The Huawei Mate 20 Pro was launched in London today and thanks to Huawei, we got an exclusive look at the device for a couple of days prior to launch. Everything about the phone is refined and here is our take on it so far.
Much like last year’s Mate 10 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro has a tall form factor. It’s a very sleek and thin phone and sometimes feels like it could be easily dropped. The back of this particular Emerald Green finish comes with a faint texture which provides grip and also gives off a satisfying sound when scratched. Much of the usual including the USB-C port and the volume rockers are on the phone. The hint of red on the power button is a nice touch and adds character to the phone.
Unfortunately, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack out of the box but Huawei does provide a USB-C to 3.5mm jack dongle alongside its proprietary headphones out of the box. You also get a convenient IR blaster on the top edge of the phone to control your home appliances and this is something unique that Huawei has kept on their devices.
Much of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s sleek nature comes from its display. The curved finish makes for an immersive look and content on it looks sharp. At 6.3-inches, you get plenty of real estate and a QHD+ resolution of up to 3120x1440p. Using the phone outdoors is no issue but oddly, the screen seems to have scratched up even with careful usage.
As far as other changes go, you might have noticed the bigger notch on the Mate 20 Pro. This is to accommodate Huawei’s new 3D face recognition which is very fast and works in a variety of different lighting conditions. But the bottom bezel that usually had Huawei’s fingerprint sensor or navigation key is completely gone. Instead, we see Huawei opt for an ingenious in-display scanner which is accurate but not as fast as a conventional external scanner.
One of the biggest changes with this year’s Huawei flagship is it’s software and hardware. EMUI 9.0 on top of Android 9.0 Pie sees some toning down and many of it’s native apps are now streamlined and standardized. The software is easier to learn for a new user and has relatively less bloatware. The new gesture based navigation is also intuitive. It functions much like the iOS 12 navigation but needs some refinement to make the animations smoother. A software update is most likely around the corner for this as the phone we have is current running pre-release software.
Aside from hiccups with that regard, the Kirin 980 2.6GHz octa-core processor and 6GB of RAM on board provide a very smooth experience. I have noticed how quickly games load up and there hasn’t been a single instance of stutter when browsing social media. RAM management is also excellent and despite such powerful hardware, the phone remains cool in temperature even during intense tasks like rendering.
The P20 Pro from earlier this year undoubtedly had an excellent camera package. Its 40MP, 20MP and 8MP Leica optics are retained by the Mate 20 Pro without the monochrome sensor and other slight modifications. Instead of the monochrome lens, you find a new 0.6x ultra-wide lens which allows you to capture more surrounding detail and better macro close-up shots. In my experience so far, the camera also improves on AI and colour processing. AI effects are incremental and skin tone processing for portraits is much improved which may have to do with the phone’s dual-NPU. Alongside this, the convenience of having 3x optical and 5x hybrid zoom is ideal for scenes that are a bit far away. And like on the P20 Pro, night time photography is a treat here. We will have camera comparisons going up shortly so stay tuned for that.
Over on the front, you find a 24MP selfie camera. The detail it captures is impressive both during the day and night. But in certain complex HDR scenarios, portrait selfies do not produce the best results.
Battery and wireless charging
On the Mate 20 Pro, you find a mammoth 4200mAh cell. For the few days I have had the phone, I have never run out of charge during the day. With mixed usage on WiFi and data, the phone has immense battery backup and I have never worried about my battery percentage. On top of this, you get Huawei’s Supercharging technology which takes you from 0-70% in just 30 minutes if need be.
For the first time, Huawei’s also bundled in wireless charging support for the phone. This allows for charging at a higher than conventional 15W. But the company has gone the extra mile by allowing other devices to charge via the Mate 20 Pro in what Huawei calls reverse wireless charging. And this in particular is truly a unique and revolutionary feature.
As impressive as the phone is, I want to hold off on my final verdict seeing that this is just a first look. There are still features like wireless projection or Huawei’s HiVision which I am yet to try extensively. But so far, Huawei has really pulled its socks up with the Mate 20 Pro and looks a threat to the competition. It has great potential to be one of the best smartphones and if priced strategically, this could be the best flagship phone to get in 2018.