Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review: Defying Expectations Yet Again

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review: Defying Expectations Yet Again

The Smartest Smartphone So Far?

A little over a week, the folks over at Huawei Philippines flew some of the members of the tech beat in the country to bear witness to the launch of the Mate 20 Series. The trio of devices were all equipped with the same processing in the Kirin 980 that boasted of the 7nm architecture and two neural processing units but we were handed the cream of the crop to review — the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

How did it do? Well, judging by the title of this review, you can already tell that we think that it did make a world of difference but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? Let’s break down our experience with Huawei Mate 20 Pro into our usual format.

How Does the Huawei Mate 20 Pro Look and Feel?

Huawei has done a really great job with their devices in the design aspect and the Mate 20 Pro is just as eye-catching as the P series they launched earlier this year with the trendsetting gradient in the Twilight colored variant. While you could argue that the Twilight version of the Mate 20 Pro is the best looking of the bunch, they’ve given the Midnight Blue and Emerald Green variants a great finish that prevents fingerprints and makes the phone easier to grip as well. It’s the first time I’ve ever doubted my request to get a Twilight colored variant to review for you guys.

Speaking of grip, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro feels great in the hand. It feels, and is, a lot sleeker than its predecessor. The dimensions are great even if you don’t have jumbo-sized hands like most of the team does and its ergonomics are helped out a lot by the fact that the screen is curved as well.

Yes, we know. The fact that Huawei has gone with a curved screen will expectedly draw a comparison to the Infinity Display of Samsung (rightfully so, we might add) but it is a great way to make sure you get a proper handle on your device.

We still advise that you use the accompanying case that comes with the phone because as well all know glass tends to shatter if it tumbles in a bad way. You are getting an IP68 rating on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro so at least you’ll be safe from accidental spills or in case you get thrown into the pool.

The Pro Got the Better Display This Time

Speaking of displays, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro has a 6.39-inch QHD+ OLED display. As most of you know, OLED panels are some of the best you can get on a smartphone. The deep blacks it produces provides a nice base for colors to pop. We’re really glad that the Pro version of the Mate 20 series got an awesome panel because the Mate 10 Pro kinda go the short end of the stick last year.

The screen has great viewing angles and has enough brightness if you need to use it when the noonday sun is beating down on you. It’s pretty hard to fault Huawei for using a panel like this and we really can’t complain about it… At least in terms of the hardware side.

We did experience a few instances that Netflix wouldn’t play properly when you have to multitask in between shows with only the audio available. This is more of a software issue that we hope the company fixes with an update real soon for the sake of all Netflix junkies out there.

One thing that we felt was a little lackluster though was the audio from the Mate 20 Pro. Huawei decided to deviate from the norm of having speaker grilles and instead have the sound resonate through the USB-C port of this device that may have hurt its capacity to produce clear audio. There’s still a front firing speaker on top of the device as well, but it doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot for us.

You Can Feel the Muscle of the Kirin 980 At Work

One of the biggest things we were looking forward to seeing in action is Huawei’s latest flagship SoC — the HiSilicon Kirin 980 — and we’re glad to say that it surpasses all expectations. The new SoC is fast and the two NPU’s should help keep it fast in the long run. That’s something we might want to revisit a couple of months into the Mate 20 Pro’s lifespan. The usual apps you use on a day-to-day basis are handled without batting an eyelash and multitasking was definitely a breeze for this device.

On the gaming side of things, you can expect pretty much the same results. It plays games like a hot knife through butter and pretty much demolishes games like NBA 2K18 with everything set on the highest settings possible. If you’re looking play a game like PUBG Mobile, however, you will be disappointed to know that the settings are locked to Medium and Balanced as of the time of writing this review. This is definitely something that will be patched in the future and either something to do with the fact that the Huawei Mate 20 Pro runs on Android Pie or EMUI 9.

You’ll also see two sets of benchmarks in this review. We know that there was a bit of controversy surrounding Huawei’s benchmarks scores that said the phones would kick into overdrive when benchmarking apps would run. This time you can actually toggle to give your system a bit of a boost in Performance Mode through the Battery settings to the detriment of battery life and possible heating issues. The set you see above is with performance mode turned off.

There’s definitely a huge difference in scores with Performance Mode on.

Face Unlock vs In-Display Fingerprint Scanner

One thing Huawei added on to the Mate 20 Pro is its In-Display Fingerprint scanner plus an added 3D camera to help with Facial Unlock. While the new fingerprint scanner definitely brings the modern feature to the flagship, it isn’t quite as fast as your traditional one. It’s plenty accurate though with a very small margin of error during our time with the Mate 20 Pro so far.

If you want something speedier, Facial Unlock is the way to go. We would often raise up the device to check if someone had messaged us and most of the time it was already unlocked and ready to use; even before we got the prompt for the fingerprint scanner.

Topping the P Series Cameras

Whether you’re a fan of the brand or not, it’s hard to deny all they’ve accomplished with mobile photography. Huawei’s partnership with Leica has definitely catapulted them as a top brand to check out if you want a phone with great shooters. They wowed us earlier this year with the triple camera setup of the P20 series and we were really wondering how or if they could top themselves yet again.

Huawei Announces the Cutting-Edge Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

Well, if you haven’t seen the camera samples yet, they’ve managed to exceed our expectations. If you’ve been following the brand for quite some time, you might notice that they got rid of the monochrome camera and, instead, opted to put an ultra-wide camera instead. The monochrome camera was said to help collect more details to sharpen images but, since the Kirin 980 has a second NPU that could help out with that, it was no longer needed.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro takes great photos with its new triple camera setup but they’ve managed to cram more shooting modes into this phone thanks to its new SoC. The impressive Night Mode is still there; allowing you to take amazing handheld photos when there isn’t enough light out but you can also get up close and personal to your subject with the Super Macro Mode. They’ve also greatly improved on one of their pain points in past devices because the selfies from the Mate 20 Pro look a lot better.

We’ll do a deep dive with its cameras very, very soon to cover because there’s definitely a lot to cover with this device. For now, check out the photo samples because the proof is definitely in the pudding.

It Lasts Long, Charges Fast, and Extends a Helping Hand

Juicing up the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a 4200mAh battery and we’re happy to report that it can go on up two days with moderate to heavy use. This was my main driver during my extended stay in the United Kingdom and I didn’t have to worry about bringing a power bank with me when I had to go out with my mates. The synthetic battery benchmark also had it clocking in at an impressive time that backs up our claims if you really have to have a number on it.

What I loved about the Mate 20 though is the fact that if you forgot to charge the phone before going to bed, you can plug it in while you’re getting ready for work in the morning and still have a decent amount of juice to last the day. The company claims that its new 40-watt SuperCharger can give the phone 70 percent of its battery capacity in just 30 minutes and it really can.

If you have a pal that needs a bit of a top up, you can even help them out if their phone supports wireless charging since the Huawei Mate 20 Pro has reverse wireless charging. It takes a while to initiate but it works really well.

Verdict: Possibly the Phone to Beat this Year

We’re just going to say it. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is definitely one of the best smartphones that you can get this year. It exceeded my personal expectations and the whole team is in an agreement that they’ve made a really great device that is possibly the one to beat in 2018. That’s a pretty bold statement but it really does tick all the boxes that we’re looking for in a great flagship.

Great aesthetics. Check. Great screen. Check. Great performance. Check. Great cameras. Check. Stellar battery life. Check. It even has a reasonable price tag at Php 49,990 and you’re getting tremendous value if you happen to have pre-ordered the device.

We definitely recommend giving the Huawei Mate 20 Pro a look if you’re looking for a flagship device that’s an all-around performer and costs less than Php 50k.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro specs

  • HiSilicon Kirin 980 octa-core processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 6.39-inch Quad HD+ curved OLED display, 18.7:9 Aspect ratio, DCI-P3 HDR support, 3120×1440 resolution
  • 128GB internal storage, expandable via Nano memory card
  • Triple Leica rear cameras:40-megapixel 27mm f/1.8 wide-angle camera, 20-megapixel 16mm f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera, 8-megapixel 80mm f/2.4 telephoto camera with Ultra Macro Mode, Huawei AIS, 5X Hybrid Zoom, 3X Optical Zoom, Master AI, up to ISO 102400 sensitivity
  • 24-megapixel front camera with 3D depth sensing camera, 3D face unlock
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, Dual band GPS, NFC
  • In-display fingerprint scanner, IP68 rating, IR face unlock, stereo speakers
  • 4200mAh battery with 40W fast charging and 15W wireless charging
  • Android 9 Pie (EMUI 9)



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