Rumour mill churned it all about Huawei’s latest flagship, the Huawei P20 Pro, and of course, its design: The iPhone X style notch and triple camera array at the back. All we were waiting for was the display, camera specifications, battery capacity and price. This year’s onset glorified some remarked tech innovations in the smartphone space. For example, the Vivo X20 Plus UD featuring an on-screen fingerprint sensor, the Vivo APEX with half-screen fingerprint sensor technology & retractable front camera and Samsung Galaxy S9 series came with variable aperture. And now the Huawei P20 Pro came featuring three camera lens with AI for better composition. Like Samsung Galaxy S9+, Huawei P20 Pro flaunts a tall front panel and includes high-end innards.
With praiseworthy specifications, powerful SoC and promising camera experience, this his how Huawei’s latest flagship takes on Samsung Galaxy S9+:
Huawei P20 Pro Vs Samsung Galaxy S9+ design
Samsung didn’t drastically change the design on the Galaxy S9+ compared to S8+, except for fingerprint sensor’s placement which now sits below the dual rear camera. The smartphone has metal and glass-clad alongside the front bezels slightly trimmed by 1.2mm than on its predecessor. The Huawei P20 Pro is also encased in glass and has metal chassis. Both the handsets have some similarities in terms of the design. But the difference is evident on the front. Following in the footsteps of Apple’s iPhone X, Huawei P20 Pro has the notch above the display, and many other smartphone makers like Asus, Vivo and Oppo have employed the same with their recent offerings. However, Huawei claims to flip this off inside the Settings. The P20 Pro has chunky bezel at the bottom to accommodate the home button that also works as a fingerprint reader.
On the contrary, the Galaxy S9+ sports a curved edge-to-edge display with the home button and navigation keys embedded on the screen. The fingerprint sensor, as we mentioned, is located on the rear panel this time around, and apparently enough, its placement seems to be more convenient on Samsung Galaxy S9+ than Huawei’s. Since both the smartphones have a tall display, reaching for the fingerprint reader is expected to be a bit troublesome. They both are water and dust resistant (IP67 and IP68 rated, respectively). The S9+ can be submerged up to 0.5meter deeper than the P20 Pro for almost half an hour. However, if you talk about the sleekness, Huawei P20 Pro is slimmer than the Galaxy S9+, measuring 7.8mm thickness whereas the S9+ is 8.5mm thick.
A visible change on Huawei P20 Pro has to be Twilight colour shade which many are calling as “unicorn.” The blue and purple gradient on the rear glass panel that shifts colour in the light adds an astral look. There’s another colour variant Pink Gold which stands out as well. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S9+ comes in Lilac Purple and Coral Blue shade (there are Titanium Grey and Midnight Black version as well), which appears to be elegant though it may not be as staggering as Huawei P20 Pro’s new colourway.
The Huawei P20 Pro features a 6.1-inch OLED display with 2440×1080 pixel resolution. The Galaxy S9+ sports a slightly bigger 6.2-inch Super AMOLED screen with 2960 x 1440 pixel resolution. The P20 Pro display has an 18.7:9 aspect ratio whereas on the S9+, there is an 18.5:9 screen. Samsung Galaxy S9+ comes with a pixel density of 529ppi. Meanwhile, Huawei P20 Pro display results in 408ppi pixel density.
While both of them have narrow bezels around the edges, Samsung Galaxy S9+ front panel is curvier. The Huawei P20 Pro has a flat screen and the notch style makes it look no different than the iPhone X. Samsung’s display seems to produce sharp details and vivid colours, all credit goes to AMOLED screen. What remains to be seen is whether the Huawei P20 Pro offers vibrant and deep colour reproduction as well or not.
Switching aperture and zooming into a subject was a distant future for a smartphone camera until Samsung introduced variable aperture and Huawei brought 3x optical zoom & 5x hybrid zoom on its flagship smartphone this year.
Earlier, smartphone cameras were limited to offering nothing more than a point and shoot experience with minimal settings available. But you can now tweak and adjust ISO, shutter speed and even aperture etc on the smartphone. The Galaxy S9+ sports Samsung’s Dual Pixel sensors with the aperture that can be switched. The camera algorithm measures the amount of light available in the surrounding and swaps the primary sensor’s aperture to either f/1.5 or f/2.4. While the wide aperture allows to fill in more light in dark environments, the f/2.4 aperture comes in handy during broad daylight. The secondary sensor on the S9+ comes with 2x optical zoom and 1/3.6” sensor. The cameras on the S9+ has a promising dynamic range and as per DXOMark, the smartphone produces ‘excellent results’ in good light with bright and vibrant colours.
Meanwhile, Huawei P20 Pro houses triple camera setup which is designed in collaboration with German optics, Leica. The phone features a significant 40-megapixel primary sensor (RGB) with f/1.8 aperture, a telephoto 8-megapixel lens with f/2.4 aperture & optical image stabilisation and a 20-megapixel sensor (B&W) with f/2.0 aperture. The telephoto lens comes with 3x optical zoom and Huawei says that with Leica zoom lens system the phone can produce 5x shots which are possible with the ‘combination of optical camera and digital zoom.’
The P20 Pro’s 20MP monochrome sensor is further said to add depth and blur effect to the background. Huawei has also put AI enhanced engine on the camera hardware to adjust the settings ideal for a particular situation automatically. The camera app on the P20 Pro is claimed to be able to switch between portrait and food mode and recognize animals quickly, greenery etc using AI integration.
Huawei has also put “light fusion software” which claims to deliver good low light images and reduce noise. The software is said to combine data from a pack of four adjacent ‘same-coloured pixels’ and produce up to 10MP images.
Like the Galaxy S9+, Huawei P20 Pro is capable of recording slow-mo videos at 960fps. Other camera features include- Ultra Snapshot that lets you wake the phone and snap a photo within 0.3 seconds by double-clicking on the volume down key. It also features 4D predictive autofocus that enables to keep the track and point focus on the subject even when it is in motion.
Up front, Huawei P20 Pro carries a 24-megapixel unit with f/2.0 aperture. The smartphone includes portrait lighting effects which are seemingly similar to iPhone X’s portrait lighting features. On the other hand, Samsung Galaxy S9+ packs an 8MP AF sensor with a wide f/1.7 aperture, suitable for good selfies in low light situations.
Huawei has certainly pushed the boundaries of camera department by bringing in Leica dual sensors on the Huawei P9 and Huawei P10 series and now the P20 houses triple camera setup. Interestingly, the P20 Pro also recorded the highest-ever score of 109 in DXOMark test, 10 points more than the Galaxy S9+’s 99 points. DXOMark says the triple imaging sensors on Huawei’s new flagship are the “biggest innovation in mobile imaging” and claims it to be the “current best camera on a smartphone.” The image and video quality tests by DXOMark suggest Huawei P20 Pro could perform well particularly in low light situations and while zooming in and bokeh simulation.
Processing hardware (SoC, RAM, storage)
Both the smartphones carry their respective in-house high-end chipsets, the Huawei Kirin 970 AI chip and Samsung Exynos 9810 chip. Huawei’s flagship chipset initially made its debut with the Mate 10 series, featuring a built-in AI computing capabilities. The AI platform that runs on Neural Processing Unit is claimed to perform AI tasks faster by consuming less power. We witnessed the smooth performance on the Honor View 10 which is powered by the same chipset. Huawei is said to tune up the powerful processor a bit on the P20 Pro. Some Geekbench results reveal that Huawei P20 Pro recorded a score less than the Galaxy S9+, both in the single-core and multi-core tests. But while these are synthetic scores, the real world performance remains to be seen.
Speaking of the Galaxy S9+, it carries Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor, Snapdragon 845 available in China and the US market while the remaining part of the globe gets the Exynos chip. The Galaxy S9+ is cited to be one the fastest phone in the market right now. The proprietary processor or Qualcomm’s flagship chipset promises a beastly and swift performance.
Both Galaxy S9+ and Huawei P20 Pro offers 6GB of RAM paired with 64GB and 128GB native storage respectively. While Samsung Galaxy S9+ has expandable storage support you will miss onto the expandable storage with Huawei P20 Pro.
What’s similar, what’s not?
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ and the Huawei P20 Pro are bestowed with Google’s latest Android platform, Android Oreo with their respective custom skin layered on top. Samsung has fairly reduced bloatware in their latest devices. Huawei has made tweaks to the software front. The Samsung Experience UX and Huawei’s EMUI both offer customization and a few of their own apps.
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ is backed by a 3500mAh battery while the Huawei P20 Pro has a slightly bigger 4000mAh battery. Both the devices come with proprietary quick charge technology with P20 Pro featuring Huawei’s SuperCharge while the Galaxy S9+ has Adaptive Fast Charging compatible with QC 2.0.
Huawei P20 Pro misses onto the 3.5mm headphone unlike the Galaxy S9+, which drilled it at the bottom alongside USB Type-C charging port and speaker grill. Also, Huawei P20 Pro doesn’t support wireless charging.
As for the bottom line, Huawei is betting big on its latest flagship model with triple sensors, AI stabilisation, captivating colour shade, all-glass design. But there are powerful beasts in the smartphone market such as the iPhone X or the Galaxy S9+ that promise stellar performance. The changes in terms of the design are minimal on Samsung Galaxy S9+. Huawei P20 Pro has an added true-tone gradient which certainly grabs eyeballs but one cannot deny that it’s inspired by the iPhone X at the end of the day.
The camera remains the most important for both Samsung Galaxy S9+ and Huawei P20 Pro. And while the tri-camera sensors on the P20 Pro are the cutting edge, it remains to be seen is how it compares with the likes of Samsung.
The Huawei P20 Pro is priced at Euro 899 (around Rs 72,300) for the 6GB RAM model. Huawei has stated that the all-new P20 series will mark its way into India soon.