In an age where people want more from their smartphones — without knowing what that “more” is exactly — the Mate 20 Pro delivers. The new flagship is the result of Huawei’s constant improvements to its already great phones, like this year’s P20 Pro.
The Mate 20 Pro is a powerhouse with built-in intelligent features, fantastic cameras, ridiculously good battery life (with wireless reverse charging) and an in-screen fingerprint sensor.
The Mate 20 Pro looks different to its predecessor, the Mate 10 Pro. New tweaks include a symmetrical design; a curved edge-to-edge notched-display; and the removal of the back fingerprint sensor to the in-screen one. The USB-C charging port now doubles up as the stereo speaker, and the (dual) SIM slot is located at the bottom.
The 6.4-inch flagship is slim and sits comfortably in the hand when compared to the physically larger Samsung Galaxy Note9 of the same screen size. However, the curved-edge display makes it look like the Galaxy S9+ once you disable the notch. And yes, it was one of the first things I did on the twilight-coloured review unit.
It is powered by a 7nm Kirin 980 chipset that Huawei says has significant improvements over its previous-generation: it uses 40% less power, and is 20% faster over its previous-generation 970 chip. It now has two neural processing units for dedicated artificial intelligence tasks.
The exact numbers may not mean much to the average user, but in everyday use over the last two weeks, the phone was always snappy. From launching apps, to facial and fingerprint unlocking, taking photos, testing AI colour videos and switching between apps, the phone didn’t struggle one bit.
I initially enrolled my face and fingerprints while sitting on a moving bus in London, and found it affected my experience. I subsequently deleted them and set them up again for a smoother experience. Incidentally, the FNB app on the Mate 20 Pro uses fingerprints only for biometric authentication, and not facial unlocking as it does with the iPhone X, which I would have preferred as it’s less effort.
The Leica triple camera set-up is made up of a 40-megapixel wide angle, 20MP ultra-wide angle and an 8MP telephoto lens. I was impressed with the camera on the P20 Pro but the Mate 20 Pro is next level!
The ability to shoot wide-angle photos without walking a distance away makes a huge difference; I found it useful when taking photos of historic buildings in London.
Photo gallery (click the images for the full-sized versions):
The most striking use of AI is when recording videos in “AI colour” mode. A native feature to the Mate 20 Pro, it shoots videos in black and white, while keeping the moving, human subject in colour, in real time. The novelty has not worn off.
I’ve inserted two Sim cards into the phone and hotspot from it, use it for Google Maps, take pics primarily on it, and other general social and e-mail tasks daily, and the battery just takes it into its stride. I’ve never run out of battery in a day; and haven’t been carrying a power bank. I can tell you that the capacity is 4 200mAh but that doesn’t matter: it will take you through a power-intensive day with ease.
On the software side, EMUI 9 is Huawei’s interface on top of Android 9 Pie, and includes gestures similar to the iPhone X. I’ve found the overall experience itself to be smooth, except for the random HiVision software errors I keep getting, and all those accidental screenshots.
I’ve made use of the App Lock feature for my social apps, e-mail and anything that has personal info as the phone is quite popular; everyone wants to take a look.
The Mate 20 Pro ticks all the rights boxes with its camera, battery life, in-screen fingerprint sensor and AI tweaks topping the list. What more could you ask for in 2018? Move over P20 Pro, there’s a new king in town.
The Mate 20 Pro will be available in South Africa on 1 November at a recommended retail price of R18 999 (6GB/128GB) in either black or twilight. The dual-Sim version will be carried on the Telkom and Cell C networks. Vodacom and MTN, sadly, remain allergic to dual-Sim phones. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media