Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: the best smartphone of 2018

Review Smartphone

Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a candidate to be the best smartphone of this generation. Introducing for the first time several technologies on the market: it is the first Android terminal with a 7-nm processor and is the first-ever with a 4G LTE Gigabit modem from 1.4 Gbps of download speed. It adopts a double NPU for Artificial Intelligence calculations and has a triple camera at the rear that can easily be considered as the most versatile of the entire mobile panorama.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review

We are approaching the end of the year and as usual, the time has come for the new Mate family devices: in advance of the flagships of the series we had Huawei Mate 20 Lite (review, focus on the camera ), an excellent smartphone for the advanced mid-range. But the newly announced flagships are of course quite different: Huawei Mate 20 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro. In fact, they represent the top-of-the-range solutions for the line-up of the aggressive Chinese manufacturer, being surpassed only by Huawei Mate 20 RS Porsche Design. Which is based on the Pro introducing luxury finishes? Together with these smartphones. It was also presented the mammoth Huawei Mate 20X, a device with a 7.2-inch panel designed primarily for gaming.

In this review, we will deal with Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Which is the most interesting solution for the most passionate user and also the most innovative as regards technological evolution? This is an evolution of Huawei P20 Pro review. Which had already innovated especially with regard to the photographic sector? With its night mode and its super-sensor 40 MP. P20 Pro has in fact managed to overcome all in terms of photographic quality (here our photo comparison among the top of the range) combining artificial intelligence algorithms with a combination of three sensors and three high-quality optics. Also on Huawei Mate 20 Pro, we find three cameras. But the approach changes radically in the attempt to improve both in terms of quality and in terms of versatility.Huawei Mate 20 Pro

  • Normal 27mm: 40MP sensor, f / 1.8 lenses, PDAF / Laser. The main uses a mega-sensor 40 MP (huge compared to the sensors used on other smartphones, 1 / 1,7 ” ), combined with a normal lens with a focal length of 27mm equivalent in the 35mm format at aperture f / 1.8. It is the one that does the dirty work in most of the shots and can be used both at full resolution and at 10 MP exploiting in both cases the potential of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Ultra-wide 16mm: 20MP sensor, f / 2.2 lenses, PDAF / Laser. The second module represents a new addition to the line-up of Huawei. Something we had not seen on P20 Pro. We have an ultra-wide-angle that allows you to frame a huge field of vision. Useful for framing very close objects, buildings, or landscapes, with a creative point of view.
  • Telephoto lens 80mm 5x Zoom: 8MP sensor, f / 2.4 OIS lens, PDAF / Laser. The telephoto lens allows a 5x optical zoom compared to the ultra-wide-angle sensor (3X compared to the Normal) and is combined with an 8 MP sensor smaller than the other two (1 / 1.4 “). In this case, we have the optical stabilization of the image that is absent on the normal and ultra-wide angle. In the latter case, there is no great need for stabilization. While in the first case the AI is thinking about it.

The rear camera is now proposed no longer vertically. But inside a square box in the central part of the body. Where there is also the dual-tone LED flash. The news does not pass only for the photographic sector, but also with regard to the methods of authentication. On Huawei Mate 20 Pro works very well, much better than on some of the competitors’ devices (see Samsung) and use a particularly careful approach to the security and privacy of the user (see Apple). On Huawei Mate 20 Pro we find an under-glass impression sensor that proved to be fairly reliable during our tests. And a face recognition system based on different sensors, all integrated into the notch. We’ll talk about it later.

We also have a new 7-nm SoC that manages all the computational operations of the device: HiSilicon Kirin 980. Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first Android smartphone to use a 7-nm SoC. The only one expected until the first quarter of the next year with the new technology. Needless to say that it is currently the most powerful Android smartphone. With the processor that implements three different clusters: the main uses 2 Cortex-A76 cores with 2.6 GHz operating frequency, and is combined with a secondary processor with 2 cores, always Cortex-A76, with slightly reduced operating frequency (1.92 GHz). Finally, we have a third cluster with four other Cortex-A55 cores. Designed for energy saving, with an operating frequency of 1.8 GHz.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro
OS (at launch) Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.0
Processor HiSilicon Kirin 980 to 7-nm
2 x Cortex-A76 @ 2.6 GHz
2 x Cortex-A76 @ 1.92 GHz
4 x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8 GHz
Display AMOLED 6.39 “(19.5: 9)
Resolution 3120 x 1440 px
Storage 128 or 256 GB Expandable via NM Card
Cameras Rear :
Normal 27mm: 40 MP f / 1.8 PDAF /
Ultra-wide Laser 16mm: 20 MP f / 2.2 PDAF / Laser
Tele 80mm 5x Zoom: 8 MP f / 2.4 OIS PDAF / LaserOptics Leica – LED Flash 2-Tone
Ultra Video HD @ 30 fps
Slow-mo 720p @ 960 fpsFront (pop-up) :
24 MP f / 2.0 26mm (normal)
Extra 4G LTE Cat. 21 (1.400 Mbps for download)
Wi-Fi 802.11ac Dual-band
Bluetooth 5.0
Infrared port
The sensor under glass undercoat
Facial recognition
Ports USB 3-1 Type-C
NO 3.5mm audio port
Battery 4.200 mAh
Quick charge (40W)
dimensions 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6 mm
Weight 189 g

The Kirin 980 CPU is also combined with a dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit). So we find two units dedicated to machine learning and Artificial Intelligence calculations. which can, therefore, take place locally using the advantages of hardware computation. The AI is used in different situations, from the optimization of the performance of the terminal over time to the recognition of the subjects in the frame of the camera. And everything happens in a manner that is substantially transparent to the user. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro AI allows you to have in a nutshell, an exemplary tip-and-shoot experience in the camera, photographic mode and for recording videos otherwise impossible, and very high performance even after long periods of use of the terminal (based on the manufacturer’s words).

On the memory front, we have two models: one with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of integrated storage, while the top of the range has 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of integrated storage. The novelty on the front of storage is another: Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first smartphone on the market to implement support for a new type of memory card: the expandability of the storage is guaranteed only through NM Card (Nano-Memory Card). Designed by the same Chinese manufacturer with the aim of becoming a market standard. The NM Cards are available in denominations up to 256 GB and support a data transfer rate of 90 MB / s. In shape and size, they are equivalent to a Nano-SIM with the aim of making the Dual-SIM easier.

For the rest, the new top of the range Huawei uses a huge HDR10 6.39 “OLED display (DCI-P3), with an aspect ratio of 19.5 inches. The notch includes a new 3D Depth Sensing system that can recognize the face of the user and follow the look and all the movements and there is also a 24 MP camera that works synergistically with the other components of the notch. The display supports the resolution maximum Quad HD +, equal to 3120×1440 pixels in this case with a pixel density of 538 PPI. The smartphone also supports the ability to dynamically manage the resolution. So as to optimize the power consumption when there is no need for such a strong pixel density.

The news is not finished yet: Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first smartphone to use a 4G LTE Cat. 21 modem, with the ability to download up to 1.4 Gb of data per second, while for uploading it stops at 200 Mbps. Supports 802.11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi connections even in MIMO mode, deploys Bluetooth 5.0, infrared port, GPS, NFC and has one of the fastest reloads in the industry thanks to the 40W adapter (10V / 4A) included in the price: it’s big, not huge, but it’s very heavy. Below is the review, we also report the graph of charging speed, but we anticipate that the Super Recharge of Huawei allows you to take the battery of 4,200 mAh Mate 20 Pro from 0 to 100% in about an hour!

Finally, we have a USB Type-C connector for charging, no 3.5mm audio connector (but there is the adapter in the official equipment), a single speaker (in capsule, but great as volume), for one of the cleanest of this generation. The smartphone holds well in hand: it offers asymmetrical form factor with rounded corners behind in the glass body and in the front in the “dual-edge” display. There is a very small frame at the bottom, while above the notch only. The side frames are almost completely non-existent, while the keys (On / off and volume rocker) are on the right. In the version we are testing, the Midnight Blue, the power button is red. While the body is blue at the top but goes to black at the bottom in a progressive manner.

It is a type of finish that Huawei has introduced on the P20 Pro and that returns, in all its arrogance, even on the new flagship.

E-MUI and user experience

The user experience of the device obviously starts with the unlocking of the terminal. On Huawei’s flagship, we find two very different methods, but both are useful in our opinion: the fingerprint sensor and face recognition. Although these are technologies already known in the mobile landscape, Huawei’s implementation is innovative. The fingerprint sensor is in fact under the glass of the display, and is positioned a little higher than the typical frontal position: it is fast enough, not lightning fast, and performs its duty reliably even when the fingers are wet. It is a bit ‘difficult to identify the first few times since there is no “step” that is the seat for the sensor. You get used to it anyway

Then there is the scan of the face with “3D Depth Sensing” technology: through a series of front sensors integrated into the notch and the high-resolution front camera Mate 20 Pro can scan the face and identify the user. It works? Very well, and it is extremely fast: there have been reported cases of false positives, but this could also happen with the fingerprint. Which is also reproducible in a much simpler way. If in terms of speed you can compare (hundredth of a second plus, the penny less) to Apple’s Face ID, there is still a bit ‘of the road to do in terms of reliability: with Huawei Mate 20 Pro recognition does not happen when we wear some sunglasses and brightness conditions are not optimal. It happens quietly, however, in many other more usual situations, even in the dark. When we wear other types of accessories (eyeglasses,

Which one to use, then the two? And having two different systems for unlocking is useless and redundant? The extraordinary thing about the facial recognition of Huawei is, we repeat, the speed: sometimes we happened to want to force the release with the sensor of fingerprints under glass, but not even have time to bring the finger to the display that has already happened facial recognition. The unlocking procedure alone is already more rapid and even the technology is, in our opinion, more performing than the under-glass impression sensor. However, in some cases (such as those described above) can misfire, and therefore the fingerprint sensor can come to the rescue? The two systems work therefore synergistically, with the aim of always providing a quick and effective release system. It should be noted that the third-party apps, for access, use the fingerprint sensor and not the facial release.

For the rest, the software behind the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the typical EMUI of the Chinese giant. Now fully matured both on the level of functionality (there are so many, too many to be told one by one), that on that of the ‘optimization. The smartphone is characterized by a constant steady flow, both in terms of the interface of the operating system and with third-party applications. A slightly slowed scrolling system compared to other models that make the idea of fluidity of the animations. Reactivity and speed of execution of the app are at very high levels. Absolutely comparable to the best Android devices in this area, and we have not encountered stability problems.

The user can also customize the method to choose for on-screen navigation. Deciding between the on-screen keys typical of Android, thus losing the ability to take advantage of that small part of the screen. Use the proprietary gesture, thus exploiting the whole surface of the huge full-screen display. With a swipe from bottom to top, you return to the Home menu. The same gesture but keeping your finger pressed on the screen you access the recent apps open in the background. While with a horizontal swipe on one of the two sides of the display (both curved) you come back. The gesture system works well and can easily replace the on-screen commands typical of Android. Which seem to be destined to oblivion.

The experience is at the highest levels in terms of software, with many features and excellent performance. It remains a little less dramatic than the Samsung Experience of the top Korean range, but in this case, it seems that Huawei has preferred energy efficiency to the sparkling animations of the direct competitor in the premium segment of the high end. Speaking of autonomy, Mate 20 Pro is really good in the use “real”, with the ability to reach the day and a half even practically stressing the device heavily. The two days are assured, however, with use that we call normal.

Performance, display, autonomy: technical analysis

Let’s move on to the technical analysis describing in numbers what we have just written on the basis of perceptions in everyday use. We have verified a particular behavior regarding the performances and the benchmarks: the Performance mode that can be activated in the Battery settings is real and does not allow you to earn only a few points in our tests, but to obtain significantly higher scores. The differences in normal use are indistinguishable. But by enabling it we have been able to achieve much better results in many of the benchmark suites. Huawei has chosen to once again privilege energy efficiency to pure performance. It is a decision that – given the general reactivity of the system we feel welcome.

It is likely that Mate 20 Pro uses a very conservative CPU frequency management in the default mode, pushing its Kirin 980 to the maximum. only when the Performance Mode is activated. The device never tends to heat massively. However, under either of the two circumstances, it becomes lukewarm at the top, and even during the super-fast recharge, we have not encountered any problems in this regard. In any case, Kirin 980 was slower than Apple A12 Bionic both on the CPU and the GPU, based on our benchmark suite.

The SoC of Huawei becomes the fastest processor available today on Android. Thanks to the use of the 7-nm production process and the innovations introduced by the double NPU. Also worth mentioning is the storage compartment: the integrated memory on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the fastest on the market. Yielding impressive results in the writing of data in random mode.

The display of Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a high-quality OLED capable of reaching 450 cd / m² of maximum brightness in manual mode. While when the light sensor detects a strong ambient light activates a mode inaccessible to the user. This serves to provide the best possible visibility in all circumstances, even under the sunlight. Where the main thing is mainly “to see”: with our instruments we have measured a maximum brightness of 609 cd / m². On a par with many of the top of the competition range.

The viewing angles are also quite good with only a marginal loss of brightness and resolution with an enormous pixel density is also optimal. Huawei sets the resolution to Full HD + by default, so – again – to prefer efficiency to performance. The differences between Full HD + and Quad HD + (the screen reaches 3120×1440 pixels of resolution) are indeed hard to see at natural distances.

Also, the calibration of the default colors is good: there are two predefined modes. One more “Intense”, the one set at the first start. The other more natural, but the user can set the display fine. The panel color saturation is excellent, able to cover the DCI-P3 color profile and go a little further. The white point is slightly translated to cold tone. It is practically always on the OLEDs of the last generations.

Regarding the operational autonomy the new flagship Huawei can rely on a large unit of 4,200 mAh, capable of – in normal use – bring the user to reach the two days with little sacrifice. With heavy use, you get to the evening with 30-40% of the remaining battery, where other smartphones with standard batteries would come with 20%, or even less. Autonomy is good, among the best for the latest top of the range, but what is surprising is the charging process: we measured it with the terminal on and with several apps installed and push notifications enabled, so under normal conditions, and we have reached 100% from 0 in just 63 minutes. No smartphone had ever achieved this result. It also surprises the way in which the smartphone recovers the charge.

In just 10 minutes we are already at 25%, while in 20 minutes we have half the battery already recharged. In half an hour you get to 71%, which means a day full of fairly intense use, as we wrote above, and in 50 minutes we get to 95%. The 40W charger really makes a difference in the charging process: it heats up a little, but during the 63 minutes the smartphone only becomes lukewarm. In our test, in which we measured the autonomy in Wi-Fi navigation by setting the brightness of the display to 200 cd / m², we reached 12 hours with the display on. It is a good result for a top of the range.

It is very interesting to use the large battery also to charge other smartphones via wireless, simply resting them on the body. In the past, we had seen other devices turning into power-banks. But they required a cable for energy transfer and it is not so obvious to have one always with them. With the Huawei Mate 20 Pro Huawei takes away this last limit: to charge any other device with support for wireless charging simply activates a setting and places it on its back. And if we forget the active functionality, we think the software will deactivate it after a short period of inactivity.


The rear camera of Huawei Mate 20 Pro is particularly innovative and very different from that of Huawei P20 Pro. As we wrote earlier the three modules are used both for the improvement of the shot and to add more versatility. We find the 40 MP mega-sensor for the standard camera, and two more modules, one with an ultra-wide-angle lens, the other with a telephoto lens.

The camera implements innumerable filters, effects and shooting modes: different modes of creative HDR. Effects to be implemented (also in AR) with the two modules, a night mode that offers remarkable results with stabilization of excellent level (digital, OIS it is only provided on the telephoto lens). We also have the possibility to shoot at 40 MP or 10 MP in both cases with the support of the IA, and there are also filters for video, in real-time, even with a simulation of a fictitious bokeh, not perfect but still sufficiently credible. In our opinion, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the most complete camera on a smartphone.

Below are the photos were taken with the terminal in comparison, with the most significant range of this generation. Then we will publish a technical analysis of the cameras with objective tests and direct comparison with the best smartphones in terms of an integrated camera.

We have compared the new arrival of Huawei with some of the most recent most significant terminals. Unfortunately Google Pixel 3 XL was not in the newsroom during the tests and we could not insert it. Proposing a comparison with iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9 and OnePlus 6. We note that in optimal light conditions all smartphones offer a shot of excellent quality. OnePlus 6 that has benefited in terms of details because of the higher resolution of the sensor. In the dark, however, the Chinese device by Pete Lau shows several uncertainties compared to the other models examined. where iPhone XS Max is what we believe offers a better image, even if more subject to noise.

As for the zoom, in addition, we note that Huawei Mate 20 Pro, thanks to its 3X telephoto lens. It manages to recover some details more than its competitors. The image quality of Huawei Mate 20 Pro is comparable to that of other smartphones of the same price. Offering great clarity on the whole scene both with the normal lens and with the telephoto. Although in poor light conditions it lends more to the side at shake because of the lack of optical stabilization. In these cases, the night mode comes to the rescue, which we will see below

Final considerations

Huawei Mate 20 Pro is yet another embodiment of a well-established path for the Chinese manufacturer. It is a complete, reliable, powerful and innovative smartphone, able to compete for the top positions in the smartphone market together with Samsung and Apple. A top of the range for all purposes for various features, both technical and design, which leaves nothing to chance. The display uses an AMOLED panel produced by BOE of high quality with excellent color saturation. And full support for the DCI-P3 color space. The SoC is produced at home and is the first to take advantage of the 7-nm production process for Android devices. It is more powerful than Snapdragon 845, a little less than Apple A12 Bionic and offers exemplary reactivity and fluidity in all circumstances.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro is an excellent terminal also for authentication systems, two and both fast, reliable and useful, and offers one of the most complete and best quality cameras in the whole smartphone scene, with a plethora of features and photographs that are always sharp and detailed, even if the wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle modules are not optically stabilized. The Night mode is undoubtedly very interesting. Which shoots several snapshots then mixing the whole to get a shot that recalls those that we could shoot with SLR / mirrorless and tripod. Huawei Mate 20 Pro also offers excellent reception, good audio quality. Than hands-free volume and hands-free microphones that capture the user’s speech even at a good distance.

READ ALSO: Google Pixel 3 XL: full review and full specifications

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