Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review

So, after my article about my thoughts on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a retail model of this phone, so I can give you my official review of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – one week later. And, again – spoiler alert – I will be keeping it.

Specs

The specs of this phone haven’t changed since my thoughts on this phone. I have the 6GB, 128GB single-sim model, and it is blisteringly fast. No complaints here, but if you want to check out my thoughts on this phone, where I talk a bit more about the world’s first 7nm chip, check it out here.

Design

This phone’s design is even more breathtaking in person than in pictures. I got the twilight model, and it is nothing short of breathtaking. However, it does collect a lot of fingerprints. This being my first glass-backed phone, I didn’t really know what to expect, but it is a real fingerprint magnet. In most lighting, though, it is hardly noticeable, and Huawei includes a transparent case in the box anyway, so that is a nice inclusion.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

As for the notch, I disabled it on the very first day. Now, hear me out, a notch doesn’t actually bother me too much on a phone, but this notch did bother me. The icons on the right and on the left of the notch just seem to get a bit too close to the notch for my liking, and it really bothered me whenever I looked at it. The good news is though, because of the nearly infinite contrast of the beautiful OLED display, blocking out the notch solves it perfectly.

Honestly, this phone is beautiful. Massive, but beautiful. When I say massive, I mean massive. Not quite as big as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but slightly bigger than the iPhone XS Max. The USB-C speaker is good enough, but won’t win any awards for sound quality or direction. Overall, though, the speakers are very loud, at least louder than the Pixel 2’s speakers, which is surprising because Google is very proud of their front-firing speakers.

Battery

As expected, this phone’s battery life is nothing short of mind-blowing. The battery capacity is nearly double that of my Pixel 2’s, so my response isn’t too surprising. Unlike other reviewers, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I wasn’t able to kill the battery, because I was, but only when I tried. In regular everyday usage, it was perfect, and if it did ever run out of charge, I could just plug it in and within 10 minutes, it would have charged 30-40%, giving me enough charge to get a few more hours of screen-on-time. It is crazy to think that this phone’s starting price is £100 less than the most basic and small of the latest iPhones, and yet the charger included in the box is 8x faster. Just something to think about. Also, this phone supports wireless charging speeds of up to 15 watts, meaning that it is 1.5x faster than any other phone on the market, and double the industry standard. That is incredible, considering Samsung has been wirelessly charging for literally years now, and this is Huawei’s first mainstream phone with wireless charging. Well done Huawei.


This phone’s starting price is £100 less than the smallest and most basic of the new iPhones, and yet the charger in the box is 8x faster


Software

As I (and most people) expected, the software is the low point of this phone. I really like the gesture navigation, and the back gesture is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be, but some of the limitations imposed on you are just ridiculous in 2018. Most of them stem from the launcher, such as the inability to get to the app drawer from a swipe up. When you first boot up the phone, it tries as hard as possible to be similar to iOS, firstly by getting rid of the app drawer altogether. Who wants that‽ I immediately switched to Nova Launcher, and then uncontent with that, I switched to Evie Launcher, which I am still using to this day. The first thing I noticed when doing that though, was the incompatibility with the navigation gestures. When I swipe up to go home, it takes me to the app switcher for about half a second, and then sends me home. It is minor, but still quite annoying.

Another issue that I have found is that, when Chromecasting from Youtube, if the Youtube app on my phone is closed from memory, my phone no longer knows that I am playing it from my phone. The video continues to play because Chromecast has saved it, but I can no longer pause or skip the video until I reopen Youtube and reconnect to the Chromecast.

However, despite these issues, I have really changed my mind about Huawei’s software. The bloatware is not nice, but can be solved with a different launcher. The features are so many and so good that, throughout this week, I have enjoyed fishing through the settings to find new options to fiddle with. The fact that the OS tells me when an app is using too much battery life (not that it matters with 4200 mAh) is great. The software is just, well, good. Not incredible, but so much better than I thought it would be.

Cameras

Now, for the fun part. This phone’s cameras are incredible to use. Just like I predicted, they are incredibly versatile, but even more so than I ever thought. If you are looking for a point-and-shoot camera, this probably isn’t it. The colours are a bit too dull and slightly too contrasty. Nevertheless, the telephoto lens is perfect, and the stabilisation on it is incredible. Just something as simple as a wide-angle lens can completely change up the style of a photo, and the fact you can take a portrait mode picture at 3x zoom is incredible. Very few people will be disappointed with this phone’s camera.

Now, an area of disappointment for me. The night mode. When Huawei launched this new mode alongside the Huawei P20 Pro, everybody fell in love with it. It was unlike anything we had ever seen before. Now, though, very few improvements have been made to it in the past 6 months, and it has new competitors. Google’s Night Sight is significantly brighter, more stable and just simply better looking in general. In all honesty, I wasn’t overly impressed with their implementation for the short time I had it on my Pixel 2 either, but still, that isn’t very good. The night shots I have taken have been blurry from motion, far too dark to use, or the highlights have been blown out. In short, don’t buy this phone for its night mode.

Extras

Now, the fun part. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has a lot of extra features. The in-display fingerprint scanner works nearly flawlessly; just as accurate as my Pixel 2’s scanner, but obviously not as fast. Does it break my heart that, every day, I lose a total of about 1.2 seconds of my life, like all the tech youtubers said it would? No. No, it didn’t. The fast charging is mind-blowing to use, which is actually a shame because I never have to charge this phone. Right now, this is my second day straight of using this phone, with no charging, and it is on 52%. Yes, with moderately low usage, but still incredible. I, unfortunately, haven’t had the opportunity to use the 15W wireless charging, but that should come in the one-month review, which I will link here when it goes live. As for the face unlock, it is incredibly fast, efficient and secure. No complaints there. 

As for the reverse wireless charging, I’m not fussed about. I don’t quite see how that would work logistically. Your phone is on the bottom, face down, so you can’t use it without moving the other person’s phone, and you suggested charging their phone, so stopping it after a few minutes would be useless and awkward. I feel like this feature actually was just a gimmick, and I don’t really plan to use it, at all, really, but if I do, I will include it in my month-long review. The ‘underrated’ IR blaster that I praised in my previous review, has been a real let-down. Most of you will not be very surprised by this, but I was, because I have never used a phone with an IR blaster. A brilliant idea in concept, but from the slow response to the lack of controls to the weakness of the signal, it turns out that it isn’t actually ‘underrated’.

Price

This hasn’t changed at all. The price of the phone still starts at £899, and it still isn’t sold in the US. Check out my verdict below to see if that is a shame, or just as well.

Verdict

This phone is a brilliant one. From the myriad of features to the incredible camera, it is incredible. In my opinion, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a true flagship in a year of innovation. But, is it worth the price? Nearly what you would pay for a midrange laptop for a phone? In my opinion, yes. You use your phone as much in a year as you do a laptop in 2 years, or maybe more, so the money is being put towards the same amount of usage. That is the only phone at this price point I would say that for. It is truly incredible how many features this phone packs into such a small body. 


The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a true flagship in a year of iteration


What do you think of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro? Will you be picking one up? Let me know in the comments below. Also, check out my thoughts on this phone here, where I added much more detail about this phone.

 

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