The first time I put my hand on the Huawei's Mate 20 Pro in October, I thought it was the most ambitious phone I've seen in years. It ticked almost every feature you'd like on a 2018 phone: a built-in fingerprint reader, 3D facial ID, three-camera configuration, a screen without a bezel, expandable storage, a gigantic battery, good design … the list goes on. It was a phone with everything except the kitchen sink (or, a headphone jack).
But I reviewed the phones long enough to know that the experience tends to deteriorate over time. The phone slows down, the camera is not really great or the battery starts to empty quickly.
I'm happy to announce that the Mate 20 Pro is not one of these phones. Four months later, the Mate 20 Pro may have some scratches, but its initial brightness is not yet exhausted.
Disclaimer: Yes, we are aware of the ongoing drama with Huawei and his "troubled" relationship with the United States and other Western countries. I will allow you to read about it and draw your own conclusions, but for the purposes of this review, I treat the Mate 20 Pro like any other smartphone.
That said, let's recap the impressive list of specifications:
- Curved OLED Screen 6.39 inches
- Resolution 3120 x 1440
- HDR support
- Kirin 980
- 6 GB of RAM
- 128 GB of storage
- Expandable storage via a new 'nano memory card & # 39;
- 4,200 mAh battery
- Wireless charging – which you can use to charge other phones
- 40W charge support
- 40MP F1.8 27mm primary camera
- 8MP F2.4 80mm telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom
- 20MP F2.4 16mm ultra-wide
- Front camera 24MP F.20
- IP68 water-resistant
- 3D face unlocking
- Fingerprint scanner under the screen
- Android Pie / EMUI 9
- No headphone jack …
- … .But an IR blaster!
- Colors: emerald green, midnight blue, dusk, rose gold, black
Once again, it's packed with features. No other phone on the market really comes close to the extravagance of Huawei's features, with the possible exception of Samsung's Galaxy Note 9. Even in this case, the combination of specifications of the Mate 20 Pro is unique. In addition to the missing headphone jack, this phone has the necessary hardware to satisfy almost all experienced users.
In one way or another, Huawei has managed to integrate all these features into a relatively slender and attractive smartphone. Huawei has launched the trend of degraded glass on smartphones, and the Mate 20 Pro continues this tradition successfully, although I personally am a fan of the more adherent texture of the blue model. The Mate 20 Pro is a little thicker than most of its immediate competitors, but the curved edges prevent you from noticing it. It feels all the premium on the phone. And I really dig the red power button.
Like any sandwich glass phone not kept in a case, the Mate 20 Pro has accumulated a lot of scratches. The grippier texture on the blue model is supposed to mitigate that, but I did not spend a lot of time with this model.
To complete the exterior, the display is good, although there is nothing remarkable for a flagship product. It's not quite as good as Samsung's panels, but I doubt that anyone complains a lot. Huawei also allows you to adjust the color balance in the phone settings, so that you can adjust the screen at your leisure.
The phone also has a decent sound to accompany the screen. Huawei has an interesting trick for its lower speaker: it is hidden in the USB-C port. The sound that comes out will not be up to the speakers of Google or Samsung, much less that of Razer, but a decent stereo image. You will just have to be careful not to cover the harbor with your palm.
Another tip: the Mate 20 Pro not only includes wireless charging, but also reverse wireless charging, allowing you to charge a friend's phone or other compatible Qi gadgets. It may sound like a gadget, but honestly, I think it's pretty handy.
Suppose you dine with a friend whose phone is weak. You will not fully charge their phone, but you can provide them with enough juice to power them all night; I found myself in this situation several times. It's not something I used often, but I was grateful to have found it.
Of course, it is useful for Huawei to include a huge battery of 4,200 mAh. It's about the biggest battery we saw in a flagship last year, and that equates to the best battery life of a flagship. It was common to get 7 to 8 hours of screen time. In the four months that I have used it, I can only remember having exhausted a full charge before the end of the day a few times during the initial testing period. When the battery died, it was usually because I did not bother to charge overnight.
Similarly, I am impressed by the software performance of the phone, without being particularly surprised. Despite the heaviness of the skin and the abundance of features Huawei, its phones have always offered long-term sustainable performance in my tests.
Since the Mate 10, Huawei has used artificial intelligence to know your usage habits in order to manage memory and CPU usage while pre-loading applications according to your expectations. The Mate 20 Pro is no different. The Kirin 980 was fast from the first day and I have not experienced any significant slowdown since.
I guess for a long time that Android is more performant in the long run, but after seeing the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 3 slow down after months of use, slightly, but noticeably, I'm not so sure that it is a universal truth. To be fair, Pixels have been my daily drivers in the long run while Huaweis have been secondary phones, but my experience has been that the long-term performance of Huawei is the second after OnePlus..
I really think that Huawei should eliminate a little fat – the interface is a breathtaking mix of iOS and Android elements, and there are too many applications duplicated. But at the same time, I appreciate a lot of the features not available on Android. I use the one-hand mode all the time, the built-in screen recorder is handy, and I like the 'Twin apps' feature to run two instances of an application with separate accounts.
Another example of Huawei having more features than necessary: biometric security. You get a Face Recognition facial type and an integrated fingerprint reader. It's great to have a choice, but I realized that it can really slow you down to having both features enabled. It only takes a fraction of a second to choose between touching your phone with your finger or pointing the device towards your face. It may not seem like much, but it's just enough for the appearance to be a bit awkward.
I recommend you choose the method you prefer and stick to it. The facial recognition works very well, but I turned to the integrated fingerprint reader because I like to unlock my phone easily when it is on a table. If you stick to facial recognition, do not forget that by default, the phone requires you to slide your finger up once your device recognizes your face. It also sounds awkward, but can happily be disabled settings.
Then there is the camera. The Mate 20 Pro has, without exception, the most advanced hardware on any smartphone camera. His software is devilishly good too.
Like the P20 Pro before, the Mate 20 Pro has three lenses, but it replaces the monochrome / low-light sensor with an ultra-wide angle camera. It's a a lot more useful arrangement.
This makes it one of the few phones capable of seamlessly switching between ultra-wide panoramas and telephoto shots. Coupled with the giant 40MP sensor, you can zoom in on an image about 5 times while maintaining sharp images. This is the most versatile lens configuration on any smartphone. The LG V40 can almost compete in terms of versatility, but suffers from a much smaller primary sensor.
To give you an idea of the versatility I'm talking about, here's an image with the very wide-angle camera:
And here it is with 5X zoom:
These are virtually different scenes. Huawei's three-lens configuration allows you to capture extremely different perspectives on a single phone, without using panorama mode or external lenses.
This giant primary sensor gives Huawei a significant hardware advantage in dynamic range, sharpness, low light performance, and zoom prowess. But despite all that … I still prefer to shoot my pixel. I find it absolutely absurd that Google has only used one back end – there is no excuse in this price range –
but the fact remains that I think that Google's image processing is the best of the market …. whatever DxOMark says.
As for some time, the treatment of Huawei is too aggressive. The noise reduction is too important and the images are too sharp. It sounds good enough to scroll through an Instagram feed, but the images still have the warning signs of large format smartphone photography. What matters to you will be a matter of preference.
There is no competition for Google Night Sight either. Although Huawei's night mode can produce great results, it does not have the same consistency of Google functionality. Google's night vision gives me a picture that can be used on almost any occasion, while Huawei's is much more sensitive to movement or diabolical lighting. And while this is usually an improvement, aggressive noise reduction sometimes seems worse than just normal shooting. It should also be noted that the wide angle and the telephoto are considerably lower than the main sensor in low light, although this is to be expected given the size of the sensor.
If the appearance of Huawei's camera seems hard to me, it's only because this about to win a final victory. It's the only newer smartphone with a sensor this size, and if the company simply wanted to mitigate its treatment and make some improvements, it could easily overshadow everything else.
In the current state of things, which camera is actually better is a matter of preference. In this regard, I chose Google.
Despite my troubles with processing Huawei images, there is no phone as versatile as the Mate 20 Pro. Four months later, I think it's still the closest thing to a perfect phone on the market.
As far as I'm concerned, there are only three things that are holding him back: access and drama in the United States, the lack of a headphone jack, and a saturated interface. We can say that the whole phone is full of features, but for once, it's a combination of quantity and quality. It was the most ambitious phone of 2018, and if the scruples mentioned above do not dissuade you, there is still no better way to spend almost a money on a smartphone.
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Posted on 19 February 2019 – 19:38 UTC
ProductMate 20 Pro from Huawei