The Huawei Mate 20 family's robust camera experience is just the tip of the iceberg
Huawei launches lots of phones each year, but none make headlines the way the Mate and P lines do. Like many big-name phones, these two lines have slowly been converging each year, and this year we’re seeing Huawei take what they started on the P20 family and turn it up several notches for the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. These are two phones that have it all, from a near bezel-less display design to a brand new triple camera system on the back, the design is just the beginning of what Huawei is offering at the end of 2018. These are two phones that primarily focus on the camera experience, and while that's certainly the single biggest selling point of either phone, there's plenty to offer on both devices that's worth taking a look at, especially if price is a big issue between the two devices, which have a €200/£200 price difference between them.
Huawei Mate 20 Specs and Unboxing
Huawei’s Mate line has often been their tech powerhouse line, and this year follows suit with a duo of devices that offer a similar experience for two very different budgets. The Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro look a fair bit different from each other, but also sport many similarities. These similarities include the same chipset, Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 980, which is a beast of a processing unit that sports 2x Cortex-A76-based cores running at 2.6GHz, 2x Cortex-A76 cores running at 1.92GHz, and 4x Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.8GHz. The Kirin 980 also sports the world’s first dual-NPU (Neural Processing Unit), as well as a Mali-G76 GPU running at 720MHz. The Mate 20 Pro comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage and retails for €999/£899. The Mate 20 offers that same 6GB/128GB option at €799/£699, and some markets will have a less expensive version with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Both units ship with the option of Emerald Green (our Mate 20 Pro review unit), Midnight Blue (our Mate 20 review unit), Twilight, Pink Gold, or Black colors. Both models support expandable storage through a new nano memory card format, so microSD cards will not work here.
The Mate 20 is the larger phone, measuring in at 158.2mm tall, 77.2mm wide, and 8.3mm thin, with a weight of 188 grams. This phone sports a 6.53-inch RGBW IPS LCD display with 2244 x 1080 resolution, 18.7:9 aspect ratio, and DCI-P3 HDR color support. A small dewdrop notch is at the top of the Mate 20’s display and houses the 24-megapixel fixed-focus camera with f/2.0 lens. The Mate 20 Pro is a smaller 157.8mm tall, 72.3mm wide, and 8.6mm thin design that weighs 189 grams. As a result, this phone sports a smaller 6.39-inch curved OLED display with 3120 x 1440 resolution, taller 19.5:9 aspect ratio, and DCI-P3 HDR color support. Above it is a much larger notch that features the 3D facial recognition technology, as well as the same 24-megapixel fixed-focus f/2.0 camera of the Mate 20. The Mate 20 features a 4,000 mAh capacity battery with 22.5W supercharge support, while the Mate 20 Pro beefs this up to 4,200 mAh and much faster 40W supercharge support, but both should give 2-day battery life for most folks.
The camera situation around back is different too, and although both phones sport a mirrored triple camera setup, the actual sensors and lenses are different between the two phones. The Mate 20 sports a 12-megapixel main sensor with 27mm (77-degree) f/1.8 lens, and a secondary 8-megapixel sensor with 52mm (2x optical zoom) f/2.4 lens. A new 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle 17mm (103-degree) f/2.2 camera is on-board, replacing the monochrome camera from past Huawei flagships. The Mate 20 Pro upgrades this ultra-wide angle camera to a 20-megapixel one with 16mm (106-degree) f/2.2 lens, and while the secondary camera uses the same 8-megapixel sensor, the lens on that camera has been upgraded to an 80mm (3x optical zoom) f/2.4 one. The main sensor is the same 40-megapixel one from the P20 Pro earlier this year, sporting a 27mm (77-degree) f/1.8 lens. Both units feature a dual-LED dual-tone flash, OIS, EIS, and laser/contrast/phase detection autofocus.
Unique, Good, and Bad
Aside from the sheer price difference between the two, the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro both deliver pretty different experiences in a number of key areas. The Mate 20 Pro features a better display, better sound output quality from the phone’s built-in speakers, and an overall better camera mainly due to higher megapixel count on two of the four sensors. Huawei has some design consistency issues in EMUI 9, including really buggy gestures and that terrible new Overview multitasking redesign. That being said, these are the fastest phones Huawei has ever delivered by a wide margin, which is important considering how slow and clunky EMUI 8 felt on the Mate 10 and P20 family. This, of course, makes both phones feel more like the premium offerings that they're priced at, particularly the Mate 20 Pro, which remains one of the most expensive devices released last year.
Huawei’s hardware design is better than ever, with a unique design for each phone; something that may irk those that would prefer the design of one phone but the specs of the other. While the Mate 20 Pro represents the most premium design and price tag of the two, the new speaker configuration on the Mate 20 Pro is a bit strange, and lack of stereo speakers on the less-expensive Mate 20 is terribly disappointing. Still, you’re looking at phones with some of the best battery life ever, and a camera configuration that provides more focal length options than anyone else out there, including superior telephoto zooming, wide-angle and even super macro photography as well. The biggest question is where to buy them, as Huawei phones aren’t officially sold in the US, but it’s easy enough to get them anywhere else in the world, particularly across Europe and Asia. The lack of official availability in the US is the real shame for consumers, as they'll be missing out on some of the absolute best phones of 2018 and the best camera experience on any phone released to date.