Huawei announced in Paris the new P20 series smartphone, which is formed by the Huawei P20 Lite, Huawei P20, and Huawei P20 Pro. The three models have similarities in design, but they show important differences in power and, especially, in the photographic section.

The Huawei P20 Pro is the most ambitious model of the three as it arrives with 6.1″ OLED display with Full HD + resolution, Kirin 970 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, 24MP front camera, triple rear camera, and 4,000 battery mAh.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The star functionality of the Huawei P20 Pro is its innovative rear camera, which arrives with 40MP + 20MP + 8MP sensors and has been listed by DxOMark as the best smartphone camera, above heavyweights such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 +, Google Pixel 2 XL or iPhone X.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The Huawei P20 Pro is on sale at an official price of $533.00 on sites like Amazon. It is a fairly high price, which reflects its high-end condition. After having used it for more than a week intensively, then we present our in-depth analysis.

Design and Construction

Like most high-end manufacturers, Huawei has joined the trend of smartphones with FullView display. These types of screens have a more elongated appearance, 18.7:9 versus16:9, and narrow frames that allow better use of space.

The Huawei P20 Pro has a superior frame since it has been almost completely replaced by a «notch» similar to that of the iPhone X, although smaller.

This notch occupies the central area at the top of the screen and houses the front camera, the earpiece, some sensors, and the notification LED.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The advantage of the notch versus a traditional frame is that you can take advantage of the screen space on the left and right by showing notifications, time, battery icon and other elements of interest. In a traditional smartphone, all that space would be occupied by the upper frame.

If you are one of those who run away from notched smartphones, you will be glad to know that Huawei has incorporated software functionality that allows you to hide the notch by obscuring the upper part of the screen creating a “virtual” top frame. The advantage is that space is still being used as notification icons and other elements are still present.

The fact that the Huawei P20 Pro has an OLED panel, in which the pixels can be completely turned off, helps the notch go unnoticed when activating this functionality.

The lower frame is quite narrow but it is well used since Huawei has placed a fingerprint reader there that can act as a multi-function button, replacing virtual controls on the screen.

The frames on the left and right of the screen are quite narrow and the screen has an elegant 2.5D curve that is inserted into the shiny metal frame.

The Huawei P20 Pro features a glass-finished back cover that is available in three colors: Black, Midnight Blue, and Twilight. The most spectacular is this last color, which reflects the light in very striking violet and turquoise tones.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The disadvantage of glass finishes is, as you can imagine, that the traces and dirt are marked quite easily, so you will have to clean it regularly if you want to use it unpolluted.

The large screen size combined with the 19:9 ratio makes it practically impossible to handle it with one hand comfortably. Although it is possible to type by holding it with one hand, it is very difficult to drag the notification bar down without juggling the phone.

Luckily, Huawei has incorporated a one-hand mode that is activated by dragging your finger from left to right (or vice versa) above the virtual button bar.

Despite its large screen, the Huawei P20 Pro is not a phone that feels too big in the hand since space is very well used. Its dimensions are 155 x73.9 x7.8 mm and it weighs 180 grams. The curved edges help make the sensation tightly good when gripping it.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

Next, we will review the elements found on the surface of the phone.

The front of the Huawei P20 Pro is mainly occupied by the screen, whose side and bottom frames are very narrow as we have already said.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

At the top of the screen, we find the notch, which houses the ear speaker, the front camera and the usual proximity and brightness sensors.

We also found a multi-color notification LED, which is not visible when it is off.

It is a success that Huawei has included a notification LED since many manufacturers already dispense with this element.

In the lower frame, we find the fingerprint reader that, as we have said, can also act as a multi-function button instead of the virtual controls on the screen.

In the back, we find the glass back cover, which cannot be removed and, therefore, we do not have access to the battery.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The upper left corner, we find the triple camera located vertically.

While the two upper cameras are mounted on a protruding module, the third camera is flush with the surface of the phone.

The greater thickness of the module of the two cameras means that, when supported on a flat surface, the telephone «dances» when pressing on its screen.

Under the camera, we find the LED flash and, just below, an inscription that says «LEICA» and, below, the camera features.

In the lower-left corner, we can see the HUAWEI logo, which is oriented vertically.

On the right side, we find the power button and, above this button, the volume control, in one piece and elongated. Both buttons have a good touch feeling and sufficient travel.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

On the left side, we only find the slot to house two nano-SIM cards.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The top of the phone has infrared emitter.

The bottom of the phone has a USB-C connector in the center. On one side, we find holes that hide the main speaker and, on the other side, asymmetrical holes that have no particular function.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

In my opinion, the Huawei P20 Pro has a very attractive appearance, although it is a totally subjective opinion that depends a lot on the love/hate you have for the controversial screen notch.

The Huawei P20 Pro has IP67 certification, so you should not worry if there is a dip.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

Huawei P20 Pro Screen

The Huawei P20 Pro has a large 6.1″ OLED screen of FullView type and an 18.7:9 ratio, as usual in the latest star smartphones from leading manufacturers.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

Huawei has never been friends with incorporating screens with high resolution, so we are not surprised that the Huawei P20 Pro arrives with a Full HD + panel (2240 ​​x 1080 pixels) instead of Quad HD +.

The pixel density turns out to be 408 dpi, making it an extremely sharp screen in view, although it falls a bit short for Virtual Reality applications such as Google Daydream.

Being an OLED screen, the sub-pixel matrix is ​​of the PenTile type. This means that the red, green and blue sub-pixels are not arranged in a row but form a diamond pattern.

The drawback of PenTile screens is that the sharpness is somewhat lower than LCD screens. Thanks to the high resolution of the Huawei P20 Pro, this is not a problem.

In addition to having a good resolution, the Huawei P20 Pro screen offers a wide range of color.

No current panel is capable of displaying the full-color range Rec. 2020, but many panels cover the DCI-P3 range.

On the other hand, HDR technology increases the dynamic range of color tones shown on the screen. The Huawei P20 Pro panel is compatible with HDR10 and Dolby vision, as other high-end smartphones from Samsung, LG or Apple.

The Huawei P20 Pro offers two color playback modes: normal and vivid. As the name refers, the vivid mode offers more vivid colors but, at the same time, less true to reality, while the normal mode is the one that aims to show colors closer to reality.

With the normal mode active, the color accuracy turns out to be spectacular since the average error is 1.1 dE (a value below 4 dE is considered excellent and above 9 is considered unacceptable) and the maximum error is 1.7 dE.

With the vivid mode active, the color accuracy worsens to an average error of 4.3 dE and a maximum error of 6.8 dE, because the colors are more saturated than they are.

The screen offers a color temperature setting and, if we choose the warm mode, the color temperature drops to 6,446ºK, an excellent value. The gamma value is good, 2.4.

Another interesting aspect of the Huawei P20 Pro’s screen is that it incorporates a feature called natural tone that adjusts the color temperature to ambient light to achieve experience similar to that of paper reading.

It is a functionality similar to the True Tone of the iPhone X that, I find very interesting, especially in places decorated by orange light or a color tone that is not white.

The maximum brightness of the Huawei P20 Pro is around 400 nits with the maximum brightness in manual mode, but it increases to 560 nits if we set the automatic mode and we are under a very bright environment.

OLED screens have wonderful behavior when viewed from an angle. On the one hand, the light emitters are closer to the surface, and this makes the contrast and brightness vary less when we move from the center, but on the other hand, the Pentile matrix causes the colors to distort.

In the case of the Huawei P20 Pro, the viewing angles are wide and the colors are hardly changed when viewing the screen from an angle.

Huawei has not incorporated the functionality of turning on the screen with a double-tap to see if we have pending notifications, but it incorporates a functionality of Always Active Screen something hidden (Settings> Security and Privacy> Screen lock and passwords> Always show information). This functionality shows the time, date and battery level on the lock screen but does not show app notifications.

Finally, Huawei has incorporated a reading mode that filters the light to relieve visual consumption. It can be activated manually or, if we prefer, add the start and end time.

Huawei P20 Pro Hardware

One of the highlights of the Huawei Mate 10 was the incorporation of the Kirin 970 chip, which has a Neural Process Unit (NPU). The Huawei P20 Pro uses the same chip.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The NPU of the Kirin 970 offers a performance that is 25 times that of a CPU, with 50 times higher energy efficiency

Its performance is 1.92 TFLOPS FP16 which, as a reference, is three times more than what the GPU of the Kirin 960 (0.6 TFLOPS FP16) obtains.

The Kirin 970 is developed in a 10nm manufacturing process of TSMC, such as Snapdragon 835/845.

The chip has four high-performance ARM Cortex A73 cores at 2.4GHz and four high-efficiency ARM Cortex A53 cores at 1.8GHz. The integrated GPU is Mali G72 in an MP12 configuration.

Next to the processor, we find 6GB of RAM, which is more than enough to be able to have several applications open at the same time.

It is true that there are some smartphones with 8GB of RAM on the market, but in my opinion, it is more a matter of marketing than a real improvement for users since in practice there is not much difference.

The performance results obtained by the Huawei P20 Pro in the different benchmarks reflect that we are facing a very powerful smartphone, along with the high-end smartphones of 2017.

With respect to the new star smartphones of 2018, we still do not have many devices to compare, but the Samsung Galaxy S9 + obtains clearly superior results in gross performance.

In the day-to-day, the handling of the Huawei P20 Pro is excellent and I have not suffered any break or delay (“lag”) when it comes to handling the phone interface and usual apps such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or Google Maps

The 6GB of RAM of the Huawei P20 Pro is more than enough to keep in memory a good number of apps at once, and I have not experienced problems when switching between applications and enjoy the multi-task.

In the graphic performance tests, the GPU has obtained good benchmark results, but it is clearly below other high-end smartphones.

To check the daily graphics performance, three demanding 3D games have been tested – Asphalt Xtreme, Dead Effect 2 and Dead Trigger 2 – and, in all of them, the experience when playing with the Huawei P20 Pro has been excellent. Therefore, the lower power of the GPU compared to other star smartphones is no problem today.

Like all high-end phones, it heats up slightly when subjected to a high workload, especially in 3D games.

In order to optimize performance, Huawei incorporates an application called Manager that analyzes the state of the phone and offers various ways to optimize the operation of the phone.

Among others, this application can propose to close certain applications to reduce energy consumption, delete large files or applications rarely used to free up space or disable Bluetooth if there is no device to link.

This same application also allows you to block calls and messages from certain users, restrict the use of mobile data / WiFi by apps, reduce data consumption by limiting background connections, control applications that can display floating notifications or in the Notification center, search for viruses, and manage battery consumption.

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with 128 GB of storage, an amount that should be sufficient for most users, although if you record many videos in 4K format and download movies, you may be depleted.

Unfortunately, the Huawei P20 Pro does not allow you to add a micro-SD card, so you must comply with the 128GB of internal storage. We find it hard to understand why Huawei has restricted this possibility when the Huawei P20 Lite allows expanding storage.

In the connectivity aspect, the Huawei P20 Pro is compatible with WiFi 802.11 b / g / n / ac at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 (compatible with aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and HWA), 4.5G / LTE, transmitter Infrared and NFC. Does not incorporate FM radio.

The Huawei P20 Pro incorporates an LTE modem Cat. 18 with download speed up to 1.2 Gbps, and technology to reduce the number of missed calls and cuts in the data connection when traveling at high speed, for example on fast trains.

In the tests, the network speed for both Wi-Fi and 4G have been very satisfactory.

In the WiFi test, the Huawei P20 Pro reached 297 Mbps down and 90 Mbps with a 300 Mbps fiber optic connection.

One aspect that does not convince me of the management of WiFi connections is that, if you have several access points issuing the same SSID, the Huawei P20 Pro does not automatically change the connection to the nearest access point but remains connected with the first access point although the speed is much lower.

Not even turning off and on the WiFi connection helps the phone to realize that there is another access point closer, but you have to wait until you lose the connection and look for a new access point.

The Huawei P20 Pro has a fingerprint reader in the lower frame that allows you to unlock the phone quickly, as well as access to protected applications.

Huawei has also incorporated a facial detection system called Face Unlock that allows you to unlock the phone with your face just by pressing the power button. It is possible to have fingerprint and face detection activated at the same time, so you can use one or the other interchangeably.

Facial recognition works quite quickly and, in my opinion, is even more comfortable than placing your finger on the fingerprint reader. Also, when you grab the phone, the accelerometer detects movement, automatically turns on the screen and unlocks the phone if it detects your face.

In my experience, the Face ID recognition system has proven to be very reliable, so you will have no problem for the system to recognize you if you wear glasses, stop shaving or make small changes on your face. If facial recognition fails five times in a row, the phone asks for the access code for security.

Face Unlock does not make use of a 3D sensor like the iPhone X but is based on the image captured by the front camera, so it is possibly not so safe. However, you can not be able to fool the system by putting a photo or video in front of the phone, nor by putting your face with closed eyes. However, it is possible to unlock it if you are looking to another site, which is not possible with the iPhone X.

Huawei P20 Pro Battery

The battery of the Huawei P20 Pro has a capacity of 4,000 mAh, the same capacity as the Huawei Mate 10. It is a fairly high capacity for a phone of this size.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

In the day-to-day, the autonomy of the Huawei P20 Pro is very high. We will have no problem arriving at the end of the day even though we make pretty intense use of the phone during the day.

In addition, Huawei has incorporated a tool to manage energy savings within the Manager application. This tool allows you to choose between a standard and an Ultra energy-saving mode.

The standard mode restricts the activity of background applications, reduces or disables some visual and sound effects, and disables receiving mail in the background to save energy. The Ultra mode changes the interface to a simpler one and only offers access to Calls, Messages, and Contacts, although we can add some additional apps.

A functionality called Smart Resolution allows you to automatically or manually reduce the resolution of the screen to save battery although, in the case of a 6.1 ″ screen, it does not seem advisable to reduce the resolution below Full HD +.

Since the screen of the Huawei P20 Pro is OLED, Huawei has incorporated an option to darken the colors of the interface since, as we know, black pixels do not consume energy.

The Manager app also performs a phone status analysis to increase energy savings by suggesting various actions.

For example, the app indicates which applications are the ones that consume the most energy and what settings we can modify to reduce energy consumption: lower screen brightness, disable vibration, disable synchronization, etc.

One feature that I liked is that it allows you to individually select which apps can start automatically, as well as which ones can continue running once the screen is turned off.

In addition, the phone also indicates which applications consume a lot of energy so that we know where we are going to obtain the greatest benefits.

The Huawei P20 Pro features fast SuperCharge charging and the entire charging process has taken a total of 1 hour and 16 minutes with the included charger. 50% of the charge is obtained in less than 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, the Huawei P20 Pro does not have wireless charging, something that is becoming popular among high-end phones. Since the back cover is made of glass, we would have liked Huawei to add this technology.

Huawei P20 Pro Software

The Huawei P20 Pro operating system is Android 8.1 Oreo and Huawei has incorporated its own EMUI 8.1 customization layer. EMUI is one of the layers of customization that more new features added on Android.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

Application and folder icons have rounded corners and, in some cases, have a circular appearance. Personally, the aesthetics of some icons, like Gallery, do not quite convince me, but it is a matter of taste.

A unique aspect of EMUI is that the lock screen can display different wallpapers that are automatically downloaded by the phone.

Now, if you have Facial unlock enabled, the lock screen appears only fleetingly in front of your eyes while your face is identified as it quickly gives access to the desktop.

While on the lock screen, in the lower right corner, we have access to the camera. If we slide our finger from the bottom up, there are some shortcuts to the recorder, calculator, flashlight, stopwatch and QR / barcode reader. Unfortunately, these quick actions are not available with your unlocked phone.

On top of these shortcuts, we have some controls to interact with the wallpaper of the lock screen. By clicking on the icon on the right, we can access the Covers section where we can subscribe to thematic wallpapers of Huawei, Leica Photography, Travel, Transportation, Celebrities, Style, General, and Sports.

The Huawei P20 Pro with a theme manager that allows you to change the look of the phone. It is even possible to customize each particular theme by altering the style of the lock screen, the lock screen background, the background of the main screen and the style of the icons, but not the font used for the typeface.

These themes also affect the color schemes of the applications included as standard on the phone. The phone arrives with 12 pre-installed themes and it does not seem possible to download new themes.

Dragging the screen down while on the desktop opens the EMUI search that allows you to locate content in applications, contacts, messages, etc. and even suggests some apps.

The Huawei P20 Pro allows you to set the main screen with simple style, where only a few large buttons are displayed. It is an option indicated for children or the elderly.

The device does not have physical buttons but shows a lower navigation bar with the usual virtual buttons – Back, Home and Tasks – which are customizable since the phone allows you to choose between four combinations.

The fingerprint reader also works as a navigation key if we activate the option in the Settings menu. In this way, we can do without the virtual navigation buttons and gain some more space on the screen.

With a long press, we go to the main screen, with a short press we go back, if we drag our finger from right to left we access the recent apps and if we drag our finger from bottom to top we open Google Assistant.

Another possibility is the use of a navigation dock, which is a floating button that allows you to go back by pressing once, go to the main screen with a long press and show all open apps by pressing and dragging to the left.

The notification area shows five shortcuts at the top, which expand to many more if we drag the screen down. Below these accesses, we find the screen brightness control and then the latest notifications.

Huawei offers some unique features such as automatically arranging icons when removing an application or shaking the phone to align the icons on the main screen. We can set different transition effects between the desktop screens, as well as choose the size of the grid: 4 × 6 or 5 × 6.

Huawei also allows us to choose if we want the icons to show a symbol (a color point) that indicates whether there is a pending notification or an unread message, or even that no symbol is displayed individually for each app.

In case we do not like having all the icons on the desktop, Huawei offers the possibility to recover the drawer of applications that include other manufacturers.

One of the aspects that I like most about EMUI is the possibility, it offers, to individually manage the permissions of each application for different purposes since it allows:

  • Adjust the permissions of each application to show notifications and their location.
  • choose for each application if we want the symbol to be displayed in the upper right corner of the icon when there are notifications or messages
  • Adjust the permissions of each application to continue running once the screen is turned off.
  • Adjust the permissions of each application to use the WiFi or mobile data connection in the foreground, in the background, and in roaming, and know the data consumption for each type of connection.

In this way, we can have absolute control over the applications, and adjust their use to our needs. For example, we can decide that Twitter cannot run in the background to save battery power, or that a game cannot make use of the mobile data connection under any conditions.

My only complaint is that there is no place where you can manage all aspects of an app, but you must jump between different sections.

The Huawei P20 Pro also offers a voice recognition feature. If you can’t find the phone and know it is close, or if your hands are busy and you need to make a call, you can use voice control to find the phone and make calls.

Unfortunately for the moment, voice commands can only be given in English and, in my tests, I have not been able to recognize the activation phrase “OK, Emy”.

Huawei incorporates gesture control :

  • Movements: Turn around to silence, lift to decrease the ring volume, bring the ear to answer/make calls, shake to rearrange icons, and tilt to move icons.
  • Gestures with knuckles: take a screenshot of the screen or part of it when hitting with a knuckle, make a screen recording when hitting with two knuckles, divide the screen into two for multi-task, draw ‘S’ to make a capture with scrolling or drawing other letters (‘c’, ‘e’, ​​’m’ and ‘w’) to open applications.

Huawei offers an interesting functionality called “Twin Application” that allows you to log in with two different accounts in the same app at the same time. This is useful for apps like WhatsApp or Facebook that do not allow you to set up multiple accounts.

Another related functionality is “Private Space“, which creates a new desktop where you can keep apps, photographs, videos, music, and any other content away from other people’s eyes. Huawei allows you to associate a PIN and a different fingerprint to this space so that if we use them on the lock screen, we directly access this desktop. The only problem is that, if you have facial recognition enabled, you automatically access the main desktop.

If we only want to restrict access to one or more apps, we can use the “Application Lock“, which allows you to protect access to an application by password or fingerprint.

The Huawei P20 Pro also has the “Projection function“, which allows you to connect the phone to a screen to enjoy a desktop experience with external keyboard and mouse. To connect, a USB-C to HDMI / VGA / DVI cable is sufficient.

Huawei has added functionality called “Huawei Share” that allows files to be shared between two Huawei devices without using mobile data, as well as with Windows or macOS computers connected to the same WiFi network.

Applications included

Huawei has incorporated an application called “Health” that, as its name implies, allows us to control our physical activity. The application allows you to set goals for daily steps and weight, record when we are going to exercise, and keep track of the number of steps walked, the distance traveled and the number of floors climbed.

The application can connect to external data sources to better track our physical activity.

Huawei has incorporated an application called “Translator” that takes advantage of the capabilities of the Kirin 970 processor NPU. The app allows you to translate written text, voice messages, dialogues with another person or posters captured with the phone’s camera.

We also found an app called “Backup“, which creates a backup of personal data, applications, and multimedia content and stores them on a computer, in the phone’s own internal memory or on a USB device.

If you want to migrate your data from another phone, you’ll be happy to know that we have the “Phone Clone” app to transfer data from any other smartphone (Android or iPhone) to the Huawei P20 Pro. This app transfers data such as contacts, registration of data via a WiFi zone calls, calendar events, WiFi connections, multimedia files, application data, etc.

To make use of the infrared emitter, we have the “Smart Controller” app, which allows adding devices to which we can give orders directly from the phone. The app includes a large database of brands.

Huawei has incorporated a few third-party applications, such as “Quik“, “Instagram“, “Booking“, “eBay“, “Netflix” and “Facebook“. Luckily all of them can be uninstalled, although we would have preferred that they did not come pre-loaded since it is pure bloatware.

Finally, Huawei has incorporated “AppGallery“, a Huawei app store that does not seem to add any improvement over Google Play Store.

Huawei P20 Pro Multimedia

The Huawei P20 Pro offers excellent sound quality because it has stereo speakers: one on the bottom and one on the headset.

The sound emits is quite powerful, although not as much as, for example, the iPhone X. The speakers offer a wealth of appropriate tones, within what can be expected from a smartphone.

A drawback of the speaker at the bottom is that it is easy to cover the speaker by hand when holding the phone horizontally.

Unfortunately, Huawei has dispensed with the traditional headphone jack, so we will have to use a USB-C or Bluetooth headset, or use the 3.5mm adapter that Huawei includes in the box.

The Huawei P20 Pro incorporates a music playback app with a simple and minimalist interface that allows you to view songs by title, album, artist, and folder.

The background color of the music player conforms to the cover of the disc currently being played.

The player allows you to create playlists and mark songs as favorites.

By placing the phone horizontally, we can see the album covers that we have stored on the phone.

The Huawei P20 Pro supports Dolby Atmos sound and is capable of playing sound encoded with Dolby’s advanced AC-4 audio codec. It allows you to choose between three playback modes: Intelligent (automatically identifies the content and optimizes sound), Movie and Music.

It is possible to play music on an external device but, clearly, it is not possible to play music stored on other network devices such as a NAS disk.

The Gallery application is used to conveniently view the photos stored on the phone. It has three tabs: Photos, Albums, and Discover.

The Discover tab shows the photographs grouped by «memories» (for example, photos were taken in a city, selection of portraits, etc.), people, location and «things» recognized in the photographs (food, landscapes, documents, etc.)

The app also allows you to edit the images through various integrated functionalities.

The video playback is excellent and the phone is able to play smoothly compatible files, thanks to its processor.

We have tested some 1080p and 4K videos, encoded with both H.264 and HEVC and all of them have been reproduced without problems. We have also tried to play some HDR10 file, which looks perfect on the screen of the Huawei P20 Pro.

Of course, we have also been able to enjoy streaming services movies like Netflix without problems, although strangely no Huawei phone appears in the list of devices compatible with Netflix HDR playback.

Huawei P20 Pro Photo camera

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business, began the presentation of the Huawei P20 Pro explaining that the new smartphone is called ‘Pro‘ instead of ‘Plus’ because it is not only a “bigger” smartphone but it arrives with a “professional camera”. »

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

Indeed, the Huawei P20 Pro comes with a rear camera with three lenses developed together with Leica which, according to DXOMark, is the best camera ever seen on a smartphone.

The triple camera is formed by the main sensor of size 1 / 1.7 ″ of 40MP with a wide-angle lens (27mm) with f / 1.8 aperture, an 8MP sensor with a telephoto lens (80mm, 3X zoom) with f / 2.4 aperture and a 20MP monochrome sensor with f / 1.6 aperture.

In-depth review of the Huawei P20 Pro and opinion

The 40MP sensor is called Light Fusion and is intended to improve brightness and definition, while the 20MP monochrome lens is designed to detect the depth of the image.

Of the three sensors, apparently, only the optical zoom has optical stabilization, although Huawei does not provide too much detail about it. For the rest, Huawei uses Artificial Intelligence to stabilize the image through a system called AIS (Artificial Intelligence Stabilization).

The camera has a laser focusing system that is effective up to two meters, an additional color sensor for better white balance, and a focus system for phase, depth and contrast detection. In addition, Huawei makes use of the 4D predictive approach system based on Artificial Intelligence to predict the future position of moving objects and keep them under focus.

One of the lenses of the rear camera of the Huawei P20 Pro offers a 3X optical zoom, something unusual on a smartphone, and it is possible to take pictures even with 5X hybrid zoom thanks to the combination of the three lenses and the use of Artificial Intelligence.

By default, captures are made with a resolution of 8MP, combining several cameras to obtain a higher quality image, but we can force only the 40MP camera to be used if we prefer.

On the lock screen, there is direct access to the camera but we can take a photo even faster in about 0.3 seconds if we press the volume down button twice quickly even when the phone is locked. The phone barely has time to focus when taking one of these ultra-instant photos, so the capture is not always perfect.

Huawei offers different user-selectable shooting modes: Aperture, Night, Portrait, Photo, Video, Professional and More (this last option gives access to new shooting modes).

  • The Professional Photo mode is especially interesting for photo lovers because it allows you to control parameters such as measurement, ISO sensitivity or exposure time. It is also possible to capture photographs in RAW format. Huawei says the Huawei P20 Pro has a maximum ISO sensitivity of 102,400 that allows you to take pictures with the lighting of only 1 lux, although that will come from an update.
  • The Night mode allows you to capture photographs with long exposure at night without using a tripod, thanks to a system that, after capturing multiple shots with low ISO levels and short exposure times, combines them using Artificial Intelligence.

Both in the normal mode and in the Night mode, the absence of “grain” in the dark areas of the sky is surprising. Normally, noise is very visible in dark areas of uniform color, such as the black sky.

The use of several lenses allows achieving the depth of field effects, blurring the background of the image through software algorithms to produce the known “bokeh effect“. The Opening and Portrait modes take advantage of this functionality.

The opening mode allows re-adjust the lens aperture between f / .95 and f / 16 at any time, even after taking the photograph time.

In addition to the Opening mode, Huawei offers a Portrait mode specially designed to blur the background when we take a portrait of a person. For some reason, in Portrait mode, we cannot adjust the depth of the field afterward.

Huawei has included a feature called “3D lighting effects” which is inspired by the iPhone which premiered X. This functionality allows five types of lighting to be applied to a portrait and, in some cases, we can fix from which point the light arrives.

Since one of the sensors is monochrome, the Huawei P20 Pro takes black and white photographs with great quality.

The Huawei P20 Pro claims to use algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence for real-time recognition of more than 500 scenes from 19 categories: cats, food, groups, vegetation, macro, night, text, food, portrait, dog, fireworks, sky blue, flowers, stage, document, sunset, snow, waterfall and beach.

Depending on the scene detected, the Huawei P20 Pro applies different camera settings to enhance the image. For example, if it detects that you are taking a picture of a plant, switch to Vegetation mode that saturates the colors to enhance the green and garnet tones, as can be seen in this scene.

If you don’t want to use the proposed shooting mode, you can easily discard it by simply clicking on ‘x’.

The Huawei P20 Pro also detects when you are going to take a picture of a person and switches to Portrait mode automatically (which is not always a good idea if you want, in addition to the person, to see the place where you are taking the Photo).

Similarly, if the Huawei P20 Pro detects that you are taking a picture at a very short distance, activate the Macro mode automatically.

The Huawei P20 Pro offers a very clear image when capturing in 40MP, above any other smartphone, but we cannot say the same of the capture at 8MP, which obviously looks less sharp than the rest of smartphones.

The colors captured by the camera of the Huawei P20 Pro are vivid and, in general, the image quality is good, although we notice a certain chromatic noise in the form of color patterns on the brick wall, which is more visible in the capture of 40MP.

The rear camera of the Huawei P20 Pro can record video with 4K resolution at 30 fps, although AIS stabilization only works at a maximum resolution of 1080p at 30 fps. Unfortunately, it does not incorporate a 4K recording mode at 60 fps.

An interesting aspect is that it is possible to select if we want to save the videos in the traditional H.264 format or in the more modern H.265 format, which reduces the size of the videos without decreasing quality but is not as compatible.

The Huawei P20 Pro is capable of recording video in super slow motion at 960 fps with 720p resolution, such as the Samsung Galaxy S9. At this point, the Sony Xperia XZ2 has an advantage since it is capable of recording video at 960 fps at 1080p.

The front camera of the Huawei P20 Pro has a 23MP sensor with an f / 2.0 aperture lens and allows you to record 1080p video, making it an excellent ally for selfie lovers.

The front camera also offers a Portrait mode that applies the bokeh effect to blur the background of the image.

Voice calls

The Huawei P20 Pro has several microphones with noise cancellation to limit background noise and improve sound quality during calls.

In the performed tests, the voice quality is correct and we have been able to perfectly hold conversations in moderately noisy environments without difficulties.

The Calls and Contacts application are the same, with separate tabs for the dialer, contact list and favorites.

Price and competitors

The Huawei P20 Pro is on sale for an official price of $769.00 and we can find it online at sites like Amazon. It is a fairly high price, although in line with what you would expect from a smartphone with these features.

If you look at other phones, we have several interesting options in the high range that can compete against the Huawei P20 Pro.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 + ( $599.97 ) is undoubtedly one of the strongest competitors of the Huawei P20 Pro. It has an exquisite design with a 6.2 ”curved screen with QHD + resolution (2960 × 1440 pixels) surrounded by Very narrow upper and lower frames, Exynos 9810 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage via microSD, 12MP + 12MP main camera and 3,500 mAh battery.

The LG V30 ( $399.99) is an interesting alternative as it arrives with a large 6″ OLED screen with 18:9 ratio that occupies much of the front of the phone. In addition, it has quite powerful features – such as Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and 3,300 mAh battery. LG has recently announced the LG V30s ThinQ.

The Google Pixel 2 XL ( $949.99 ) is the high-end smartphone that offers a purer Android experience. It has a 6″ OLED screen, Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 12MP camera and 3,520 mAh battery.

The OnePlus 5T ( $429.99 ) is a great option for its lower price. It has a 6″ AMOLED display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, dual 16MP + 20MP camera, and 3,300 mAh battery.

Conclusions

Huawei presented its new family of P20 smartphones in Paris at the end of February, 2018, consisting of three models – P20 Lite, P20, and P20 Pro – but all eyes have focused on the most powerful model, Huawei P20 Pro, which is full of new features.

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with a very attractive design that highlights its large screen occupying almost the entire front and topped by a small “notch” at the top.

The miniaturization of the components has allowed Huawei to concentrate in a small space the front camera, the headset, the sensors, and the notification LED, and take advantage of the space on both sides to show notification icons and other elements.

For those users who are not convinced by the notch on the screen, Huawei has incorporated functionality that recovers the upper frame by obscuring the pixels of the screen on both sides of the notch.

The lower frame of the screen is quite narrow but Huawei has found a place to incorporate a fingerprint reader that can also replace virtual navigation buttons with gestures.

In my opinion, it is a success that Huawei has incorporated the fingerprint reader in the front since it is more comfortable than in the back.

Speaking of the back, the Huawei P20 Pro is one of the few smartphones that looks as beautiful in the front as in the back. Specifically, the Twilight color finish produces very striking violet and turquoise reflections, although it is a magnet for fingerprints.

Huawei has opted for a 6.1″ OLED panel with 19:9 ratio and Full HD + resolution, so the pixel density is very high (408 dpi) and the screen looks very sharp despite having no QHD + resolution like other high-end smartphone devices.

The screen of the Huawei P20 Pro is capable of displaying a wide range of colors since it not only covers sRGB color space but also 100% of the wider Display P3 range, commonly used in the film industry.

In normal color mode, the screen offers spectacular color fidelity and pure white color, without any color tint. If we opt for the vivid color mode, the color fidelity worsens because, as the name itself indicates, the colors are oversaturated (although many people prefer it that way).

The maximum brightness of the screen is around 560 nits (measured with the screen completely blank), which represents a good level of brightness, but not as spectacular as that of the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S9+.

Despite being an OLED panel, the viewing angles are wide and no color changes are perceived unless you look at the screen from a very far angle.

The Huawei P20 Pro comes with a Kirin 970 processor with four high-performance ARM Cortex A73 2.4GHz cores and four efficient ARM Cortex A53 1.8GHz cores. The integrated GPU is Mali G72 in an MP12 configuration.

This powerful processor debuted with the Huawei Mate 10 and was the first to have a Neuronal Processing Unit (NPU) to accelerate processes that make use of Artificial Intelligence as image or voice recognition.

The Huawei P20 Pro is accompanied by 6 GB of RAM, more than enough to have no problems when doing multi-task.

In the day-to-day, the Huawei P20 Pro moves with total smoothness and I have not noticed signs of lag when moving through the interface or using the most common applications.

The 3D graphics performance is good but it falls below other high-end smartphones in the benchmarks.

However, Three 3D games have been tested such as Asphalt Xtreme, Dead Trigger 2 and Dead Effect 2, and in all of them, we have measured very high average refresh rates. Today, if you are fond of games, you will have no problem enjoying the most demanding titles.

The Huawei P20 Pro incorporates 128GB of storage, which should be sufficient for most users. Unfortunately, Huawei has not incorporated the possibility of expanding storage using a micro-SD card, although the Huawei P20 Lite does have this option.

In the connectivity aspect, the Huawei P20 Pro is very well served with WiFi 802.11 b / g / n / ac at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 (compatible with aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and HWA), 4.5G /LTE, an infrared emitter and NFC. The only absence at this point is the FM radio, which for some users may be an important point.

The Huawei P20 Pro has a 4,000 mAh battery, which offers excellent autonomy compared to other high-end smartphones. In addition, it has SuperCharge fast charging that allows you to fully recharge your phone in just 1 hour and a quarter.

In the multimedia aspect, it should be noted that Huawei has incorporated stereo speakers, which is also compatible with Dolby Atmos, which sounds especially good when using headphones. Here we must mention that Huawei has removed the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Focusing on the phone software, Huawei incorporates its own customization layer, EMUI 8.1 over Android 8.1 Oreo. EMUI adds a large number of features that complement Android such as wallpaper carousel, additional energy-saving modes, additional application permissions, one-handed operation, twin application, private space, or application blocking.

Among all these functionalities, we especially like the granularity that EMUI offers in application permissions. It is possible to limit its execution in the background with the screen locked, access to the WiFi / 3G network, where and when they can show notifications, etc. EMUI’s functionalities for cloning apps that do not support multi-account, as well as protecting access to apps by fingerprint or creating a second private desktop.

Huawei has incorporated a facial recognition system called Face Unlock that allows you to quickly unlock your phone with your face. The system works quickly and reliably, making it a good alternative to the fingerprint.

Focusing on the photographic section, Huawei has incorporated a rear camera with three lenses developed together with Leica.

The triple camera is formed by a 40MP main sensor with a wide-angle lens and f / 1.8 aperture, an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens (80mm, 3X zoom) and f / 2.4 aperture and a 20MP monochrome sensor with f / 1.6 aperture.

The front camera has a resolution of 23MP and captures selfies with very high quality, unusual in this type of cameras. In addition, it also allows you to take selfies in Portrait mode in addition to, of course, applying Beauty mode.

In conclusion, the Huawei P20 Pro is a spectacular smartphone, both for its design (if you do not deny the “notch”) and for its powerful hardware, its autonomy, and its impressive cameras. Without a doubt, it is one of the strongest competitors to become a smartphone of the year.

The best:

  • Design in metal and glass, with great use of the frontal space and a very attractive appearance.
  • Screen with good sharpness, great color fidelity, good maximum brightness, high contrast, wide viewing angles, and HDR / Dolby Vision compatible.
  • Fluency in the use of the phone thanks to very powerful hardware.
  • Useful software functionalities such as advanced permissions control by application, energy-saving modes, twin application, private space, application blocking, Projection or Huawei Share.
  • Fast and reliable Face Unlock facial recognition. Front fingerprint reader.
  • Triple rear camera with excellent performance and advanced features such as 3X optical zoom / 5X hybrid, portrait mode, 3D lighting, scene optimization, 960 fps slow motion, and manual controls.
  • Stereo speakers and sound are compatible with Dolby Atmos.
  • High autonomy and a fast full charge in just over an hour.
  • Front notification LED
  • Dual SIM
  • IP67 water resistance

Worst:

  • Screen without a double tap to turn it on and with limited Always Active Screen functionality (shows time, date and battery but no notifications).
  • Storage not expandable via micro-SD
  • Video recording with the rear camera without 4K mode at 60 fps
  • Absence of 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Absence of wireless charging
  • High price ( $769.00 )

All Image Credits: huawei.com

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