Huawei P20 Lite has a 16MP main camera with f/2.2 lens on the back, accompanied by a 2MP sensor for depth information, and a single LED flash. There is no optical stabilization and no hybrid zoom.
Portrait mode with and without beautify is available, Variable Aperture is here to stay, too.
The camera interface is familiar as we have already seen it on the P10 and Mate 10 series. The options are hidden in menus you can bring up by swiping left or right from the screen (assuming you hold the camera in portrait mode). This may be confusing at first, but you quickly get used to it. The main menu houses all the available shooting modes - Photo, Night Shot, HDR, Panorama, Pro, Beauty, Light Painting, among others. There is also an advanced settings menu, summoned by a swipe from the top.
The Huawei camera app offers a Manual (Pro) mode, which manual focus, shutter speed (up to 8s), ISO, and a few other options. The Pro camera interface is very easy to use.
The Night Shot should have been the same mode we saw on the P20 and P20 Pro - the phone takes a couple of snaps with different exposure and combines them in one picture. And it works amazing, sometimes jaw-dropping on the P20s. But it just doesn't work on the P20 Lite, so don't get your hopes up.
For starters, it requires about 20s instead of just 4s. And your phone should be on a tripod the whole time - handheld is not an option unless really messy is what you are after. And if you comply with everything, you will still end up with one quite dark picture.
So, if you have a tripod lying around, or something to keep the phone stable, just use the Manual mode with long shutter setting or the Light Painting mode (though it's not that good, either).
The 16MP samples we snapped during the day came out with enough resolved detail and accurate and pleasant colors. Those could have benefited from a bit more detail for this class, though, and they came a bit soft but with over-sharpening halos around the buildings. The dynamic range is barely average. The noise levels are mostly kept reasonably low, but they sometimes spike in shadowy spots.
The samples are fine, but not among the best we've seen.
The HDR mode rescues most of the blown highlights and reveals more detail in the shadows. It really helps in the demanding scenes and we wholeheartedly recommend it for those occasions.
The low-light images are nothing special on the Huawei P20 Lite. They are often noisy and soft, the colors are washed out, too. But the occasional low-light snaps will do fine for the social networks. And frankly - we've seen a lot worse, especially lacking in detail, blurry and unusable, so the P20 Lite actually does alright. Nothing special, as we said, just alright.
You can get two different types of high-quality low-light samples on the 20 Lite, just like with any other recent Huawei smartphone. If you have a tripod, that is.
You can either use the Light Painting mode, where the Lite takes a picture with default settings and then captures only the moving lights imitating a professional looking long-exposure shot of say, streaks of car lights speeding along the road. Oddly, the car trails are somewhat worse than on the previous models as the trails came out interrupted.
Or use the Pro (manual) mode to tweak all settings by yourself using some long shutter speeds (up to 8s) and get a bright and detailed low-light image.
The Night shot requires a tripod and up to 20s of waiting and in the end will give you one very dark photo, so we advise against using it - it's a complete waste of time.
You can check out the Huawei P20 Lite in our photo compare tool for more pixel-peeping action.
The panorama mode is one of the better implementations, switching automatically between portrait and landscape. When shooting in portrait, panoramic images turn out just over 3,100 pixels tall and the sample below is about 20MP. Stitching is good, exposure is even, dynamic range is good, and the captured detail is above the average.
Wide aperture, as Huawei call it, utilizes the depth information from the second 2MP camera. It lets you simulate the background defocusing wide apertures would give you and you can adjust the effect to simulate between f/0.95 and f/16.
As with most such implementations, the effect is far from perfect and the shots don't exactly hold up to pixel scrutiny. Other Huawei phones do a better job of isolating the subject from the background. With the P20 Lite, however, the effect is more trigger-happy than it should be and eats some parts of the subject.
The Portrait Mode is available, naturally. It combines the Variable Aperture with Beautification and should offer Portrait shots with simultaneously enhanced faces and bokeh background effects. The portrait shots always come in 8MP images.
The recognition isn't perfect, and you can see traces of the background or some chopped details from the person. This mode isn't as professional grade as on the flagships, but we expected a bit more. Still, those would do for the social networks. Probably.
The selfie camera on the international Huawei P20 Lite has a 16MP sensor behind f/2.0 lens. It also comes with portrait shooting mode albeit the lack of an assistive cam. The Indian and Chinese models will benefit from a 24MP selfie cam, also behind f/2.0 lens.
The regular 16MP samples turned out fine, detailed and with pleasing colors, but not as sharp as we'd like them to be. The colors are fine, while noise is present here and there. We've seen better, but we've seen a lot worse, so the Lite samples are above the average in quality. It just takes a few shots to find the sweet spot of the fixed focus and you are good to go.
The Portrait Mode simulates bokeh alright, while it can also applies beautification effects on your face. The algorithm does a mostly fine job at recognizing your face and blurring the background, sometimes better than the supposedly high-quality portrait shots we got from the main shooter.
The Huawei P20 Lite can record 1080p videos at 30fps. That's it - there's no 1080p @ 60fps or 4K recording. The clips are recorded in MP4 files with a bitrate of 17Mbps. Audio is captured at a good 192Kbps (48kHz) rate, in stereo of course.
The video quality doesn't quite live up to our expectations. The image isn't as sharp as some competing phones in this class, nor is the resolved detail high enough. The dynamic range is rather wide, better than it was on the still images, though. The noise is kept low, and the colors and contrast are rather good.
As usual, we've provided an unedited sample straight out of the camera for you to download - 1080@30fps (10s, 22.5MB).
Be sure to head over to our video compare tool to check where the Huawei P 20 Lite stands against the Mate 10 Lite and the P Smart 1080p videos. You can choose other cameras if you like.