Huawei Mate 20 Pro

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Last year, Huawei un­veiled the Mate 10 Pro, which had not only the new Kirin 970 pro­ces­sor but also a no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent de­sign from the Mate 9 which pre­ceded it. The Mate 20 Pro con­tin­ues that trend with an­other com­pletely new de­sign, a nextgen­er­a­tion CPU and the cam­era setup ev­ery­one wants: stan­dard, wide an­gle and tele­photo.

Huawei has ob­vi­ously lis­tened to our wishes, ditched the mono­chrome cam­era and re­placed it with an ul­tra-wide an­gle colour cam­era which means you can now go from an ef­fec­tive 0.6x zoom right the way through to a 5x hy­brid zoom.

With other new fea­tures such as the in­no­va­tive in-screen fin­ger­print sen­sor, 3D face scan­ning un­lock and re­verse wire­less charg­ing, it’s a very tempt­ing 2018 flag­ship to add to your short­list.

De­sign

If the Gal­axy S9+ had a notched screen, the Mate 20 Pro would be a dead ringer for it. That’s be­cause Huawei has used sim­i­lar curved edges, both back and front, so the phone is thin­ner on its sides than at the top and bot­tom. It looks and feels fan­tas­tic in the hand, though as with any glass-sand­wich phone, you’ll have a con­stant fear of drop­ping it and smash­ing the front, back or both.

Huawei pro­vides a clear sil­i­cone case in the box, just as with other Mate phones, but there’s no screen pro­tec­tor this time around, pos­si­bly be­cause of the curved screen and in-screen scan­ner. So you’ll have to take ex­tra care not to scratch it and in­vest in a curved glass screen pro­tec­tor if you can. Huawei hasn’t yet said whether these will af­fect the fin­ger­print scan­ner.

Although the Twi­light gra­di­ent fin­ish (op­po­site) makes a wel­come re­turn, there’s a new glass fin­ish which is prefer­able. It’s akin to a vinyl record, with fine lines run­ning di­ag­o­nally across the back of the phone and adding a tac­tile fin­ish that is both re­sis­tant to fin­ger­prints and a bit grip­pier than stan­dard glass.

The ‘hy­per op­ti­cal’ pat­tern is only avail­able with the Mid­night Blue and new Emer­ald Green, but the lat­ter is the one we’d pick: it looks un­usual and with the quad­ran­gle cam­era ar­range­ment, it’s

cer­tainly dis­tinc­tive. Your other two colour op­tions are Black and Pink Gold.

Wa­ter re­sis­tance gets a bump from IP67 on the Mate 10 Pro to IP68. This means you can leave the new phone sub­merged at a depth of 2m for 30 min­utes, and there’s a new un­der­wa­ter cam­era mode. (There’s also an un­der­wa­ter case, though this won’t be sold in the UK.)

Since the sides are much thin­ner, the SIM tray has been re­lo­cated to the bot­tom edge next to the USB-C port. There are tiny holes on the top and bot­tom, which emit sur­pris­ingly loud stereo sound.

Vol­ume and power but­tons are on the right-hand side and the power but­ton is a fetch­ing red colour on all mod­els (some peo­ple hated this in our of­fice poll, and some don’t mind it). The 6.39in screen

takes up the en­tire front of the phone with a size­able notch that houses the face un­lock cam­era, the selfie cam­era and the ear­piece for phone calls.

Fin­ger­print scan­ner

It isn’t the first phone to have an in-screen fin­ger­print scan­ner, but it’s likely to be your first one. Since it’s im­pos­si­ble to see where the scan­ner is lo­cated, a fin­ger­print icon ap­pears on the lock screen and when­ever the scan­ner can be used so you know where to press.

Reg­is­ter­ing a fin­ger is no dif­fer­ent to a nor­mal scan­ner, although you have to press a lit­tle harder and longer to get it to ac­cept the edges of a fin­ger.

We’re not quite sure why the fin­ger­print scan­ner is nec­es­sary at all be­cause you can un­lock the Mate 20 Pro us­ing the new 3D face scan­ner. This does the job

in a frac­tion of a sec­ond when you pick up the phone. En­rol­ment is ex­actly the same as on an iPhone X: you roll your head around so it can scan around it. Dur­ing our test­ing it worked quickly and re­li­ably. In com­plete dark­ness the suc­cess rate is slightly lower, but we’ve had the same ex­pe­ri­ence with the iPhone X and XS.

Dis­play

Love it or hate it, the screen has a notch in the top edge. As you might ex­pect, the screen is OLED just as with the Mate 10 Pro. It has a res­o­lu­tion of 3,120x1,440, which is a de­cent in­crease over the Mate 10 Pro and gives it an as­pect ra­tio of 19.5:9, close to the cin­ema stan­dard of 21:9. It sup­ports HDR, and cov­ers the DCI-P3 gamut.

Huawei doesn’t pro­vide any fig­ures for bright­ness or con­trast, but it looks sim­i­lar to the Mate 10 Pro and P20 Pro’s screens. It cer­tainly has the same vi­brant colours, wide view­ing an­gles and high bright­ness.

As usual, you have con­trol over colour tem­per­a­ture and whether you want vivid colours or nat­u­ral colours. Un­for­tu­nately nei­ther set­ting is the one we’d pick: it would be bet­ter to have a third op­tion some­where in-be­tween or a sat­u­ra­tion slider for choos­ing any value in be­tween. Or, sim­ply do what Ap­ple does and of­fer no con­trol at all, and en­sure the screen pro­duces ac­cu­rate colours in all light con­di­tions.

You can en­able Nat­u­ral tone to ad­just white bal­ance au­to­mat­i­cally, but colours were never quite ‘right’. It was most no­tice­able in games where con­trast seemed to be boosted and colours were a few shades darker than they should be.

Over­all, this is still a great screen but if you want ab­so­lute ac­cu­racy, you might pre­fer the iPhone.

Like Nat­u­ral tone, an­other set­ting that’s dis­abled by de­fault is al­ways-on dis­play which shows the time, date and no­ti­fi­ca­tions when the phone is in standby. That’s some­thing you won’t find on the iPhone, de­spite its OLED screen.

We’re big fans of the new curved sides. Just as on the Sam­sung Gal­axy S9, con­tent ap­pears to wrap around the edges when you scroll. But there are no ‘edge’ fea­tures in EMUI 9.0 as you’ll find on the Gal­axy, so they’re not use­ful per se.

When you en­able the new full-screen nav­i­ga­tion, it’s com­fort­able to swipe in from the edges, but swip­ing down from the top must be done in the cen­tre where the notch is, oth­er­wise you’ll bring up Huawei’s HiSearch in­stead of the An­droid con­trol panel.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

Pow­er­ing the Mate 20 Pro is the Kirin 980, paired with 6GB of RAM. The new chip was an­nounced a while back, but the Mate 20 Pro is the first phone to get it. Com­pared to the Kirin 970 in the Mate 10 Pro, it’s claimed to be about 70 per­cent faster over­all and 40 per­cent more power ef­fi­cient. That’s largely down to the new 7nm man­u­fac­tur­ing process, the same as Ap­ple uses for the A12 Bionic in the iPhone XS.

In Geek­bench 4, the Mate 10 Pro man­aged 1,920 and 6,725 for sin­gle- and mul­ti­core tests. The P20 Pro’s scores were vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal as it has the same pro­ces­sor. The Mate 20 Pro scored 3,320 and 9,862, which is al­most ex­actly 70 per­cent faster for the sin­gle-core test and 47 per­cent quicker in the mul­ti­core-test. This makes it the fastest chip in an An­droid phone yet, but not by a huge mar­gin. The Snap­dragon 845 isn’t too far be­hind, and the 2017 iPhone X is still a lit­tle quicker.

The Neu­ral Pro­cess­ing Unit has been given a sig­nif­i­cant boost in the Kirin 980. There are now ef­fec­tively two NPUs, with one ded­i­cated to reg­u­lar tasks such as im­age and scene recog­ni­tion. The other deals with real-time nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing and real-time video pro­cess­ing. Huawei says it’s 134 per­cent faster com­pared to the NPU in the Kirin 970 and 88 per­cent more power ef­fi­cient. It can scan through your photo li­brary at 4,500 im­ages per minute, iden­ti­fy­ing faces, ob­jects, and more. It’s also used to cre­ate high­light reels from your videos. Tap on a per­son’s face and you’ll get an auto-gen­er­ated video fea­tur­ing the per­son you chose.

The GPU hasn’t been over­looked: the Mali G76 is said to be al­most 50 per­cent faster than the G71 in the Kirin 970. It’s also about twice as power-ef­fi­cient, so you should be able to game for longer. We saw around a 20 per­cent in­crease in 3D per­for­mance in GFXBench’s Man­hat­tan 3.1 test, with the Mate 20 Pro man­ag­ing 47fps com­pared to the P20 Pro’s 39fps. In other tests, such as Car Chase, the in­crease was much less, just 3- to 4fps faster.

Check in the Set­tings app un­der Bat­tery and you’ll find a Per­for­mance mode, which you can en­able to squeeze ev­ery last drop of speed out of the phone at the ex­pense of bat­tery life. In this mode we saw an av­er­age of 1fps more in games, and these fig­ures in Geek­bench 4: 3,363 for sin­gle-core and 10,059 in multi-core.

In­ter­nal stor­age is 128GB, and we ap­plaud Huawei for con­tin­u­ing to put a de­cent amount of stor­age in the flag­ship model rather than forc­ing peo­ple to pay more if they want more than 64GB. Now, though, you can insert a ‘nano mem­ory card’ to add an ex­tra 256GB. These cards are new to us, and we’re un­sure when they will go on sale: they’re not around yet.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio

The Kirin 980 is the first chip to build in Cat 21 LTE, for the­o­ret­i­cal down­load speeds of up to 1.4Gb/s. Of course, this will re­main the­o­ret­i­cal at least in the UK where no mo­bile op­er­a­tor can yet of­fer such speeds.

There’s no sup­port for 5G, which means the Mate 20 Pro won’t be able to take ad­van­tage of the new tech when it launches later in 2019 (but nei­ther will

any of its ri­vals, apart from pos­si­bly the Gal­axy S10). You’ll find the SIM tray in the bot­tom edge. It will ac­cept a nano-SIM on each side, but as we men­tioned, you’ll for­feit one of these if you use a nano mem­ory card. Be care­ful when buy­ing, be­cause most Mate 20 Pros sold in the UK will be the LYA-L09 model, which is sin­gle-SIM. If you want dual-SIM you need the LYA-L29 model. Dou­ble-check this when you see list­ings claim­ing to be dual-SIM: all Mate 20 Pros have the same SIM tray so could ap­pear to be dual-SIM, but are re­stricted in soft­ware. One place you can get the dual-SIM ver­sion is from Three.

There’s Wave 2 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth and NFC built in. And, as men­tioned, the speak­ers are ar­ranged like the Mate 10 Pro’s which has one front-fir­ing and one bot­tom-fir­ing speaker. Cun­ningly, this uses the USB-C port to emit sound, but it also means the speaker is blocked if you plug in a USB-C cable.

Yet again, the bal­ance isn’t quite spot on, with the bot­tom speaker be­ing louder than the top one.

The Twi­light gra­di­ent fin­ish makes a wel­come re­turn

Reg­is­ter­ing a fin­ger­print is quick and easy us­ing the in-screen scan­ner

Con­tent ap­pears to wrap around the edge of the de­vice

The Mate 20 Pro has three cam­eras on the back

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