Por­trait shot

Android Advisor - - Re­view -

It doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not quite on a par with the iPhone XS.

USB-C head­phones are pro­vided in the box, but Huawei tells us that there won’t be a USB-C to 3.5mm adap­tor in the box, which is a shame.

Cam­eras

De­spite Huawei pitch­ing the Mate se­ries at young en­trepreneurs and say­ing that the cam­eras aren’t as im­por­tant as they are on the P Se­ries phones, we all know that the cam­eras are im­por­tant on any phone. And thank­fully the Mate 20 Pro’s snap­pers are very im­pres­sive in­deed. Even in­doors in dim light, we were able to cap­ture sharp pho­tos of peo­ple with good colours and min­i­mal noise.

Noise is cer­tainly ev­i­dent when you use the tele­photo cam­era in low light, but us­ing the main cam­era you have ac­cess to the in­cred­i­ble Night mode, which al­lows you to shoot long ex­po­sures without a tri­pod and get sur­pris­ingly good re­sults. The im­ages op­po­site were taken in very low light, yet you wouldn’t know it. The ul­tra-wide lens can also be used for macro, al­low­ing you to get as close as 2.5cm. This is great for in­sects and flow­ers.

Our test pho­tos over­leaf are all taken from the same place, il­lus­trate the dif­fer­ence be­tween the 0.6x ul­tra-wide lens, the stan­dard, 3x and 5x zooms, with the lat­ter be­ing a com­bi­na­tion of op­ti­cal and dig­i­tal zoom (there’s no in­ter­po­la­tion be­cause the ex­tra pix­els in the 40Mp sen­sor are used).

It’s im­pres­sive stuff, and it makes the Mate 20 Pro very ver­sa­tile. It’s a slight shame the tele­photo lens is paired with an 8Mp sen­sor rather than 12Mp, which would have of­fered more de­tail.

All the im­ages here were shot with Master AI en­abled, and it looks like Huawei has toned down the over­sat­u­ra­tion for more nat­u­ral-look­ing pic­tures.

We’re also im­pressed by the depth sens­ing, which leads to more ac­cu­rate sub­ject iso­la­tion and there­fore more re­al­is­tic look­ing bokeh in por­trait pho­tos.

Above is the dif­fer­ence be­tween a stan­dard and a por­trait photo. Note that Master AI au­to­mat­i­cally en­ables por­trait mode when it sees a per­son’s head and shoul­ders in the frame. It will of­fer to switch to the ul­tra-wide cam­era if it de­tects a land­scape, too, and give you on-screen but­tons for Stan­dard and Wide.

Master AI is more ad­vanced now, able to rec­og­nize 1500 scenes and it can track the im­por­tant ob­jects in a scene, such as a child’s face, and will help to en­sure your photo is in fo­cus when you take it.

But, oddly, there’s no au­to­matic HDR. It’s still a sep­a­rate mode un­der the More sec­tion, so you have to man­u­ally en­able it to ben­e­fit from the new soft­ware im­prove­ments. Not very in­tel­li­gent.

There’s one cam­era on the front, the same 24Mp selfie cam­era we’ve seen be­fore on Huawei phones. It does a great job as you can see above, and there’s plenty of de­tail if you turn off the Beauty mode that is on by de­fault and which smooths out skin. There was clearly an is­sue with the early soft­ware on our test phone be­cause we couldn’t get the por­trait mode to blur the back­ground at all, but the fea­ture is there.

Video still tops out at 4K at 30fps, but the big change is that there’s sta­bi­liza­tion at all res­o­lu­tions. There’s no longer a tick-box to turn it on and off: it’s on all the time. Huawei calls it AIS, or AI Sta­bi­liza­tion be­cause it uses the NPU to an­a­lyse and smooth out the jerk­i­ness.

There’s a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence be­tween 4K video shot on the Mate 20 Pro and the P20 Pro/Mate 10 Pro. The lat­ter two were al­most un­us­able with no sta­bi­liza­tion, but that’s not the case now.

The new NPU is also put to use with the AI cin­ema mode which lets you add fil­ters to your video in re­al­time. One new mode de­tects skin tones and will keep your sub­ject – in­clud­ing their clothes – in full colour while mak­ing the back­ground black and white.

Bat­tery life

Huawei has in­creased ca­pac­ity to 4,200mAh, which is the big­gest we’ve seen in one of its phones. To al­le­vi­ate fears over the safety of pack­ing such ca­pac­ity into a thin de­vice (and no doubt a ref­er­ence to Sam­sung’s woes with the Galaxy Note 7) the en­tire charg­ing sys­tem is TÜV cer­ti­fied from the charger to the cable to the bat­tery.

And un­like Ap­ple, which bun­dles a ba­sic, slow charger with the iPhone XS, Huawei in­cludes a new 40W Su­per Charger that pro­vides a 70 per­cent charge

in 30 min­utes to an empty bat­tery. It’s so fast that the charg­ing per­cent­age runs to two dec­i­mal places so you can watch the num­bers race as it charges in Su­per Charge mode. It’s very sat­is­fy­ing.

For the first time, there’s sup­port for wire­less charg­ing, 15W wire­less charg­ing in fact. That’s twice the wattage and twice the speed of many wire­less charg­ing sys­tems in phones.

But while that’s good news, there’s an­other new fea­ture. Re­verse wire­less charg­ing al­lows you to charge your friend’s phone, so long as it sup­ports the Qi stan­dard. Once en­abled in the set­tings, you sim­ply place the other phone back to back with the Mate 20 Pro and it will charge it up. Ideal when your friend’s phone is run­ning low, but you have plenty to spare.

In the Geek­bench 4 bat­tery test, the Mate 20 Pro lasted an amaz­ing 11.5 hours with bright­ness set to 120 nits. This trans­lates to a re­li­able two-day bat­tery life with nor­mal use, and is pretty much what we ex­pected. That doesn’t take away from how im­pres­sive this is: few phones can last this long.

Soft­ware

It’s no sur­prise that Mate 20 Pro runs An­droid 9 Pie out of the box. It would be dis­ap­point­ing if it didn’t. Of course, you also get Huawei’s EMUI in­ter­face as well, now on ver­sion 9 to match An­droid. Over­all, this looks no dif­fer­ent to pre­vi­ous ver­sions, but it has been stream­lined. There are now 10 per­cent fewer set­tings items, with some be­ing com­bined into one set­ting or menu to re­duce the bloat. We’re so used to EMUI that it doesn’t take much ef­fort to find what you’re

look­ing for, but can un­der­stand why some peo­ple still don’t like it. It’s bet­ter look­ing than it used to be, but still isn’t the most in­tu­itive around. One nig­gle is that the small amount of space avail­able ei­ther side of the screen notch isn’t used ef­fi­ciently. There’s no need for the NFC icon, for ex­am­ple, but there’s no way to cus­tom­ize what’s shown and what isn’t.

But there are also some ben­e­fits such as Huawei’s use of An­droid toast mes­sages (the lit­tle pop-up no­ti­fi­ca­tions), which tell you when, say, the net­work con­nec­tion changes from Wi-Fi to mo­bile data.

As this is the first An­droid phone with this type of 3D face un­lock, you won’t find sup­port for it in many apps. You’re more likely to find your bank­ing and pass­word apps let you use the fin­ger­print scan­ner, but not your face… yet. This might hap­pen in the fu­ture.

As there’s no home but­ton or vis­i­ble fin­ger­print scan­ner you can use full-screen ges­tures to nav­i­gate, just as Google has done with the Pixel 3.

Huawei says much work has been done to im­prove re­spon­sive­ness and speed, so the built-in apps now launch over 50 per­cent faster than on the Mate 10 Pro, and there’s a faster re­sponse when you tap on some­thing in an app. This cer­tainly rang true us­ing the Mate 20 Pro: it’s as slick as you’d ex­pect the lat­est flag­ship to be.

One new fea­ture is HiTouch. This is a new icon in the top-left cor­ner of the cam­era app. It works like Google Lens: if you press two fingers on screen, you’ll get in­for­ma­tion about any­thing on the screen that is rec­og­nized. Sim­i­larly, HiVi­sion uses the cam­era to rec­og­nize what it sees and pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion.

The on-board database has de­tails on land­marks in 15 coun­tries and 10 mil­lion art­works. You can even point the cam­era at food to get an es­ti­mate of the calo­ries, and it can tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween, say, a large and a small ap­ple or a whole or half-eaten pizza. We found this worked when pointed at an ap­ple, but it couldn’t rec­og­nize Lon­don land­marks such as St Pan­cras Re­nais­sance Ho­tel and the Shard at Lon­don Bridge. Huawei says that the database will quickly grow thanks to ma­chine learn­ing, but as it stands there are just 80 UK land­marks it can iden­tify.

In shop­ping mode, show the phone an item of cloth­ing or a prod­uct and it can di­rect you to buy it on Ama­zon, Deben­hams, Har­rods or Har­vey Nichols. That’s the the­ory, but when we tried it with the Ama­zon As­sis­tant app in­stalled, it would only

rec­og­nize the gen­eral prod­uct type (such as a PC mouse), not the ex­act item. Not par­tic­u­larly use­ful.

Of more prac­ti­cal use for some peo­ple, HiAI can process pho­tos of screens taken at an an­gle, straighten them and use OCR to con­vert them to an ed­itable Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion. Thanks to the 3D cam­era, you can use Huawei’s Qmoji which first ap­peared on the Nova 3. These are sim­i­lar to Ap­ple’s An­i­moji, but are less ex­pres­sive and re­spon­sive.

As with the Mate 10, there’s a built-in Desk­top mode. Ex­cept now no cable is needed. You can con­nect your Mate 20 Pro to any screen with Mira­cast sup­port. This gives you a Win­dows-like en­vi­ron­ment which can be use­ful for work­ing, but is handy if you need to make a pre­sen­ta­tion. It’s been im­proved in a few ways, in­clud­ing the fact that the on-screen touch­pad now lets you high­light por­tions of the screen be­ing pro­jected.

Fi­nally, there a new app called Dig­i­tal Bal­ance. This is pretty much a car­bon copy of Ap­ple’s Screen Time, and gives you a dash­board where you can see how much you’re us­ing your phone. You can set time lim­its for cer­tain apps, and a ‘Wind down’ op­tion min­i­mizes in­ter­rup­tions be­fore you go to bed and turns the screen mono­chrome. Some of the new fea­tures, such as the abil­ity to scan 3D ob­jects, are com­ing in later soft­ware up­dates. We’re told the 3D Live Ob­ject Mod­el­ling app and the Touch to Share func­tion will be avail­able in late Novem­ber, with the former be­ing a sep­a­rate app avail­able in Google Play.

Ver­dict

The Mate 20 Pro is Huawei’s best flag­ship yet. It has bet­ter cam­eras and bet­ter per­for­mance than both the Mate 10 Pro and P20 Pro. Thanks to the power of the Kirin 980 you’ve not only got a very fast de­vice in your hands, but it can fi­nally sta­bi­lize video at 4K, though it’s a slight shame that it can’t quite man­age 60fps given the price. We hope that is­sues with screen colours can be sorted via a soft­ware up­date and that app de­vel­op­ers will add sup­port for face un­lock swiftly. The same goes for the AI ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which are mostly lim­ited to the built-in apps: only in China will you find apps which use the power on of­fer.

The bot­tom line is that we’re happy to rec­om­mend the Mate 20 Pro. Jim Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6.39in (3,120x1,440; 538ppi) AMOLED ca­pac­i­tive touch­screen

• An­droid 9.0 Pie • HiSil­i­con Kirin 980 (7nm) pro­ces­sor • Octa-core (2x 2.6GHz Cor­tex-A76, 2x 1.92GHz Cor­tex-A76, 4x 1.8GHz Cor­tex-A55) CPU • Mali-G76 MP10 GPU • 6GB/8GB RAM • 128GB/256GB stor­age • Rear-fac­ing cam­eras: 40Mp, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), 1/1.7in, PDAF/Laser AF; 20Mp, f/2.2, 16mm (ul­tra wide), 1/2.7in, PDAF/Laser AF; 8Mp, f/2.4, 80mm (tele­photo), 1/4in, 5x op­ti­cal zoom, OIS, PDAF/Laser AF • Front-fac­ing cam­era: 24Mp, f/2.0, 26mm (wide) • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 5.0 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS

• NFC • Fin­ger­print sen­sor (rear mounted) • USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 re­versible con­nec­tor • Non-re­mov­able 4,200mAh lithium-poly­mer bat­tery • 157.8x72.3x8.6mm • 189g

Low light shots

Macro shots

Stan­dard shot

Selfie shot

This is the first An­droid phone with this type of 3D face un­lock

Huawei says the built-in apps launch over 50 per­cent faster

The P20 is Huawei’s best flag­ship yet

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