Huawei P20 Pro: Is this the best smartphone of 2018?

The photography-centric Huawei P20 Pro comes with everything you need from a flagship smartphone and much more

Huawei launched its photography-centric P20 and P20 Pro at a magnanimous event in Paris last month and boy oh boy did it impress! Now the Huawei P20 isn’t going to be making its way to the UAE but the Huawei P20 Pro is and believe me that’s all you should care about.

Spoiler Alert: I really like this phone! 

Huawei P20 Pro: Specifications

Before we jump into the review of the device, let’s just take a quick look at the specifications of the device.

  • Cameras: The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro are equipped with a front-facing 24MP camera. The P20 Pro rocks a triple Leica 40MP + 20MP + 8MP configuration. Both phones come with OIS, the new AIS for long exposure pictures and 960fps super slow-motion video capabilities.
  • Performance: The P20 Pro is powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core processor clocked at up to 2.36GHz and supported by 6GB of RAM. The device is running Android 8.1 and EMUI 8.0.
  • Battery: The P20 Pro will come with a 4,000mAh battery and Huawei’s Supercharging tech (58 per cent in 30 minutes) is built into both devices but there’s no support for wireless charging.
  • Display: The P20 Pro features a 6.1″ OLED FullView display and comes with dual speakers powered by Dolby Atmos for enhanced media consumption.
  • Mobile security: You’ve got Face Unlock as well as the fingerprint reader for security on the device.
  • Protection rating: The P20 Pro is IP67 water- and dust-resistant.
  • Storage: The P20 and P20 Pro offer microSD support up to 256GB if you wish to forego the dual-SIM support on top of the base 128GB offering.
  • Pricing and availability: The Huawei P20 Pro will be available for pre-order from 26th April 2018 for Dh2999 at the Huawei Experience Store located at The Dubai Mall and across select retailers in the UAE, and will be on shelf from 3rd May 2018.
  • Colors: Midnight Blue, Graphite Black and Twilight.

Huawei P20 Pro: Camera King

The specs

Now obviously let’s start with the cameras. The triple camera setup is broken down as follows. The 40MP is the primary RGB sensor whereas 20MP sensor is the monochrome sensor. The 8MP serves as a telephoto lens providing 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom and 10x digital zoom. The P20 Pro comes with OIS and the new AIS for long exposure pictures and 960fps super slow-motion video capabilities.

This breaks the industry standard for a smartphone camera and brings in a much larger sensor compared to the competition and an ISO compensation of more than 100,000, which is unheard of on smartphones.

the P20 Pro comes with a DxO mark rating of 109 heavily surpassing its competitors.

As for the selfie camera, the 24MP sensor is able to 3D track your face to produce the best selfie. In addition, you will get features such as a selfie portrait mode with lighting effects to change the appearance of your portrait once the picture has been captured.

Using the camera

Personally using this camera has been a great experience for me. The P series has always claimed keeping photographers in mind and this time it’s been done like no one else. First thing you should know about that camera is that the phone doesn’t shoot in 40MP straight out of the box. You have to manually switch to 40MP and that does restrict some functions.

On the overall using the camera is a breeze. As always the Huawei camera app comes preloaded with a plethora of modes such as HDR, Slo-mo, Night and Pro.

Check out the gallery below for further details on the different modes on the camera.

Huawei P20 Pro: The overall device

Body

Huawei was gracious enough to give us the twilight edition (which, if we’re not mistaken, no one else got in the Middle East and North Africa) and this phone is just spectacular to look at, hold and use. The twilight edition has a dual-colour concept. The body shines blue on the bottom and blends into a purple at you see the top. This gradient colour is something I just can’t get enough of. The body itself has great hand feel and the curves of the build help make it a very comfortable device to hold.

But its not all awesome. The screen and body seem prone to catch scratches pretty easily so I’ve got mine wrapped up in a case and screen protector. Uncased, the body is a fingerprint magnet like you wouldn’t believe.

Display

The display on the Huawei P20 Pro is a 6.1-inch OLED FullView display. Its great to look at. Colours are well saturated and there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. It just doesn’t have that pop’or glow that comes off a Samsung S9 or iPhone X display.

The display isn’t 2k either. Its a FHD+ display, which is clearly becoming the new Full HD display. I wish Huawei had gone with a 2K display but like I said its still a good display, it just can be better.

Speakers

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with Dolby Atmos sound and beautiful stereo speakers. While it is a bottom-firing speaker on the bottom and front-facing on the top, it provides an acceptable audio experience. I did experience a bit of jarring on louder volumes but nothing to give minus points for.

Security

Now this is something of a debate among various users of the P20 Pro. The fingerprint sensor is on the front of the device and a lot of people hate that. Personally, I love it. I have two reasons for this. Firstly, on Huawei devices the front-facing fingerprint reader doubles as the navigation key and thus you save an entire low on the display. The back, home and recent apps buttons are all built into the sensor and can be used through gestures.

Secondly, I don’t mind the fingerprint sensor in front since the device comes with face-unlock that is so blazing fast that before where you can decide where you like to place your finger or thumb the phone is unlocked.

Battery life

Since the P10 Plus onwards, I’ve been a die-hard fan of Huawei batteries and their longevity. The Mate 10 Pro was a phenomenal device battery-wise and the P20 Pro goes a step further.

From day one, the P20 Pro has given me stellar battery life, lasting almost the whole day, which is huge for me considering the amount I have going on on my phone. For an average user I would say this phone would give a day and a half’s usage easily.

Huawei’s Super Charging remains truly super fantastic giving a full charge from 0-100 per cent in under 90 minutes. I’ve been in a few situations where I didn’t have more than 10-15 minutes to charge my phone before I had to get on the move. Most times I’d get a good 25-40 per cent boost if I put the phone on charge for that little bit of time.

Well if I can get more than half a day’s charge in minutes why would I need one right? If you have had a device that had the feature you’ll genuinely miss it, not so much otherwise.

Huawei P20 Pro: Everyday usage

Processing power

The Huawei P20 Pro has been an absolute pleasure to use over the past three weeks. Thanks to the HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core processor clocked at up to 2.36GHz and 6GB of RAM, the device has almost no issues with daily usage. Whether multitasking between a few apps, playing games such as Tekken or using picture-in-picture on apps such as Netflix while using social media, the phone just blazes through.

RAM management is really good on the device and enables quick multitasking, even while playing larger games.

EMUI 8.0

The device is running Google Android 8.1 and EMUI 8.0. Now this is a grudge I’ve held with Huawei for a long time now. OEM’s such as Huawei, Samsung and LG have tried to customise Android as much as possible and it only slows devices down and can never be as optimised as Vanilla Android.

HTC and Motorola started the process of removing bloatware and saw significant changes in their usage and devices thanks to that. HMD Global launched Nokia Android smartphones with the cleanest Android experience after Vanilla Android. Even Samsung, once king of bloatware, has accepted that cleaning up the OS is the best way out.

Huawei has remained stubborn with EMUI and I really wish it would clean it up. Don’t get me wrong, EMUI 8.0 is fully optimised to not let the phone lag or slow down but when I picked up my Google Pixel 2 XL the other day, even a lag that must be slower by nano-seconds was visible. EMUI doesn’t allow the device to be as fluid as it can be.

Not’ch an issue really

For the entire three and a half months of 2018, I’ve been constantly whining about the inclusion of the notch (on the iPhone X and other Android phones alike). I understand why Apple went with one on the iPhone X. There’s a whole lot of fantastic technology behind it, so that’s fine. Why were all the Android phones running to get one?

I personally didn’t like the notch on the Huawei P20 Pro when I first got it and continued whining to everyone I could fine. Now a few weeks of using the phone I don’t mind it as much as I thought I would and here’s why. Firstly, its not as large and obnoxious as the iPhone’s. Secondly, I’ve begun to like the dedicated sides of the notch which have specific notifications for each side. Lastly and most importantly, the optimisation on Android for the notch is much more acceptable than the iPhone. The notch is optimised to disappear when watching videos on apps such as Netflix or Youtube. That being said, I did have issues with the notch in Instagram but specifically in the Stories section where the image was zoomed in to the point where edges were cut off.

Huawei P20 Pro: Should you get one?

Whenever people ask me if they should get their hands on a device, there’s one thing I ask them.

“What do you need from your device?”

If you’re looking for a flagship device with the latest features and a focus on the camera, there isn’t a road that wouldn’t lead you to the Huawei P20 Pro. Phenomenal smartphone photography, blazing processing power and fantastic battery life.

At Dh2,999, I don’t see any device that compares. The Apple iPhone X, Samsung S9 and S9 Plus and the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 XL are all way more expensive and lack something or the other when it comes to a comparison with the Huawei P20 Pro.

And coming to the question… Is this the best phone of 2018? As of now, yes it is!

Are you planning on getting one? Do let us know what you think of the review and click here for our comparison with various devices.