Every manufacturer plays a strategic game of launch chess towards two main periods of the year, one as it approaches spring and the other major one around the fall season. This ensures that they have the mindshare of buyers as they enter the peak consumer season. With carefully crafted strategic leaks they seek to tantalize, tempt and invade the minds of consumer’s making sure that all urges for purchases are swayed and amplified in their direction.
Huawei decided to do a little tech strip tease, slowly revealing bits and bytes of their latest flagship culminating to the launch in London for which they introduced 3 variants of the Mate 20 to the world’s eagerly awaiting media. The 20, 20 Pro and the hardly palm fitting 20x, we will get to that later. Last year’s Mate 10 brought about a very refreshing change in design from its predecessor which by all counts was long overdue to be put to rest. They were trying to build on that change in its latest Mate series phones.
The Mate 20 Pro arrives with a distinctly rounder edge and curved screen. I can understand the need for the curved screen to give it that almost edge to edge look but it does resemble somewhat the design of a specific Huawei’s competitor iconic look. With the screen off I had many friends mistake it for the “S” device upon seeing it for the first time. The finger print scanner has now moved under the beautiful OLED screen which has seen its resolution upgraded from FHD to 2K+, finally but the finger print sensor in my testing still needs work as it is not as fast or as accurate as the traditional one. The one aspect they seem to get a better handle on compared to the others out there is the stunning choice of unique colors available which was mated to its full glass back exuding luxurious elegance.
Flagships are an absolute glut full of the latest and greatest specifications. The Mate 20 Pro arrives with some serious muscle. The Kirin 980 the first 7nm chip beats at the heart of this beautiful beast. Now sporting not one but two neural processors ensuring more of that AI wizardry is being done at greater speeds. 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is not terabyte territory but it’s still plenty on a smart phone to me and many out there. They have now added the potential of increased memory via a nano SD card but it’s not readily available, future proofing or a stake at a long shot bet?
Having all that muscle does take its toll on stamina, so having more power than you need until you need it (pun intended) is vital. Wait, that was already done last year with the 4000mah battery in the Mate 10. This year they have decided to up the ante with an even bigger 4200mah battery. Coupled with the Kirin 980, I was able to get about 1.5 – 2 days of solid use. Now charging such a large battery can be a problem considering some other manufacturers (fruit company) have fast charging but do not provide chargers in-box to allow you to take advantage of it. Not so in the case of Huawei, the highest available 40watt charger is a standard item in the box and you can get from 0 to a full charge in less than 2 hours from my testing. Kudos to Huawei for this.
Android Pie 9.0 runs the Mate 20 along with EMUI on top. Personally I didn’t find any problems with the software despite numerous reviewers throwing hate at it. The Kirin provided horsepower plenty for the phone to be ultra-smooth. I love the new gesture controls, so much that I sometimes forget that they are not available on my other non-Huawei phones and instinctively start using it there. Buttery smooth animations and transitions made using the mate 20 an almost instantaneous affair. The one horrible aspect of the past few Huawei phones that I tested was the GPS, I’m pleased to say that Huawei has finally fixed that. It was appalling in the P20 and Mate 10, worse on those before it. Now in the Mate 20 it is bang on target all of the time instead of doing the road skip and vertigo dance unexpectedly.
The Mate 20 brings the latest in shooters with the help of Leica. The lessons learned from the Mate 10 and the subsequent P20 Pro shows in an improved version on the Mate 20pro. The array of lenses has been changed to provide some added features. A triple lens array first found on the P20 Pro has made it to the Mate 20Pro with some minor tweaks. They are now arranged in a square formation as opposed to the single file approach of the P20 Pro. The monochrome sensor has been replaced by a wide angle lens which makes squeezing more into a picture so much easier. This wide angle lens has also given the Mate 20 Pro a new found ability to get even closer to a subject enhancing its macro capabilities. The stabilization for the video has improved in great bounds, compared to the terrible 4K video of the two flagships before it, the footage captured now resembles that of a proper flagship phone.
The dreaded notch has not disappeared it is still there, no clever mechanisms to hide the front facing camera in the Mate 20 Pro. The pictures from the camera has less sharpening compared to the others before it and oversaturation has been dialed down a notch. The 24MP camera has added sensors to allow 3D scanning of the face which makes it a more accurate and secure face unlock, not dissimilar to what was used by apple in the X series phones. The face unlock was available in the P20 pro but it wouldn’t recognize me when I was wearing shades or a cap, the Mate 20 Pro with these sensors did. This form of unlocking made up for the lack of accuracy in the in-screen finger print reader.
The Mate 20 Pro with all its tech wizardry is one of the top mobile phones in the market today. The powerful new processor and the gorgeous new 6.4” screen starts to seduce your gaze the minute it powers up. It is difficult to find any reasons not to get the device if you are in the market for a new smart phone, with one exception…..the Mate 20X…if you want to know why, read it in our review coming soon.