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Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review - Best of 2018!

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Back in October, Huawei unleashed the Mate 20 Pro in London, the top-of-the-line smartphone of the Chinese tech giant. Right off the bat, it is arguably the most impressive of 2018.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review - Best of 2018!
The Mate 20 Pro

It is the first Android smartphone to sport the next-generation 7nm chip with Dual-NPU, the Kirin 980 SoC. It is also the first with reverse wireless charging, 4G LTE Cat 21, NM card, and more.

Huawei also improved the versatility of its triple Leica camera setup by adding a 20MP ultra wide-angle camera to replace the monochrome sensor. Among all flagship smartphones of 2018, it also has the biggest battery capacity at 4,200mAh. It is even paired with the new 40W SuperCharge fast charging solution.

More than two months after, here's our full review of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Is it really that good?


Display Quality

QHD+ resolution
QHD+ resolution

Coming from just FHD+ on the Mate 10 Pro last year, Huawei improved the screen resolution and quality of the Mate 20 Pro this year.

It now goes with a 6.39-inch 3D OLED panel with a QHD+ 3140 x 1440 resolution at 541 ppi. It is even denser than the 514 ppi of the Samsung Galaxy Note9.

Sharp display with good colors and strong brightness!

It also has a 19:5:9 screen aspect ratio which made it look way taller and wider than traditional 16:9 or 18:9 screens. It also has a high 87.6 percent of screen-to-body ratio which made it have extra slim overall bezels.

Only the notch is a bit thicker than our liking. It is bigger than the notch of the P20 Pro to allow it house a lot of sensors for 3D facial recognition and more. Again, you can turn off the notch in the display settings.

Picture quality is superb as expected. It is close to natural despite its use of an OLED panel. It isn't as warm or saturated versus other OLED screens. It also have deep blacks, nice contrast, and outstanding viewing angles. 

The curve on the screen is for aesthetics only. It doesn't have other functions to boast. Fortunately, it won't do harm either. We never experienced the ghost touch problem or whatever.

Its screen can go really bright as well. Huawei listed it at 820 nits. We do not have the tools to check if it is accurate, but it is noticeably brighter when you put it side by side with the Note9 or iPhone XS.

The Mate 20 Pro also has the color tone adjustment feature on the display settings. It also goes with the smart resolution which allows the phone to automatically lower the screen resolution to conserve battery. It is also nice to see that it has the eye protection feature to lessen blue light in low light.

Lastly, it has 10 points of touch for easy typing and swiping.

It is not all bells and whistles for the screen of the Mate 20 Pro though. There are users who got the display with green tint issue. Huawei used two brands of OLED screens for the Mate 20 Pro, they are from LG of Korea and BOE of China. The bad screens are from LG.

Fortunately, Huawei addressed this problem already. They replaced every Mate 20 Pro unit with green tint LG screen.

Audio Quality

The Mate 20 Pro comes with stereo speakers. There is one hidden the USB-C port to allow it retain the IP68 rating and there's another one on the earpiece.

As expected, it can deliver a full and loud sound for a smartphone. There's a hint of bass unlike the speakers from other phones as well. Instruments and vocals are usually clear. Soundstage is also a bit wide for a phone.

However, we noticed that it isn't as full and loud as the speakers found on the P20 Pro. It is also noticeably weaker than the speakers of the Note9 and iPhone XS.

Audio output will be a bit weaker if you plug your USB-C cable in. It will somehow block audio coming out of the speaker hidden in the USB-C port.

But overall, its speaker quality is above-average.

Moving to USB-C headphone audio, the Mate 20 Pro is capable of playing 384K/32-bit lossless audio. By default, the sound signature it can produce is warm. It is highly detailed with decent driving power as well. It can make my USB-C Hi-Res Huawei IEM shine at 80 percent loudness.

But its driving power is isn't as strong as my Huawei P20 Pro again. P20 Pro's audio is a bit crispier and more balanced as well.

We also noticed that Huawei is now using Dolby Audio by default. Supposedly, it should improve the audio quality of the Mate 20 Pro. But, it only made the sound signature darker with muddier mids. Just turn it off.

Wireless headphone audio is amazing though. It has Bluetooth 5 which allows multiple Bluetooth connectivity and high-quality wireless audio. My 1MORE Triple Driver BT In-Ear Headphones with LDAC sounds amazing on this phone.

The microphone for calls is great as usual. Earspeaker quality is good and loud as well. My audio for video recordings sounds above-average too. It comes with 3 microphones for recordings and noise cancelling in total There's 1 on the top and two at the bottom.

Battery

Battery score
Battery score

A key highlight of the Mate 20 Pro is its MASSIVE 4,200mAh battery. Huawei manage to squeeze a battery that big on a slim 8.6 mm frame. It is bigger than the battery of all flagship phones of 2018.

Stellar for a smartphone with big screen and high resolution!

The result is exceptional. Our got a total of 14 hours and 16 minutes at PCMark's work battery life test. It is higher than the 11 hours and 21 minutes of the Galaxy Note9.

Among high-end smartphones, only the regular Mate 20 and POCO F1 with FHD+ screens got higher battery scores. But, compared with other flagships with QHD+ resolution, the Mate 20 Pro is the king so far.

In real life, I can use the handset for an entire work day with at least 30 percent juice left on a single charge.

On performance mode, battery will drain a bit faster. But, it is still good enough to allow you use the handset for around 12 hours straight. Thanks to its power efficient 7nm chip.
Battery modes

The battery management of Huawei that is assisted by AI is crazy good by default. It'll aggressively kill unnecessary background apps and change the resolution of the handset to help save power.

It also comes with a lot of power saving and management options in the settings.

The new Mate also comes with a 40W SuperCharge solution that can fully charge its big 4,200mAh battery in just 1 hour and 10 minutes. In comparison, the iPhone X with a much smaller battery will take you around 3 hours using its default charger.

The Mate 20 Pro also has a 15W wireless charging solution, the highest in the industry. It charged my unit to 31 percent in 30 minutes.

The Mate 20 Pro is also the first in the world with reverse wireless charging. It will allow you to share the battery of your Mate with other phones like the Note9 and the new iPhones when needed.

There's a toggle in the battery settings where you can switch it on and off.

To know more about the the battery performance of the Mate 20 Pro, you may click our report here.

Camera

New Leica triple cameras
New Leica triple cameras

The next main highlight of the Mate are its cameras. It has a versatile Leica triple camera system. At the back, it comes with the 4
0MP f/1.8 RGB sensor + 20MP f/2.2 ultra wide-angle + 8MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto sensor.

The 40MP sensor is 
1/1.73-inch size sensor with quad-bayer binning tech which results to a 10MP output. It is designed to capture details and colors better even in low light conditions.

Bye monochrome, hello ultra wide-angle lens!

The new thing on its cameras coming from the P20 Pro is the new secondary camera. Huawei replaced the traditional monochrome sensor in favor of a new 20MP ultra wide-angle lens. It is a 16mm ultra wide-angle lens. The ultra-wide lens will also allow the phone to shoot 2.5cm close macro shots.

Watch: Huawei P20 Pro vs Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera comparison

Huawei believes that the 40MP sensor is powerful enough to gather the same detail that the monochrome sensor can give. Its use of the new sensor will also give it the photography/videography versatility that is not with Huawei smartphones before.

To activate the 0.6x ultra wide-angle mode, just swipe the 1x icon down. The AI can also detect if you need to use it or not.

The 3rd sensor is still an 8MP f/2.4 OIS 3x telephoto sensor. It helps make the phone take up to 5x hybrid lossless zoom.

You will also find 4D predictive focus, AIS, 5x zoom, and dual-tone LED flash to enhance the photography experience. It also comes with a lot of filters like the Leica filters (standard, vivid, and smooth colors) and the traditional filters (nostalgia and more). 

The new 7nm processor also has the new Dual-ISP 4.0 tech and Dual-NPU for faster and better image processor. The Dual-NPU of the Kirin 980 processor will allow the Mate 20 Pro to recognize images faster and better.

When the Master AI feature is on, the Mate 20 Pro will automatically recognize different scenes and objects and seamlessly adjust the camera settings for a better photo. It can now recognize up to 1,500 scenarios in 25 categories. It is up by 2x coming from the 500 scenes that P20 Pro can recognize.
The new camera UI
The new camera UI

The camera UI looks better than the P20 Pro. It is easier to access the zoom and HiVision. 
Mate 20 Pro camera features
Mate 20 Pro camera features

You will also find most of the features found on the P20 Pro and other Huawei smartphones like the HDR, handheld Super Night Mode, Portrait, Pro, Monochrome filter, Light painting, Panorama, and 3D panorama. It also has the new Underwater mode if you have the underwater case.

The Pro camera feature still goes with the insane ISO 50 to 102,400 setting! The Portrait function now has more bokeh effects and lighting filters. The face beauty function is still found inside the Portrait feature.

Huawei also updated its Aperture mode. When you open the Aperture mode, it is now on 2x zoom by default. It should allow the Mate 20 Pro to take portrait shots with more natural looking background blur. As expected, you can adjust the the focus and level of its blur even after taking the shot.

As expected, shooting experience is superb on the Mate 20 Pro. 4D predictive focus and shooting/saving speed is super fast.

The AI scene detection is still not perfect, but it is more accurate and not that overly aggressive anymore. There are times where it'll properly enhance your shots with the correct colors and details. There are times where it'll suggest the proper camera setting that you need to use.

The most versatile and capable mobile camera on a smartphone yet, fite me!

Image quality in daylight reminds us of the P20 Pro, but a bit better. Its color accuracy is now more accurate and it can now provide a bit more contrast and color punch. Details are still as crisp as ever.

The game-changer is the ultra wide-angle lens. It is arguably the best wide-angle lens on a smartphone yet. Barrel distortion is not that noticeable compared with the LG phones I've tested in the past. Its image quality also has better details and dynamic range than the LG G7 ThinQ for me.

In addition, it will allow you to shoot super macro shots! In our experience, it can really 

The Aperture mode is cleaner than ever as well. We won't blame you if you will think that it is the best for bokeh shots. 

The zoom is amazing. 3x zoom is very crisp and clear even in conditions with dim or artificial light. The 5x zoom works very well as well. The 10x zoom is the best 10x zoom on a smartphone yet. It is clearly better than the great 10x zoom of the P20 Pro for me.

The quality of the 10x zoom will degrade a little in low light though. But it is understandable and you can just use AI assisted handheld night mode as works even when you zoom.

By default, the low light performance of the Mate 20 Pro is amazing. Its overall quality is just as good as the P20 Pro. When you switch to the ultra wide-angle mode, low light quality will degrade by a bit, but it is still better than the main camera of some high-end phones.

Besides, you can always use the amazing night mode or the pro mode of the phone. If you are creative enough, you can try the light painting mode as well.

As a matter of fact, rarely use the flash of this phone anymore. Its low light performance is simply that good.

Rear Camera Samples

Normal
Normal
Wide
Wide
Normal vs 10x zoom
Normal vs 10x zoom
Silky water mode
Silky water mode
Aperture mode
Aperture mode with @angelmacaraig
Close-up
Close-up
Monochrome
Monochrome
Portrait mode
Portrait mode featuring @sweetsirenden of Bubble Gang
Portrait mode with the Justice League at the @dccafeph
Close-up
Close-up
Dim close-up
Dim close-up
Dim close-up
Dim close-up
Normal low light
Normal low light
Wide low light
Wide low light
Low light normal
Low light normal
Low light wide
Low light wide
Super low light mode
Super Night Mode
Super Night Mode normal
Super Night Mode wide
Super Night Mode wide
Flash test
Flash test

For selfies, there's a 24MP f/2.0 sensor with AI face beauty and 3D portrait lighting.  All the modes I saw from P20 Pro are there. You will still see the AI HDR for backlight selfies and the portrait mode.
Selfie cam UI
Selfie cam UI

The portrait mode comes with different bokeh effects, lighting effects, and face beauty mode.

It also has AR lens function to access the 3D Qmoji mode. 

Quality appears to be the same selfie camera found on the P20 Pro, but it is different. The tap to focus feature is still there and the shooting speed is the same. The level of sharpness is identical with Huawei's former flagship as well.

But, color reproduction is different. It is better for me. It goes with a warmer yet more natural looking overall tone. The face beauty is less aggressive too. The bokeh is a bit better as well.

The face beauty and bokeh could still be too much as times.

Overall quality of the selfie cam is decent even in low light.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Selfie bokeh
Selfie bokeh
Low light selfie bokeh
Low light selfie bokeh
Selfie with screen flash
Selfie with screen flash

For videos, the Mate 20 Pro can shoot up to 4K 30fps. It also have 1080p with 60fps and 1080p with 30fps. It also goes with the 960fps super slow motion mode. It doesn't have 4K at 60fps though.

But, the Mate 20 Pro is the best video shooter of Huawei yet. Aside from its stellar focus speed and picture quality, it now comes with ultra wide-angle mode. You can even switch from normal to wide angle and back to normal even while shooting the video.

It also has AI zoom which will automatically adjust the zoom level to keep your subject at the center of the frame.

The 960fps super slow-mo feature is still amazing. We just noticed that it now works better even in low light.

Stabilization is the biggest weakness of Huawei smartphones before, but with the Mate 20 Pro, you won't have a problem with that. It now comes with good stabilization even on 4K and ultra wide-angle mode.

For selfies, video shooting is decent. But, there is a huge crop. The stabilization is not as good as the cameras at the back.

Video Samples



To see more camera samples taken using the Mate 20 Pro, click here.

Performance

Monster scores
Monster scores

As the first Android smartphone in the world with a 7nm chip, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a speedster. Its Kirin 980 SoC paired with Mali-G76 MP10 GPU, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage got a massive AnTuTu score of 304K points. It also scored a single-core score of 3,375 and a multi-core score of 9,987 at Geekbench.

The speediest Android smartphone yet!

Arguably, it is the fastest Android smartphone yet. It loads all known Android apps and games with ease.
Other scores
Other scores

Multitasking is fluid as well.You won't have a problem with its responsiveness 99 percent of the time.

Related: Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note9 - Battle for the King of Android crown


For gaming, its Mali-G76 MP10 GPU is assisted by the GPU Turbo 2.0 technology to improve your gaming experience. It works on games like the NBA 2K19 and PUBG Mobile. We can play those games on max settings with steady performance.


Even if you are not on performance mode (to conserve battery), the gaming experience is still very smooth. It doesn't have an avoid interruption while playing feature though.

See also: Apple iPhone XS vs Huawei Mate 20 Pro - Pound for pound title clash

The Mate 20 Pro gets warm after a while of playing games that requires 4G, but far from hot. With a case, you won't feel the head at all. 

It also has a Dual-NPU (AI chip) to handle AI tasks and applications better. It helps in keeping your phone fast always, learning your habits to help enhance the performance, improve overall efficiency of the phone, and more.

Related: 5 reasons to be excited about Kirin 980!

The UI

EMUI 9.0
EMUI 9.0

The Mate 20 Pro loads with the latest EMUI 9.0 skin of Huawei. It is based on Android 9.0 Pie OS. It is a less cluttered and cleaner version of the EMUI skins we tried in the past.

It is a more Google integrated skin. But again, it is a love it or hate it UI. Why? It still uses the older navigation buttons. Personally, its a minor thing for me.

What I like about the EMUI is its smoothness with machine learning, gestures, and a lot of useful features.

It comes with a customizable themes, good phone manager to further optimize your phone, and the health app that tracks your fitness.
Digital Balance
Digital Balance

It also comes with the new Digital Balance feature that records your usage on every app to track your behavior. It could prevent phone addiction by notifying you with your usage hours, limit the apps you use, and turn the screen to grey and restrict access to apps when it is time for bed.

EMUI 9.0 also boasts the Spotlight Reel feature that allows you to generate 10-second highlight videos using facial recognition.

Calorie counter
Calorie counter

The HiVision feature can be used to identify objects and even buy them from the spot. It also has a cool language translation and calorie counter feature.
AI translation
AI translation

We also like that it has an option where you can choose the with app drawer or with no app drawer mode. There's a new gesture based navigation too that works like the buttonless gesture of the iPhone XS.

Lastly, it still has the multi-user feature, app twin, and a lot of shortcuts with gestures.

See also: Top 9 features of Huawei's EMUI 9.0 skin!

Other features

The Mate 20 Pro goes with an In-Display fingerprint scanner. Based on my experience, it is one of the fastest and most accurate in town. But as expected, do not expect it to be as speedy as traditional fingerprint scanners. Only the OnePlus 6T comes with a slightly faster In-Display reader.

If you can't use the fingerprint scanner on the screen, you can always opt for the 3D face unlock. It is a super fast face unlock feature that works accurately even in low light.

This device is also one of the few flagships with an IR Blaster mode that you can use as a remote control for your TV, Aircon, and more.

It also has the PC mode which will allow you to turn the a monitor into a PC with the use of a USB-C to HDMI cable. Your Mate can also serve as a mouse to that monitor for easy navigation.

Like other Huawei smartphones, the Mate 20 Pro comes with amazing connectivity options. GSM connection is great and signal for call quality is good most of the time.

It has WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz) and 4G LTE Cat 21. Only the Mate 20, Mate 20X, and Mate 20 RS comes with 4G LTE Cat 21, the speediest mobile connectivity on a smartphone yet.

It also goes with Bluetooth 5 BLE and aptX HD for lossless wireless connection. You will also find a dual-band GPS for better GPS tracking and accuracy.

As expected, it goes with NFC, and hybrid dual SIM slots. It even has the new 
NM card slot to let you expand the memory of your phone up to 256GB.

NM cards are just more expensive than traditional microSD cards.

Pros - Stunning design, IP68 water and dust resistance, crisp screen, fastest chip on a commercially available Android smartphone yet, stellar battery life, super fast charging speed, wireless charger with reverse wireless charging, IR Blaster, strong connectivity
Cons - Selfie camera could be better

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Specs

Display: 6.39-inch 3D curved OLED screen w/ QHD+ 3140 x 1440 resolution at 541 ppi
CPU: 2.6GHz 64-bit Kirin 980 octa-core processor w/ Dual-NPU
GPU: Mali-G76 MP10 w/ GPU Turbo 2.0
RAM: 6GB LPDDR4x
ROM: 128GB expandable via NM card slot up to 256GB
Back Camera: 40MP f/1.8 RGB sensor + 20MP f/2.2 ultra wide-angle + 8MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto sensor w/ 4D predictive focus, AIS, 5x zoom, 4K video recording, 960 fps slow motion, and dual-tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 24MP f/2.0 w/ AI face beauty and 3D portrait lighting
Battery: 4,200mAh w/ 40W SuperCharge and 15W wireless charging w/ reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ EMUI 9.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), 4G LTE Cat 21, Bluetooth 5 BLE, aptX HD, OTG, NFC, dual-band GPS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic, pressure
Others: Fingerprint sensor, 3D face unlock, IR Blaster, IP68 water and dust resistance, 384K/32-bit HiFi DAC, USB Type-C, stereo speakers, Colors: emerald green, midnight blue, classical black, pink gold, twilight
Dimensions: 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6 mm
Weight: 189 g
Price: PHP 49,990

Verdict

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is our smartphone of the year. It is speedier and more impressive than any other Android smartphone we tested in 2018.

The design is premium, speed blazing fast, battery life is amazing, and it comes with the best cameras on a smartphone yet. It is also loaded with a lot of features that is not that common on other smartphones like the reverse wireless charging feature.

There's a lot of great high-end smartphones, but most of them are not as good as the Mate 20 Pro. In terms of speed, the competition of the Mate 20 Pro this year are the iPhone XR/XS/XSMax.

But, I will still pick the Mate 20 Pro over them due to its versatility and functionalities.

Overall, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes with stellar value for money even if it has a hefty PHP 49,990 price tag. 

Build/Design - 4.75
Display - 4.75
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 4.75
Camera - 4.75
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.67/5
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