Huawei Mate 20 Pro: A tech-filled handset

A feature packed smartphone that does everything

Tags: Huawei Consumer (consumer.huawei.com/ae-en/)Huawei Technologies Company
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Huawei Mate 20 Pro: A tech-filled handset The Huawei Mate 20 Pro retails from AED3,299.
By  Manda Banda Published  November 13, 2018

Huawei's latest smartphone the Mate 20 Pro is full of technology innovations and has sensational camera performance in wide-angle and low-light shots. There's a great deal to like about Huawei's new handset.

Phone hardware now exceeds the point where it is easy to tell the difference between the good and the very best, making that sense of originality difficult to create.

The AED3,299 Huawei Mate 20 Pro proves there are still plenty of new toys to show off, though. It pushes the "new" more aggressively than Samsung or Apple have recently, and not solely in features that come across like snipping from the Innovations Catalogue. But this is Huawei: there are a few such techy extras packed in as well.

Design

Huawei's Mate 20 Pro approach is to pack it so full of new and innovative features, it seems almost empirically better than the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy Note 9. This is not evident on first picking the phone up, though. The Mate 20 Pro is more compact than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 or OnePlus 6T.

Width and thickness are what determine how big a phone feels. The vendor's combination of very slim borders and a screen that curves, Samsung-like, at the sides, narrows the frame. What results is a 6.3-inch screen mobile that feels surprisingly manageable.

The design basics have been copied from Samsung. Front and back panes of glass are curved at the sides, not just softened at the edges. Its sides are all aluminium.

Battery

Huawei has, crucially, not sacrificed battery life in favour of smaller size, either. The Mate 20 Pro comes with a 4,200 mAh battery, larger than that of the bigger Galaxy Note 9. Oddly, it does not seem to last quite as long off one charge as the Huawei P20 Pro. It won't need a booster charge in the early evening. It lasts all day, every day, in my experience with the handset.

The battery also offers one of the Mate 20 Pro's most out-there features, one that treads the line between genius and folly. It can wirelessly charge another phone, as well as having wireless charging itself. To use this feature, just make sure it is switched on and put the phone back-to-back with another that supports Qi, and the power transferal starts. It's genuinely clever and a mobile phone first.

Security

An in-screen fingerprint scanner is the other Mate 20 Pro's big show off. This is an optical sensor that sits behind the OLED screen, lit up by the panel when it senses a finger hovering. This isn't the first time Huawei has used an in-screen scanner. Huawei put one in the exorbitantly expensive Porsche Design Mate RS. At the launch of the phone in Dubai, Huawei executives indicated that the market will see many such scanners in the next 12 months.

Camera

The camera is where the tech-led approach syncs best with how one can use the phone. A natural progression of the camera used in the P20 Pro, this one three-lens array with a three times optical zoom. But instead of using a black and white sensor as the third eye in the array, there's a 20-megapixel ultra-wide lens.

In good daylight conditions with the Mate 20 Pro I was able to take great photos of my daughter at Palace beach in Dubai. Its HDR is extremely effective, and you have a choice of consistent ten-megapixel photos using pixel binning or extremely detailed 40-megapixel ones. However, at night, the 40-megapixel unsurprisingly falls apart.

The iPhone XS and Pixel 3 XL do offer slightly better results in certain well-lit conditions. However, the Mate is a master of extremes. Its zoom is about the most effective around, particularly as the three times lens is optically stabilised.

The wide-angle camera is excellent, and takes much better photos than the LG G7 ThinQ, a phone with a wide-angle lens. Mate 20 Pro wide photos are more detailed, and cleaner-looking than LG's.

Huawei's Super Night mode is the other highlight, and it's similar to the implementation seen in the P20 Pro. It's the computational photography equivalent of a very long exposure shot, combining a large array of images taken at different exposure levels.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro's screen is excellent, as well, largely because it uses a Samsung panel just like all the most expensive phones. The iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3 XL, and of course the top Samsungs - they all use Samsung Super AMOLED panels. This one has a resolution of 3,120 x 1,440 pixels. It's sharp.

What's the downside?

Huawei didn't throw out battery life to make the Mate 20 Pro as compact and elegant as it is. There were other sacrifices, though.

The phone does not have a headphone jack, which has sadly become the norm for high-end phones. Many considering this kind of spend may have upgraded to wireless headphones anyway, but it continues to disappoint. The best-sounding in-ear headphones in particular are not wireless.

Huawei may also have let the speaker take a hit for the compact design. The Mate 20 Pro's audio comes from the earpiece and, oddly, out of the USB-C socket on the bottom. Sound quality is fine, with decent clarity and a suggestion of bass, but top volume isn't as loud as the iPhone XS or Galaxy Note 9.

Verdict

Having played around with the Mate 20 Pro and having tried the many features it is packed with, I have come to a conclusion that the handset is the most tech-packed phone of the year, and Huawei has applied technology in more tasteful ways than it ever has before. It's used to fit a large screen into a phone narrower, and therefore easier to handle, than the competition.

Just like the Huawei P20 Pro, the camera and battery life are two major highlights for me. Some may prefer the Pixel 3 XL, for daylight images that look a little closer to those of a DSLR in terms of contrast and colour handling. However, no phone can handle as wide an array of situations as well as this one. Brilliant compositional flexibility and great night shots even when using the second and third cameras, make this the best all-rounder phone for travel photography enthusiasts.

Bottom line: the Mate 20 Pro is the biggest and best smartphone that Huawei has ever made thus far.

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