Huawei Mate20 Pro review: smartphone who would be king

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posted on Saturday, 20th October 2018 by Steve May

Lifestyle  High-end  Smartphone  Premium 


Has China become the new design champion of the smartphone world?  Huawei’s Mate20 Pro suggests that might be the case. This premium new offering combines an innovative feature slate with a level of industrial design and finish that's class leading.

Inside ID attended the global launch of this new mobile flagship, and has since spent some time evaluating the product. We're now convinced the world’s third biggest smartphone maker has produced a strong contender for phone of the year.

The Mate20 Pro is the step-up model in the brand’s latest Mate line. Positioned above the regular Mate20 it boasts a rich OLED display, and comes in a range of stunning metallic finishes.

Huawei CEO Richard Yu says the design of the Mate20 series was inspired by luxury sports cars. “I remember when the design team brought the idea to me; we had many candidates, but we selected this one,” he recalls. “We wanted to bring the beauty of symmetrical design to the Mate20 Series. Front or back, left or right, top and bottom - it’s purely symmetrical.”

Richard Yu


USB Port

There’s no doubting its ergonomic appeal. The Mate20 Pro feels great in the hand. The surface of the phone adopts a flowing design, with curved smooth edges. The HDR display has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio (which is almost CinemaScope) and covers the DCI P3 colour space. The screen to body ratio is impressive, at 87 per cent. Consequently, while the display is large, at 6.39-inches, it's easy to cradle in the palm.

There's actually a number of significant differences between the Mate 20 and Mate20 Pro. Had we seen the former in isolation, we would have been suitably impressed. But the Pro version is in a different league entirely.

The review sample featured here is in the brand’s signature Twilight finish, a subtle gradation of black to blue. The look is sophisticated, even seductive. Other colourways include Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Pink Gold and Black.

"We wanted to bring the beauty of symmetrical design to the Mate20 Series. Front or back, left or right, top and bottom - it’s purely symmetrical."

Huawei has developed a new hyper optical coating which makes the back less prone to smudges and a tad less slippery - although a protective case still makes sense. Small design touches matter, which is why we appreciate the red accent on the power button.

The Mate20 Pro has a hybrid sim card tray that not only accommodates two nano sims, but also a new Huawei-designed storage card. Huawei hopes this new design will find wider adoption, which may be a tad optimistic. We’ll have to wait and see if it gains any traction.

There's no headphone jack (that’s reserved for the regular Mate20), but the Mate20 Pro is water and dust resistant, certified up to ip68. Innovative features abound.

The fingerprint lock is actually built into the screen itself, and uses DPS (Dynamic Pressure Sensing) technology. It’s a little bit unresponsive, although you may not need it, as the phone has an effective face recognition feature too.

Red Power

Camera Matrix

The defining element of the Mate20 Pro is its four point matrix camera. Co-engineered with Leica, the square configuration is really distinctive. If Huawei was going for an iconic design, then we think it's achieved it.

The trio of cameras comprise a 40mp f1. 4 standard lens, f2.4 8mp telephoto and a 20mp f2.2 ultrawide lens. You can also use the latter to take super macro images from 2.5cm from the subject. This trio of lenses is equivalent to the performance of a 16-270mm zoom lens. Low light performance is excellent.

The Mate20 Pro's AI will suggest switching lenses if it thinks the scene needs it. You can shoot impressive wide angles or zoom right into an image, in a snap. The configuration is astonishingly versatile. A dual tone flash completes the four point arrangement.

The phone also shoots impressive video, up to 4k. An AI cinema mode offers an assortment of colour modes and filters. One neat option, AI portrait mode, adds a single colour to an object within a black and white sequence.

"Photographically, the Mate20 Pro is outstanding. There's an awful lot of AI tech behind the various photo modes."

The QHD 3120 x 1440 resolution OLED screen boasts high colour saturation and a huge contrast ratio; it looks amazing with streaming media. If you want to binge on Netflix, then you’re in for a treat. It’s also impressive as a gaming display.

Rather cleverly, the USB-C port doubles as a speaker; there's actually a driver built into the connection. The phone offers Dolby Atmos post processing. It makes sense to partner it with a nice pair of designer Bluetooth headphones.

The phone ships with Android 9 (aka Pie), topped with Huawei's Android-P based Emui 9 interface. There’s bloatware inevitably, but this is easily removed. Usability is high.

Navigation is super smooth. The Mate20 Pro utilises the insanely powerful 7nm Kirin 980 SoC (boasting 6.9 billion transistors), and has 6GB of Ram. It comes with 128GB of storage, expandable up to 256GB.

Photo -hero Camera

Mate 20 Pro Side CropBattery life borders on indefatigable. This slimline handset has a meaty 4,200mAh cell, so users should have no problem getting a full day of heavy use. It’s bundled with a superfast 40w SuperCharger, able to go from 0 to 70 per cent in just 30 minutes. It also supports 15w wireless charging (which isn’t too shabby either).

One of the Mate20 Pro’s cool new tricks is something called Reverse Wireless Charging. This effectively makes the back of the Mate20 Pro a wireless charger for other devices. If you habitually carry around two phones, this is will be incredibly useful. It’s compatible with any other phone that supports the Qi wireless charging standard.

Photographically, the Mate20 Pro is outstanding. There's an awful lot of AI tech behind the various photo modes. Cool features include a versatile bokeh mode that encourages you to get arty with blurred backgrounds, giving them different shapes like swirls.

We say: With the Mate20 Pro, Huawei has delivered a premium smartphone that confidently outguns rivals when it comes to specification, and sets a high bar for design and cosmetic finish. It looks like the smartphone jungle has a new king.

Price: Huawei Mate20 Pro 128GB £900.

Steve May

Inside ID Editor Steve May is a freelance lifestyle and technology journalist, who also writes for T3, AskMen UK, MTV UK, TechRadar and Trusted Reviews.

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