When the Huawei Mate 20 Pro was revealed in London a couple of weeks ago the Chinese manufacturer hailed it as its most advanced smartphone to date, running through a very long list of firsts for the device.
They aren’t the first company to wax lyrical about their latest smartphone, and definitely won’t be the last.
When it comes to the praise that Huawei is lauding on the Mate 20 Pro though, much of it is very well founded.
Having used the phone for the past couple of weeks, it’s quite easily the best specced flagship phone on the market, and right now is the phone to beat.
Kaleidoscope of colour
The first thing that hits you about the Mate 20 Pro is its design. Specifically our review model, which is decked out in the Twilight colourway. This gradient colour option is certainly eye-catching and one of the big reasons that the Huawei P20 series has proved so successful locally.
It still remains to be seen if the same holds true for the Mate 20 Pro, but when it comes to style, this device will not be lacking.
To compliment the Twilight back cover, Huawei have fitted it with a first of its kind display for the company.
In particular a 6.39″ display is up front, featuring an almost bezel-less design. The big talking point, however, is the fact that it houses an in-display fingerprint sensor which is another first for the phone maker.
Compared to the physical version sported on the Mate 10 Pro, the virtual variant is tad slower and often requires a couple of presses before unlocking. We think this may be down to a build up of oil on the display though, impeding how quickly the fingerprint can be recognised.
Moving on the screen quality is superb. Things look rich and crisp on the Mate 20 Pro, and if you’re watching hi-res videos or playing graphically rich games, you truly begin to appreciate the quality of the display.
All of the cameras
One of the other important aspects to the Mate 20 Pro is the camera setup onboard.
On the rear this is most noticeable as Huawei has developed a new cluster that places three lenses and the flash in a square format. It’s also centred on the back of the phone for a very good reason apart from aesthetics.
Huawei has focused quite a bit on wide-angle photography for the Mate 20 Pro, and having the lens cluster centred lends itself to such a function.
As for the lenses onboard, there’s a massive 40MP wide-angle option, along with a 20MP ultra wide-angle and 8MP telephoto offering. If you’re going to photograph a lot of landscapes and architecture in particular, the Mate 20 Pro’s camera setup is perfectly suited to that.
It’s also quite good in low light conditions, along with featuring a macro mode that works as close as 2.5 centimetres away from an object.
When it comes to camera performance then, the Mate 20 Pro is leading the pack right now. Oh, it’s Leica-certified too, which is a pretty good recommendation to have indeed.
The next aspect to talk bout is the processor powering the Mate 20 Pro, an octa-core Kirin 980 CPU. This chipset is constructed in a new 7 nanometer design, and it makes all the difference, especially when it comes to benchmarking.
We ran AnTuTu (our go-to benchmark of choice) on the Mate 20 Pro and it amassed an impressive score of 270 969 (v7.1.0). To put things in perspective, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 mustered 244 095, making the Mate 20 Pro the top benchmarked smartphone we’ve done to date this year.
Now we know Huawei got in some hot water for fiddling with benchmark performance, so we need to take numbers with a grain of salt.
Luckily the performance in-hand matched what the benchmark was telling us.
Things are buttery smooth on the Mate 20 Pro, with no lag experienced while we were multitasking.
The only issue we encountered was the cluttered look of the UI in certain areas, such as the menu, making navigation a tad difficult at times. As such, it’s still one area that Huawei needs to work on.
It seems like lighting can strike twice, and in the case of Huawei it has done so for the P20 Pro and now the Mate 20 Pro.
Based on specifications alone there isn’t a smartphone on the market that can touch it right now. Add to that the fact it costs a relatively (clears his throat) well priced R18 999 (RRP) and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro looks like many well spent.
Fitted with a large and long-lasting 4 200mAh battery that features a few nifty tricks, a hard to beat camera experience and overall rapid in-hand performance, there is very little flaw to find in the Mate 20 Pro.
Our only issues are some elements of the UI, and the fact that all that great design will likely be unseen when a protective cover is wrapped around the device.
That aside, and you’ll be hard pressed to do better than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro in 2018.
FULL DISCLOSURE: The Huawei Mate 20 Pro used in this review was received as a seeding device for Hypertext.