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Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone review – one of the most advanced devices on the market

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  • VERDICT

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a game-changing smartphone that will make Apple and Samsung look over their shoulder. This excellent device will make people sit up and take notice of Huawei as a genuine contender in the smartphone space.

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro could just be the device that proves the company is a worthy opponent to Samsung and Apple that has enough world-first features and technology to appeal to switchers.

The Mate 20 Pro is the premium product in Huawei’s Mate 20 Series and embodies the company’s graduation as a premium smartphone player.

Huawei is actually now the number two brand behind Samsung in the smartphone market ahead of Apple in third. It is also number one in many regions.

The Mate Series launch follows the introduction of the P20 Pro back in March which won critical acclaim and was also named by DxOMark as the best smartphone camera on the market.

Well now Huawei could easily say “you ain’t seen nothing yet” as the Mate 20 Pro goes on sale from today.

We’ve been using the Huawei Mate 20 Pro for about three weeks now and it is easily one of the most advanced smartphones we’ve ever used.

It delivers on design, innovations, performance and battery life.

The device has a 6.39-inch AMOLED 19.5: 9 display with a resolution of 3120 x 1440 so it’s longer and narrower.

Also onboard is an in-screen fingerprint reader, a triple Leica camera and is powered by Huawei’s own silicone – the Kirin 980 chipset which delivers the speed, efficiency and intelligence.

Put that altogether and you get one of the more interesting devices to be released for some time.

DESIGN

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has a longer and streamlined look with a curved and symmetrical design.

It’s size and shape makes it comfortable to hold and the narrow width makes it easy to operate with one hand.

The chassis does look a little like the Samsung Galaxy S9 with the same slightly curved edges to the screen.

It also takes a leaf out of Apple’s book by having a similarly sized notch at the top of the display as the iPhone XS.

But that’s about where the similarities end because there are numerous features and capabilities that will not be found on Apple’s and Samsung’s smartphones.

On the rear panel is the square containing three Leica lenses and a flash.

The back also has a special glass texture which improves grip and resists ugly fingerprints.

And it does have an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.

IN-SCREEN FINGERPRINT READER

Here is one feature you can’t find any other flagship device – the in-screen fingerprint reader.

No, there is no physical home button or rear sensor. Your fingerprint is actually read through the display.

A small fingerprint icon indicates the area of the screen that will read your fingerprint.

With a little bit of pressure from your registered fingerprint – in our case it was our thumb – the next thing you see is the home screen.

This worked most of the time and it worked really fast.
There was the odd occasion when it refused to recognise our fingerprint and we had to enter a pass code.

It also had trouble whenever there was any trace of water on the screen. In London, on a drizzly day, it failed more times than it worked.

But that’s not to say this isn’t an exciting new feature which can only improve over time.

Users can also choose to secure the device with facial recognition if they prefer.

PERFORMANCE

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s Kirin 980 processor is one of the main reasons why this device stands out from the rest.

Across-the-board the chipset provides significant improvements including graphics performance and power efficiency.

It also responsible for the high level of artificial intelligence on the device as well including with the camera, which we will get to in a moment.

The device is running Android 9.0 Pie along with Huawei’s very own EMUI 9.0 interface which is clean and unobtrusive.

There is 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage.

The device is capable of holding two SIM cards.  Users can also choose to expand the memory using a brand-new NM memory card, devised by Huawei, that is the same size and shape of a SIM card.

No sign of these new memory cards yet but they’ll hopefully be here soon.

TRIPLE LEICA CAMERA SYSTEM

The Leica triple camera system on the Mate 20 Pro is one of the stars of the show.

It includes a 40-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 20-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera along with an 8-megapixel telephoto camera.

And that adds up to some serious photographic capabilities.

The device manages to combine quality with intelligence to make your images look spectacular.

With HDR onboard it really punches up the images and the results are spectacular.

The onboard AI works in real time to optimise your image on the spot.

The camera is smart enough to know what it’s looking at.

It examines the scene before it and displays what it can see whether you’re shooting a landscape, a landmark, food, flowers or pets.

Image taken with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

And it can delve into its bank of 1500 scenarios and can recognise 5000 objects across 25 categories to provide the best adjustments to absolutely nail the image.

The quality of the photos taken with the Mate 20 Pro is unmistakable with remarkable sharpness and colour accuracy.

The versatile camera allows you to do everything from going out to the widest angle at 0.6x and zooming right in on an object at 10x zoom.

Image taken with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – it can handle low light very well

It even has a Super Macro mode which means you can get as close as 2.5cm to the tiny object you’re photographing.

Shooting in lowlight is another strength of this camera which comes courtesy of the Night Mode made possible by the advanced AI image stabilisation for focused handheld images in poor lighting.

Image taken with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

And if video is more your speed the Mate 20 Pro can also help you shoot like a professional with editing features and filters to make your movie a work of art.

Image taken with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

One of our favourite features was the AI Portrait Colour which can detect people in the foreground of the video and grey out the background to make them really stand out.

Huawei has already claimed the title of the world’s best smartphone camera according to DxOMark with its P20 Pro earlier this year.

Image taken with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – the difference between the 0.6x and 1.0x zoom

But we suspect it’s only a matter of time before the Mate 20 Pro overtakes it.

It has one of the best cameras you will find on a smartphone today.

Image taken with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

BATTERY

Ask anyone their least favourite thing about their smartphone and many will reply: the battery.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro manages to fit in a 4,200mAh battery inside – one of the largest in its class.

And boy does it last a long time. This would have to be probably the best battery performance we can remember on a smartphone.

For our review where we used the Mate 20 Pro as our daily driver, we got two full days of usage before we needed to recharge.

So from 9am Monday to 5pm Tuesday we were running on the same charge.

But even when your battery does need recharging, you can get back up to 70 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes.

And that’s 70 per cent is enough to last more than a day.

The battery on board this device will not let you down.

REVERSE CHARGING

Another innovation users will find on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is reverse charging.

When it is activated in the settings, the device turns into a wireless charging mat so other wirelessly chargeable smart phones can sit on top of the rear panel and be charged on the spot.

Imagine if you’re with a friend who needs some charge, you can offer this feature to them and donate some power to get them through.

This feature doesn’t always stay on, for obvious reasons, as it can take a toll on your battery.

Donating 5 to 10 per cent of power to your friend will cost you more than that so make sure you’ve got plenty of power to spare.

OTHER FEATURES

There are a lot of features packed into the Huawei Mate 20 Pro including 3D Depth Scanning which allows you to create an AI live model which you can then photograph a record as it moves in augmented reality.

The camera has Hivision which means it can provide information about what it’s looking at whether it’s a landmark, a work of art or a shopping item.

If you aim it at food it can not only detect what is looking at but also measure its mass and give you a calorie read out as well.

PRICING

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is priced at $1,599 and is available in black or midnight blue or on a plan through Optus and Vodafone.

VERDICT

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a game-changing smartphone that will make Apple and Samsung look over their shoulder. This excellent device will make people sit up and take notice of Huawei as a genuine contender in the smartphone space.