Huawei's latest bid to take on the might of Apple, Samsung and Google has arrived in the form of the Huawei Mate 20 and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro: two powerhouse phones packing premium specs, some new AI and photography smarts, and a triple-lens camera setup on the back.
And that's what you'll notice first about the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro: that array of three cameras (plus one flash) on the back. Huawei has always made a lot of the photo-taking capabilities of its phones, and is promising the Mate 20 phones will set a new high watermark in terms of quality.
That means three cameras working as one: 16 MP f/2.2, 12 MP f/1.8, and 8 MP f/2.4 on the Mate 20, and 40 MP f/1.8, 20 MP f/2.2, and 8 MP f/2.4 on the Mate 20 Pro. As you would expect, Huawei says this helps the phones beat the competition in low-light photography, and in picking out details in pictures.
The configuration on the Mate 20 Pro (actually the same specs as the P20 Pro) enables up to 3x zoom without any loss of quality, compared with 2x on the Mate 20. It's a hybrid zoom though, not as clear as optical zoom but of a better quality than digital zoom. The P20 Pro gained a lot of plaudits for its camera, so we can trust Huawei on this one.
The standard Huawei Mate 20 features a 6.53-inch screen with a 2,244 x 1,080 pixel resolution (381 pixels-per-inch), and a small "teardrop" notch. That goes down to 6.39 inches for the Mate 20 Pro, which has a sharper 3,120 x 1,440 pixel resolution (538 ppi) and a more conventional rectangular display notch.
One extra the Mate 20 Pro brings with it is an in-screen fingerprint scanner on the front – still a rarity on smartphones. The standard Mate 20 sticks with the usual physical fingerprint sensor on the back of the device.
Under the hood we've got the new Kirin 980 chipset made by Huawei itself, promising a 20 percent improvement in performance, and a 40 percent improvement in battery life over the P20 and P20 Pro phones Huawei launched earlier this year. The chip is particularly good at opening apps quickly and maintaining performance over time, Huawei says.
That's matched with 6 GB of RAM (with a 4 GB option on the Mate 20), and 128 GB of integrated internal storage. Huawei has also introduced its own Nano SD memory card format you can use to expand the available storage – the cards are smaller but only Huawei supports them for now, so we're guessing they'll be expensive.
As far as battery life goes, Huawei has fitted very decent-sized batteries inside these phones: 4,000 mAh for the Mate 20 and 4,200 mAh for the Mate 20. Both should be good for at least 11 hours of "intensive" use, according to Huawei, though as ever we'd remind you to take manufacturer claims with a pinch of salt.
One especially neat feature is the way the Huawei Mate 20 phones can double as chargers: they can charge up any other phone that supports wireless charging, though obviously the battery life on your Huawei device is going to drop rather quickly as a result.
Huawei says the phones use artificial intelligence to better improve GPS accuracy, without going into a lot of detail about how it works (at least not yet) – presumably it can take fuzzy or conflicting readings and use some statistical analysis to get a more accurate reading.
Android 9 Pie is on board out of the box, with Huawei's own EMUI skin, which we've found to be hit and miss in the past. You get new gesture controls, easier ways of sharing, and some fun social features (like something very similar to Apple's Memoji).
With triple-lens cameras, specs capable of taking on the best flagships on the market, in-screen fingerprint readers, and some other interesting tricks up their sleeves, the Mate 20 and the Mate 20 Pro show Huawei throwing as much advanced tech as it can at its top tier phones. We'll have to wait and see whether it's enough to tempt more users to pick up a Huawei for their next handset.
Huawei also had time to tease a 7.2-inch Mate 20 X device, based on the specs of the other two, and with a massive 5,000-mAh battery – it looks like a direct competitor to the Galaxy Note series, with its own stylus.
Both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are on sale now in five colors – Black, Twilight, Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, and Emerald Green – with the Mate 20 going for €799 (4 GB of RAM) or €849 (6 GB of RAM), and the Mate 20 Pro retailing for €1,049. Of course with Huawei continuing to have regulatory troubles in the US, you won't see these phones on sale there, for the time being at least. For reference, though, the prices come out at about US$925, $983 and $1,214.Product page:
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