We know, we know. Our Huawei P20 Pro review has been way long overdue. But hey, our boy Joshua has been using it for over three months since its first debut in March and a three months review is always better than two weeks, am I right? If you're still one of those who are considering this camera-centric smartphone, then head on below to find out if the world's first triple camera is worth getting or not.
Design - Twilight, man. TWILIGHT
Of course, the thing that many consumers will point out that the design is the same as the Apple iPhone X. But because of the Twilight model, the flagship simply blows their competitors out of the water easily. The combination of purple and green inspired by the Northen Lights is just gorgeous (read The Making of Twilight here), although the back is made of glass, the surface feels like it's plastic so this makes the phone not slippery at all. But this also promotes the problem of fingerprint smudges on it, but if you're fine with cleaning the back every time you use it, then you're fine without a protective casing.
This phone is 6.1-inch long and if you have small hands, you're gonna have some problem reaching the fingerprint sensor by stretching out your thumb a little
A marvel to look at, but quite a fingerprint magnet over time
The standard power button and volume rockers, also look at that camera bump
USB Type-C and speaker grills at the bottom. Another thing that users might frown is that Huawei decided to let go the headphone jack but don't worry, the box comes with an earpiece that uses a USB Type-C connector and also a 3.5mm audio jack to USB Type-C adapter so not much of a problem there.
Also, no microSD card slot since the phone comes with 128GB storage by default
Tech-specs and features - An arsenal of camera features
Here are the specifications for the Huawei P20 Pro:
- Kirin 970 chipset with Neural Processing Unit, 4x Cortex A73 (2.36GHz) + 4x Cortex A53 (1.8GHz), Mali-G72 MP12
- 6GB of RAM
- 128GB storage (expandable memory not available)
- Measures 155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm, weighs 180g
- 6.1-inch OLED Fullview display, 2240 x 1080 resolution, 18.7:9 aspect ratio
- 40MP (RGB, F/1.8) + 8MP (telephoto, F/2.4) + 20MP (monochrome, F/1.6) triple rear camera using VARIO-SUMMILUX grade lens, 24MP (F/2.0) front camera
- Features Fingerprint sensor, SuperCharge (4.5V/5A), IP67 water and dust resistant, USB Type-C 3.1, Huawei Share, 3D Portrait Lighting. 4D Predictive Focus, 960FPS slow-mo recording, 5X Hybrid Zoom, Master A.I. camera, A.I. Stabilizer (AIS)
- Supports LTE, NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity
- EMUI 8.1 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
- 4000 mAh battery
As most new Android phones nowadays, there is an option to hide the notch if you don't really like it. That being said, Huawei managed to fit in both the front camera and face sensor to detect your face and comparing it with the iPhone X's Face ID, we think the P20 Pro's Face Unlock might even be better in terms of speed and success rate.
The Face Unlock unlocks almost instantaneously everytime the phone is lifted up or laying flat from a different angle (there's also an option to set Face Unlock directly or slide to unlock). On top of that, the fingerprint sensor unlocks swiftly without having to turn on the display which is great.
The Face Unlock (left) and Fingerprint Scanner / home navigator (right)
The option to hide the notch
(L-R) The three sensors comprises of a 20MP (monochrome), 8MP (telephoto) and 40MP (RGB)
Also, is the P20 Pro really carrying a mega 40MP camera? Well, yes and no. No because but it's mainly used as a compilation of the image result from the 40MP into a more detailed 10MP image by default by a software called Pixel Fusion. And yes, you can still shoot photos at 40MP, making your 10MP photos look sharper and detailed. Besides that, the following camera sensor is 20MP for monochrome and 8MP as a telephoto camera which has the 3x optical zoom combined with Huawei 5x hybrid zoom technology, allowing you to capture photos from afar without losing many details.
There are some limitations for the 40MP camera, though, you can't do zoom in at all and it's probably best to leave it by default at 10MP. Besides, even in that setting, the P20 Pro takes really great photos thanks to the Master AI auto rendering the image beautifully. However, sometimes it can be too good for your benefit by making it over contrast and when you have too many subjects, it will just detect the main scene that's covering the majority of the image making your shots less consistent. But of course, the NPU takes a long time to learn the photos you like take, so use it more for it to learn.
It should be taken note that even though the P20 Pro has an IP67 water resistant grade feature, we are unable to take underwater shots as the phone will automatically go back to the home screen once it goes into the water. That's too bad.
Camera user interface
3D Portrait Lighting. You can actually re-edit the lighting after taking the shot but we aren't really big fans of this because the result is not that pleasing. At most, you can get a decent picture out in the daylight
Before using telephoto and hybrid zoom
3x telephoto shot
5x hybrid zoom in, not bad huh?
The Slow-Mo on the P20 Pro is quite good too
Performance - Who needs a DSLR anymore?
Gaming is good enough for this flagship
Now onto the performance section, the P20 Pro is still using the Kirin 970 chipset from the Mate 10 series and there's the NPU around as well. In the smartphone industry, a chipset that's more than 6 months old is like the equivalent of being 60 years old in human years, but even after 3 months of usage, the phone still responds quite well, whether if it's for gaming or taking photos. It usually won't have a problem lasting the whole day with its 4000mAh battery unlike the P20 for excessive usage. Oh yeah, the quick charge is awesome as always as it can easily recharge back 40-60% in 30 minutes.
On the other hand, the P20 Pro also supports Dolby Atmos which enhances the experience and compared to most smartphones on the market, it does produce more "bass" instead of high treble sound that sometimes sounds distorted. There's no connectivity and WiFi issues too and if you do experience some, it's quite likely that the zone you are in don't have a strong signal from that particular telco.
AnTuTu score, a bit puzzled that it's only at the 38th spot
3DMark score is quite impressive, though
After four and half hours of average usage
In the camera corner, the phone is quite capable of taking good low-light photos and it was out of our expectations thanks to the Night Mode built-in. In fact, our boy Joshua just loves using Night Mode even for daytime as it would make the photo look like it has HDR. The 3x optical and 5x hybrid zoom also performs very well with the help of AIS (AI Stabilization) and this is a really helpful feature for video recording as well but only supports up to 1080p and not 4K.
Alright, enough talk. Let the photos do the talking!
Night shot, auto. Still clear
Another one, you can see how detailed the road is
Close up, auto. Managed to capture the little bubbles rising up in the water
Wide view, auto. Magnificient!
Another aperture mode
Close-up shot, auto
Another wide shot before zooming in
5x hybrid zoom in from the previous photo
The Eiffel Tower!
MasterAI is always to the rescue whenever there is a strong backlight
Testing out the Portrait Mode with the rear camera (left) and selfie (right)
Monochrome shot 1
Monochrome shot 2
Conclusion - The P20 Pro is quite a camera monster
As a camera-centric smartphone, the Huawei P20 Pro definitely passes the mark with flying colours. Great camera features, beautiful back cover design (Twilight and Blue), good battery longevity and an independent NPU which can improve the phone in the long term. We probably won't use it for gaming that much, but it's still playable nonetheless. It's hard to imagine how Huawei will outdo themselves in this one though, as the P20 Pro is quite a camera-centric smartphone monster.
Initially released for RM3299, it's now RM3112 and this also easily beats out two competitors in this price range, namely the Samsung Galaxy S9+ ( RM3769, 128GB model) and especially the iPhone X (RM4857). However, comparing the camera and photo quality between the three is rather difficult as all three can produce good photos depending on preference. The P20 Pro has an edge, though, as the MasterAI will do most of the work as long as the user has good composition and camera-knowledge.
So what do you think? Did we miss out anything else? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for more gadget reviews at TechNave.com.