Skip to main content
  1. uSwitch.com
  2. Reviews
  3. Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: a superb camera phone

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: a superb camera phone

Pros

  • Unrivalled performance
  • Innovative in-screen fingerprint
  • Great design

Cons

  • High Price
  • Software not as refined as more established brands
  • The side curvature of the screen means you’re unlikely to use the whole surface

First impressions and design

  • Curved screen like the one pioneered by Samsung
  • Thin and relatively lightweight considering the size of the display
  • A beautiful glass back but a case is advised

Huawei Mate 20 Pro home screen in hand

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro borrows a lot from the excellent design of the Galaxy Note 9. It packs a similarly sized screen but in a slightly slimmer body, thereby making it feel much more manageable. And, even more impressive, it actually weighs less than Samsung’s flagship phablet, despite packing a bigger battery.

As seen on almost all premium devices lately, it has an all-glass construction and a narrow metal frame. Similar to Samsung devices, both the front and back have curved edges making it easy to hold despite the slippery glass at the back.

One of the first things you notice is the absence of fingerprint pad. That's because the Huawei Mate 20 Pro uses impressive in-screen fingerprint recognition tech.

It’s not the world’s first in-screen fingerprint scanner, but it’s certainly the first of the mainstream device to come with this futuristic technology. It’s located about a third of the way up the screen and can be easily identified via an icon that appears on the screen when you pick-up the device or touch the screen while on standby.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro in-screen fingerprint scanner hero size

The innovative in-screen fingerprint reader. It takes some getting used to and it feels slightly slower than the traditional pad yet we can’t help welcoming this kind of bold innovation.

It also follows on Apple’s lead, and omits the headphone jack so you will need a USB-C adaptor to connect your favourite pair of wired headphones.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro quad lens camera closeup hero size

The camera with its three lenses is set in a surprisingly slim raised square at the back.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro lock screen hero size

Volume and power button are both located on the right. The bright red of the power/standby button is a nice touch.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro lock screen in hand

6.4 inches sounds big but the super-thin bezels, 19.5:9 aspect ratio and slightly curved sides all contribute to make this a phone that feels a lot smaller than it is when in your hand.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is water and dustproof with an IP68 certification, meaning it can be submerged in up to two meters of water for half an hour without sustaining any damage.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro charge port

No headphone jack. As much as it irks some traditionalists, adaptors are cheap and easy to come by nowadays and Bluetooth headphones have reached an excellent level of quality.

Build Rounded glass back and aluminium frame
Weight 189g
Dimensions 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6 mm

Screen and sound

  • Narrow 19.5:9 ratio display
  • Curved sides and the notch can affect full-screen viewing
  • Great AMOLED screen can be very bright when required

Huawei Mate 20 Pro screen Aquaman

The screen is no doubt one of the best we’ve seen on a phone, but both the curvature and notch mean you can’t really use the whole surface efficiently.

The 6.4-inch screen is built using AMOLED technology, the same found in the premium Apples and Samsungs and delivers very high contrast and enough brightness to cope well even in full sunlight.

Its resolution is superior to the one seen on both the Note 9 and iPhone XS Max and a pixel density of 538ppi makes it one of the sharpest displays on any phone.

Colours are reproduced naturally and blacks are as deep as you would expect from a top-of-the-range AMOLED screen.

There are also countless ways to adjust the colour reproduction: Vivid, Warm, Cold or any “colour temperature” in between that’s to your liking. You should never need to worry about this though as the “Natural tone” feature, which adjusts the colour temperature based on ambient lighting, is on by default. And it works flawlessly, achieving consistent viewing experience as the environment light changes.

There is, however, one thing that prevents me from picking this as the best screen on any phone and it is the excessive curvature of the sides. This may cause some reflection when watching videos in full-screen mode and together with the notch on the left means the effective viewing area is somewhat reduced.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro blue screen

This is a great quality screen but the curved sides and notch can be in the way of the best viewing experience.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera on screen hero size

If you’re annoyed by the notch, this can easily be removed in the settings but the screen effectively becomes a 6” with rounded corners.

Like many other premium devices, the display is built with Corning Gorilla glass, which will guarantee high shock and scratch resistance.

Size 6.4 inches
Resolution 1440 x 3120 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~538ppi density)
Technology AMOLED

Camera

Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera interface

The AI assistant is very effective at detecting the type of scene you’re trying to capture and results are much improved compared to the ones we observed in previous Huawei devices.

Huawei has consistently delivered great cameras this year. We had high praises for the camera in the Huawei P20 Pro, which we still consider one of the best in the market, and we are not disappointed by the tripled-lensed Mate 20 Pro.

Huawei has left off the monochrome lens that featured on the P20 Pro. This is capable of producing extremely detailed shots and we’re sad to see it go but we’re not surprised by the move. The improved 40MP sensor on the Mate 20 Pro is more than capable of making up the shortfall in detail and the additional wide-angle offers a lot more options in everyday situations.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro quad lens camera closeup hero size

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes with three lenses: Standard/Wide-angle/Zoom. This marks a departure from the Standard/Monochrome/Zoom seen on the still excellent P20 Pro.

The results are as good if not better.

AI scene recognition is still present and is now called “Master AI”. This was a hit and miss on previous Huawei models because it could be overzealous with saturation and at times it would make images look artificial.

The AI mode can be helpful at times as it’s able to switch mode according to the subject or environment. “Night Mode”, for instance, is enabled automatically whenever it detects dark conditions or “Portrait Mode” kicks in when a face is detected.

Don’t expect miracles, but even in darkness, the zoom delivers relatively sharp results. There are only a few cameras out there that can rival the Mate 20 Pro in low light.

Overall results of the AI detection have improved but despite the more refined software and high processing power Huawei is still behind Samsung and Apple when it comes to AI scene recognition.

Huawei-Mate-20-Pro-camera-sample-kettle

You’ll be hard pressed to find a phone with better low-light performance than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Camera Triple: 40 MP, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), 20 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide), 8 MP, f/2.4, 80mm (telephoto)
Optical image stabilisation Yes
Unique features 5x optical zoom

Performance and battery life

  • Battery can easily see you through a couple of days of light usage
  • In-screen fingerprint reader slow and unreliable
  • Built for performance

As we’ve found with many devices from both Huawei and its budget brand Honor, processing power is one of the things you can be sure you’ll have plenty of. The Mate 20 Pro has 6GB of RAM which is as much as you’d find on the latest Galaxy Note and a CPU that can deal with pretty much anything you throw at it.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro gaming hero size

The Huawei Mate Pro 20 has a powerful processor and plenty of RAM allowing to perform without lag at any task.

The phone is super-responsive when browsing the internet or switching through apps and heavy graphics games like Asphalt Extreme run smoothly and without lag. Even Hearthstone, a notoriously slow-loading game is considerably more responsive than it is on almost any other device we’ve tried.

Battery life is another area where the Mate 20 Pro truly excels. The huge 4,200mAh battery delivers about two days of light use with the occasional calls and a few long sessions of internet browsing and camera use.

And if you like to make the most of your battery and don’t mind tweaking the settings, you can enable power-saving features in the excellent and quite comprehensive Battery Control panel.

Fast charging is supported and a high powered charger will deliver over half the charge in less than 30 minutes.

These are impressive stats and do affect the way you think about charging. After a few days of use, I realised charging the phone was truly one less thing to worry about. A huge battery, fast charging and the ability to optimise the battery usage to your liking make this one of the top-performing devices out there for battery life.

Of course, wireless charging is also supported with a compatible charging pad but charging speed is nowhere near as fast as it is with a wired charger.

The only lag we’ve experienced with the phone is the in-screen fingerprint reader. It requires a certain amount of pressure and it fails to recognise the print more often than not. Having said that, it’s a fantastic innovation that you can’t yet find on any of the other major brands. So it does make the Mate 20 Pro a rather futuristic device.

Still, if this was the only available biometric feature for device unlocking it would be a serious flaw. Luckily face-unlocking is still some of the best in the industry, it can be set up in seconds and it is fast and incredibly reliable making by far the best way to secure your Huawei.

RAM 6GB
Battery capacity 4,200mAh with fast charging
OS and version Android 9 (Pie)

Value and verdict

  • Another great Huwaei camera
  • Good screen but slightly too curvy
  • Impressive performance
  • Up there with the best for battery life

This is another hit from Huawaei, it has a great screen, fantastic performance, battery life is up there with the best and the camera holds its own even if compared with the latest iPhone.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro back in hand

A big, expensive phone but worth every penny if you value performance.

At around £900 SIM-Free, it’s certainly an expensive device. But for the money, you get what is possibly the highest specced Android device out there, highly capable camera, the latest version of Android and a great all-round device that will last you a long time.

If you’re looking for a top of the range Android device the Huawei Mate 20 Pro should be at the top of your list.

Convinced you need Huawei's latest smartphone? Take a look at our best Huawei Mate 20 Pro deals.

Category: Reviews
back to top