Hands on review: Huawei's supercharged Mate 20 Pro

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2018 06:53 AM

LONDON -- Huawei crammed all of its newest tech in the Mate 20 Pro, the most feature-rich in the series that was launched globally here.

The Shenzhen-based company polished features that helped it overtake Apple to become the world's second-largest smartphone maker, improved the usability of its software and packed specifications not seen in competing flagships.

The Mate 20 Pro mostly succeeds based on our initial hands on with the device. Save for a few software quirks, it has the potential to be Huawei's best device yet.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News

Huawei finally fitted the Mate 20 Pro with a quad HD screen, making text and images look sharper. The OLED screens on the P20 Pro and the Mate 10 Pro were good, but limited to full HD, the panels couldn't match the likes of the Note 9 and the iPhone XS.

The Mate series finally gets the screen it deserves, considering Huawei's ambition to eventually overtake Samsung. The Chinese giant has also begun to challenge its rivals on price. The Mate 20 Pro is priced at 1,049 euros in Europe.

The Mate 20 Pro has a 4,200 mAh battery, supports wireless charging and is capable of charging other devices wirelessly from its back.

While the cell is bigger, it also powers a large 6.4-inch screen with up to QHD resolution. The P20 Pro has a 4,000 mAh battery, but its screen is 6 inches that tops out at full HD. We'll have to see in our full review how this affects the device's longevity.

The camera took consistently good low light photos in our initial tests, like the P20 Pro and the Mate 10 series. There are still 3 lenses on the rear, but the Leica engineered shooters dropped the monochrome in favor of wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses.

The Mate 20 Pro and the Mate 20 are the first Huawei phones to be powered by the company's own Kirin 980 chip, promising more robust artificial intelligence capabilities.

When taking photos, Huawei said users can isolate human subjects in full color while rendering the rest of the scene in black and white since the Kirin 980 can recognize the human body. The same chip, like in the P20 series, can also recognize scenes and adjust camera settings automatically

Aside from the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, the Mate line is among the first to ship with Android 9 pie out of the box. The EMUI 9 overlay is the simplest and easiest to use on a Huawei phone. Gesture navigation is supported, the interface is cleaner and the menu has less clutter.

However, the iconography is overdue for a refresh. The notification icons on the status bar also compete for space with network and connectivity icons. It doesn't help that the notch is bigger compared to the P20 series.

The notch houses a 3D camera for face unlock, which rivals the speed of that on the iPhone XS. The fingerprint sensor is also embedded on the display. It's fast, but not as speedy as rear or bottom chin mounted ones.

While the notch is common, the square module on the back of that houses the flash and 3 lenses is distinct, while potentially polarizing.

The "matrix" module almost melts into device on the black version but is more distinct on the Twilight gradient and on the new textured green and blue finishes.

The square module also differentiates the Mate 20 Pro from the Galaxy S9 or Note 9. With its curved edges and with the screen turned off, it's easy to mistake the Huawei for a Samsung.

Here are some test shots around London:

The Tower Bridge in London is shown in this test shot using night mode on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News
The Shard of London is shown in this test shot using might mode on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News
A shot of the Tower Bridge from the Thames River, using ultra wide angle on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News
A hotel interior shot using ultra wide angle on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News
St. Katharine's Docks in London is shown in this test shot using the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. ABS-CBN News

Huawei also unveiled the Mate 20 with a flat, slightly larger screen and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and the Mate 20 X at a mammoth 7.2 inches that targets mobile gamers.

The company has not announced availability in the Philippines but the devices went on sale in select markets from Tuesday.