Huawei has successfully shown the world that it has the potential to make ultra high-end smartphones thanks to its success with phones like Mate 10 Pro and P20 Pro. The new Mate 20 Pro is the company’s next big bet in this segment.
Costing more than the Galaxy Note 9 in India, but less expensive than the iPhone XS and Pixel 3, Huawei Mate 20 Pro wants to be seen as the future of smartphones. It’s got every feature you would expect in a flagship smartphone: a high-resolution 6.39-inch OLED display, a flagship level Kirin 980 processor, triple-rear cameras, an in-display fingerprint scanner, 3D depth sensing camera, reverse wireless charging support, and a huge 4200mAh battery with a 40W super fast charger.
I have been using the Mate 20 Pro for a few weeks now. Even after all that time, it is still difficult to answer whether this phone is right for you or not. That’s because the answer is not so simple. That said, if you are trying to decide whether the Mate 20 Pro is right for you, here’s my take on Huawei’s flagship phone.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro price in India: Rs 69,990
Huawei Mate 20 Pro specifications: 6.39-inch curved OLED display(3120 x 1440) resolution, HDR Support | Kirin 980 processor | 6GB RAM | 128GB external storage, expansion via ‘nanoSD card’ | EMUI 9, based on Android 9.0 Pie | Leica-branded 40MP F1.8 27mm primary camera, 8MP F2.4 80mm telephoto w/OIS for 3x zoom and 20MP F2.4 16mm ultra-widelens | 24MP F.20 front camera | 4,200mAh battery with 40W charging support and wireless charging | 3D Face Unlock system | IP68 rating | in-display fingerprint scanner | 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm; 189 grams
Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Design, build
The Mate 20 Pro is a beautiful piece of technology and there is no second thought about it. While Huawei Mate 20 Pro is clearly inspired by the Galaxy S9 Plus, the flagship does have its own personality. I rate the Mate 20 Pro as one of the most well-designed smartphones available in the market today.
Even though the phone sports a 6.39-inch screen, it does not feel huge in my hand. That’s because the screen has now been pushed to the edge. Similar to the Galaxy S9 Plus, the Mate 20 Pro has the dual curved display.
Flip the phone and you will notice a unique square camera lens. The symmetry is quite different, something I really like. The rest of the rear panel is plain. You will notice a Huawei and Leica logo, the camera and its sensors.
My review unit was in Emerald Green and it sports a texture back pattern on the back. Sure, it’s not quite eye-catching as the Twilight finish, but yes, it has its own charm. Since the phone is carved out of glass, the handset is quite slippery. I would recommend a case as soon as you buy the device.
There’s a volume rocker and a red coloured power button on the right-hand side of the device. The left-hand side of the handset has been kept free. The bottom of the phone has a USB Type-C charging port, a SIM card tray (which can also be used to take a Nano-SD card, created by Huawei), but there’s no headphone jack.
Yes, the regular 3.5mm headphone jack has been ditched, unfortunately. Though Huawei includes a dongle in the box that will make transform into USB-C compatible earbuds.
The Mate 20 Pro is 8.6-mm thick and weighs 189 grams, which is lighter than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. The latter measures 8.1mm in terms of thickness and weigh 201 grams.
The phone also features Qi wireless charging as well as the ability to reverse wireless charge from the device. This simply means any Qi-compatible phone can take advantage of the Mate 20 Pro’s unique reversing charging tech.
Like any other modern day flagship, the Mate 20 Pro is IP68 rated. That means it can be submerged in up to 2 meters of water for half an hour and still it will work fine.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Display
The Mate 20 Pro packs in a 6.39-inch OLED display with a resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixel resolution, and it supports HDR as well. Watching Narcos on the Mate 20 Pro was a delight; images look crisp, blacks are ink deep on the Mate 20 Pro’s panel, and the viewing angles are great too. Still, the Galaxy Note 9 has the best display in my opinion.
By default, the display has been set at Full HD plus (2340 x 1080 pixels). Of course, it can be changed. Just go the display settings and select image resolution to either HD+ (1560 x 720) or WQHD+ (3120 x 1440) instead.
Yes, there is the notch at the top of the screen. This is where a 3D depth-sensing camera for secure face unlock has been placed. If you are not fond of the notch, it can be hidden under the setting.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: In-display fingerprint scanner, 3D depth facing cameras
A big feature on the Mate 20 Pro is an in-display fingerprint scanner. Gone is the regular fingerprint scanner on the back panel. Instead, it has been replaced by an in-display fingerprint scanner a fingerprint scanner beneath the handset’s OLED display.
The scanner is located an inch-and-a-half above the bottom of the screen. It’s pretty fast and reliable too; but I also like to point it out that you’ll have to press down harder than you would do on the regular fingerprint sensor.
Perhaps what makes the Mate 20 Pro unique is the presence of a 3D depth sensing system. It works in a similar fashion as FaceID on the iPhone XS Max. The process is simple — the front camera recognises you, as it maps your face using an IR emitter, dot projector, and the 24MP camera. It works very well in the dark, as discovered in my week-long testing. Honestly, I found it so reliable that I stopped using an-display fingerprint sensor during the course of the review.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Performance, Battery
The Mate 20 Pro can beat any other popular flagship smartphone in term of performance. The reason why the Mate 20 Pro is so fast is that of the Kirin 980, a chipset designed in-house by Huawei. The Kirin 980 is built using the 7nm architecture (same architecture as the Apple A12 Bionic), which essentially allows smaller gaps between the transistors on each chip. This not only improves performance but also results in a better overall efficiency.
In case you are interested, the mobile processor uses eight cores; four low-powered, two medium, and two high-powered cores – each one has a specific role to play. I can keep Chrome tabs open with 13 tabs, Apple Music streaming app, and the Amazon Prime Video app open streaming an episode of Young Sheldon and there is no sign of a slowdown.
I could see a title like Asphalt 9 load faster on the Mate 20 Pro. This is also likely because the phone comes with a healthy 6GB RAM. My review had 128GB of internal storage. Interestingly, there’s no microSD card. Instead, the phone uses a new type of expandable storage card, dubbed Nano-Memory. This card is the same size as a nano-SIM. At the time of review, I couldn’t use a nano-micro card.
Battery life was excellent. The 4200mAh battery lasted around two days on an average on a single charge, which is exceptional in my opinion. If you are someone who hates carrying a power bank, the Mate 20 Pro is for you. This is an important quality, because most smartphones do not last beyond a day.
It supports 40W fast charging (in comparison, the iPhone XS uses a 5W charger), which will give you roughly 70 per cent of juice in around 30 minutes. While the Mate 20 Pro does support wireless charging (like the Galaxy S9 and iPhone XS Max), a new feature called reverse wireless charging has been added.
This is an interesting feature, as the Mate 20 Pro can be used as a wireless pad to charge other phones. My only problem is that it takes much longer time to charge the other phone when you bring it in contact with the Mate 20 Pro’s rear. Take this case, I left my iPhone 8 Plus for 25 minutes on top of the Mate 20 Pro and got a mere 5 per cent charge. Sure, the reverse wireless charging feature is innovative but I don’t think I would be using this more often.
Call quality was excellent, especially in hands-free mode. Interestingly, the Mate 20 Pro has hidden speakers. The sound is loud; it fills my entire room. Dolby Atmos is available on the phone, which is a welcome move.
Speaking of software, Huawei Mate 20 Pro is running EMUI 9.0, based on Android 9.0 Pie. Huawei has made some improvements to its custom interface, by simplifying notifications and cleaning up the interface. After using the Mate 20 Pro for a week, I have a mixed feeling about the user interface. The problem with EMUI is that a lot of people will struggle to understand the interface.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Camera
Huawei is using triple rear-facing cameras on the Mate 20 Pro, though there are a few changes compared to the setup seen on the P20 Pro. So, here’s the big change. The monochrome lens has been replaced by an ultra-wide lens; in fact, the core specifications of the camera have been modified too.
For starters, you get a standard 40MP lens with an f/1.8 aperture, a 20MP ultra-wide lens with an f/2.2 aperture, and lastly an 8MP telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture. There’s also a dual-tone LED flash on the back as well. Like the P20 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro too gets Huawei’s built-in AI features as well as Night Mode, slow-motion video, and a brand new Super Macro shot.
I had a fun using the Mate 20 Pro’s camera. There’s so much to talk about the camera but I will focus on those things that really matter to most. So, how’s the camera quality? The triple cameras on the Mate 20 Pro produce clear and sharp stills.
The Mate 20 Pro photos look like real shots better than I expected. They are sharper, have more colors, and more detailed in general. Expect the best results using the 40MP main sensor, but there’s a limit to it, you cannot zoom, for instance. To get the desired results, you can always switch between different photo resolution: 10MP, 7MP and so on.
Portrait mode works like a charm. Portrait mode essentially blurs the background, making the subject standout. The results are impressive. Take a look at this camera sample. Look at those colours! And look at the detail.
Night Mode is where the Mate 20 Pro shines. It takes a few seconds and captures at multiple exposure values, stitching them together to create a great shot. This is pretty wild.
Here are a few shots that were taken using Night mode:
The triple camera setup on the Mate 20 Pro also supports a 3x optical zoom. It’s not perfect, though. Several shots I took failed to impress me, and had got a few pictures worth sharing.
Here’s the sample shot, just resized for web.
By default, Master AI is enabled. It takes advantage of the Kirin 980 processor to detect scenes and objects. I found this AI trick less useful, as it makes too many changes that aren’t required. The idea is to have Instagram-ready pictures, but I am not convinced.
Having said that, there is nothing wrong the Master AI system. If you really dislike the AI alterations, then you can turn the feature off completely.
The 24MP front-facing camera takes nice self-portrait shots. I really like images taken in the extreme dark. Plus, there’s also 3D live emojis using the front-facing camera. I found it gimmicky and nothing else. Video captured by the Mate 20 Pro impresses, as the phone can shoot at 4K and Full HD.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Conclusion
There’s one problem with the Mate 20 Pro, a problem that affects almost all high-end smartphones: the competition. Huawei Mate 20 Pro has been launched at a time when you have three decent options (iPhone XS, Galaxy Note 9 and Pixel 3 XL) available in the market. Each offers a unique feature which you might not find in other smartphones( Galaxy Note 9 has a stylus, for example).
Should you buy the Mate 20 Pro? It’s up to you. Overall, the Mate 20 Pro is exactly the way it has been advertised. This is a great phone. All screen, super fast Kirin 980 chipset, triple rear-facing cameras, long battery life, and a striking design grows over time. Fortunately, there’s a lot to like about this phone, barring the user interface which still needs a bit more polishing.