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Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: This is the best smartphone of 2018

By James Lu - 2 Feb 2019
Prices:

Benchmark Performance, Battery life, and Conclusion

Benchmark Performance: Huawei's best performing processor so far

The Mate Pro 20 is powered by Huawei's new Hi-Silicon Kirin 980 processor, which is the second mobile processor built on a 7nm process this year (the first being Apple's A12 Bionic). The Kirin 980 is an octa-core processor with a unique setup: four low-power cores, two medium, and two high-power cores. In theory, this setup gives the phone more configurations compared to a standard big.LITTLE approach, which should give it better efficiency overall.

For more information on the Kirin 980, check out this article.

  Huawei Mate 20 Pro Apple iPhone XS Max (256GB) Google Pixel 3 XL (64GB) Samsung Galaxy Note9 (128GB) Oppo Find X (128GB) OnePlus 6 (8GB/128GB)
  Huawei Mate 20 Pro Apple iPhone XS Max (256GB) Google Pixel 3 XL (64GB) Samsung Galaxy Note9 (128GB) Oppo Find X (128GB) OnePlus 6 (8GB/128GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$1348
  • From S$2039
  • From S$1399
  • From S$1398
  • From S$1199
  • From S$988
Latest Price
  • From S$650
  • From S$1470
  • From S$800
  • From S$780
  • From S$790
  • From S$568
Operating system
  • Android 9.0 with EMUI 9.0
  • iOS 12
  • Android 9.0 Pie
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with Samsung Experience
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with Oxygen OS
Processor
  • Hisilicon Kirin 980 octa-core (2 x 2.6GHz Cortex-A76 & 2 x 1.92GHz Cortex-A76 & 4 x 1.8GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Apple A12 Bionic hexa-core
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Samsung Exynos 9810 octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4x1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core (4 x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4 x 1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
Built-in Memory
  • 6GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
Display
  • 6.39-inches 3,120 x 1,440 pixels (538 ppi) AMOLED 19.5:9 ratio
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.5-inch Super Retina HD / 2,688 x 1,242 pixels (458ppi) / OLED
  • 6.3-inch / 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (523 ppi) / flexible OLED Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.4-inch / 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (516 ppi) / 18.5:9 ratio / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.42-inch / 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / 19.5:9 ratio / AMOLED Display
  • 6.28-inch / 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (402ppi) / 19:9 ratio / Optic AMOLED
  • Always-on Display
Camera
  • Rear: Triple 40-megapixel f/1.8 wide + 20-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide + 8-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto, OIS, Leica optics, 3x optical zoom,5x hybrid zoom, phase detection and laser autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash
  • Front: 24-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.4, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
  • Rear: 12.2-megapixel, f/1.8, OIS, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.8; 8-megapixel wide-angle, f/2.2
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, dual f/1.5 and 2.4, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, LED flash and 12-megapixel f/2.4, 52mm telephoto, 2x optical zoom
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: Dual 16-megapixel, f/2.0 + 20-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Front: 25-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Rear: Dual: 16-megapixel (f/1.7, 27mm, 1/2.6", 1.22µm, OIS) + 20-megapixel (f/1.7, 1/2.8", 1.0µm),
  • Front: 16-megapixel (f/2.0, 25mm, 1/3", 1.0µm)
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE-A (3CA) Cat 21 (up to 1400Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, DLNA, Bluetooth v5, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, USB 3.1 Type-C
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 15 (up to 800Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v5, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps)
Storage Type
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Huawei Nano Memory expansion (up to 256GB)
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 512GB (MicroSD)
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 128GB
Battery
  • 4,200mAh
  • 40W Huawei SuperCharge
  • 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge (Qi wireless charging)
  • Reverse wireless charging
  • 3,174mAh
  • 3,430mAh
  • Fast Charging
  • 4,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,730mAh
  • VOOC Flash Charge
  • 3,300mAh
  • Dash Charge
Dimensions
  • 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6 mm
  • 157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm
  • 158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm
  • 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm
  • 156.7 x 74.2 x 9.4 mm
  • 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm
Weight
  • 189g
  • 208g
  • 184g
  • 201g
  • 186g
  • 177g

SunSpider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is in delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

The Mate 20 Pro outperformed each of the Snapdragon 845-powered phones but trailed slightly behind the Note9 and iPhone XS Max. Having said that, in terms of actual browsing, the Mate 20 Pro provided a smooth and lag-free experience that was indistinguishable from either the Note or iPhone.

 

Antutu

AnTuTu is an all-in-one benchmark that tests CPU, GPU, memory, and storage. The CPU benchmark evaluates both integer and floating-point performance, the GPU tests assess 2D and 3D performance, the memory test measures available memory bandwidth and latency, and the storage tests gauge the read and write speeds of a device's flash memory. 

On this benchmark the Mate 20 Pro was on par with the Snapdragon 845-powered phones and slightly better than the Galaxy Note9.

 

Geekbench CPU

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 4 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 4000 (which is the score of an Intel Core i7-6600U CPU processor).

The Mate 20 Pro was much better than the Snapdragon 845-powered phones on this benchmark. Compared to the Note9, the Kirin 980 is slightly worse in single-core performance, but slightly better in multi-core performance. Apple's A12 Bionic is once again way out in front.

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

Despite Huawei's GPU Turbo 2.0 optimizations, gaming does not seem to be the Mate 20 Pro's strong point, and 3DMark was its worst benchmark, and the only one where it underperformed compared to the Snapdragon 845. It was however still much better than the Note9.

 

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The Mate 20 Pro has a huge 4,200mAh battery - one of the largest batteries you'll find in a smartphone today. 

It lasted 13 hours and 39 minutes in our video looping benchmark, longer than both the iPhone XS Max and Note9.

The Mate 20 Pro is also the first phone to use Huawei's latest SuperCharge standard, which is capable of charging 10V at 4A for a total of 40W power transfer, far higher than any other fast charging standard available right now.

In my testing, the bundled cable and charger will charge the phone from 0 to 75 percent in just 30 minutes, and to 100 percent in just 46 minutes. This is far faster than anything we've tested. While this is very impressive, the phone does get alarmingly hot while charging.

The Mate 20 Pro also supports fast wireless charging through the Qi wireless charging standard and, in another first, it can also reverse wireless charge other devices. Just put it back to back with another Qi device and it will start charging it. There's not really much benefit to this, but it is a great party trick. For example, if you carry more than one mobile device, you could even forego carrying a power bank and instead set both phones together in your carry bag and have the Mate 20 Pro wirelessly charge the other device. Your mileage may vary for its usefulness, but the feature is there when an ideal situation presents itself.

You can also reverse charge non-Qi devices by connecting the two phones with a standard USB-C cable.

 

Conclusion: Setting a new benchmark of expectations

While Apple and Samsung battle each other over who can make the most expensive phone, Huawei has quietly made a smartphone that rivals, and in many ways, exceeds both the Note9 and the iPhone XS Max, and somehow costs less (S$1,348). The Mate 20 Pro boasts a refined, classy design, a gorgeous AMOLED display, the most versatile rear camera setup out there, the best combination of biometric security you can get, expandable storage (albeit with a proprietary format), fantastic battery life, and super fast charging.

In past years, Huawei's Achilles' heel has been its weak benchmark performance, but that's no longer the case, as the Kirin 980 is superior to Samsung's Exynos 9810 and just as capable as Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 processor. Apple's A12 Bionic still holds the edge here, but the Mate 20 Pro isn't that far behind.

Huawei has also shown that it won't just sit back and push iterative upgrades either, and there's something very likable about that. It could have easily taken the P20 Pro's already excellent triple rear camera and stuck it in the Mate 20 Pro, but instead, it redesigned it with a new, and very useful, ultra-wide angle lens. The result is a highly versatile camera kit suitable for practically any situation, equally capable of shooting stunning normal photos as it is to tricky macro shots, ultra wide-angles and long range telephotos with great clarity.

Huawei improved its own fast charging standard too (which was already the best out there) - after all, what's the point of a massive battery if it takes forever to charge. The Mate 20 Pro's 40W charging is far faster than anything else out there, and its 15W fast wireless-charging is a great addition too. Reverse wireless charging could be labeled as a gimmick, but it's still a gimmick that no-one else has.

Huawei has been threatening to challenge Apple and Samsung for years now, but it's no longer just a threat. With the Mate 20 Pro, Huawei has surpassed the competition. This is the best smartphone of 2018, hands down. And if you're looking for an ultra-premium Android flagship that does it all, you shouldn't just be considering the Mate 20 Pro, it should be the only phone on your wishlist.

9.0
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 9
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Classy, modern design
IP68 build
Gorgeous curved AMOLED display
Long battery life
Super fast charging
Kirin 980 processor on par with Snapdragon 845
True 3D Face Recognition
In-display fingerprint scanner
Versatile triple rear camera setup with great image quality
More competitively priced than a Note9, Pixel 3 XL, and iPhone XS
The Bad
No headphone port
Proprietary memory card
Unbalanced stereo speakers
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