REVIEW I Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei launched their latest weapon in the smartphone race, and it’s a good effort. The new Mate 20 Pro is a great device combining cutting edge technology with the newest version of Android 9 along with superior construction and design.

The unique Leica infused triple camera setup is also a technological tour de force. Huawei has aimed the Mate 20 Pro directly at the competition from Apple and Samsung. Steven Ambrose takes the Mate 20 Pro on an extended trip and concludes Huawei have mostly done it.

Huawei is one of the largest and most innovative mobile and enterprise technology companies globally. Huawei has raced ahead in the past few years both in key mobile technologies and also with its handset range. The Mate 20 Pro has the latest technology available and introduces many firsts such as the Kirin 980 7nm Chipset along with an on-screen fingerprint reader.

The new Mate 20 Pro also offers every type of sensor and technology you could imagine. The 4200mah hour battery is custom Huawei technology and provides the fastest cable and wireless charging currently available. The fit finish and polish of the Mate 20 Pro are the best Huawei have made to date.


The Mate 20 Pro has far too many technology firsts to mention in this review, save to say that from Processor, memory, AI processors, batteries and cameras the level of innovative technology is impressive.

The Mate 20 Pro gives you a 6.39-inch curved OLED display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio The Mate 20 Pro also brings 3D face detection system that is very similar to Face ID on the iPhone. The OLED panel offers excellent colour reproduction and brightness.

Huawei also has its version of Apple’s TrueTone display technology called Eye Comfort, which adjusts the white balance to match the surrounding light temperature which makes whites look natural regardless of the time of day. Just like on Apple devices this works well.

A significant first in a mass market commercial device is the in-display fingerprint sensor. This sensor works well, but there are a few hassles. The under screen sensor uses new ultrasonic technology which is slightly slow and can misread the finger.

A firm press in the centre of the fingerprint image on the screen is needed with the careful centring of the finger usually allows accurate reading. In combination with the face unlock system, this is rarely a hassle as the phone is often ready to go just by looking at it.

In my experience, the face unlock system is far superior to any other system currently available except the Apple setup. It was marginally slower and less accurate than the Apple implementation especially in challenging light and situations.  Face unlock also does not integrate into the Android OS in the same way as Apples iOS with apps needing a fingerprint to unlock. Mostly this is merely a sophisticated phone unlock system all other authentication requires fingerprint or a code.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro group

The curved screen and symmetrical curves make this phone easy to hold and use. The Mate 20 Pro is available in Black and a gradient Blue which is good looking.

The curved screen and back and slim frame are incredibly similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 series, yet it works well and feels polished

The Huawei has always positioned the Mate series as the power leader with cutting-edge performance. With the Mate 20 Pro, they have exceeded their previously high standards. Huawei’s new Kirin 980 chipset is more powerful based on cutting-edge 7nm manufacturing processes and is faster and more efficient than any other chipset in any current Android smartphone. Apples recently launched iPhone Xs, and XR also uses this generation processor to excellent effect. Huawei’s Android competitors will have to wait to next year to access to this level of technology.

The Kirin 980 is also the first to use the new ARM Cortex A76 cores and the new Mali-G76 GPU. The result is impressive with games, video processing, and other intensive tasks flying. There is no lag, no stuttering, and smooth transitions at all times.

The Mate 20 Pro, for our market, features 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Another first is the new Nano memory card. Huawei has created a new storage method as opposed to the industry standard Micro SD card. Huawei is the only manufacturer to support the Nano-Memory but hopes to make this the new standard. The negative is that they are not readily available, but Huawei said they would ensure supply via their stores and dealers.

The Nano-Memory card fills the second slot in the SIM card tray, and this is another feature of the Mate 20 Pro, dual Sim capability. Currently, the versions of the Mate 20 Pro from Cell C and Telkom will feature dual SIM, while the MTN and Vodacom will offer single sim and Nano memory card capability.

The Mate 20 Pro has excellent cell reception, and one of the most advanced modems and radio chips available. Reception is excellent and voice quality very good. The Mate 20 Pro supports up to 1.788Gbps on Wi-Fi connections and 1.4Gbps on Mobile thanks to the world’s first Cat 21 LTE chipset. These speeds are highly unlikely in the real world, but it’s nice to know you could have the fastest phone on the planet.

There is no headphone jack, but a dongle is included. The Audio subsystem is functional but still nowhere near what the LG V30 is capable of delivering. Dual GPS sensors round out the technical specifications.

Battery life

The Mate 20 Pro has a 4,200mAh battery which is one of the largest on a high-end Android smartphone and the battery life in the real world is excellent. I was able to get two days of regular use and well over one day travelling navigating and taking photos all day.

When a quick top us is needed, Huawei’s SuperCharging is great. A 40W charger is included in the box, and it is blazingly fast, a quick 30-minute top-up charged the Mate 20 Pro to about 70 % from nothing. The full charge time is a little over 90 minutes, which makes this one of the fastest charging solutions available.

Another first for Huawei is the incaution of  Qi wireless charging. The Wireless charging is also fast with up to 15W charging available. One smart party trick is reverse changing. When all your friend’s phones run low you can use your Mate 20 Pro to top them up wirelessly using reverse charging. It works and works well

The camera

The Mate 20 Pro offers three rear cameras, as well as a high-resolution front camera. The Mate 20 Pro has the most comprehensive and useful camera setup on any mobile device. The wide angle capability along with low light performance lets you take SLR comparable pictures with a mobile phone.

In my travels, in every situation, I was able to capture amazing pictures no matter the situation. The combination of massive processing power and smart optics allows a level of photography not previously seen on mobile devices.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera

The downside is a slight overemphasis in detail, and the AI recognition of scenes could be a little aggressive with portrait mode popping up even when you don’t want to take a portrait style picture. It was easy to disable, but overall the AI assistance allowed excellent photos, so I advise you to leave it on.

The Mate 20 Pro has the best camera set up along with the smartest AI assistance on the phone currently. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the iPhone Xs Max can in some circumstances take slightly better more saturated pictures but can’t compare to the low light performance and versatility. The iPhone Xs Max still makes excellent photography seriously easy with results that are hard to fault. The Mate 20 Pro has more options than either competitor and greater versatility.


The Huawei Mate 20 Pro runs the latest version of Android 9 Pie with their overlay called EMUI 9. This version is the most polished to date. Android 9 introduces gestures and allows the bottom buttons to be hidden completely. This is very similar to the iPhone iOS system.

Emui is fairly easy to use and does not introduce much bloat. It is a little busy, and there are far too many options. This again is something you will like or not

EMUI 9 expands on the features introduced in EMUI 8. The App Twin feature that lets you set up two WhatsApp and Facebook account on the same device which is useful for travelling or business. The Private Space feature lets you set up a special zone on your phone that you can access either via a separate pin or a different Fingerprint, this is great for your kids, so they can’t access your information.

The user interface is one area that brings the final experience together for the user and stock standard Android does this best. Huawei’s interface EMUI is good but leaves enough ragged edges to upset the user interface. In this latest version, those ragged edges are fewer, and you get used to them, but the disconnect remains and can grow annoying in some instances. The combination of Android 9 ad EMUI 9 is good but lacks the polish and refinement of Apple’s iOS.


The Huawei Mate 20Pro is the smartest kid on the block. All the technology crammed inside this sleek, smooth device is the latest available currently. The AI assisted camera is arguably the best available and offers an ease of use and performance that’s hard to fault.

Huawei has also excelled in the build quality and look and feel. The Mate 20 Pro is handsome and polished. Data voice and every other function are excellent. Two concerns must be considered.

The first is the user interface; Android 9 is very good with excellent battery optimisation and functionality. The gesture navigation is functional at best and annoying at worst and is best left off. EMUI 9 is also a little ragged though the speed and smoothness of the hardware make this a minor issue.

The second is the price which is high at R18,999.00 retail; it’s in the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 space and for many good reasons many will find higher value in the Samsung. The iPhone Xs and Xs Max are far more expensive but offer far better quality screens, as does the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 along with premium construction and finish. The lower price iPhone XR and Samsung Galaxy S9, despite Samsung offering older technology, are still excellent buys.

Apart from the above, the Mate 20 Pro is fresh air in the Android space. Good looking, fast, tons of useful and innovative technology and a growing support ecosystem from Huawei make this a must recommend. If the latest technology and best camera are essential, then this may be the one for you.

Steven Ambrose | Techhuman | @ambio mail me |

More information | Huawei |