In a year where the Samsung Galaxy S9 has underwhelmed many, Huawei’s P20 and P20 Pro have an opportunity.
There’s a simple reason to like Huawei P20 and P20 Pro: they both have a button on the front. It’s a good place for a button, especially one that’s a back button, home button and fingerprint scanner all in one. But wait, it also launches Google Assistant, so that’s four convenient features for the price of a tiny sliver of screen real estate.
It’s a refreshing antidote to the “more screen at all costs” approach, and, on Android at least, it makes eminent sense. Any space saved by not having a button is replaced by Android’s default soft buttons anyway, so what’s the point in ditching it? And while an irksome camera bump makes an unwelcome appearance, there’s a software option to hide it. Problem solved.
There’s plenty more to like about the P20 and P20 Pro, too. After years of floundering around with questionable gimmicks and iffy software, Huawei’s phones are maturing. The hardware’s always been good, but the software is simpler and classier than ever, and in the P20 Pro and its three cameras (yes, three), it has something unique to shout about.
The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro compared
The triple camera is exclusive to the P20 Pro, but that’s not the end of the differences. Naturally the Pro’s a little larger – 6.1in compared to 5.8in for the standard P20 – but it also has an inky black OLED screen, 6GB of memory and, unlike the P20, it’s water resistant. Given how similar they are, it seems a tad arbitrary that the P20 lacks the latter feature, but clearly the triple camera is the real talking point.
Huawei’s approach is unusual in that both phones have an RGB (colour) sensor and a monochrome one. A dedicated monochrome sensor opens up some fun creative options, but it’s also employed to improve low-light photo quality and – like on most dual-camera phones – help create blurred background ‘portrait mode’ photos. Huawei’s had this setup since the P9 in 2016, where its ongoing camera partnership with Leica first began.
That’s why the Pro now has three cameras. On most rivals, the second camera is the telephoto camera, but Huawei already had two cameras on its phones, so the natural conclusion was to include a third to add the telephoto dimension. Some might deem it excessive, but there’s merit in the flexibility, and this means you can enjoy the detailed, moody shots of the monochrome camera when it’s useful.
Huawei makes much of P20 Pro’s superior zoom ability, too, with a ‘5x hybrid zoom’ (3x optical) which it claims produces sharper, more detailed photos than the competition thanks to some algorithm trickery. The results WIRED saw were impressive but – given the lack of opportunity for direct comparison at the preview event – inconclusive.
HUAWEI P20 VS P20 PRO SPECS
Huawei Kirin 970 Octa-core CPU (4 x Cortex A73 2.36GHz + 4 x Cortex A53 1.8GHz) + i7 co-processor
P20: 5.8-inch, 1,080 x 2,244 LCD P20 Pro: 6.1-inch, 1,080 x 2,240 OLED
P20: 4GB RAM and 128GB storage P20 Pro: 6GB RAM and 128GB storage
P20: 149.1 mm x 70.8 mm x 7.65 mm (H x W x D) P20 Pro:155.0 mm x 73.9 mm x 7.8 mm (H x W x D)
P20: 165g P20 Pro: 180g
P20: 3400mAh P20 Pro: 4000mAh
Both phones are available to pre-order now and go on sale on April 5
P20: £599 SIM-free P20 Pro: £799 SIM-free
The camera tricks don’t end with the third camera. Both phones benefit from a 960fps slow-mo video mode, but it’s in the software where things get really interesting. Huawei’s talking up the AI elements of its camera software and, setting aside the abuse of the term ‘AI’ for a moment, the results are worth noting
All of which makes this mode impressive. Huawei was extremely cagey about how it works, but it seems logical it’s taking multiple exposures and stitching them together – a kind of low-light HDR mode, if you will. For a static demo, Huawei setup a pitch black room with a backlit silhouette of a city skyline on one wall. It was incredibly dark, but where a lesser phone would capture a vague dimness from the backlighting, the P20’s night mode captured real detail and depth with little appreciable noise.
It was impressive, and the phone can operate in this mode for up to eight seconds per shot, but the caveat is this wasn’t a real-world demo. In the wild, movement and conflicting light sources add complexity, so it’s hard to say on this evidence how often it will be effective when out and about.
Caveats applied, however, even if this mode doesn’t live up to its billing, it’s clear the P20 and P20 Pro have a great camera setup. Its partnership with camera specialists Leica continues to to pay dividends.
More battery is always good, but it comes at a cost
Not content with having more cameras than rivals, Huawei’s placed great importance on battery life. Both the P20 and P20 Pro have larger batteries than the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. The P20’s 3,400mAh battery is 13 percent larger than Samsung’s and the P20 Pro’s 4,000mAh capacity cell is 14 percent larger than the S9+. These should hopefully be large enough to get you through any day with power to spare.
Sadly, the headphone jack has been sacrificed to help accommodate these larger batteries. This is either an evil sacrilege or a sign of progress depending on who you ask. Those wedded to a wired set will need an adaptor for the USB-C port. It’s another point of difference with Samsung, which retains the 3.5mm port on the S9 and S9+.
Removing the headphone jack helps keep the phones thin and light despite the large batteries, and these are good-looking phones, albeit in a generic kind of way. They’re thin and curvy in all the right places, though the special ‘light refracting’ finishes on the rear do not add much. It also would be nice if the third camera on the P20 Pro appeared less tacked on than it does, but in the design stakes Huawei can stand unashamed alongside Samsung and Apple.
You can throw a blanket over most smartphones these days, they are so similar. And this is largely true of the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, but the clever long-exposure mode and the Pro’s triple camera are noteworthy innovations. Moreover, if you’re choosing between the two, the Pro’s extra memory and OLED screen make a persuasive case.
As we’ve argued recently, Huawei’s success all hinges on whether the cameras live up to their billing. But in a year where Samsung’s rolled out a somewhat underwhelming update to its flagship phones, the P20 Pro manages to stand out. Samsung has a real rival on its hands again.
https://wp.freedomofcreation.co.uk/dandev/wp-content/uploads/sites/101/2018/04/p1170370.jpg540810sebmartinhttp://wp.freedomofcreation.co.uk/dandev/wp-content/uploads/sites/101/2016/06/foc-weblogo-2.pngsebmartin2018-03-29 13:42:202018-04-03 13:42:41Huawei's P20 and P20 Pro are serious rivals for Samsung
Freedom of Creation
21 Cannon Street
Click on the different category headings to find out more. You can also change some of your preferences. Note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our websites and the services we are able to offer.
Essential Website Cookies
These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our website and to use some of its features.
Because these cookies are strictly necessary to deliver the website, you cannot refuse them without impacting how our site functions. You can block or delete them by changing your browser settings and force blocking all cookies on this website.
Google Analytics Cookies
These cookies collect information that is used either in aggregate form to help us understand how our website is being used or how effective our marketing campaigns are, or to help us customize our website and application for you in order to enhance your experience.
If you do not want that we track your visist to our site you can disable tracking in your browser here:
Other external services
We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps and external Video providers. Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. Changes will take effect once you reload the page.
Google Webfont Settings:
Google Map Settings:
Vimeo and Youtube video embeds: