Huawei P20 Pro Review


The Chinese handset maker Huawei has evolved so much in the recent years. The improvements and the refinements in the successive Huawei smartphones are indeed evident. This time Huawei pulled themselves out of the dual camera races, made one-up and launched P20 Pro with triple camera setup for the first time in the smartphone history. Is the triple camera just a gimmick or worth it? Let’s find it out in the review.

Unboxing

Box Contents

  • Huawei P20 Pro smartphone in Black color
  • Earphones
  • 2-pin fast charger with Huawei SuperCharge (5V-2A/4.5V-5A/5V-4.5A)
  • USB Type-C cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • USB Type-C to 3.5mm converter

Display, Design, and Hardware

The Huawei P20 Pro sports 6.1-inch ( 2240 x 1080 pixels) Full HD+ OLED 19:9 aspect ratio 2.5D curved glass display with a pixel density of 408ppi. This comes equipped with an infamous notch on top following the iPhone X way. It’s funny enough to see the Android smartphone maker implementing the notch on their devices when they are the first in line to criticise the iPhone X. Since more phones are adopting it, I guess it’s good time for the customers to get used to it.

Fortunately, if you are not a fan of it, there is an option inside ‘Display’ settings to turn it off. The display of the P20 Pro is up to the mark, blacks are deep, offers vibrant color, text looks sharp, good viewing angles and sunlight legibility as well. We compared it with LG V30+ThinQ, where P20 Pro dominated it without any competition. As per the company claims, they opted FHD+ over QHD+ taking battery life into consideration.

This device offers various color modes option including Normal, Vivid, and Color temperatures — Default, Warm and Cold. Moreover, the user also gets an option ‘Natural Tone’, where it automatically adjust the color temperature in line with ambient lighting for a paper-like viewing experience.

There is an Eye comfort option when enabled the display will be covered with yellow tint filtering out the Blue light to reduce eye straining. Moreover, users can also adjust the screen resolution on this device as per your convenience — HD+ (1440×720) and FHD+ (2160×1080). Users can also opt for ‘Smart resolution’, where it automatically lowers the resolution depends on the battery to save power.

Talking about the design, I must admit, I haven’t seen a beautiful, complete phone like Huawei P20 Pro yet. This device looks like a carefully designed with every attention to detail and in my opinion, it is a perfectly accomplished flagship. Undoubtedly, with this mobile, Huawei has surely done a lot of work in the right direction. The P20 Pro comes in four colors, but the Twilight, which looks gorgeous has its own charm. The company has nailed the paint job, fit and finish in P20 Pro. Having said that, we also feel there is a slight inspiration from the iPhone X when it comes to the curved aluminum frame with contoured 3D glass on the back. Overall, the Huawei P20 Pro is a handsome looking smartphone that can grab the attention of yours or your nearby one’s whole day.

When it comes to hardware, it features an all-glass panel with oleophobic coatings on both rear and front. But, it doesn’t help when it comes to fingerprints smudges. However, it is pretty much easy to wipe it off. Considering the glossy back, it would’ve been great if the company had provided a back case. The P20 Pro measures 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm in thickness and weighs a bit at 180g. Due to its ultra-thin bezels, it offers a screen-to-body ratio of 82%. The phone comes with IP67 certification for dust and water-resistant, meaning it can be fully submerged in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.

Talking about the placements, the front side is dominated by the screen with a top-notch housing the earpiece, notification light, sensors and the 24-megapixel front-facing camera with AI beautification, 3D portrait lighting and support for face unlock. It also has the usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors as well as Gyroscope and magnetic sensor or magnetometer for VR headset.

Beneath the display, the phone has a thin chin, that houses fingerprint scanner, which is also a part of the multi-functional Home key. I am a fan of front-mounted fingerprint scanner and it’s relatively easy to unlock the phone when it lies on the table. In our usage, the fingerprint is reliable and unlocks the phone faster. There is a rim running around the sides of the phone in a matching color housing the device’s interactive elements.

The right side of the device has Volume rocker and a power button with the red shiny strip to differentiate it. Both the buttons are made of aluminum and offer a good feedback as well.

To the left, we have a Dual SIM slot (Nano+Nano) and at the bottom, we get a primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker grille. It lacks 3.5mm audio jack, but you have been provided with the 3.5mm jack to USB Type-C converted. The top has IR (InfraRed) blaster and a secondary noise-cancelling microphone.

Flipping the phone back, here’s where it gets busy with lots of things happening around. Just like iPhone X, we have a vertically stacked camera Leica triple-lens setup with the 40-megapixel RGB sensor, a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and an 8-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens. We also get a dual-tone LED flash below the camera module. The rear bottom has a Huawei branding as well.

Software and Storage

The Huawei P20 Pro is shipped with Android 8.1.0 (Oreo) with EMUI 8.1.0 on top with Android security patch for 1 March 2018. It also has Treble support, but it doesn’t have support for A/B seamless updates.

By default, This UI gives users an option to choose the home screen style — Standard (shows all apps on the home screen) and Drawer (shows all app on drawer screen). There is a Full-screen display option, which displays nonfull-screen apps in full screen. In order to do that, users need to turn on the toggle for the selected app. Moreover, you also get voice control for quick calling using voice commands, and there are voice broadcasts for incoming calls when connected to the headset. Like other smartphones, it also has a one-handed mode. There is also a scheduled power on and off option so you can turn off the phone during the night and turn it on in the morning to save battery.

With Huawei P20 Pro, you get three different options to navigate — off-screen navigation button (uses the fingerprint scanner below the display), Virtual navigation bar (uses on-screen navigation button and you also get to select the combination of buttons) and Onscreen navigation key (Uses a single navigation key to navigate through your system). Additionally, there is an App twin option, which lets you log into two different accounts for the same app at the same time. However, this option will not be supported on third-party launchers.

There is also ‘Simple Mode’ which offers you a minimalistic home screen with a simple layout and large icon. You can secure the phone in three ways — Fingerprint ID, Face unlock and Screen locks & passwords. When it comes to Face unlock, users need to register their face on the device. The face unlock can be done in — Direct Unlock (Once the screen turns on, the device will automatically unlock when your face is recognized) and Slide to unlock (After the face is recognized, slide the screen to unlock the device). There is an option ‘Smart lock screen notifications’, which when enabled the content of the notification will only be shown when the users face is recognized. It worked flawlessly when we tried.

Also, there is a ‘File Safe’ feature, which protects your information including photos, videos, and other files by encrypting it. In addition to it, there is a feature called ‘Private Space’, where you can create two smartphones for better privacy. This features can be configured using the fingerprint scanner, PIN, and lock pattern. For example, if you register two fingerprints one for main space and one for private space, using of the private space fingerprint will directly take you to it.

Talking about storage, the Huawei P20 Pro comes with 128GB of inbuilt storage besides 6GB RAM. Out of 128GB on-board storage, users get around 116GB storage free and out of 6GB RAM, users generally get 3.6GB free when the default apps are running in the background. The phone doesn’t have a microSD card slot.

Camera

The Huawei P20 Pro is the first smartphone to sport a Leica triple-lens camera setup with a 40-megapixel RGB sensor with f/1.8, a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor with f/1.6 and an 8-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens with f/2.4 wide aperture. The 8MP camera has Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), while the first two comes equipped with Artificial Intelligence Stabilisation (AIS). It has a new Leica 3x telephoto (VARIO-SUMMILUX-H 1:1.6-2.4/27-80ASPH) lens for long-range photography of up to 5x Hybrid Zoom. It can capture low light photos with up to ISO 102400.

It also has a 24-megapixel front-facing camera with AI beautification. 3D portrait lighting and support for face unlock. It supports 960 fps super slow motion. Ultra Snapshot mode lets you capture an image in as little as 0.3 seconds by just double-clicking the down volume button, even from an off screen. It also has AI image stabilization allows you to capture incredible blur-free, handheld shots in low-light using Night Mode.

The camera UI in P20 Pro is pretty much simple and minimalistic without cramming too many functions on the apps home screen. The top consists of toggle for flash, wide aperture mode, portrait mode, moving picture mode and camera option. The top consists of toggle for flash, wide aperture mode, portrait mode, moving picture mode and camera option. Just above the shutter button, there is a strip, which when swiped selects various camera mode and it includes Pro, Video, Photo, Portrait, Night, Aperture and there is an option ‘More’. Under that, we also get additional features including Monochrome, Time Lapse, HDR, 3D Panorama, Slow-Mo and much more.

Does Huawei P20 Pro take a photo with 68MP? Actually, no. The Huawei P20 Pro works on a technology called Pixel Fusion, where a pixel receives 4 times the amount of light, which indeed helps in creating a brighter photos. Having said that, all the three cameras are used to improve the sharpness of the image.

Coming to the real world usage, the daylight pictures come out good, crisp and have details, so does the Macro shots. The camera is quick to focus the object, thanks to laser autofocus. The camera with the help of AI instantly recognises things like text, food, human faces and changes the settings accordingly to click the perfect picture on any environment. Most of the pictures look over-processed and too vibrant which is in stark contrast with the natural tone.

Those who prefer vibrant and colourful photos will be more inclined towards P20 Pro camera. The camera with the help of Artificial Intelligence instantly recognises things like text, food, human faces and changes the settings accordingly to click the perfect picture on any environment. Having said that, the P20 Pro operates at its best, when it comes Monochrome mode. The outputs are impeccable and give soul to the picture. The portrait mode on both front and back camera works comprehensively as well.

As promised by the company, the lowlight performance of the device is on par with the second generation Pixel smartphones. There is a night mode, which helps you take some really good shot with series of exposure (Long exposure and Short exposure) and offers as a final image. This behaves a bit like a HDR mode, and you don’t need a tripod for this as well. The details offered in the photos are pretty good, but not always.

Another part where P20 Pro plays well is the Hybrid 5X Zoom, which combines the 3X Optical Zoom along with the additional detail from the main sensor to achieve a 5X Hybrid Lossless zoom. When we tried our hands on it, we are surprised. The company has nailed it and offers real lossless zoom. The P20 Pro records video up to 4K resolution at 30fps. Also, it has a super slow-mo recording at 720p/960fps, and slow-mo in 720p/240 and 1080p/120fps. The video quality is just average.

The 24MP front camera produces a decent image which is not on par with the number specified on the spec sheet. Most of the images we shot turned out to be soft even after disabling beautify mode. Having said that, it is pretty good for video calls as well.

Check out the camera samples below (Click the image to view the full-resolution sample)

 

Monochrome
Telephoto
Telephoto
Telephoto
Telephoto 3X zoom
Telephoto 5X Zoom

Front camera – Selfie Bokeh
Front Camera Selfie

We will be adding low-light samples and the video samples soon.

Fingerprint Scanner

The Huawei P20 Pro comes equipped with a fingerprint scanner on the front, which I always prefer. The position is indeed comfortable and unlocks the phones quickly too. In this phone, you can add up to 5 fingerprints and not more than that. And then there is a Fingerprint recognition option, which helps users to find out which fingerprint belongs which ID.

Performance

The Huawei P20 Pro is powered by Octa-Core Huawei Kirin 970 (4 x 2.4 GHz A73+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) 10nm processor + i7 co-processor, Mali-G72 MP12 GPU and NPU. This has the same tried and tested processor as Huawei View 10, Mate 10 and 10 Pro. On our day to day usage, the device never misses a beat and we haven’t seen stutter, hang or lag yet. It processes everything regardless of what you throw at it, thanks to 6GB RAM.

We also had a frequent gaming session with this device and didn’t witness a single frame drop as such. It is worth mentioning that, the heat management in this device is on point. If you are a casual usage user, this phone will put a smile on your face for sure. Check out the synthetic benchmark for Huawei P20 Pro below.

It scored 179090 points on AnTuTu Benchmark 6 and grabbed the third spot, behind the Moto Z2 Force.

It scored 1902 points in the Geekbench 4 Single-Core benchmark.

It scored 6813 points and grabbed the second spot, behind the Galaxy S9+.

It managed to score 30975 points in the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited GPU benchmark, which is just average.

Music player

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with a standalone music player with support for Dolby Atmos. The P20 Pro lacks 3.5mm audio jack, having said that, the company has bundled USB Type-C headphones along with USB Type-C to 3.5mm audio jack converter too. The audio quality through company-given headphones is decent but not great. I felt difficulties in listening to songs in a noisy environment even with full volume. Even with the 3.5mm audio jack converter, the music doesn’t feel great. Wearing the headphones for a long time also gives you pain in your ears as well. But, the loudspeaker in this pretty impressive, when compared with the Galaxy S9+ and the OnePlus 5T. The phone doesn’t have FM Radio.

Connectivity

The Huawei P20 Pro supports connectivity options including 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 LE, GPS, USB Type-C and NFC on board.It has VoLTE support for  Reliance Jio, but there is no Airtel and Vodafone VoLTE support yet. It has Dual 4G and Dual VoLTE option that lets you enable 4G and VoLTE on both the SIMs and switch between them easily. It also has USB OTG support that lets you connect USB drives. Moving on, the call quality is good and we did not face any call drops and earpiece volume was loud as well.

Battery

The Huawei P20 Pro is powered by a 4000mAh battery with the support for Huawei SuperCharge fast charging technology. During our real-time usage, the device didn’t disappoint at all and managed to go past a day and a half on a single charge on a casual usage, which is impressive. Our casual usage includes streaming videos on YouTube, and songs on music streaming app, WhatsApp, Facebook and calling at times. However, with When it comes to intensive usage, that includes graphics demanding games, using Google Maps, streaming Netflix, the device managed up to a day comfortably with 20% remaining at the end of the day. You can also turn on the Power Saving mode or Ultra Power Saver mode if you want to save last bit of juices.

In our battery test, the Huawei P20 Pro achieved a One Charge Rating of 17 hours and 24 minutes, mainly due to brilliant talk time, but this is good for a phone with a large 6.1-inch screen and a 4000mAh battery. Since it comes with support for fast charging, it can charge from 0 to 50% in 44 minutes and from 0 to 100% in just 1 hours and 46 minutes with the bundled fast charger. We will bring you the complete set of battery life test results soon.

Conclusion

The Huawei P20 Pro is the perfectly executed flagship from Huawei and I don’t shy away from saying “Best flagship phone from Huawei” till date. The Huawei P20 Pro is an all rounding package that performs flawlessly on all departments. Having said that, the triple camera setup is not perfect and has its own set of limitations as well and the video quality is just average. Overall the P20 Pro is a huge improvement over the P10 on all the fronts, be it the display, camera, or the performance, but the price tag of Rs. 64,999 in India, for a phone with a FHD+ screen and average SoC (Compared to other flagships) is a bit too much.

At the same price, the Samsung Galaxy S9+ with a better QHD+ screen, microSD via Hybrid slot and support for wireless charging seems like a better deal. Even the Google Pixel 2 XL 128GB version that is available with cashback offers at a much cheaper rate is a better deal compared to the P20 Pro.

The phone comes in Blue color in India, and will be available exclusively from Amazon.in starting from 3rd May. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.

Pros

  • Excellent Build quality
  • Brilliant camera
  • Good battery life
  • Artificial Intelligence in camera

Cons

  • Priced on the higher side
  • No 3.5mm audio jack
  • Average video quality
  • EMUI interface might not be preferred by everyone
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