Huawei P20 Pro is almost perfect | Review

Huawei P20 Pro is almost perfect | Review

- in Gadgets, News, Reviews
@Micael Samuelsson

Changing gear for Huawei after the caution shown last year with the “P” series, on the other hand was inevitable and the new course was predictable after the excellent Mate 10 Pro, one of the best Android currently on the square. We can not define P20 Pro as its natural evolution, even if the technological heart is very similar, it changes the target and the focus, completely moved towards the multimedia and photographic experience.

I must be honest, it is not as easy as it seems to try and review a smartphone that does not give you many ideas for criticism, P20 Pro is actually complete and able to play with everyone. But it has a mole, one and true limitation linked to video and already discussed in the dedicated focus of the last few days. Let’s see everything in detail, the themes to be touched are many.

I like how integrated the notch, among other things concealable via software, inevitable solution if you want to reduce the upper frame to the bone and keep certain elements such as the front camera and the headset capsule (here with integrated speaker). Honestly, I do not care if Essential or iPhone X have opened the way, the criticism made at the end of MWC 2018 was in fact aimed at those who are convinced to innovate with the only notch.

It is not the case of P20 Pro, beautiful with it’s back cover Twilight and colors that change depending on the light, melt gradually and give a cheeky character to a top of the range. Brave choice that I believe will be rewarded.. Weight of 180g, well smeared and also explained by a large battery of 4,000 mAh that manages to make me smile at the end of the day, and I say in a positive sense.

Body in glass, with back cover that curves and converges towards the sides facilitating the grip. Here, the grip: there are many direct competitors who use this material, but the new arrival is what guarantees the best grip in my opinion. Too bad for the lack of originality in the lower part, practically copied from Honor View 10: the fingerprint reader is not random, I suspect that they have made the P20 Pro starting from that base, pointing obviously on the glass for the rear and the notch to widen the diagonal of the display.

The recognition with the fingerprinter is indeed quick and precise, lightning during the day and reliable even at night, provided you are not too far away. It does not make me crazy the earpiece in bas-relief, but I close an eye because it is also a second speaker that elevates the listening experience.

There is really no need to go beyond the full HD +, they have understood virtually everyone and on this Huawei has been right from the beginning, remember in fact last year when Sony had even proposed a 4K panel on a smartphone. The truth is that our eye does not perceive the difference between full HD + and Quad HD +, so that Samsung provides its top of the range with the first resolution set by default and the reason we all know: consumption.


And well, on P20 Pro comes further confirmation that the resolution of 2244 x 1080 pixels on OLED enough and advances, to make the difference is the brightness, the technology used and other aspects. According to my tests with Calman are 434 nits that reaches P20 Pro, with a delta E in grayscale certainly not exciting and equal to 8.8 (remember that the value 3 is the one above which you should not go in an ideal world) . Infinite contrast with extremely deep blacks, typical of OLEDs, sRGB coverage of 138.3% and AdobeRGB of 87.8%.
Huawei has not churned out a new SoC for the occasion, to be honest it is not in need of the computing power that is able to unleash the Kirin 970 and an operating system optimized for the latest Android 8.1 distribution. It runs like a splinter, it’s very fast in multitasking, in the opening and browsing of web pages and in all the most common operations, there are really no compromises.

Some of the sample pictures that I have taken with the P20 Pro (Just so you know I love burgers and pizza :-) )


The hardware platform is the most complete on the square. Someone could turn up their noses for Bluetooth in version 4.2 instead of 5.0, perhaps the only small compromise that does not have a real impact on my daily use. The higher bandwidth transfer rate (2 Mbps for 5.0 and 1 Mbps for 4.2) would make me comfortable, it’s true, I would be curious to know what the actual energy saving could be if it had the latest version mentioned above.

Operating system: Android Nougat 8.1 + EMUI 8.1
6.1-inch display 2244 x 1080 pixel OLED touchscreen, 402ppi
Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core 2.4GHz
GPU: Mali-G72 MP12
Memory: 6GB RAM / 128GB storage
Posteror camera: 40MP f / 1.8 with (colors) + 20MP f / 1.6 (monochrome) + 8 MP f / 2.4 (OIS)
Video: max resolution 4K @ 30fps
Front camera: 24 Mp, f / 2.0
Connectivity: 802.11 ac Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS + Glonass + BeiDou, 4G LTE Cat 18, Type-C 3.1
Dual nano-SIM, Dual LTE
Battery: 4000mAh
Other: IP67 rating
Dimensions and weight: 155mm x 73.9mm x 7.8mm / 180g

Team that wins does not change, never sentence was more apt. So, as on Mate 10 Pro, even in this case the unit in question is an excellent 4,000 mAh that behaves as we expected: from morning to evening without making a fold. On the other hand, if you look carefully, among the two little gems of the Huawei house, they do not know what differences, on the contrary, they are almost identical in their technical equipment and dimensions, with the most recent having a display (always OLED) slightly larger than 6.1 inches instead of 6.0 inches.

I calmly pass the 5 hours of the screen on, in the milder days I arrive in the evening with 30 or 35 percent more charge and, sometimes, I have also been able to cover part of the following morning. It is not the same in the most convulsive moments like the “Live Battery”, but it holds up well and I have always used it in a dual-SIM configuration. Excellent work, others now have to follow the good example and dare more, autonomy is too important.

The aspects to be taken into consideration are different, also because the functions multiply and merge here with the different cameras, opening up to a range of options that must actually be studied and analyzed in detail. For the occasion I asked the help of a professional, our friend and photographer Pier Sparello, specialized in portraits and lover of black and white (take a look at his photos on Flickr and Facebook).

We start from the photos at the highest resolution through the image sensor protagonist: 1 / 1.73 “format with Quad Bayer structure, lens with a focal length equivalent to 27mm and a good 40MP (the photos are 7296 x 5472 pixels). , Huawei has really managed to outdo and offer on smartphone a level of detail that is practically unprecedented, combined with an excellent balance of white, exposure and color reproduction.

Let’s start with example taken in full day with a beautiful view in front of Mount Barra. The first photo is the original one, followed by a visual on the 100% crop I made and the crop itself in the third file, with Lecco clearly visible and details that would be practically impossible to see if the photo had been taken with a lower resolution.

In the second example we see the camera working in an environment with much lower ambient brightness and automatically, yes, because it is the one that has satisfied us most, that Pro requires excessive attention in the settings and the result is not higher (in this conditions).

The only “real” reason to use Pro mode is the RAW file that you can get, you could open a separate chapter, but many other top of the range allow saving in this format (on P20 Pro every RAW weighs about 75 -80 MB, here three downloadable examples). Also in this case I propose the same set to show which area is highlighted in the crop. Really impressive visible details going to investigate so deep and with this low light.

As already highlighted in comparison with Galaxy S9 +, I do not always use the maximum resolution, for the simple fact that I like to be able to swap cameras and have also that telephoto. Reducing the pretensions to 10 MP we can therefore count on greater flexibility and use with a click on the “3X” icon the third 8 MP camera with f2.4 aperture, 1 / 4.4 “sensor and equivalent 80mm stabilized lens (OIS) .

We continue with the third camera and its canvas shots, optics particularly pushed and suitable for portraits or photos of details, macros and more. It amuses me a lot and provides an unprecedented depth of field with his lenses, clear that his forte is not the detail and going to investigate in the last crop is clearly seen.

But it does not matter, the choice of Huawei to embrace this system, up until now had been anchored for years to the dual-cam with monochromatic companion sensor. Now it responds to Samsung and Apple, with the plus of a stabilization and a particular night mode that we will discuss in a moment.

For me it is an objective limit, also because we are talking about a top of the range and I would like to feel free to acquire the highest resolution without fear of tremolos. Too bad, because the quality of the images has definitely increased compared to the past and this inevitably spoils the video, especially if we think of the competition that goes up to 4K at 60fps and with a lot of optical stabilization.

Another peculiarity is the management software to be optimized, it is not possible to intuitively exchange the two cameras (the 40 MP and the companion tele 8 MP) during recording, there is no “1X and 3X” icon to indicate how in the photo. The transition is still possible with the classic pinch-to-zoom and relative unpleasant shots on the screen during recording.


The question, arrived at this point, is what is missing this Huawei P20 Pro to be the best ever on the market, because this is it. Well the most important limit are videos for me, even if those had been up to its photos then we could easily crown this model as the “King of the castle”.

Another neo concerns the aesthetic side, with the low portion (front) totally identical to that of Honor View 10, this is what makes me turn up their nose, because it clashes with the good work done in making a nice device and remember this ugly vice of copying from the models already on the market and in their portfolio for months. And then yes, I would also like the Bluetooth 5.0, but it is a smallness.

These are the only notes that I have developed during this period of intensive use of the P20 Pro, the rest is the 2018 smartphone to beat, because it boasts the best camera system (front excluded), absolute podium autonomy, performance without compromise and l ‘latest software distribution that runs without a minimum lag.

Some people do not like EMUI, I think it is very subjective, it is true that I copy some of the elements seen in iOS (try to share a photo or file and compare the screen and icons, even in positioning) and would need more originality, but enough little to further customize the interface and put a piece. Since we went over 5.0 I find myself much better, is closer to the stock and has finally eliminated that horrible notification center with two cards.

So, yes, P20 Pro is a smartphone to recommend and that is worth the money requested, we see a list at € 899 but we are in the first weeks of marketing, I expect some decline in a narrow turn. This is the confirmation that there is still a palpable difference compared to the excellent midrange, which cost half, have similar performances but certainly not the most advanced goodies seen in this review. Try to shoot at night, you’ll fall in love.

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