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A couple of months ago, we took an in-depth look at the Huawei P30 Pro. More specifically, we compared it against the Google Pixel 3 XL paying particular attention to the advanced camera system. Understandably, not everyone wants to pay such a premium price for such a high-end premium smartphone. If you want the P30 Pro look and feel at a more affordable price, you can choose between the Huawei P30 and the Huawei P30 Lite.

The entire P30 lineup carries much the same design language, including minimal bezels and a tiny notch, but is the P30 worth twice as much as the $400 or so P30 Lite? Let’s find out.

Huawei P30 vs. P30 Lite Spec Comparison

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

It wasn’t all that long ago that the premium flagship device only bore a faint resemblance to its more budget-oriented brethren. The Huawei P30 lineup is quite different in that all three phones look very, very similar. Indeed, even the P30 Lite boasts a triple camera system on the back. Of course, the specs do differ between the models. The main-line P30 has a better processor and OLED display, for instance, whereas the P30 Lite gets a bit less RAM and only an IPS LCD.

The other main difference is that while the P30 retains the in-screen optical fingerprint reader and wireless charging of its P30 Pro cousin, the P30 Lite is more traditional with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and no wireless charging. Even so, the P30 Lite gets a lot more than you’d normally expect from a $400 phone, including 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Both phones also retain the 3.5mm headphone jack, unlike the P30 Pro.

Processor

  • P30: Kirin 980 (7nm) octa-core
  • P30 Lite: Kirin 710 (12nm) octa-core

Memory/Storage

  • P30: 128GB ROM. 6GB RAM
  • P30 Lite: 128GB ROM, 4GB RAM

Display

  • P30: 6.1-inch OLED, 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • P30 Lite: 6.15–inch LTPS IPS LCD, 1080 x 2312 pixels

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

Cameras

  • P30: Leica Triple Camera with 40MP f/1.8 wide angle, 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide, 8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto; 32MP selfie
  • P30 Lite: Tri-Lens Camera with 24MP f/1.8 wide angle, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor; 32MP selfie

Battery and Charging

  • P30: 3650 mAh, Qi wireless charging, 22.5W fast charging/li>
  • P30 Lite: 3340 mAh, 18W fast charging

Other

  • P30: Under-display optical fingerprint reader, USB 3.1 Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0
  • P30 Lite: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader, USB 2.0 Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2

Box Contents Differences

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

The outward packaging for these phones is fairly consistent across the entire Huawei P30 lineup. You get a white box with the same kind of font, the same kind layered layout inside with the smartphone on top, and mostly the same accessories. However, there are three important differences that are worth pointing out.

First, the Huawei P30 comes with a clear silicone case (possibly TPU) and the P30 Lite does not. Second, the bundled wired headphones (3.5mm) are slightly different between the two models, but they’re both of the “good enough” variety. And third, while both phones charge via USB-C and come with the requisite cable, the wall adapter is different.

The slightly smaller “Quick Charge” power adapter on the left comes with the P30 Lite, and it maxes out at 18W (9V/2A); the larger “SuperCharge” adapter comes with the P30, and it maxes out at 40W (10V/4A) for “Huawei SCP.” From what I can see, though, the P30 only supports up to 22.5W out of the box; the P30 Pro can take 40W.

Performance Benchmarks

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

Even though the P30 Lite has an admirable 4GB of RAM (compared to the 6GB on the P30), the difference in Kirin processors likely accounts for the sizable difference in performance benchmarks between the two models. The P30 earned 3242 and 9778 in the single-core and multi-core tests, respectively, on Geekbench. Compare that to 1535 and 5385 on the P30 Lite. This “doubling” of scores (even if we assume such benchmarks aren’t necessarily linear) carries through on AnTuTu as well: 289609 vs. 128324.

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

The difference is even more extreme when you look at the SlingShot Extreme – OpenGL ES 3.1 benchmark on 3DMark. The main line Huawei P30 achieved an overall score of 3913, compared to just 834 on the P30 Lite.

When placed side by side, running standard everyday tasks like opening and closing apps or taking pictures, the difference in speed is clearly visible. That being said, if you were to look at the P30 Lite in isolation, it’s not cripplingly slow either. You probably won’t really notice unless you’re coming from a higher end flagship, though pushing this phone to its limit with more intense apps will likely reveal its relative weaknesses.

Camera Test: Night Mode

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

In terms of camera software, the two phones run the same app and have access to the same modes. This includes the legendary night mode that we experienced on the Huawei P30 Pro. However, these two phones do not have the same cameras; you’ll notice that the P30 Lite has a “Tri-Lens” system with no mention of Leica, for instance.

When I tested the night mode under relatively low-light (but hardly pitch black) settings in my home office, I found that using night mode was generally more effective than the standard camera mode. Details are sharper and colors are more accurate. The P30 in night mode outperformed the P30 Lite in night mode, as well, offering crisper images that didn’t appear as overly artificially sharp. The standard shot on the P30 Lite in low light was almost potato cam.

Camera Test: Ultra Wide Angle Lens

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

Both phones pick up on the same kind of automatic AI modes too. Curiously, though, when I went to take this outdoor photo using the standard lens on both phones, they decided on different modes. The P30 wanted to optimize for blue sky, whereas the P30 Lite wanted to optimize for the green grass. Even so, the P30 punched up the saturation on both greens and blues compared to the P30 Lite. The image quality overall was sharper as well.

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

The perspective on the respective wide angle lenses is comparable in terms of field of view. In both cases, we also notice a definite softening of details; this is more pronounced on the P30 Lite. It’s a nice perspective, but not exactly the best image.

Camera Test: Selfie Portrait Mode

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

Using the front-facing camera in portrait mode, we see that the blurring of the background (bokeh) is not nearly as aggressive as we see with portrait model on the Google Pixel 3. That’s in line with the Huawei P30 Pro. I found that the P30 offered a greater range of color and brightness, and a more accurate geometry for my face shape too. In both cases, I dialed the “beauty” modifier to zero, but you can smooth out your blemishes by dialing that up if you prefer.

Selfies on the P30 Lite are generally quite “soft,” not unlike what we get with the wide angle lens on the back. It’s serviceable for random social media posts, but the P30 plainly wins this round with more detail, more accurate colors, and better overall image.

Camera Test: How’s That Zoom?

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

One feature that Huawei promotes heavily on the P30 Pro is the up to 50X combined zoom, leveraging the “periscope” design of the telephoto lens with some clever digital zoom emboldened with AI. The P30 loses the time of flight (TOF) camera, but retains a telephoto lens. However, it only has a 3x zoom compared to the 5x zoom on the P30 Pro. For context, above is the standard (1x) zoom from the P30.

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

And here is a comparison at 3x zoom, utilizing optical zoom on the P30 and digital zoom only on the P30 Lite. The P30 Lite is clearly seeing some digital zoom artifacts in a less-than-ideal image.

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

The Huawei P30 maxes out at 30x zoom (3x optical with 10x digital) to get the image on the left. The text on this playground sign is easily legible, even if it’s not the cleanest image. The P30 Lite, by comparison, maxes out at 6x digital zoom to get the image on the right. The colors hold up a bit better, but obviously that text isn’t quite as easily legible.

Camera Test: FHD Video

By now, you’ve probably started to detect a bit of a theme here. By and large, that theme carries through with video capabilities as well. The video above features a series of sample videos I shot using the Huawei P30, including both the front and rear cameras. That’s with the wide-angle and telephoto lens as well. Just like stills, the video gets “soft” with the wide-angle lens.

In what is probably a more strenuous test, this video is a vlog I shot using the Huawei P30 Lite at Jurassic Quest in Vancouver. The cameras did what they could under the more challenging lighting conditions, but the results are hardly surprisingly. The wide angle got way too soft, the audio wasn’t great, and the selfie portions were quite noisy too.

Is the P30 Worth DOUBLE the P30 Lite?

MEGATech Reviews: Huawei P30 vs. Huawei P30 Lite Comparison

Here’s the thing. In Canada, the outright purchase price for the Huawei P30 Lite is somewhere in the $400 to $450 range. Depending on your service agreement, you can even get it for free on contract with a standard, lower-tier plan. By comparison, the Huawei P30 is over $900 as an outright purchase. You’ll need to get into the highest end monthly plans (think $115+) if you want to get it for “free” on contract. Sign up for a “standard” (or equivalent) plan and it’ll be about $400 on a two-year contract.


That’s a very significant difference in price, and this difference is also reflected in the device that you get. Go in with the right set of expectations, though, and the Huawei P30 Lite can delight. It’s very much got a premium look to it, and it’ll have no trouble keeping up with the mainstream day-to-day. However, if mobile photography is a big priority for you, the P30 Lite will come up short compared to the P30… but in my mind, if you’ve already convinced yourself to step up to the P30, you may as well go all the way with the P30 Pro.

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