Review: Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 4:34PM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Android, Apps & Launches, Events and Launches, Lifestyle, Reviews

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The Mate 20 pro isn’t a one or two feature update. It’s a revelation of innovation from a company that’s well poised to grab the smartphone market from today’s incumbents.


We’ve seen most of the expected flagship smartphone releases for 2018 and while many have been iterative and rather predictable, we’ve seen an overall increase in pricing and focus on the premium market.

What we haven’t seen much of this year is raw innovation. Smartphones with features that are so dramatically different, or better than the run of the mill, that they really deserve closer scrutiny.

Let’s face it, the latest flagship smartphones are more expensive, but they offer nominal upgrades and capabilities from previous versions. As consumers, we’ve been lulled into thinking that this is okay.

Then the Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes along and demands our attention and forces us to completely rethink how we look at today’s flagship smartphones.


Following the global success of the Huawei P20 Pro, which separated itself from the competition with a stellar Leica designed triple-camera array. The Mate 20 Pro is a definite next level device, one that’s drawing a line in the sand.

The Mate 20 pro isn’t a one or two feature update. It’s a revelation of innovation from a company that’s well poised to grab the smartphone market from today’s incumbents.


Design and Build

Looking at the Mate 20 Pro, there’s no question that Huawei is gunning for Samsung’s top spot. The Mate 20 pro is not unlike the Galaxy Note 9 in terms of look and feel. While the purple and blue metallic ‘Twilight’’ colour may recall chintzy Hot Wheels cars, but the colour treatment is tastefully done. There’s no denying the top-flight design and materials of the Mate 20 Pro.

Twilight is a cool colour, but you can also get it in black, emerald green and midnight blue.
There are lots of nice touches that I appreciated in my review unit, like purple and orange power and volume buttons, which offer a bit of flair to differentiate it from more monochromatic competitors.

Huawei’s openness to collaboration has allowed it to team up with companies like Leica and Porsche Design, who have far more expertise and reputation in various areas. The result of this collaborative nature is that it makes their smartphones unique.


A choc-full of innovation in one device


Huawei understands that it isn’t exactly a household name in Canada when it comes to smartphones. To remedy this, they’ve decided to bring as much innovation in their flagship product in areas where people care about the most. The result is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro which comes to Canada on November 8.

The design is a glass sandwich that’s thin yet tall for maximum display size.  The display in question is a 6.39-inch OLED display featuring a 3120 x 1440 resolution display and 538 pixels per inch. More impressive is that this is on an edge-to-edge curved display that tapers off at the corners.

Despite being a big, tall phone, the slimmer width makes this easier to hold in the hand.
This display has a few impressive features, a notch for a face unlock functionality plus the industry’s first fingerprint sensor located under the display.

I happen to prefer fingerprint sensors to face unlock features and the Huawei Mate 20’s implementation for both is spot on. It’s great to have a smartphone that offers both.

Huawei is also boasting the industry’s ‘first’ 7 nanometer system on a chip (SoC), but Apple has beat them to it by a month with the A12 Bionic which also has a 7nm architecture.

Regardless of who was first, seeing that Huawei is capable of chip-level design at this scale should be a scary proposition for its competitors and a source of joy for its growing legion of fans.

A company that can create both the SoC and the hardware is best positioned to produce something truly magical.

Triumphant Cameras


The crowning glory of the Huawei Mate 20 is its trio of cameras which yield over 60 Megapixels massive photographic power.

Created in collaboration with Leica and using the remnants of Nokia’s PureView technology. Let’s look at the specs, shall we? For the rear camera we have a 40 MP (Wide Angle Lens, f/1.8 aperture) + 20 MP (Ultra-Wide-Angle Lens, f/2.2 aperture) + 8 MP (Telephoto, f/2.4 aperture), supports autofocus (laser focus, phase focus, contrast focus), supports AIS (Huawei AI Image Stabilization).

Low light images are no problem with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The front-facing or selfie camera is no slouch either, it has a 24 MP sensor, f/2.0 aperture. Not only is the camera hardware rock solid, the sensors are larger than what you get most flagship smartphones and closer to point-and-shoot cameras.

5 X optical zoom truly makes the Mate 20 Pro a viable point and shoot replacement

The cameras are impressive on their own but extraordinary when they use Huawei’s advanced A.I. to improve on scenes and subjects.


I took the Huawei Mate 20 Pro to Halloween for trick or treating a well as to my son’s class field trip and found the cameras (all four of them) to be more than adequate for most shooting conditions.

Smooth around the edges

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro offers several surprising refinements, especially for a model that seems to have come out of the blue. Aside from the stunning camera array, we also get wireless charging, water resistance a robust battery that’s good for two days without a charge.

We also have a reverse charge feature which turns the Huawei Mate 20 Pro into a wireless charger for other smartphones. So, while your buddies smartphones are dying from a long night out, you can simply flip the Huawei Mate 20 Pro over and give them a bit of a charge.

This feature is useful and will lend some power to devices for around 20 minutes, enough for them to call an Uber or navigate home.

These are thoughtful and useful features that make complete sense once you try them out.

EMUI 9

While I’m all-in on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s design, stellar camera array, and long-lasting 4200 mAh battery life, the EMUI 9.0 interface or overlay may be the only aspect that gives me pause.

I understand Huawei’s need or desire to push their own flavour of Android and various apps that they’ve created to take advantage of the hardware, but there are several redundant apps that feel like they clutter the device.

While Huawei’s hardware looks and feels modern and futuristic. The EMUI user interface looks oddly dated and kitschy, like something we’d expect from a three-year old LG phone.

That said, I found some of these apps to be somewhat helpful. I still think if Huawei wants its smartphones to be considered as viable options to iPhones and Samsung Galaxies, which they are, adopting a more universal and familiar flavor of Android will help their cause.

Pros:

Cons:

Conclusion


Huawei and its smartphones are here to stay. This brand is not just shaking up the flagship smartphone market, it is strategically disrupting the very concept of what a modern smartphone should be.

If we judge the value of a flagship smartphone on its camera performance, display capability, battery life and performance, then the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is very valuable and worth the $1,199 price of admission.

Yes, the Huawei brand is new to Canada (and unavailable in the US) but with all the features and functionality rolled into the Mate 20 Pro as well as the P20 before it, Canadian smartphone buyers now have a compelling option in their choice.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Article originally appeared on Reviews, News and Opinion with a Canadian Perspective (http://www.canadianreviewer.com/).
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