Since it's launch late last year, there has been a buzz about Huawei's latest flagship device, the Mate 20 Pro and it was with good cause. The Chinese electronics giant had invested a lot into the making of this phone, it has the best processor, the latest AI which learns along the way, the best camera and the list goes on. I said after the launch in South Africa that I can confidently say that this is the best phone on the market, not purely by its features but after seeing it in action. So towards the end of the year, Huawei sent me one to use for a few weeks and got to see if all that raving by me was worth it or if I was about to eat my own words in the end of it. Suffice to say no words were eaten by the end of it but here's my in depth review of the device.
It's probably the most exciting part when getting a new device and is an experience in its own right so we thought we'd give you the low down on unboxing the Mate 20 Pro. Huawei really take pride in everything about their devices, the boxes the devices come in are well designed and have that premium look to it. With the Mate 20 Pro it was very similar to what the P20 and the P20 Pro come in. A nice textured box which the lid slides off to reveal the device on top concealed in a foam/plastic pocket which sits in a molded tray to keep the device in place. Below that is the instruction manual and two boxes, one of which holds the Super Charger and the other, wired headphones along with an adapter for them since the Mate 20 Pro also doesn't have a dedicated headphone jack. Overall, very impressive package for an impressive device.
The overall design of the Mate 20 Pro follows the same language as it's other devices but its finishing touches a much more distinct. The device is quite big with it measuring 72.3mm in width, 157.8mm in height and a depth of 8.6mm at it's deepest point as the device has a slight curve to the back. In hand feeling is very good, it has a textured back which improves grip, the device weights about 189g so it's much lighter than its previous generations. The overall design is very clean and the edges beveled smooth to allow for an easier grip and comfort in your hand. The phone I had came in the famous Twilight colour which changes colours in various angles you look at it. Definitely the colour of choice for many as that was the first to sell out. The Mate 20 Pro also features the bevel front which has the facial recognition camera as well as front facing camera.
The Mate 20 Pro attains an IP68 rating which is the highest of any phone on the market, this means the device is water, dust and splash resistant. The device is tested in a controlled environment and certified as such in specific situations all of which meets the IP68 classification standards as described by the international standard IEC 60529. I wouldn't advice one to go swimming with the phone, purely because I'd be too scared to but what this does allow you to do, is use the phone in the rain, if something happens to spill on it, it gives you time to wipe it dry or god forbid it does fall into a pool or puddle it should be fine. The phone itself is an aluminium uni-body with Corning Gorilla Glass screen.
Before the phone was announced to the world, it was known that the Mate 20 Pro would be running the new Kirin 980 chipset. It's the fastest processing chipset on the market at the moment and features 2 x Cortex -A76 based 2.6Ghz + 2 x Cortex -A76 Based 1.92Ghz + 4 x Cortex - A55 1.8Ghz units. Yup, its an Octacore processor, this required to power its impressive EMUI 9 AI feature. That's what brings the device to life and gives it a massive advantage over everyone else's product. Many have said that AI is nice but how does it make a difference to the normal user, well in short, it does a lot! Most of the phones processing is done via the AI so it thinks for the phone which puts less strain on the device and hence saves battery, it also puts less strain on you, the user. For example, when taking pictures, the AI detects just what is it you're taking a picture of and adjusts the camera settings appropriately for you to get the best picture every time. It also has a nifty feature where it can detect the type of food you're eating and give you approximate calories in it. Another handy feature is the product detector, where you just point your camera at an object, it detects what it is and gives you a list of places where you can purchase that product at. Memory wise, the P20 Pro comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.
There's no escaping this camera, literally because the speed in which it captures. The Mate 20 Pro features the Leica triple Matrix system. The quad setup features a 40MP wide angle lens with f/1.8 aperture, a 20MP ultra wide angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and a 8MP telephone lens, f/2.4 aperture. The camera supports autofocus, laser focus, phase focus and contrast focus and as mentioned before, has AI capabilities to help you get the best shot every time. It's low light picture quality is simply amazing and supports Huawei AI image stabilization so you can take brilliant low light pictures by hand and need not worry about getting a tripod. The front camer is a 24MP, f/2.0 aperture which supports 3D depth sensing and is brilliant for selfies and the has the augmented reality animator which allows you to be one of many avatars.
The Mates have always been boastful about their battery life and the 20 Pro is just the same, with it coming fitting with a 4200mAh battery, which can last up to 2 full days on one charge, depending on usage. I'm always on the phone, whether its making calls, taking pictures or on social media so for a phone to give me 10+ hours of use in one day is very impressive and that's what the Mate 20 Pro did. Just to give you a typical day for me, I'm up at 5am phone in hand, catching up on Whatsapp messages and Instagram all while getting ready to go to gym. From there into the car which is connected to the Bluetooth so I can listen to my music. At gym, 30 minutes of YouTube streaming at 4K quality, back home then to work where I'll be making phones, continuously on Whatsapp, Instagram Twitter and Facebook, back home, Bluetooth music for the journey home, maybe another phone call, more social media binge, and IM's till 11pm where the battery still had an average of 20% left. The Mate 20 Pro is also the first device from Huawei that features wireless charging, but Huawei didn't settle for the basic wireless charging but has the 15W quick charge, it also has reverse charge so you can charge other wireless devices from it!
There's still so much I can rave about this phone but essentially my advice to many was right, this is the best device on the market at Huawei got the timing right, just before Christmas as you can see many people using it already. I used the device as my primary phone and the adjustment from a smaller device wasn't too bad. The fullview display does take some time to get used to but you can turn it off if the "notch" annoys you. The facial detection which unlocks the phone is super fast as well is the in-screen finger print scanner. With so many ways to secure your phone, there isn't a worry that someone went through your phone if you had left it lying around. You can get the Mate 20 Pro in dual sim from selected mobile service providers and both sim slots are 4G capable. With all these cool features in one package, at the price it came in at R18,999, it really is value for money and prices competitively in the market. I've been having withdrawals ever since I had to give it back, I need it back in my life!
Some pictures I took while I had the device, just to give you an idea of the versatility of the AI and camera.