Huawei P40 Lite / nova 7i review

GSMArena team, 16 Mar 2020.

EMUI 10 and Android 10

The Huawei P40 Lite boots the new EMUI 10, which is based on Android 10. It was stripped of all Google services and has no access to the Play Store. Instead, Huawei offers its new proprietary Mobile Services complete with Huawei's AppGallery.

Huawei P40 Lite review

The Huawei P40 Lite has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and it's among the best in terms of speed and accuracy. Face Unlock is surprisingly not available.

Like all EMUI-driven devices, you can set up a magazine lockscreen style that changes the picture every time you wake up the screen. Sliding from the bottom will bring out quick shortcuts to some commonly used utilities.

On the homescreen, you will find all of the installed and system apps, but there's a toggle in the settings menu that lets you choose between the standard layout or a homescreen with an app drawer. It's a personal preference, and it's good to be able to choose.

Lockscreen - Huawei P40 Lite review Tools - Huawei P40 Lite review Homescreen - Huawei P40 Lite review Homescreen style - Huawei P40 Lite review Some apps - Huawei P40 Lite review
Lockscreen • Tools • Homescreen • Homescreen style • Some apps

There is a replacement for the Google Feed in this version of EMUI, and it's called Today. On this leftmost page, you will find a Search field, shortcuts to favorite contacts, photos, etc, Smart Care graphic (which is their analog of Google's Digital Wellbeing) and a News Feed filled with local news through a service provided from Huawei.

Today page - Huawei P40 Lite review Today page - Huawei P40 Lite review Today page - Huawei P40 Lite review
Today page

The homescreens are business as usual, and you can populate them with apps, folders, and widgets.

The notification shade in EMUI 10 is the most heavily redesigned UI element with the toggles now adopting a more conventional circular shape and a blue color for the On state, very much like on Samsung's One UI and sort of like Google's own Android 10 design. There's a brightness slider and a row of toggles upon the first pull, and you pull down again for more toggles.

App/contacts search - Huawei P40 Lite review Notification shade - Huawei P40 Lite review Notification shade - Huawei P40 Lite review
App/contacts search • Notification shade

Multitasking is a familiar affair, and the task switcher allows for split-screen mode. You could even have a video playing on top of the two windows if for some reason you find that useful.

Recent apps - Huawei P40 Lite review Split screen - Huawei P40 Lite review Split screen - Huawei P40 Lite review
Recent apps • Split screen • Split screen

The P40 Lite default OS navigation is an iPhone-like gesture - swipe up for Home, swipe up and stop midway for Task switcher, or swipe from the left or right edge of the screen for Back. You can opt for the classic virtual buttons, of course.

From the phone manager app, which is now called Optimiser, you can access shortcuts to storage cleanup, battery settings, blocked numbers, Virus scan powered by Avast, and mobile data usage.

Huawei's Music app offers a way to listen to stored MP3s, and it also includes Huawei's own music services in compatible regions. Same goes for the proprietary Video app - it plays your local videos, but it also includes Huawei's video streaming service similar to YouTube.

Huawei's Health app is pre-installed, and it offers step counting, among many other things. The gallery is an entirely custom job, too, but it has the usual chronological and albums views plus an AI-powered highlights selection. There's a file manager app and a note-taking app.

Huawei is yet to launch its TomTom-based Maps app, but here is hoping this happens soon enough. And since the P40 Lite lacks a replacement for Google's location framework, apps like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite can't work.

Optimiser - Huawei P40 Lite review Music Player - Huawei P40 Lite review Gallery - Huawei P40 Lite review Video - Huawei P40 Lite review Files - Huawei P40 Lite review
Optimiser • Music Player • Gallery • Video • Files

Huawei does not provide Google services pre-installed on the Huawei P40 Lite, as we mentioned a couple of times already, nor have they encouraged or assisted in the side loading of the Google Play Store by the users. You can sideload some of the Gapps like Maps, Gboard, and Chrome, but Gmail and Play Store won't work without Play Services, which you can't get to work easily.

The App Gallery's catalog - the Play Store alternative from Huawei. Some apps are there, while others - aren't.

App Gallery - Huawei P40 Lite review App Gallery - Huawei P40 Lite review App Gallery - Huawei P40 Lite review App Gallery - Huawei P40 Lite review
App Gallery

You can also use the Phone Clone app, which will copy everything from your old phone including all installed apps except for Google's (and some banking apps) on to your new P40 Lite. And that's surely a nice start, but it's not a real deal as you won't get future updates to these apps automatically.

So, your safest bet is to resort to using third-party app stores though. The Amazon App Store should do a fine job - it has plenty of the popular apps - both free and paid, so you'll manage just fine using Amazon's solution.

Or, if you don't need any paid apps, APKPure is another app repository and it works great for free apps and games. APKPure has a Store page with paid apps, too, but those are just links to the Play Store which obviously won't work on the Huawei P40 Lite.

Both Amazon AppStore and APKPure are great for keeping your apps up to date.

We go in greater detail into which apps work and which don't in another dedicated article, so you might want to check it out.

You can also download AppGallery on your current phone to see the app selection and gauge the general user experience.

Amazon AppStore - Huawei P40 Lite review Amazon AppStore - Huawei P40 Lite review Amazon AppStore - Huawei P40 Lite review APKPure - Huawei P40 Lite review APKPure - Huawei P40 Lite review APKPure - Huawei P40 Lite review
Amazon AppStore • Amazon AppStore • Amazon AppStore • APKPure • APKPure • APKPure

There is potentially another alternative. It's a more time-consuming approach that requires some extra tinkering, and it's called the microG Project - the XDA-approved open-source framework for getting apps designed for Google Play Services to run on phones without actual Google Play Services. But this goes beyond the scope of this review.

Finally, we've kept the best part for the end. There is one very easy way to install Play Store and Play Services via an app. You can read more about this method here. We tried it and the Chat Partner app successfully installed Play Store and Play Services, then we downloaded Maps from the Play Store. And voila - Pokemon Go is now running flawlessly. HBO Go streams, too. Your mileage may vary of course.

Performance and benchmarks

The Huawei P40 Lite is the second smartphone we meet utilizing the HiSilicon Kirin 810 SoC - Huawei's latest mid-range chip and we already know this one is a beast in the mid-range bracket.

The Kirin 810 chipset is manufactured on TSMC's 7nm process and is a notable upgrade over the Kirin 710. It has a different octa-core processor with newer cores - there are 2x Cortex-A76 clocked at 2.27GHz and 6x Cortex A55 ticking at 1.8GHz.

The GPU though is probably the most interesting part - it's a six-core Mali-G52 up from the 710's four-core Mali-G51.

The P40 Lite is available in only one variant with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.

Huawei P40 Lite review

The benchmark scores are impressive for this class for sure. The new Kirin processor easily outperforms every competitor and consistently ranks at the top of the charts.

GeekBench 4.4 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    7846
  • Honor 9X Pro
    7836
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    7039
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    7008
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    6999
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    6863
  • Honor Play
    6696
  • Realme 5 Pro
    6106
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    5620
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    5549
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5401
  • Honor 9X
    5345

GeekBench 4.4 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    2844
  • Honor 9X Pro
    2831
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    2558
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    2537
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    2536
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    2472
  • Realme 5 Pro
    1913
  • Honor Play
    1899
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    1668
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    1576
  • Honor 9X
    1559
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    1519

GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Honor 9X Pro
    1911
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    1862
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    1733
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    1703
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    1692
  • Honor Play
    1647
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    1622
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    1294

GeekBench 5.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Honor 9X Pro
    594
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    591
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    548
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    542
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    542
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    493
  • Honor Play
    386
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    347

Same goes for the six-core Mali-G52 - it turned out to be a snappy performer and the only GPU that could beat it is a flagship-grade one, like the 12-core Mali-G72 from the now older, high-end Kirin 970 chip inside the Honor Play.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Honor Play
    55
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    49
  • Honor 9X Pro
    48
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    40
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    37
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    37
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    34
  • Realme 5 Pro
    31
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    19
  • Honor 9X
    19
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    15

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Honor Play
    36
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    30
  • Honor 9X Pro
    30
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    27
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    24
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    24
  • Realme 5 Pro
    22
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    13
  • Honor 9X
    12
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    8.9

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Honor Play
    21
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    18
  • Honor 9X Pro
    18
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    15
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    14
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    13
  • Realme 5 Pro
    12
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    6.9
  • Honor 9X
    6.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    5.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5.6

Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    9.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    9.3
  • Huawei P40 Lite
    8.6
  • Honor 9X Pro
    8.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5.6
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    3.4

Aztek OpenGL ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    12
  • Honor 9X Pro
    12
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    10
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    10
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    5.6
  • Huawei P30 Lite (perf. mode)
    4.2

Finally, the Huawei P40 Lite easily aced the AnTuTu 8 test and posted an outstanding score and won by a rather large margin.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Huawei P40 Lite
    325777
  • Honor 9X Pro
    312668
  • Redmi Note 8 Pro
    279355
  • Xiaomi Redmi K30
    272229
  • Samsung Galaxy A71
    263396
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T
    257146
  • Honor Play
    238754
  • Honor 9X
    187528
  • Samsung Galaxy A51
    175363
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
    167395

The Kirin 810 is still the most powerful mid-range chip we've seen so far, with very good thermal performance and deserves praise for its powerful sustained performance.

Reader comments

  • riri

very true

  • ajohnny

why is Huawei treating the Y9, 2019 as not a flagship product? When is the product getting its harmony OS? #wearerunningoutofpatience

  • Anonymous

Like a computer is worthless without Microsoft, so is a smartphone worthless without Google!? Luckily there are many people who know better.