Huawei Mate 20 Pro: First Impressions, Unboxing Video

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Huawei, earlier today launched its flagship camera-centric smartphone, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro in India for Rs.69,990. The India launch of the Mate 20 Pro comes quite sometime after the device was made available in several other markets – including Huawei’s home market – China and a bunch of European countries. This is also the first time that Huawei’s flagship Mate Series has been officially launched in India. Prior to the launch of the Mate 20 Pro, the camera-centric P-Series handsets were the most expensive phones from brand here in India.

I have been using the Huawei Mate 20 Pro as my primary smartphone for close to two weeks now. While I am still in the process of reviewing the handset (expect a full review in the near future), I thought now would be a good time to pen down my first impressions of this device.

Before we start, let’s take a quick look at the specifications of the phone.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Specifications, Hardware

The Huawei Mate 20 is powered by the brand new HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC. The world’s first 7nm mobile chipset, the Kirin 980 succeeds the Kirin 970 and is Huawei’s fastest ever SoC. The Kirin 980 houses an octa-core processor with 2 x Cortex-A76 cores, 2 x Cortex-A76 cores and 4 x Cortex-A55 cores. This SoC also happens to be the world’s first Cortex-A76 architecture chipset and boasts of another first – a dual NPU design. If that wasn’t all, it is also the first chipset to feature an LTE Cat.21 modem. The graphics is handled by the Mali G76 GPU which is more than 40% faster compared to its predecessor.

The Mate 20 Pro comes in two versions; a base 6GB RAM version with 128GB of storage and a top of the line 8GB RAM version with 256GB of storage. Then there is the uber premium Porsche Design Mate 20 RS that also gets a premium design and 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. All these versions get a memory expansion slot as well – albeit – the supported storage medium being the new Nano-Memory card standard. On the downside, there are currently no NM cards on sale.

The Mate 20 Pro also gets a large 4200 mAh battery with support for fast charging. In fact, the handset ships with a massive 40-watt SuperCharger that claims to charge the handset from 0 to 70% in just 30 minutes.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Design, Build

There was a time not too long ago when Chinese-made smartphones were generally frowned upon for their poor quality, lack of originality in terms of design and poor software implementation. That, however, is no longer the case thanks to brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, Huawei/Honor and even Oppo and Vivo. Huawei and Honor, in particular, have been able to design and launch some excellent looking and well-built smartphones in the last few months. Handsets like the Huawei Nova 3, the Honor 10 and more recently, the Honor Magic 2 have all been praised for the design and excellent build quality. Being Huawei’s flagship offering, it goes without saying that the Mate 2 Pro is perhaps the most premium handset that Huawei has released till date.

The unit that we received for review was the 6GB RAM version with 128GB of storage and features the dual tone finish at the rear panel. A large AMOLED display adorns most of the front fascia. This panel measures 6.39-inches and has a resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixels (538 PPI). The panel also supports the DCI-P3 color gamut.

The Mate 20 Pro also borrows the curved edge display theme from Samsung (and we mean that in a good way) and had it not been for the notch, people might mistake it for the Galaxy S9 from the distance. If you are a notch hater, you can easily turn the notch off from within the display settings and thanks to the curved edges of the phone and the rounded edges of the display, the handset actually looks better without the notch in my opinion.

Like the P20 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro also boasts of a stereo speaker setup. This time, however, there are no dedicated speaker grills at the bottom. The sound is instead delivered through the USB Type-C port. This, however, means that there is a loss in volume when you listen to music while the handset is being charged. Like the P20 Pro, the phone does not get a 3.5mm jack. Thankfully, Huawei does ship a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter inside the box. The SIM card tray, that also takes in the NM card is located at the bottom.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Camera and Imaging

Like its older sibling the P20 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro boasts of a triple camera system at the rear. While the primary camera sensor/lens combination (40-megapixels 40 MP + f/1.8 aperture) and the telephoto sensor/lens combination (8 MP +f/2.4 aperture) remains the same, what is new here is a brand new 20-megapixel ultra wide angle Lens with f/2.2 aperture. The phone also supports laser autofocus, and AIS (Huawei AI Image Stabilization). Since I am not really a big fan of monochrome imaging, I personally like the wide angle option more (than the dedicated monochrome sensor on the P20 Pro) and assume that is the case with most users as well.

Thanks to the large primary sensor, the Mate 20 Pro is just as capable as the P20 Pro when it comes to sheer imaging prowess. It gets almost all the features that the P20 Pro had and an extra few as well. Huawei’s excellent night mode also makes its appearance on the handset. While this is an excellent way to capture stunning long exposure images, I think it’s about time Huawei updated this night mode since it has remained virtually unchanged since the Honor 7. There is also some stiff competition from the Google Pixel 3 XL’s Night Sight mode which during my use was able to capture brighter images (not necessarily better) than the Mate 20 Pro. I will do a detailed comparison between these two camera behemoths soon.

As far as the video mode is concerned, I was initially disappointed with the fact that the Mate 20 Pro does not support 4K 60 fps video recording. However, the phone sort of more than makes up for this thanks to the other video modes. For example, the handset can record in the extra wide 21:9 aspect ratio in full HD resolution. One of the things I liked about the video mode was the fact that you can switch between the various lenses in the midst of a single video recording. For example, you can start off the video with the wide angle lens and end it with a zoomed shot of a flower that uses the telephoto lens. Then there are the AI video modes that include several filters like AI Portrait Colour, Fresh, Vintage and Background Blur. I will talk about these modes in my detailed review.

But first, take a look at a few images from the camera.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Camera Samples

Huawei Mate 20 Pro First Impressions: Software

 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is among the first handsets from Huawei to ship with Android 9 Pie and EMUI 9. My first impressions of EMUI 9 was that it feels a lot polished compared to EMUI 8. However, for those of you who were not big fans of EMUI’s design language, the overall look and feel of the software hasn’t changed dramatically. For those used to EMUI, and for those who like it, you will find that the overall behavior of the software feels one or two notches higher when compared to EMUI 9. I will talk in detail about EMUI 9 in my full review of the Mate 20 Pro.

There is a lot that I have not been able to address in this first impressions video (like the in-screen fingerprint scanner and the face unlock). Rest assured, I will be covering them all in detail in my final review of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

I leave you with our first impressions video of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro


Having spent the better part of the last decade writing about technology, Rahul is among the most experienced tech journalists in India. His writing career began back to 2006 when he started off as a member of the Microsoft PYPC (Protect Your PC) team. At Microsoft, most of his time was spent on creating and updating Microsoft’s Knowledge Base articles. In 2008, thanks to his proclivity for consumer technology, he joined Techtree, then India’s most popular consumer tech website. In his decade-long career, Rahul has contributed to several Indian and International publications including GQ Magazine, Onlygizmos, iPhoneHacks, and The Inquisitr.