Huawei P20 Pro Review

Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei

March, 2018
6.1" display, Kirin 970 chipset, 4000 mAh battery, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
EUR:€659 | USD:$449 | GBP:£470 | PKR:99,999
Rate It:User Rating: (Outstanding)


Huawei P20 Pro Review

Huawei P20 Pro Review


Introduction

Huawei has launched a new phone of its P-series line up, the Huawei P20 Pro. Even though it's the successor to older Huawei P10 Pro, Huawei has decided to name it P20 and not P11 as they claim the phone is a huge step forward from the older Huawei P10 Pro and not just an incremental update. With its revamped high-end design and a stellar camera setup, the Huawei P20 Pro aims to compete with the flagships phones of 2018, already making waves in the tech world due to its superior hardware choice and a brand-new camera setup. There was no better time to launch this phone with Samsung launching its flagship the Samsung Galaxy S9, which is a brilliant phone but unquestionably incremental. With some major design and camera changes, is this the phone which will take Huawei towards the title of smartphone of the year? Let's find out.

Design

The Huawei P20 Pro is the phone for you if you're looking for a completely revamped design. It's mostly glossy with a glass front and back which feels comfortable and premium in the hands, sandwiching a metal frame which are rounded towards the curvy corners. Much like most glass back phones, the Huawei P20 Pro is slippery and a fingerprint magnet. In order to achieve a firm grip, you would need to invest in a case. Even with the metal edges, the phone doesn't poke into the palms as they are rounded with the glass giving a sense of quality built, something which was lacking in the previous Huawei devices. The power button rests on the right edge of the phone with the back having the all new three camera-setup, first in a smartphone. I couldn't find a handphone jack on the phone so that was a bit disappointing. The front camera and the earpiece is located on the notch which covers a rather small area of the front of the device.

Surprisingly, one of the most captivating design feature of the Huawei P20 Pro is its new gradient color options. The phone comes in four colors, Deep Black, Midnight blue, Pink Gold and the star of the show, the brand-new Twilight color which really is my personal favorite. It's a shade of violet and purple which changes its shade depending on what angle you're looking at the phone from. This is a new exciting color which cannot be found on any other smartphone in the market. The Pink Gold color has the same shade-reflecting finesse and it looks glamorous.

The design overall takes inspiration from the Apple iPhone X which isn't surprising as Huawei has previously copied Apple iPhone's designs, however, Huawei claims that they take inspiration from fine arts for their phones. The phone has a notched display similar to that on the Apple iPhone X with the ability to turn the notch off which is a good design decision. Huawei even managed to add a fingerprint scanner to the phone which rests at the front of the device, just below the display and it's flushed into the body so there's no heavy bumps to ruin the design. The Huawei P20 Pro is also IP67 dust and water resistant which means it can handle splashes of water or a drop in it for about 30 minutes in 1.5 meters deep. What Huawei has done here is not just copy Apple iPhone X's design, but evolved it to nullify its cons, making it look visually stunning and adding utility, which clearly lacks in the Apple iPhone X.

Overall, the phone looks and feels great, something Huawei really needed as without any doubt, this is the best built and designed phone Huawei has ever made.

Display

Huawei has never been shy to take inspiration from the top phones in the market, especially Apple iPhones and once again, they have taken inspiration from the Apple iPhone X's notched display. Incorporating their own version of it in the Huawei P20 Pro, they're calling it a FullView display. This is a 6.1-inch Full HD+ OLED display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio, a resolution of 2240x1080p and pixel density of 407 ppi including a notch at the top. The notch itself is smaller than it is on the Apple iPhone X and you can turn off the notch in the settings as well. What it does is display a black bar at the top hiding the notch and giving the phone a virtual bezel which helps while using apps that don't support the notch display. Talking about bezels, the Huawei P20 Pro has a much wider bezel at the bottom of the display to incorporate the finger print scanner which for me personally is the most convenient place for a finger print scanner.

Even though there are manufacturers like Samsung with Quad HD displays on their flagship devices which offer much more detail, they still revert it back to Full HD+ to save battery so for typical daily use, the display on the Huawei P20 Pro is likely to do just fine. The display looks vibrant and colorful with good viewing angles, although it's on the warm side as compared to the Samsung Galaxy S9's display. However, Huawei gives you an option to tune it to your personal preference in the settings.

The display is designed to grab attention and rightly so, it does gets the attention of the crowd. Due to its vibrancy and complimented with gorgeous color choice, the Huawei P20 Pro looks stellar. It's a beautiful phone with an ambitious display.

Hardware

The hardware on the Huawei P20 Pro is what you would expect to find on a flagship phone in 2018. It's powered by Hisilicon Kirin 970 processor and Mali-G72 MP12 GPU which is the same on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. What this means is that the Huawei P20 Pro has some top of the line hardware specs making it more than able to compete with the big boys such as Samsung Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2. There's no microSD card slot to be found which is a downer but with 128 GB of storage, most people would find it good to go.

Together with the Kirin 970 processor, the Huawei P20 Pro has a new artificial intelligence processing unit embedded with the main CPU which enables the phone carry out its AI related tasks. The AI chip helps the camera system of the phone in their artificial intelligence needs and makes this phone overall more powerful and intelligent than the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

A major downside to the hardware department comes in the form of no 3.5mm headphone jack, however, there is dual speaker support where the earpiece acts like a speaker together with the bottom firing speaker creating a surround effect. The speakers aren't as loud as on the Samsung Galaxy S9 but they do the job. The phone features active noise cancellation with dedicated mic and comes with a USB Type-C reversible connector. This means that the phone stays future proof and supports fast charging. Even though the Huawei P20 Pro is a glass back phone, there's no wireless charging support which is quite disappointing. With most glass back flagship phones having wireless charging now, including the Apple iPhone X, it makes no sense to not have wireless charging if you want to compete with the best devices in the market. Surprisingly, even the Huawei Mate 10 Pro doesn't support wireless charging with only the Porche Design variant having support for it.

The hardware of the Huawei P20 Pro has the power to tackle heavy tasks as most people had an enjoyable experience on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. With the same hardware and a newer Android version, the performance will only get better on this year's flagship by Huawei.

Battery

The Huawei P20 Pro boasts a massive 4000 mAh battery which supports fast battery charging and this a major win for this power-pack device. Much impressively during the battery drain test, the Huawei P20 Pro had a screen-on time of 5 hours and 16 minutes. That's more than both the Samsung Galaxy S9's and Apple iPhone 8 Plus's screen-on time. This clearly gives the phone an edge over its competitors and becomes my favorite choice for anyone who's looking for a phone that would last two days on a charge with moderate usage.

Huawei has improved their fast charging, implementing the new fast charging tech into this phone. This gives the phone the ability to charge from 0 till 58% in just 30 minutes of charging using the included fast charger. Currently, the fast charging king is the OnePlus's dash charging with a current input of 4.5 amperes and now on the Huawei P20 Pro's fast charger, you get a current input of 5 amperes making it the potential new fast charging king.

With a huge 4000 mAh battery and a reputation for efficient software management for battery life, the Huawei P20 Pro is deemed to have one of the best, if not the best, battery life.

Camera

Finally, we've arrived at the most important feature of the phone, as everything reviewed about this phone earlier was a build up for this. The rear triple Leica camera system on the Huawei P20 Pro is the signature feature which truly differentiates this phone from the rest. With the highest DXOMark score ever recorded on a smartphone(109), it has the world's first three camera system, having a 40 MP RGB camera together with a 20 MP monochrome camera and an 8 MP telephoto camera with an aperture of f/1.8, f/1.7 and f/1.6 respectively. It's incorporating Huawei's previous dual cameras with a dedicated RGB sensor and a monochrome sensor aiming to capture better quality photos with a telephoto sensor.

What Huawei is doing is having everything on the phone which would help in taking great photos and videos. While some might argue that the triple camera system is a gimmick and Huawei has gone for the overkill, it enables you to take great photos even with 3x optical zoom. You still have OIS with the zoom which means that the photos and videos will come out steady and clear.

The first-hand experience of the camera setup is great. Huawei has launched a new stabilization mode called the AI-assisted stabilization (AIS) which uses the phone's AI chip to stabilize shots and videos, even in low light. Huawei claims that you can take shots up till 8 seconds without a tripod and the results are impressive. The AI engine drives the camera hardware and ideally selects the best settings for each situation which means that user won't have to be confused about switching between three cameras. The AI engine has been further enhanced from the Huawei Mate 10 and now possess the ability to detect more scene types and change settings while you're using the camera, intelligently switching between modes for different objects in the view. When there's a person in the scene with a face, the camera switches to portrait mode automatically and then changes back to a different mode for objects such as food, plants and animals. This makes the use of triple camera system make sense as the AI powered chip makes the best use of the camera settings and enables users to take perfect shot without having to do anything except for pressing the shutter. There's a new 3D lighting feature in Portrait Mode through which you can change the direction and the angle of light coming towards your face and hence create lighting conditions to suit your selfie needs. The lighting effect created using this mode looks quite real and frankly, Huawei deserves a thumbs-up for this innovation.

For low lighting conditions, there's a night mode which takes a series of photos in the row and uses the AIS to put them together and create a well exposed shot. The AI crops the shots needed to minimize shakiness from the hands, creating a stable shot as the output and giving the phone the ability to perform good in low light even while on the move. The results are amazing as compared to some other phones which would struggle in low light. The HDR carries out color correction and fixes highlights ensuring shadows are maintained and not blown out. From a 4 second exposure, the camera system can get to an effective 1000,000 ISO. The stabilization also works with the video with a constant cropping and movement being applied to the recorded video.

The Huawei P20 Pro gets 98 more points at the DxOMark video recording score than any other smartphone. The phone features video recording up to 4K at 30 fps which is inferior to the Apple iPhone X's 4K at 60 fps but due to the AI stability option, the videos come out to be excellent. The autofocus is better than I've seen on any other device which Huawei has achieved by combining laser, phase detection, depth and contrast, creating a 4D Predictive Focus. This means that the camera is able to keep track of subjects and refocus constantly as needed. The camera also supports slow motion mode at 120, 240 and 960 fps. At 120 and 240 fps, you can film a normal video and later use a slider to set the area to be played in slow motion. At 960 fps, you have to be precise about what you're shooting and it only shoots a video up to 10 seconds at only 720p. Furthermore, Huawei's own Ultra Snapshot Feature is found on this phone which allows you to wake up the device and capture a photo in just 0.3 seconds. Now that's pretty impressive!

The front camera of the phone is a large 24 MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and autofocus. The camera takes beautiful selfies with lots of details and shoots videos at Full HD with the ability to autofocus in case of moving objects. Overall, the front camera compliments the rear, being one of the best I've seen so far in 2018.

One thing to keep in mind is that the software that plays a key role in making the camera system for the Huawei P20 Pro intelligent is not final and will get updates soon. With any AI software, it takes time before the software can learn user behavior and reacts to it in the best way possible. Even if the camera software might glitch or freeze sometimes, it'll only get better in the long run and more usage of the device.

Software

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with Android 8.1 Oreo which makes it one of the first Android phones to come with the latest Android OS along with the Google Pixel phones. Although It looks very different to what you might see on the Google Pixel 2 as it comes with Huawei's own Emotion UI 8.1 on top of it. The Emotion UI is infamous for being too bloated and having many gimmicky features which clatter up and makes the user experience complicated at times for many users. The EMUI is not for everyone, certainly not for stock Android fans so Huawei really needs to put some work in the refinement of their skin. However, it can be seen that this phone doesn't feel too diverted from pure Android which shows that Huawei has started to react towards the major problem of people not liking EMUI.

Nonetheless, EMUI adds a few extra features such as Huawei Share that allows you to transfer data between your computer and phone easily and quickly. The biggest software addition on the Huawei P20 Pro is the AI engine which gives smartphones a new meaning of intelligence. It's a great addition which is lacking in some of the major smartphones in the market such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Apple iPhone X. We might also be seeing Huawei's own virtual AI assistant such as Siri in the future but only time will tell.

Conclusion

The Huawei P20 Pro will be sold for 650 Euros in Europe and around $800 in the US. That's a steep flagship level price so it's definitely not a bargain like the OnePlus 5T. However, all that camera hardware and AI doesn't come cheap so the price is somewhat justified. There'll be a fancier Porche Design Edition releasing soon with an in-screen fingerprint scanner and a whopping 512 GB of onboard storage. As the name suggests, it will be a very expensive phone priced at around $2600.

The takeaway is that Huawei has put every hardware resource available into one super-powered smartphone camera. On top of that, the shooting experience augmented with AI assistance has the potential to be one of the best. The big changes in the design language also makes it the best looking Huawei phone yet.

Even though the phone lacks in some areas and misses out on some features that we have seen on other flagship devices such as wireless charging and 4K video recording at 60 fps, the Huawei P20 Pro is a powerful phone with a stellar camera. If you're looking for an amazing shooting experience, this phone might as well be your way to go.