is very impressed by Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s great battery and phenomenal Leica lens camera
A few years ago, Huawei were little known here in Ireland, but now they’re one of the biggest phone companies in the world. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is one of the most advanced smartphones you can buy right now and if it had a Samsung or Apple logo on the back, a lot more people would be really excited. Huawei has done extremely well in Ireland, especially with the phenomenal successful of the P20 series.
I’ve been using the Mate 20 Pro since its launch in London on October 16 as my daily driver and it can be described as the Swiss Army knife of smartphones. The Mate 20 Pro is jam-packed with so many features and truly innovative tech, that only a technophobe could not be impressed.
Incredibly, for a phone sporting a 6.39-inch display, the Mate 20 Pro feels like a much smaller phone. This is down to its rather narrow width and curved sides on both the front and back. On the front, there are no buttons — the only thing that breaks the continuity of the front glass is the speaker grill on top/centre and the lens for the front-facing camera to its right.
Either side of these are sensors including a Flood illuminator and dot projector used for face-unlock. Symmetry is the design language of the Mate 20 Pro and this is evident right throughout its stunning design. On the back, there’s the distinctive square with the three cameras and LED flash, a design inspired by the headlights of a super sports car. When I first saw this in photos I wasn’t all that impressed, partly because it looked so different. However, it looks way better in the flesh and stands out from all the other phones that look so samey.
The Mate 20 Pro has one of the best screens I’ve seen on a phone this year. It does have a notch, but you can hide it without losing any screen real estate. There’s even a special menu within settings for the notch but, essentially, it turns the background to total black while still retaining all of the usual info including time, battery percentage, signal and so on.
The AMOLED display is incredibly sharp, even when playing games or watching video. You have some control over colour temperature and vibrancy, but I found using the normal setting provided the best results.
You also have stereo sound, and I was impressed by the sound quality, but it lacks the loudness you’ll find on phones like the iPhone X Max or Pixel 3 XL. Personally, I prefer quality over volume, but your mileage may vary. The second speaker is hidden behind the USB-Type C port, which is a ingenious use of space. The only downside is that the sound gets dampened when there’s a cable plugged in.
I really don’t have a problem with a notch, but chose to hide it for the first time. The advantage is that you don’t lose any screen and when you watch videos in full screen, you don’t see the notch cutting into the image. This screen really is up there with the best from the likes of Samsung and Apple, a comforting assurance for those considering making a switch.
The Mate 20 Pro features a James Bond-like fingerprint reader that’s hidden beneath the display. Huawei has one of the only flagships to have this and although it isn’t quite as fast as a traditional reader, it works well enough and over my time using the phone this has gotten better.
You have to learn where it is on the screen and then, it can be a little finicky, requiring a small amount of pressure to work. However, there’s also an incredibly fast and secure facial recognition system that uses an IR-based scanner to see your face in 3D. You can enable extra security that requires you to look at the phone before it will unlock. This worked almost instantly and is one of the most robust I’ve tried.
There’s also an IR blaster, which can turn your phone into a universal remote for TV’s, satellite, projector and almost anything else that uses infrared. I found this incredibly useful for the TV, but even more so as a remote trigger for my mirrorless camera.
Huawei introduced the ability to connect your phone to a TV with a simple USB-Type C to HDMI cable on the Mate 10 Pro, but now with the Mate 20 Pro you can do this wirelessly. I was able to use my Samsung TV to test this and it worked like a charm. Unfortunately, not all applications support full-screen mode, but this should improve over time with software updates to EMUI. In particular, I found it excellent for photo slideshows, playing videos or editing photos on the bigger screen. The Mate 20 Pro becomes a mouse touchpad allowing you to move a PC-like cursor around the TV screen.
The battery on the Mate 20 Pro is one of its best features. It sports a massive 4,200mAh battery that’s capable of easily getting you through a heavy day of use on a single charge. And, that’s not even the best part. It comes with a whopping 40watt charger that I was able to go from 20% to full in 52 minutes. That’s crazy fast. You can also get an optional wireless charger that has an industry leading 15watt fast charger. But wait, there’s more, you can also be that guy, the hero who can wirelessly charge your buddy’s phone thanks to the Mate 20 Pro’s reverse wireless charging feature. Turn this on in the settings, then place a wireless capable phone on the Mate and watch as it magically starts to charge it.
The star of the show is the triple, Leica lens camera. The main camera is 40MP like we’ve seen on the P20 Pro, but just like that phone, you’ll take most of your photos at 10MP to get all of the advanced features.
The 40MP camera works best in good lighting outdoors for things like landscapes. You can get stunning detail, but for most everyday shots I use the 10MP option. You also get a 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom and up to 10x digital zoom.
The third lens isn’t a dedicated mono sensor like the P20 Pro, but rather an ultra-wide angle colour lens. I loved the mono camera but hardly used it. The ultra wide camera provides so many additional possibilities. In one phone you can go from .6x up to 10x.
Another big improvement over the P20 Pro is video, which can now record in 4K at 30fps with image stabalisation. Unfortunately, you don’t get 4K at 60fps, but to be fair, most users won’t care.
Other Mate 20 Pro specific features in video include some new AI modes. The most impressive of these is AI Colour, which can identify people in a scene, isolate them from their environments and then, frame-by-frame, in real time, make the background black and white while the subjects remain in full colour. I know this is a bit of a gimmick, but it shows off the shear raw power of the Kirin 980’s and Dual NPU processors. Background Blur does something similar, but instead of black and white, the background is blurred.
The front selfie camera is pretty good but not fantastic. It looks a little soft despite a massive 24MP sensor. The now-famous Night Mode is still here and is now even better, plus you can use it with all three lenses and it will take no longer than four seconds to take a long exposure.
And last, but not least, you can now get as close as 2.5cm to your subject for macro shots. However, I found I often got better results using the 3X zoom or even 5x to achieve better results. At 2.5cm you’re practically on top of your subject, and because it’s on the wide angle lens, it still can seem far away.
When all is said and done, this year, if you want the best smartphone on the market and you’re not loyal to another brand, get a Mate 20 Pro.
Available from Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone and Three for €899 with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM in black. Harvey Norman also sell the Mate 20 Pro (dual-SIM version) for €1,049.