To say there’s a lot going on with the Huawei P20 Pro is an understatement. Huawei builds on its strengths and produces one of its most compelling handsets ever. What makes us say this? It’s all in the details (and there are lots of those). Let’s dive in, shall we?
Proofs in the photos. One of the first things you’ll notice with the P20 Pro is the three-camera setup in the back, which is something we haven’t seen in flagship smartphones ever. It comes with a main 40-megapixel color sensor, 20-megapixel black and white sensor to help boost dynamic range and decrease noise, and a 3x zoom 8-megapixel lens that will let you zoom into a scene without using digital zoom. A hybrid 5x zoom option uses a mix of all three cameras to get better image quality when you zoom in. The P20 Pro also uses a larger scale sensor, allowing the camera to capture more light for cleaner, better images.
How does all this tech hold up? It’s definitely one of the best I’ve handled for the year. Whether you’re more of a point-and-shoot-and-forget-about-it kind of person or you’re a photo enthusiast who wants to tweak everything for the perfect shot, the P20 Pro will help you deliver. It takes detailed, clear, accurate photos with great dynamic range even in Auto. You can take full 40-megapixel resolution photos with the P20 Pro but it isn’t the recommended setting because its small pixels won’t be able to capture as much light. To get the best quality, stick to the default 40-megapixel camera shooting 10-megapixel photos. The sensor here is pixel binning or treating four pixels as one to produce better quality photos.
It shines the most, ironically, when it’s darkest. The night mode on this smartphone is impressive. It’s relatively noise-free, bright, and packed with tons of detail. The P20 Pro takes multiple exposures over the span of four seconds to get the best parts of each shot. It is as some reviewers have pointed out like HDR but tuned specifically to be used at night.
Using the 3x zoom doesn’t show any significant loss in image clarity. It’s pretty good for attempting to shoot long-range with this smartphone. The 5x hybrid zoom is serviceable but you will notice some detail loss. Stick with the 3x if you can.
The front shooter isn’t as great as the rear. It’ll get the job done but it isn’t the best. Photos come out a bit too smoothened out or unnatural at times.
Master or get mastered. Huawei’s been proudly boasting its artificial intelligence trained image recognition system called Master AI. It almost instantly recognizes the scene it wants to capture and adjusts settings to what it thinks the photo calls for. If you want to take the guessing game out of your photos, this is a quick and easy way to do that. However, I have to say it does overcompensate. It’ll amp up color to a degree some of you might not want. But if you want close to oversaturated shots, you won’t mind the results. It shows what can be considered idealized versions of the shots, colors dialed up. But if you want things to look a bit more natural, stick to auto or even tinker with Pro mode. Now, Huawei needs to tweak the camera interface a bit. There’s a tendency to get lost in all the settings that are tucked away in the default app.
What a looker. If the camera isn’t enough to catch your attention, its looks might catch your eye (especially if you happen to have the mood ring-like Twilight version). It’s all curved edges wrapped around metal rails. It looks and feels premium. I used the Midnight Blue version, while not as attention-grabbing as the Twilight version, it’s still quite a looker. It’ll attract your attention with its sheen. Unfortunately, it attracts fingerprints, dust, and scratches a bit easily, too. It is also a wee bit slippery so be extra careful. The camera bump is significant, too, which means it won’t lie flat on a table. And if you’re a notch hater, you might not be happy to see this device sport one. A software option will let you hide it when the phone is in use but honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to it. And with the 18.7:9 aspect ratio, we get a slightly taller device that doesn’t make the phone feel unwieldly. It also provides extra screen real estate to work with if you do decide to hide the notch. I didn’t really mind it. It would only bug me when I tried using apps that doesn’t play quite as friendly with notched Android devices (like Instagram).
One other design decision I wish Huawei didn’t pursue was the removal of the headphone jack. I still rely heavily on wired audio accessories. The adapter that comes with the phone doesn’t quite solve this issue.
Like a boss. We were concerned about whether a chip launched in 2017 could handle a 2018 phone. But it seems most of those worries weren’t that big of a problem. Outside of the impressive camera, the P20 Pro delivers in terms of performance. It was speedy, didn’t really crash any apps for me, and let me play Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery in peace. EMUI has come a long way from where it started but it’s still a bit too cluttered for my taste.
But I did like that both the fingerprint sensor and Face Unlock worked quickly to let me use the phone. I loved how I just needed to pick it up and have it aligned to my face and it would just work. I did, however, have a harder time recognizing myself when I had eyeglasses on. Battery life is impressive, too. Huawei packed in a sizeable battery here without sacrificing too much thickness. You can easily get a day and a half’s use out of this. I got 11 hours of onscreen time on a single charge. Plus, fast charging is available, letting you get full battery at around an hour and a half. Now if only Huawei packed in wireless charging, too.
The Huawei P20 Pro isn’t a flawless device. It has its quirks you might not appreciate: the notch, an overzealous AI for camera use, EMUI skin on top of Android. But it has a lot of great things going for it. Its cameras allow for so much flexibility, it isn’t unwieldy despite its big screen size, and you get battery for days (at least two). It’s definitely a compelling contender for your next flagship phone.
Display: 6.1” AMOLED (1,080 x 2,240 resolution)
SIM: Dual nano
Operating system: Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.1
Processor: Kirin 970 octa-core
GPU: Mali-G72 MP12
Memory: 6GB RAM
Storage: 128GB internal storage
Cameras: Triple: 40MP (f/1.8, 27mm, 1/1.7″) + 20MP B/W (f/1.6, 27mm) + 8MP (f/2.4, 80mm) rear w/ OIS, Leica optics, 3x optical zoom, phase detection and laser autofocus, LED flash, up to 2160p@30fps video; 24MP (f/2.0, 26mm) front
Connectivity & I/O ports: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot; Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR, aptX HD; GPS w/ A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO; NFC; IR; USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0
Security: Fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock
Other features: IP67 dust-/water-resistant
Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 4,000mAh
Dimensions & weight: 155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm, 180g