No 'Pro,' no 'X,' no problem: Huawei Mate 20 review

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 14 2018 03:48 PM

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. ABS-CBN News

The Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Lacking the "Pro" or "X" branding of its flashier siblings, Huawei's Mate 20 is easy to overlook as the Chinese giant pushes boundaries on size, features and price with the 2018 Mate series.

But the Mate 20 is the most like past generations of the device, with a rectangular profile like the Mate 9 and Mate 8, and a glass back like last year's Mate 10.

The Mate signature spills over to performance, as we found out after one week using a review unit from Huawei.

DESIGN

The Mate 20's 6.53-inch screen is larger than the 6.39-inch panel on the Mate 20 Pro and smaller than the 7.2-inch Mate 20 X.

The water drop-style notch on the Mate 20 is also smaller than the one on the Mate 20 Pro, at the cost of 3D face unlock. The regular model also doesn't have the pro's in-display fingerprint sensor, but the rear-mounted module is both fast and familiar.

The flat screen on the Mate 20 makes the 0.14-inch size difference appear bigger compared to the pro, whose curved sides make it look like a Galaxy S9+.

The Mate 20 has a bright screen with vivid, albeit warmer colors compared to the pro, even if it tops out at Full HD versus quad HD on the more expensive model.

Images look sharp and users will not notice the difference unless the screens are held close to the eyes. The Mate 20 has a resolution of 381 pixels per inch compared to 538 ppi on the pro.

Like the Mate 20 Pro, the Mate 20 also comes in subtly textured green and blue hues that make the phones less slippery and less prone to smudges.

PERFORMANCE

The Mate 20 has the same brains as the pro, Huawei's own Kirin 980 with dual neural units for faster artificial intelligence processing.

Set aside the physical differences and the Mate 20 is as snappy and as powerful as the Mate 20 Pro.

EMUI 9 over Android 9 Pie is also the most mature and less obtrusive of skins, though it's unmistakably Huawei. The Apple-like stock icons are overdue for a refresh.

Swiping up to return to the home screen is reliable, but swiping up to summon the app switcher needs to be refined in a software update.

The 4,000 mAh battery on the Mate 20 is smaller than the 4,250 cell on the pro, but it's more than enough for a day of heavy use, especially with its lower resolution screen.

It also lacks the pro's reverse wireless charging feature than can power up an iPhone XS Max. It's novel, but not necessarily practical since both devices need to be held against each other's backs for an extended period, making them unusable.

CAMERAS

The Mate 20 has a 12 megapixel wide lens with f/1.8 aperture, a 16 16 megapixel ultra wide lens with f/2.2 and an 8 megapixel telephoto with f/2.4.

The Mate Pro has the same set up and aperture but at higher resolutions on the wide and ultra wide lenses at 40 megapixels and 20 megapixels, respectively.

The ultra-wide and night modes are easily the standout features. The Master AI feature is also less aggressive in highlighting blue skies and green foliage. 

Here are some test shots:

A mural is shot using wide angle mode on Huawei's Mate 20. ABS-CBN News
Bonifacio Global City skyscrapers are shot using wide angle mode on Huawei's Mate 20
A mural is shot using wide angle mode on Huawei's Mate 20. ABS-CBN News
A sculpture is shot using wide angle mode and 'greenery' Master AI on Huawei's Mate 20. ABS-CBN News
Christmas displays are shown in this roadside shot using night mode on the Huawei Mate 20. ABS-CBN News
A hotdog sandwich is shot with 'food' Master AI on Huawei's Mate 20. ABS-CBN News

CONCLUSION

The Mate 20 ticks all the right boxes when it comes to what made the Mate series a great Android phone -- big screen, all-day battery, snappy performance and flagship cameras.

It combines the power and utility of the Mate series with the refined triple cameras of the P line.

But at P40,990, it is somewhere between the priciest flagships like the P50,000 and up Mate 20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S9 and flagship killers like the OnePlus 6T and the upcoming Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, at a little over P30,000 based on international prices.

If you're torn between the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro and want to save P10,000, you will not feel shortchanged. But taken against other phones, even Huawei's own marked down P20 Pro, the choice can be harder.