The Huawei P20 Pro is one of two new smartphones to be announced by Huawei following a dedicated launch event held by the company in Paris, France. While it's meant to be a sibling of the Huawei P20, there are some notable changes between the two models and their predecessors, the most obvious one of which is the name of the P20 Pro. Although the P20 and P20 Pro do follow on from last year’s P10 and P10 Plus models, the P20 Pro has undergone a minor name change, with Huawei dropping the “Plus” name in favor of a “Pro” moniker.
One of the likely reasons Huawei has changed the variant name is to more adequately highlight the difference between these two same-generation phones. For example, the Plus name previously acted as a suitable indicator of how one model is larger than another, and this type of naming distinction has been used by multiple OEMs recently. Though the size aspect is also true in the case of the two P20s, the differences between these two models run much deeper than size or battery capacity alone. In fact, in spite of the Pro model seemingly arriving as a variant of the standard P20, it is actually the Pro version which most consumers will consider to be the more premium of the two handsets. Therefore, the use of Pro is in part specifically designed to help distinguish this model from the standard version. In other words, while the two models are alike, those looking for the ultimate option from this year’s P20 lineup will only have to look as far as the P20 Pro.
P20 Pro Specs
The Huawei P20 Pro is more powerful than the P20, even though both devices are powered by Huawei’s flagship mobile SoC, the Kirin 970 64-bit octa-core processor. This is partly due to the Pro model seeing an upgrade in RAM (6GB) along with 128GB of non-expandable storage. The Huawei P20 Pro also features a larger 6.01-inch OLED display along with a 2240 x 1080 resolution. In spite of the difference in display sizes, like the standard P20, the Pro model employs the same 18.7:9 aspect ratio. A direct result of both models including a "notch" on the front panel. The Huawei P20 Pro is IP67-certified for water and dust resistance, and while the phone sports a front-facing fingerprint scanner, it also comes with facial recognition tech, much like the P20. A 3.5 mm headphone jack is not included due to Huawei prioritizing the USB Type-C port this time. Although it is understood a Type-C to 3.5 mm adapter will be included with all purchases. Android 8.1 (Oreo) comes pre-installed on the Huawei P20 Pro, along with Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) 8.1 skin. In terms of the physical dimensions, the P20 Pro measures 155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm, and weighs 180 grams.
P20 Pro Battery
Just like with the Huawei P20, the Huawei P20 Pro comes with a large battery to help it stay powered throughout the day. In the P20's case, this equates to a 4,000 mAh capacity non-removable battery. Also like the standard P20, the Pro model supports Huawei’s SuperCharge fast charging technology, which means it is capable of receiving a charge from 0 to 58-percent in just thirty minutes. One aspect that is worth noting on the battery is how Huawei has managed to pack the P20 Pro with a 4,000 mAh cell while still managing to maintain a thickness of 7.8 mm. This means the P20 Pro is only fractionally thicker than the P20 in spite of featuring a 15-percent greater battery capacity. Like the P20, however, the P20 Pro does not offer any additional advanced battery features, such as wireless charging.
P20 Pro Hardware Design
Coming with an all-new design compared to last year’s P10 Plus, the P20 Pro features a curved glass back instead of an all-metal body. Resulting in the more premium look Huawei has become known for with many of its top-tier devices. Of course, Huawei still uses metal for the frame of the phone but the front and back are now completely made of glass.
Aside from the glass back, Huawei has also put some thought into the color choices of the P20 Pro as it does with many of its phones. This is evident by the new Twilight Purple color which comes with a gradient-like color to it and shifting between multiple colors based on what angle it is held at. Though it is possible to see all the colors by looking at the device head-on. It’s a different color choice that emboldens the design choices of Huawei, and may prove appealing to those looking for something a little different.
The notch is another design choice, which, while many may not be fond of, is a different design element from the P10 series and seems to be following the trend that other Android devices are already implementing as well so far this year.
P20 Pro Cameras
The P20 Plus main camera setup is undoubtedly its main selling point, being of the triple-lens variety and thus a unique proposition that differentiates itself from its contemporary rivals. Leica's first-ever three-sensor system effectively consists of a dual-camera setup and a third lens that's only used selectively, meaning that in practice, many or most of the taken images will still be delivered through the two-sensor solution. That conventional setup still boasts a number of industry firsts, including a 40-megapixel RGB sensor mounted behind an f/1.8 lens. The three sensors are arranged vertically in the top left corner of the P20 Pro's rear plate, and are also supported by a dual-LED flash unit. From top to bottom, the device is equipped with a telephoto, RGB, and monochrome cameras. The flash is situated immediately above the black-and-white module and a color temperature sensor which is an entirely new addition to a Huawei-made series of smartphones and should improve the accuracy of colors delivered.
The information from the 40-megapixel color sensor and the telephoto camera can be combined with the data collected by the 20-megapixel monochrome module which is only tasked with recording light levels, i.e. delivering black-and-white photos behind its f/1.6 lens. The solution allows the P20 Pro to produce 40-megapixel photographs that should look as good on a large screen as they do on the actual mobile display. Such photos are still likely to be several megabytes in size, which is why the full imaging capabilities of the P20 Pro are disabled by default. Out of the box, the smartphone will produce 10-megapixel photographs, whereas their resolution can be increased to a maximum of 40-megapixels in the device's camera settings. The figures don't guarantee better-quality images by themselves; for example, if the Mate 10 lineup used a 40-megapixel sensor with the same software and lens, it would deliver a larger number of lower-quality pixels. However, Huawei claims the new sensor will improve the overall photography experience offered by the P20 Pro. For example, the 10-megapixel results delivered by the new device should in theory be brighter than traditional 10-megapixel shots captured by most other phones given how they combine data from four adjacent pixels into one.
Huawei, unsurprisingly, believes the P20 outperforms the Galaxy S9 series by virtue of the fact it ships with a larger (RGB camera) sensor that's 1/1.7 in size, opposed to the 1/2.5 module found on Samsung's Galaxy S9. The P20 Pro also offers the highest ISO sensitivity in the mobile industry, with its sensors going up to ISO 102,400. For comparison, the Galaxy S9 can go up to 6,400 but only in its automatic mode, whereas its manual mode is capped at ISO 800. Huawei's new device likely has a similar limitation but the exact restrictions of its Pro shooting mode are yet to be disclosed. Huawei claims the maximum ISO setting can deliver acceptable results even in extreme low-light conditions, down to 1 lux.
The telephoto camera of the P20 pro uses an 8-megapixel sensor and a lens with an aperture of f/2.4. The module is capable of 3x optical zoom and 5x "Hyper Zoom," Huawei said, with this particular feature combining the information from the other two cameras in order to form an image, coupled with the new color sensor and high-resolution sensors, the P20 Pro should be capable of delivering unprecedentedly detailed zoomed photos. The P20 Pro also boasts a new laser autofocus system that can detect objects from up to three meters (9.84 feet) away, thus covering a distance that's nearly three times greater than that of an average high-end smartphone. When combined with motion prediction algorithms, the P20 Pro should theoretically offer the best autofocusing experience currently available on a smartphone. Huawei is primarily leveraging the new autofocusing system to improve its "Ultra Snapshot" functionality used for quickly taking photos when a compatible smartphone is locked. The company claims a double-press of the phablet's volume button now allows the capturing of a photo in as little as 0.3 seconds, an improvement on the Mate 10 Pro's performance by 0.5 seconds. The P20 Pro also comes with super slow-motion capabilities delivering 720p videos recorded at 960 frames per second, identical to the Galaxy S9. The front camera of the P20 Pro is of the 24-megapixel variety and supports a software-enabled portrait mode, which is — again — similar to the Galaxy S9 and its Selfie Focus functionality, albeit it takes things up a level through the inclusion of 3D portrait lighting capabilities more akin to those seen on Apple's iPhone X. Huawei is referring to the triple-camera setup of the P20 Pro as a massive "jump in innovation" for its engineering that's meant to serve as a unique selling point, both in terms of hardware and software. Regarding the latter, the company is continuing with its artificial intelligence-focused photography strategy started with the Mate 10 lineup and is now leveraging its AI technologies to improve the imaging capabilities of the P20 Pro even further.
The new smartphone series is introducing the concept of "Master AI" which is somewhat similar to what LG is attempting to do with the V30S ThinQ; in essence, the Master AI of the device is meant to automatically recognize the subject of your viewfinder and adjust the shooting parameters of the triple-camera setup accordingly. E.g. if it realizes you're shooting a person, it should attempt to automatically add a bokeh effect to the background and opt for settings that would expose their face in a maximally flattering manner, whereas it will automatically switch to a macro mode if it realizes the user is attempting to capture a close-up shot. Huawei claims this technology can provide users with the "skills" of a broad range of professional photographers who usually specialize in a highly specific type of photography focused on subjects like people, landscapes, and food. The Master AI transcends simple shooting modes and also attempts to help users with composition, suggesting different angles if it deems them necessary. It's presently unclear how advanced that functionality is, with the only examples provided by Huawei being that of landscape photography which will have the AI warn users when they're shooting landscapes that aren't flush with their viewfinder and making sure group shots are centered. In theory, the feature could also help users apply other principles such as the rule of thirds to their photography.
Another major AI-powered camera capability of the P20 Pro is AI image stabilization which Huawei refers to as AIS. Despite the fact that only the telephoto lens of the handset features optical image stabilization, the company claims users can record exposures of up to four seconds without any blurriness thanks to the software stabilization enabled by its object recognition AI tech. In practice, the solution can eliminate the need for a tripod in most cases that would warrant one, according to the company. AIS is also being used for video stabilization and is utilized in conjunction with the telephoto lens's OIS to ensure a high degree of video stabilization. Should users not be satisfied with such AI-enabled results or want to disable the functionality for any other reason, they'll be able to do so from the camera settings of the P20 Pro, Huawei confirmed.
P20 Pro Security
The Huawei P20 Pro features Face Unlock drawing on the use of the front-facing 24-megapixel camera to add an additional authentication option to the proceedings. Although this is not a feaure specific to the Pro model with the standard model also adopting the technology. Like the P20, Huawei is also keen to point out how well its solution works in low-light conditions, including total darkness. This has been made possible by both P20 models illuminating the display to add additional light to the scene before undertaking the facial identification process.
In spite of the P20's clear emphasis on facial identification, those who prefer to use a fingerprint to secure their smartphone can still do so. Like the P10 series from last year, Huawei has kept the fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, which is why the bottom bezel isn’t quite as thin as some other smartphones on the market. If anything, the fingerprint sensor may prove to be the better option for those looking to lock a phone for security purposes as the Face Unlock feature on offer with the P20 Pro is only using the front-facing camera and no other sensors for validation. In other words, it is not as safe as some of the options currently offered by other OEMs on competing smartphones.
P20 Pro Variants
The Huawei P20 Pro is only one of three P20 models that have now been announced. As in addition to the standard P20 model which was announced alongside the Pro, Huawei also has a P20 Lite model on the way. While the Lite model was announced earlier in the month, Huawei did dedicate a portion of the event to the phone highlighting how it will offer a P20-like experience at a more affordable price point. Those interested in learning more about the standard P20 or the mid-range P20 Lite, head through the links below. As for the P20 Pro, the device is meant to be available in Black, Twillight, Midnight Blue, and Pink Gold color options.
P20 Pro Availability
Of the three new P20 phones, the P20 Pro is the most premium in all respects. This includes the price, with Huawei now confirming the Pro model will be the most expensive, arriving with an €899 price tag in Europe. This effectively represents a €200 premium compared to the P10 Plus. Of course, the P20 Pro does offer far more than its predecessor did, with the addition of a third camera sensor on the back being just one example. Vodafone UK has announced that it will be carrying the P20 Pro in the United Kingdom, although it has yet to disclose a firm launch date. EE, O2, and Three UK also confirmed they will be carrying the handset and offering it on a variety of monthly plans, with the companies now also accepting pre-orders until April 5. As is the case with the standard P20, the P20 Pro won't be coming to the United States in any capacity, Huawei confirmed. The rest of the world is supposed to benefit from "immediate" availability, which in practice likely means you should be able to purchase the new handset through a local carrier or reseller in the coming weeks.
P20 Pro Gallery