In the case of handset suppliers, Huawei has particular importance to me. Their units were among the first I've ever reviewed here at AnandTech, and the Mate series has been one that I've seen personally while it has evolved over the years. It has been up and down in its products, but Huawei has always shown a consistent amount of progress with each generation, raising product quality, making them increasingly approaching a household name among smartphone providers.
Huawei has today surpassed Apple to be the # 2 smartphone provider worldwide and achieved a goal that they had presented as a strategy by 2015. However, the company achieved this goal while facing major battles on the US market last year – to point there now they no longer actively try to compete. When asked what the company's strategy for the future was, the answer was relatively simple – making devices that were good enough because of course they created users' demand for them.
Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are Huawei's latest attempt to drive the envelope when it comes to creating symbolic flagships. In this review we review all aspects of the two new phones – and see if Huawei has managed to create something worth your purchase.
Let's start with the specifications of both phones:
|Huawei Mate 20 Series|
|Mate 20 Pro||Size 20|
|SoC||HiSilicon Kirin 980
2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.60 GHz
|GPU||Mali G76MP10 @ 720MHz|
|DRAM||6GB LPDDR4X||4GB LPDDR4X
3120 x 1440 (19.5: 9)
|6.53 "RGBW LCD
2244 x 1080 (18.7: 9)
|Size||Height||157.8 mm||158.2 mm|
|Width||72.3 mm||77.2 mm|
|Depth||8.6 mm||8.3 mm|
|Weight||189 grams||188 grams|
|+ Wireless reverse charge||–|
|Main||40MP f / 1.8
27mm eq. FL
|12MP f / 1.8
27mm equivl. FL
|telecommunications||8MP f / 2.4
3x Optical zoom
80mm equiv. FL
|8MP f / 2.4
2x Optical zoom
52mm equivl. FL
|Wide||20MP f / 2.2
Ulta wide angle
16mm equivl. FL
|16MP f / 2.2
Ultra wide angle
17mm equivl. FL
|Framing camera||24MP f / 2.0|
+ proprietary "nanoSD" card
|I / O||USB C||USB C
3.5 mm headphone
|Wireless (local)||802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
|Cellular||Kirin 980 Integrated LTE
DL = 1400 Mbps
UL = 200 Mbps
|Splash, Water, Dam resistance||IP68
(water resistant up to 1m)
(no water resistance)
|Dual sim||2x nano SIM|
|starting Price||128 GB: 1049 €||4 + 128 GB: 799 €
6 + 128 GB: 849 €
In the heart of both new flagships we find Huawei's new Kirin 980 chipset. Huawei is the only Android manufacturer to utilize full vertical integration of silicon and telephones. The new Kirin 980 is an important chipset because it will run all Huawei and Honor flagship units for the rest of 2018 and 2019 – at least until the next generation is revealed. Kirin 980 is not only important because of its use in Huawei's own devices, but also because it is the very first Arm Cortex-A76-based and Android-compatible 7nm SoC on the market. This means that what the new Kirin 980 brings to the table in terms of performance and efficiency will largely be representative of almost all future Android devices in 2019.
Kirin 980 sports four Arm Cortex-A76s – with a couple watched in 2.6GHz and another pair watched at 1.92GHz. Supplied with four Cortex-A55 cores up to 1.8 GHz. To round the CPU complex, the chip is also the first to launch the new Mali G76 GPU's new MP10 configuration running up to 720MHz. We will describe SoC in more depth on a dedicated page after we talk more about the design of the phone itself.
Starting with "Standard" Mate 20, we see a rather large design shift from last year's Mate 10.
Mate 10 was a bit strange design because Huawei had chosen to put a fingerprint sensor on the bottom of the phone, although earlier Mate phones and Sibon Mate 10 Pro also had it on the back.
Mate 20 now returns to a more "traditional" reset fingerprint sensor, and also assumes the trend of having a loaded design that sports a very large 6.53 "18.7: 9 2244 x 1080 LCD screen.
What I think is most important about the new phone (it is not clearly shown in the pictures) is that Mate 20 is ever so narrower than Mate 10, which now comes in a width of 77.2 mm. The few millimeters of reduced width do not seem much, but it makes a big difference in usability, and I prefer mostly Mate 20's new slimmer and more elongated form factor.
When we look at Mate 20 Pro against Mate 10 Pro – we see an even more significant design shift.
The new Mate 20 Pro can only be described as Huawei noting Samsung's Galaxy S8 / S9 design, as the new phone marks striking resemblance to the features that defined the ergonomics of Samsung's phones. Mate 20 Pro is thus Huawei's first phone with a curved screen and a curved back. The screen is an OLED, which comes in a diameter of 6.39 "and is finally Huawei's first phone to drive beyond 1080p, comes with a 3120 x 1440 panel with a very elongated aspect ratio of 19.5: 9.
In the same way as Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro also reduces a small amount of the phone from its predecessor, Mate 10 Pro. The new device is now 72.3 mm wide, making it a little over a millimeter narrower than a Galaxy S9 +. Combined with the new curved screen and the curved back, this creates a feeling that is much more comfortable than any previous Huawei device that I have come to use – and to me personally, this is also so close to a perfect form factor that I've encountered.
What really stood for me is Mate 20 Pros building quality. This is by far Huawei's best-known phone, because it only feels incredibly solid while maintaining a floating design on all sides. I think that the fact that Huawei does not use a seal ring around the display glass is what gives the phone an edge in terms of feeling. Overall, Huawei took Samsung inspirational inspirations here – but I absolutely do not calculate them because imitation is the best smoker type and Huawei implemented the ergonomics perfectly on the Mate 20 Pro.
Both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro screens continue with the trend of using screens. Mate 20 uses a new minimalistic "tear drop" heel design that holds the front camera and hides the front sensors just above and left of the camera lens, along with the headphone grille over them all. I've never had problems with Huawei's scores (As reviewed on P20 and P20 Pro), and Mate 20's new design did not bother me a lot. Huawei software can as usual still expose the notification bar to hide the score, and I had it enabled for daily use.
Mate 20 Pro's hack on the other hand is one of the first for Android phones. Huawei notices so much Apple's iPhone X / XS notebook – not only in terms of design, but also in terms of actual functionality. The new width has three new sensors / modules: a spot projector, floodlight and an IR camera. This allows the Mate 20 Pro to sport virtually the same fast, reliable and secure face-up method as Apple's FaceID.
The broader hack came unfortunately as a compromise, as it was as if I thought that the notification bar lacked enough space to display more relevant status icons, and the OS will pass status icons to the left "ear", which is usually dedicated to notification icons.
I'm not a big user of face lock, but Huawei's implementation seems to be seamless, fast and reliable. The great surprise for Mate 20 Pro is that locking up the face lock does not replace fingerprint locking, but rather just one option. You may have noticed that there is no fingerprint sensor on the back, and it is because the Mate 20 Pro houses it under the screen on the front of the phone. Again, implementation is good in terms of unlocking reliability and accuracy, although I had hoped it would be a little faster. Also, what I think is missing is a better (or any) haptic feedback when using the sensor. If you choose not to use the fingerprint sensor or return to a regular password lock, it will also be a waste of time – I had hoped Huawei would use it as a normal button in the same way that Samsung makes the S8 and S9.
At the bottom of the phones there is a surprising lack of a speaker grille on the Mate 20 Pro. Here comes the sound out of the USB-C port, which is very weird. Connecting a cable clearly sounds the sound, so do not expect to play music while charging your phone to be viable. Also in the bottom we find the SIM tray and the microphones.
On Mate 20 we find the speaker grille, but the phone is only IP53 certified, as opposed to the IP68 value of Mate 20 Pro. Unfortunately, this is the only speaker on Mate 20, because the earpiece does not work like a stereo tweeter. The SIM slot on Mate 20 is shifted to the left of the phone.
One thing Mate 20 does has that Mate 20 Pro is not a 3.5mm headphone jack. Once again, Huawei's decision confuses to give the usual model a jack when it removes it from the Pro model, only once – a situation where a vendor tries to portray a feature as some form of benefit.
Both Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are still delivered with an IR transmitter on top of the phones, which can control various devices with it.
Finally, the middle part of the back of both phones is the cameras: Mate 20's, alongside the V40, is one of the rare new generations of devices that contain triple of wide-angle, regular and telecom modules. Huawei houses these in a square design layout, along with the flashlight in the fourth launch. Huawei wanted this design to be unique to them, and something that would immediately be recognized and attributed to company entities.
The camera's hardware itself is quite special, because the two phones do not share a single module between them. The Mate 20 has a 12MP main camera with a f / 1.8 mixer, along with a 2x optical zoom 8MP f / 2.4 module and a 16MP f / 2.2 wide-angle device. Mate 20 Pro camera configuration is more familiar, as the 40MP f / 1.8 main camera and 3MP optical zoom 8MP f / 2.4 module appear to be identical to those in the P20 Pro – this is the addition of the new 20MP f / 2.2 wide-angle module. We will go into more depth about the camera in the dedicated section later in this review.
In total, Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro represent both a design switch from Huawei and promises a range of features. Building quality is definitely a plus for the new devices, especially for Mate 20 Pro. As we move on to the devices of the devices, we inspect the new generation hardware on both phones more closely to see if they live up to their promises.