Huawei P20 Pro review
The Huawei P20 Pro is a pioneer in the world of smartphone photography as it debuted with a triple rear camera setup, something which was unheard of before. Then, it also sports a flashy design and a big battery.
But are these features enough to make it stand out in a segment that’s full of choices from established players like Samsung, Apple and Google? We put the P20 Pro through its paces to find out.
Design & Construction
The Huawei P20 sports a rather peculiar glass sandwich design – up front is a notched 6.1-inch OLED display of FHD+ resolution while there’s also a thick chin below the screen that houses the fingerprint scanner.
Frankly, the front fingerprint scanner placement doesn’t really gel well with the display notch, giving the front of the P20 Pro a confused look. The chin of the phone needs to be thinner to go with the current ‘bezel-less’ trend.
The rear though is a completely different story. The blue shade of our test phone is super glossy which makes it look pretty cool. Additionally, the rear 2+1 triple camera placement is also unique and the horizontal branding at the rear emphasises on the fact that the P20 Pro is serious about photography.
However, glass construction also means that it’s a fingerprint magnet. Additionally, the phone feels a bit bulky to hold, which can be a pro or a con depending on its user’s preference. Of course, there is no headphone jack on the device.
User Interface & Performance
The phone is powered by Huawei’s in-house HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor that’s coupled with the Mali-G72 MP12 GPU. While the Kirin 980 has already been revealed, the 970 still remains one of the best high-end SoCs on the market.
The day to day performance of the P20 pro is really good, which is further aided by 6GB of onboard RAM. The GPU also runs high-end games without any frame drop. So, if stutter free daily performance is your priority, the P20 Pro will definitely live up to your expectations.
The Huawei P20 Pro runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with Huawei’s custom EMUI 8.1 skin on top. Now obviously, EMUI will remain a love it or hate it affair for most. It is fairly fluid, but is inspired from iOS in the way it looks and functions, which Android purists are bound to loathe.
Also, the P20 Pro’s software sports a decent amount of bloatware – Instagram, Messenger, UC Browser, Truecaller, Asphalt Nitro, Dragon Mania, etc. come pre-installed and occupy a lot of onboard space. Thankfully, all of these can be uninstalled. On the flipside, EMUI offers a host of customisation options to the user like themes, gesture-based shortcuts, motion control shortcuts, etc.
Finally, let’s talk about what the P20 is all about. At the rear of the phone are three cameras – a 40MP f/1.8 primary sensor, a 20MP f/1.6 monochrome sensor and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens. Generally, smartphone makers only offer either the telephoto or the monochrome sensor as the secondary camera, but Huawei’s offering both on the P20 Pro.
The Pro P20 Pro is capable of taking some of the best – if not the best – photos by 2018 flagship standards. The dynamic range is wide and the results are quite detailed in daylight. Low light performance is also super impressive thanks to the large aperture of the primary camera. However, image stabilization during night time photography could have been better – you must have stable hands to avoid blurry shots.
To make things better, Huawei has thrown in its AI-based scene detection mode with can automatically detect the object being shot and then enhance the colours of the photograph accordingly.
The icing on the cake is that telephoto lens with a 3X optical zoom, or 5X hybrid zoom, which can give crisp closeups of the scene. The monochrome sensor can also be used in isolation for some dramatic images.
Huawei has also added face recognition which makes use of the front-facing 24-megapixel selfie camera and is fairly accurate in all lighting conditions. In low light, we saw that the phone would bump the screen brightness up to illuminate our face before attempting to scan it.
The 24MP selfie cam is among the highest resolution sensors you can find on a flagship device. The results from this camera are pretty neat, but certainly not the best in business.
Camera samples of the Huawei P20 Pro can be seen below:
In addition to its optics, battery life is another era which the Huawei P20 Pro can brag about. The 4,000 mAh cell is good enough to take you through a full day of heavy usage, even with two SIM cards! With moderate daily usage, you won’t have to look for the charger anytime before a day and a half of continuous usage. Topping up the battery is a quick affair thanks to fast charging support.
The P20 Pro lacks a 3.5 mm headphone jack as well as a memory card slot. While it is not surprising to see these features missing on a 2018 flagship phone, they might turn certain buyers away. To make up for the headphone jack, the P20 Pro has stereo speakers though.
What cannot be forgiven, however, is the absence of wireless charging. You see, the P20 Pro has a glass body and it costs well over Rs 60,000, so this definitely is a glaring omission on such a high-end device.
The phone has IP67 water and dust resistance. We used the P20 Pro during a pool party for photography for almost four hours. There, it was made to go through the worst, including complete submerges underwater, but the waterproofing ensured that it worked fine afterwards. Do note that manufacturers do not recommend doing this despite the phone’s IP certification, but now you know that the P20 Pro will survive anyway.
So does the Huawei P20 Pro have enough oomph to make an average buyer get it over, say, a Galaxy Note 9? Well, if photography is your top priority, then yes. In addition to great optics, the P20 Pro will also stand out in a market that’s now full of Samsungs and Apples.
However, we strongly believe that Huawei will slash the P20 Pro’s price from the current Rs 64,999 after the Mate 20 Pro, iPhone XR and Pixel 3 XL arrive. So, if you can find one around Rs 50,000-55,000, then the P20 Pro makes for a great buy in the premium phone space.