IF YOU’RE NOT A CAMERA BUFF, then you probably don’t want to be forking £800 for the triple-lensed Huawei P20 Pro. Thankfully, the standard P20 model, which doesn’t let MI6 spy on you in 40MP resolution, is ‘just’ £600.
For that price, you’ll be getting an octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 970 processor running at a maximum of 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. Unfortunately, the storage is not expandable by way of microUSB. The battery stands at a sizeable 3400mAh.
The 5.8in 2240×1080 LCD screen is edge-to-edge, stretching to the top of the device. Unfortunately, this creates everyone’s playground fear – the notch. On the Huawei P20, however, said notch is very, very slim. Huawei has opted to go for a circular secondary speaker, meaning that space isn’t taken up by a long bar.
But, Jack couldn’t make it to the party, so you’ll find a pair of USB-C earbuds in the box.
One of the most advertised features of the P20 is the dual-Leica lens system on the rear of the phone. As you’d expect, there is a little bit of a camera hump, but it’s not a big deal as it’s the price to pay for a camera like that.
The selfie camera has a whopping 24MP resolution, while the RGB sensor on the back is 12MP and is supported by a 20MP monochrome lens. The latter can be used to take detailed black and white shots or to increase depth perception beyond cyclops-level when taking colour photos.
The best word to describe the Huawei P20 is… handsome, especially if you opt for the black model. The front of the phone is almost completely flat save the slight bezel around the home button. Sorry, the faux-m button.
Despite the fact there are no moving parts on the front of the phone, the Huawei P20 only has an IP53 rating, meaning you’ll be fine out in the rain or maybe on the beach, but don’t drop your phone down the bog when you beat your Candy Crush high score.
The side of the phone is constructed from matte black aluminium that contrasts nicely with the shininess of the glass to keep the phone sleek, but not boring. The power and volume buttons are on the side, and the power button has a slight groove down the centre to allow you to distinguish between the two.
As mentioned, the display is chewed into slightly by the notch, but this is minimal, taking up probably only 25 per cent of the phone’s width. When compared to other phones, such as the Asus ZenFone 5, this is a blessing. There is an option to hide the notch in settings, though you will lose a portion of your screen.
The 5.8in display on the Huawei P20 is bright, and the colours are good. It’s FHD+ with roughly 429ppi. It’s not AMOLED or even OLED, which is a little disappointing considering the price tag, but it is what it is, and what it is isn’t bad.
The screen covers approximately 80 per cent of the front of the phone, as some space is left at the bottom for the home button and the USB-C connector.
Performance and Battery Life
The phone is as responsive as you’d expect, really. Connectivity on the phone is good with regards to WiFi and Bluetooth, so strap yourself in for a high-speed internet adventure!
The fingerprint scanner is incredibly quick. You’ll only have to give it the slightest of taps with an ‘enrolled’ finger (Huawei’s words, not ours) to unlock the phone. Likewise, the P20’s face scanning feature works almost instantaneously and doesn’t seem to have any issue recognising us when wearing glasses.
We ran some Geekbench 4 benchmarks, and the CPU test showed that the P20 lies somewhere between the Huawei P10 Plus and the P20 Pro when working with a single core and between the Galaxy Note 8 and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro on the multi-core tests.
The computational test result was 8549, which is higher than the Mate 10 Pro but just below a Galaxy S8+. We put the Huawei P20 through its paces with some CSR Racing 2 and a pinch of Real Racing 3, but the 12-core processor blasted through both games as if they were nothing. So much for my Clash Royale lag advantage.
Just to double check, we tortured the phone using GFXBench GL, which is a gaming benchmark app that measures the phone’s FPS when running different games. We forced GFXBench to run in full-screen mode for the most accurate result possible.
When conducting the offscreen ‘1080p Manhattan 3.1′ test, the phone actually ran out of memory. It coped fine with the tessellation tests but dropped to around 16fps for all of the high-level tests. This was quite disappointing, as it means you won’t be able to play any graphics-intensive games on the P20. You’ll be fine with Lemmings, lemming.
The battery seems to last a reasonable amount of time. It has a 3,400mAh capacity and only dropped 32 per cent in four hours of heavy use when we were testing the phone out. There are a number of tips for you to optimise the battery in the Phone Manager app, and the Ultra Battery Saver mode will keep you going for seven days on a full charge but will restrict you to phoning and texting.
You’ll essentially have a Nokia brick with a nice screen.
The Huawei P20 thankfully doesn’t come with all that much in terms of bloatware. Built into EMUI, you’ll find a standard Phone Manager app with a RAM cleaner and battery optimisation. There’s also a tonne of stuff that you’ll need a Huawei ID to access, including AppGallery, which is a second app store that grants gifts and free in-game content from time to time, like an ever-present Santa Claus.
You’ve also got the Huawei music, video and cloud services, though the Google equivalents all come pre-installed anyway, so we recommend sticking to those. What you will get, however, is HiCare, which is Huawei’s tips and support app. This gives you access to free customer support, early access to new versions of EMUI and the locations of the nearest Huawei-approved stores.
If you want to change the default look of EMUI, you can use the Themes app that comes with the phone. This allows you to download packages of app icons and wallpapers, both still and animated, with the click of a button. Some of them are really nice, though others are a little more questionable.
There is, as far as INQ can tell, only one useless app that comes in the box – Mirror. All it does is show you your face using the secondary camera and apply a cute little bezel around the edge. If you blow on the microphone, you can apply a condensation effect to the glass and draw on it, leaving you with lovely images like this one.
If you don’t want to sit back and reflect on anything, why not take a scroll down to the Backup app, which allows you to make a copy of your entire phone through HiSuite on a PC. This is very hassle-free and definitely recommended for anyone who thinks that, deep down, their phone wants to be a porpoise.
Don’t do drugs, kids.
The Huawei P20 only has a single speaker, so if you cover the lower right corner of the phone you’ll lose all sound. The speaker is crisp and reasonably loud, but it’s not really anything special. We compared it to the Goliath speaker of the Asus ZenFone 5, and it was as if the ZenFone had taken a chloroform-drenched rag and shoved it down the throat of the P20.
Nevertheless, the sound is good enough for media consumption at any volume. Just don’t expect to be replacing the club’s sound system with P20s at any point in the future.
Unsurprisingly, the camera is probably one of the selling points of this phone. In the £600 package, you’ll get a two Leica Summilux lenses – 12- and 20MP – and a 24MP selfie camera.
The camera app has many built-in features, such as a slow-motion camera capable of capturing 960fps (32x slower than normal, for those wondering). Unfortunately, it’s not very good at dealing with fast moving objects, such as this 50 cent coin we found in the office.
You can take 4K and FHD+ videos at 30fps, with 60fps becoming available when to drop to 1080p, but the real star of the camera app, disregarding the AI-optimised functionality built into EMUI, is the portrait mode.
The portrait mode is capable of producing professional-looking portrait shots by using both lenses in conjunction with one another to blur out the background while leaving the subject looking sharp. Take this scruffy human being we found on the street, for example.
There is absolutely no doubt that this is a great photo, and the camera performs well in many other situations. The quality of the low light imagery is good, and I can find very little fault with this camera.
Even if you decide not to go for the P20 Pro, you’ll still get an awesome camera with the P20. For the more camera-savvy, the P20 does offer a Pro mode when you can adjust ISO, white balance and the like, but it might be worth spending a little more to get the P20 Pro for that juicy 40MP telephoto lens.
The Huawei P20 is a little lacking when it comes to graphics processing, but the camera is amazing, the sound quality is good and you’ll have an incredibly handsome phone to boot (though INQ takes no responsibility for damage done to your Huawei P20 by your foot). It’s certainly going to give rival companies something to think about with regards to pricing. Well played, Huawei. µ
The Leica camera, the sound, the slim, reflective profile, durable battery, responsive.
Can’t handle graphics-intensive tasks, picks up fingerprints like nobody’s business, no IP67/68 rating, no Jack.
Your reflection in the Mirror app.
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