hide the apps I don’t use, need or can’t uninstall. I installed Nova two days after I first switched on this phone, and haven’t been happier.
- Early snaps with the P30 Lite’s rear cameras left me underwhelmed. It’s not markedly better than the Honor 8X or Honor 10 Lite for that matter — both phones using the same chipset at a much cheaper price.
- Selfie camera is good, and resists removing all blemishes from my complexion, but it’s still not a selling point.
- The rear cameras are, well, not what I was expecting. But, more time needs to be spent with all facets of this phones’ cameras before I can deliver a solid verdict.
Huawei P30 Lite: the hateful things about this promising device
- Bundled bloatware includes HiCare, SwiftKey, Facebook, Booking.com, Huawei’s AppGallery, Facebook Messenger and Netflix. You can’t install some of these (at least without ADB), nor can you disable them.
- Samsung’s gesture controls, swiping up from the bottom of the screen for all controls, is just a better implementation than Huawei’s on EMUI. Going “back” on the P30 Lite using gestures requires a swipe from the left hand side of the screen to the right. In some apps, this opens a menu. It’s annoying. Hiding the traditional menu bar is the option I’ve come to use most often.
- You can’t use third-party apps to change the wallpaper. You have to head into Huawei’s wallpaper settings menu and do it there. A simple process like changing the wallpaper on your lockscreen should not be this convoluted.
- The camera’s Beauty Mode is on by default, because no one is beautiful enough.
- Where is my night mode for the UI like on the P20/Mate 20, Huawei? No one in 2019 should be forced to look at dove-white menus in low light or late at night.
- My review unit did not arrive with a protective cover. You’re going to want to get one with this device.
Notably, for R5999, there’s a lot to love about the Huawei P30 Lite. It’s also a marked jump from the P10 Lite and P20 Lite in terms of tech. But does it warrant an upgrade?
This and other questions about the device will be answered during my full review of this phone coming at a later date.
Feature image: Andy Walker/Memeburn