In Review

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: a new iPhone XS Max rival arises

New range-topping smartphone has slipped under the radar of tech fans

All eyes have been on Apple following the launch of its new range of iPhones in September. 

But while everyone’s attention was focused on the Cupertino-based firm, Chinese gadget giant Huawei launched a new range-topping smartphone that could pose a threat to the biggest iPhone beast, the XS Max.

The Mate 20 Pro is Huawei’s largest and most powerful smartphone to date, sporting a new edge-to-edge OLED display and a triple-lens Leica camera system. 

While the smartphone’s specs and feature list are impressive at first glance, can it mount a serious challenge to the market’s kingpins? 

Here’s what we thought after living with the Mate 20 Pro over the past few weeks. 

Performance and display
Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei

The Mate 20 Pro handled everything we demanded from it with ease. 

Thanks to the phone’s new Kirin 980 processing chip, gaming on the Mate 20 Pro is one of the slickest experiences available on a smartphone, with performance-intensive titles such as Asphalt 9 performing well over long periods of use.

This is also helped by the stunning 3,120 x 1,440 resolution 6.39in OLED display, which curves downwards ever so slightly on either side. Colours pop and images look razor sharp, making the Mate 20 Pro ideal for both viewing and editing pictures.

The battery life, meanwhile, may be among the very best on the market. We often achieved well over a day’s worth of power from a single charge, despite using more battery-intensive apps such as YouTube and Netflix. 

Users can opt for a boost mode, which ramps up the phone’s performance but reduces battery power faster. This setting is ideal for those wanting to get the very best out of games, particularly the massively popular multiplayer game Fortnite: Battle Royale.

Much like the recent crop of smartphones, the Mate 20 Pro comes with wireless charging as standard.  

There are some instances where the Mate 20 Pro isn’t quite as nippy as buyers may be expecting. This mainly centres around the face-scanning security feature that allows users to log into their device by simply looking at the screen.

It’s a handy feature, but we found this method can sometimes take a little too long to scan a user’s face.

You can bypass this by either typing in a passcode or scanning your fingerprint using the scanner that’s built into the screen. Again, the technology on display here is impressive, but the dedicated fingerprint scanner placed behind the screen, much like the Google Pixel 3, is more responsive.

Camera
fznor

The camera is an area where the Mate 20 Pro really shines. The smartphone is one of the few on the market to sport three rear-facing Leica lenses, all offering different zoom capabilities. For example, one of the lenses provides a wide-angle image, while the most extreme lens offers a 10x zoom.  

But users don’t have to select lenses manually, the phone sorts this out automatically. Users simply need to pinch the screen to zoom in and out.  

We trialled the device while on a visit to Austin, Texas, and we were thoroughly impressed by the image quality that the Leica camera delivers. The camera was able to pick out minute details, including imperfections on walls and blades of grass lining the suburbs of the city’s streets. 

The camera is so impressive that we opted to make the Mate 20 Pro our default camera for the trip, rather than lugging around our semi-professional Canon EOS 77D camera around the eccentric city. 

Video quality was also high, but it doesn’t quite offer the clarity of Apple’s new range of iPhones.  

Price

The Mate 20 Pro doesn’t come cheap, given that the Mate 20 Pro is Huawei’s most powerful phone to date and is designed to compete with the iPhone XS Max.

Prices start at £899, which gives buyers 128GB of storage and the choice of four colours: black, twilight, midnight blue and emerald green. 

Users can expand the memory, a feature that has yet to come to iPhones, but the Mate 20 Pro only accepts Huawei’s own NM memory cards. This means buyers can’t use a standard microSD card like they can on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. 

Nevertheless, the Mate 20 Pro undercuts the iPhone XS Max by £200 and matches the Note 9’s price tag. 

The verdict

Feature-packed, powerful and ideal for photographers, the Mate 20 Pro excels in almost every aspect. 

While its face-scanning tech needs a few tweaks to compete with the equivalent versions on the iPhone XS Max and Note 9, there’s very little to criticise on the Chinese smartphone. 

Make no mistake, Huawei isn’t a brand to be messed with any more. The Mate 20 Pro is a serious competitor at the top of the smartphone market and throws another device into the range of superb Android phones to choose from. 

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