Jam-packed with features and an eye-watering spec sheet, Huawei unveiled their flagship Mate 20 Pro smartphone and its more modest Mate 20 sibling today. Huawei has done a few things to up the ante to make the Mate 20 Pro stand out. Three rear-facing cameras, a larger 6.39-inch curved OLED HDR display, up to 8GB RAM, and just about everything else on paper is bigger and better.
The Huawei Mate 20 will start at €899 for the base configuration, while the Huawei Mate 20 Pro starts at €1049.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Huawei Mate 20
Dimensions and Weight
157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm, 189g
158.2 x 77.2 x 8.3mm, 188g
Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight Black
Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight Black
Wireless charging up to 15W, 40W via USB-C charging, wireless discharging
Wireless charging up to 15W, 22.5W via USB-C charging, wireless discharging
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Unlike other device manufacturers who release standard and large variations of their flagships, Huawei seems to shuffle the deck of features for its Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro and blurs the line between the two.
Both the Huawei Mate 20 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro come in bright metallic colours, are about the same size, and sport IP68 water and dust resistance. They also share the unique camera arrangement, unabashedly placing the lens triplet at the centre of the phones with the dual-tone flash added for an eye-catching bit of symmetry.
The Huawei Mate 20’s all-glass backs are reflective with micro-feathering that’s scratchy like vinyl, and the back surface gently curves towards the sides and corners. In looks alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro were the same phone, but they differ in key areas.
The Huawei Mate 20’s rear looks identical to the Mate 20 Pro’s except for the fingerprint sensor. The Huawei Mate 20 has it placed beneath the camera arrangement at the rear, whereas there’s no fingerprint sensor in sight on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro—it’s integrated under the OLED panel for on-screen print verification. There’s also the painfully absent 3.5mm headphone jack on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, whereas the Huawei Mate 20 has one.
Once again Huawei has an odd demarcation between what makes a phone Pro and not-Pro, but the Pro definitely has some stand-out features.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes with a 6.39-inch curved OLED HDR display, meaning true blacks and vibrant colours, if it can hold true to the HDR claims. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s display takes up most of the front, with a shallow, wide notch at the top. Its 1440×3120 resolution is a welcome bump in sharpness from last year’s Huawei Mate 10 Pro and the aggressive 19.5:9 ratio means a tall, narrow display, great for consuming video. We’d like to put the HDR specification to test and see just how bright this phone can get.
Notably absent from the front and back of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the fingerprint sensor. It’s housed underneath the display with a proximity sensor that will detect where you’ll place your finger to verify. It’s worth noting that the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Huawei Mate 20 both support facial recognition with the front-facing 3D infrared sensor.
The Huawei Mate 20 ditches OLED and opts for regular LCD, but notably comes with a bigger display and a smaller notch—perhaps the most unobtrusive notch design we’ve seen. The Huawei Mate 20 has a larger display than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Its 6.53-inch LCD comes with a relatively low 1080×2244 resolution (and even lower pixels-per-inch, given its size), a less aggressive 18.7:9 ratio, but still comes with HDR certification. Again, HDR is a fickle standard, so we look forward to testing the Mate 10 out.
CPU and GPU
Huawei makes a point of developing its own silicon for its phones, which gives Huawei greater influence over its development of smartphones. In what we can safely call an annual tradition, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the Huawei Mate 20 are the first phones to launch with the HiSilicon Kirin 980.
The Kirin 980 is the first ARM chip built on TSMC’s 7nm process. It’s an 8-core SoC in a big.middle.little configuration, which means two A76 cores clocked high, two A76 cores clocked lower, and 4 A55 cores clocked lowest. Graphics are driven by the ARM Mali-G76MP10, and baked into the package are two Neural Processing Units—one optimised for object recognition, the other for more complex tasks like video rendering. Read more about the Kirin 980 in our launch coverage.
All things told we expect the Kirin 980 to be a power-efficient chip that trades blows with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. Huawei tells us it offers 20% speed improvement and 40% better power efficiency. The technical specifications only tell us so much, though. Real-life benchmarks and tests will tell us just how well the chip performs.
Both phones top out at 8GB LPDDR4 RAM, a generous bump from the Huawei P20 Pro and last year’s Mate 10’s 6GB. The regular Huawei Mate 20’s variants start at 4GB RAM, whereas only 6GB or 8GB will do for the Pro.
More RAM means that apps and games will be held in memory for longer, so re-opening and switching apps will feel more fluid. The difference may not even be perceptible for the majority of users, but 8GB at the very least offer ample breathing room compared to Google’s new Pixel 3 lineup which still comes with 4GB.
Configurations start at 64GB for the Huawei Mate 20 and 128GB for the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, topping out at 512GB for both. Storage utilises the UFS 2.1 standard, found in the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
The Mate 20 Pro does allow for expandable storage, but apparently, Micro SD is too big. In a move that few could have expected, Huawei has launched its own home-grown form-factor of expandable storage. The Nano Memory Card fits into the same slot as the Nano SIM slot and is based on eMMC 4.5 for read speeds of up to 90 MB/s, according to Roland Quandt, the prolific leaker.
It’s clear that the camera is an area where Huawei is putting in heavy investment to dethrone the regular big-hitters in Apple, Samsung, and Google. The Huawei P20 Pro puts out some amazing shots, especially in low-light.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Huawei Mate 20 come with a few nifty features that follow-on from the Huawei P20 Pro’s successes. Three rear-facing cameras combine two wide-angle lenses with a telephoto lens, promising better macro photography as close as 2.5cm, as well as low-light software processing for better night-time pictures.
That’s not all. Huawei is throwing AI at every feature of the camera with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. AI object recognition and active tracking coupled with AI Zoom will centre and focus on the subject of a video, while AI Cinema adjusts the colour temperature to give a “cinematic” feel and Video Bokeh will add extra flair to video shots. More on these features later on.
The single front-facing selfie camera is tucked into the notch on both phones and offers a respectable 24 MP. It comes with the same technology we’ve seen in Huawei’s previous phones including 3D Face unlock, which Huawei promises is 30% faster than previous generations.
Battery and Charging
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro comes with a 4200 mAh battery while the Huawei Mate 20 comes with 4000 mAh. For reference, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 houses a 4000 mAh battery. The phones’ 40W fast charger will leave the battery 70% charged after 30 minutes, and the wireless charging delivers 15W. Huawei tells us that the phone will be 200% faster than the iPhone X at wireless charging, and 100% faster wired.
The battery may meet or exceed the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in capacity, but that doesn’t indicate real-world performance. Many users reported severe battery drain on their Huawei P20 Pros, we can only hope that Huawei has resolved that issue in the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
Reversible Wireless Charging
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 have one feature where Huawei’s engineers really pushed the envelope. You can now charge other devices wirelessly using the phone’s wireless charging coil.
Simply place the device you want to charge on the back of the phone, and the phone will start acting as a wireless charging pad. This feature feels more like a novelty than a practicality and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see some limitations in real-world use, but we still can’t wait to try it out.
The Kirin 980 is the first SoC to support Cat. 21 LTE. Theoretically, that should give you 1.4Gbps of throughput, but in reality, you won’t get anywhere near those speeds until network infrastructure catches up. It also comes with 4×4 MIMO and dual-frequency GPS. The Huawei Mate 20 comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which the Huawei Mate 20 Pro lacks.
The Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro come with EMUI 9.0 out of the box, built on top of Android Pie. Huawei has decluttered Settings and boasts gesture navigation, optimisation for one-handed use, and tweaks in the performance that make the phone faster at responding to taps.
Graphics performance is reportedly better and more stable with GPU Turbo 2.0, but again, real-life usage will tell us the facts. EMUI 9.0 also brings Digital Balance, which takes the place of Google’s Digital Wellbeing and offers similar functionality like fading to grayscale at night and setting time-limits for apps. Read more about some of EMUI 9.0’s features in our coverage of the beta.
Perhaps the most groundbreaking feature on the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro is PC Projection and Desktop Mode. Desktop Mode now works wirelessly, so you can cast a desktop-UI to a nearby display and use the phone as a touchpad, all without having to cable-up.
Huawei brought AI centre-stage with the Mate 10. This year is no different and Huawei has upped the ante with the Mate 20 Pro. Its Kirin 980 comes with two NPUs (Neural Processing Units) – one for object recognition and the other to handle complex tasks like language processing or video rendering. Baked into the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 are some neat features we’ve already mentioned, like AI Cinema, AI Zoom, Adjustable bokeh, and Underwater Mode.
Wrapping it up
The Huawei Mate 20 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Huawei has brought a dizzying array of features to its new flagship devices. It’s clear that the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro offer a lot over what they released last year in the Mate 10, and improve on what we’ve seen this year in the P20 Pro. On paper, these phones are true heavyweights for 2018 flagships—perhaps well into 2019.
This all sounds great, but the price is always an important factor. This year has seen smartphone prices skyrocket to the £1000s and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is no exception. The Huawei Mate 20 asks for a €200 premium over last year’s Mate 10. The Mate 20 Pro starts at a flat €1049, that’s €250 more than the Mate 10 Pro launch price.
For the XDA audience, perhaps the most damning feature is the lack of an unlockable bootloader. Huawei has stopped providing official bootloader unlock codes for all its devices. It has naturally soured the developer community’s attitude towards the Chinese conglomerate, but time will tell how, if at all, consumers are affected by this new reality.
Update: Prices have been updated. The Mate 20 X and the Porche Design Mate 20 RS have also been announced. The Porche Design Mate 20 RS is a leather-backed version of the Mate 20 Pro with bright colour accents. The Mate 20 X comes with an 7.2 inch FHD+ OLED screen with “graphene cooling,” a 5000 mAh battery, and a stylus.
Stay tuned for a review the Huawei Mate 20 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, as well as a dive into some of the new software features.