Huawei is no stranger to innovation, but the Mate 20 Pro feels like a definitive step forward. With an
Design and Features
The Mate 20 Pro is possibly Huawei’s best-looking smartphone. The top of the display is home to a wide notch, approximately the same size as the one on Apple’s iPhone XS Max. It incorporates an infrared camera for using Face ID without much light. At the bottom, meanwhile, is a pleasantly small chin.
The device itself measures 6.2 by 2.9 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.7 ounces, making it slightly smaller than the Google Pixel 3 XL (6.2 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches), the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (6.4 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches), and the Apple iPhone XS Max (6.2 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches). Its bezels are small, as the 6.4-inch screen takes up most of the body, but pushes the device more toward the phablet end of the size spectrum. Reaching up to pull down the notification menu screen is a stretch.
Helping to keep those bezels slim is the fingerprint scanner, which has been moved under the screen and, to its credit, works quite well. Huawei is the first company to do utilize this technology in the UK market, and it’s a feature we hope to see more of in the future.
The back, meanwhile, is made of reflective glass that lets the phone be charged wirelessly or charge other devices wirelessly, which is a unique and useful feature. You can always disable it if the 4,200mAh battery gets too low, but battery life is quite solid. I managed to get through two days of near-constant use without worrying that the phone was going to die.
As far as buttons and connections go, it’s business as usual. There’s no 3.5mm headphones jack, with a lone USB-C port for fast-charging and headphones. The power button and volume rocker on the right are responsive. The only difference is the introduction of
The Mate 20 Pro touts a 3,120-by-1,440 OLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and HDR support with up to DCI-P3 color gamut. There are a couple of color settings available, changing the intensity of the colors from Normal to Vivid (which is the default), or the color temperature from Default to Warm or Cool. There are a few other toggles to change the color temperate based on ambient lighting, and the expected blue light filter for comfortable night reading, but I found that the factory settings provide the phone with its best picture. It’s easy to view under bright light, and while there’s a noticeable fade in color when looking at it from an angle, it doesn’t detract too much from the overall image quality.
And Huawei has definitely improved screen quality compared with the P20 Pro. Watching Doctor Who via the iPlayer app, the way that the shadows fall across the Doctor’s face when she’s on the arid planet of Desolation is significantly more nuanced on the Mate 20 Pro, giving a stronger sense of dimensionality and depth to the scene.
However, in comparison with phones such as the iPhone XS Max, the Mate 20 Pro looks a little muted. The yellow punch of the desert world doesn’t come across with the same intensity. The Mate 20 Pro makes
Granted, the iPhone XS Max is more expensive, and most people won’t be comparing the screens side by side. But if you’re an avid photographer or videographer and want to ensure your photos look accurate on the fly, it’s something to consider.
Speaking of photography, let’s tackle what is possibly the most interesting element of the Mate 20 Pro—its camera. The combination of a 40MP f/1.8 wide-angle lens, a 20MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle, and an 8MP f/2.4 3x telephoto lens makes for a powerful sensor that can pick up tons of detail. Walking around the Tower of London, the Mate 20 Pro managed to capture the nuance of the old brickwork and the movement in the spurting water from a nearby fountain to an impressive degree.
The AI component, which detects scenes and adjusts saturation and contrast accordingly, also works quite well. Flower petals look punchy and a blue sky gets a slightly bluer tint so that it’s ready for Instagram (#nofilter). For those who prefer a more natural
However, when held next to the iPhone XS Max, the Mate 20 Pro’s handling of contrast could do with some tweaking. Darker areas of photos tend to merge together, giving the impression that the iPhone’s camera is more detailed. Moreover, the Mate 20 Pro has a tendency to make photos look overly bright, crunching the colors somewhat. The 24MP front-facing camera, while supremely detailed, has a similar issue.
This isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch. The AI intends to make photos look better than they are (for a given value of better) and beauty is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder. You might prefer a lighter touch when it comes to the color palette, while others might think the compromise of detail for color is worthwhile. I don’t think that Mate 20 Pro’s camera is the best, but it’s definitely better than many others out there.
Performance and UI
With 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (or 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage), running Android 9.0 Pie, the Mate 20 Pro is seriously speedy. Apps load quickly, and in
As with the Google Pixel 3, Android 9 means the Mate 20 Pro has gesture controls and Digital Balance tracking that tells you what apps you’ve been using, how often you unlock your phone, and so on. You can set a daily screen time limit, specific app limits, or a Bedtime mode that turns the screen gray during sleeping hours.
However, unlike the Pixel 3, the Mate 20 Pro comes loaded with bloatware from Huawei. Most people will spend the first few minutes either uninstalling various booking apps, the Mirror app, Tips, and so on; or placing them all into a folder never to be seen again. The integration with the new notch isn’t quite as seamless as it could be, as icons occasionally drift into it and appear to be cut off.
Every new Android phone has its gimmicks, but few employ them as well as Mate 20 Pro does. It’s commendable to see Huawei push the envelope of hardware features without breaking £1000. The fact that its price tag undercuts the Galaxy Note
The smaller Pixel 3 remains our Editors’