The P20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup at the back.
The smartphone features a 6.1-inch full-view display with a notch.
Huawei P20 Pro runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.1 custom skin.
For the tech world, 2018 has been dull so far, with only Samsung and Nokia announcing their flagship smartphones for the year. Huawei hosted a separate event to launch the P20 and P20 Pro smartphones in Paris, while the likes of LG, HTC and OnePlus are yet to announce their phones. While the Apple iPhone X, Google Pixel 2, and the Galaxy S9 Plus are unarguably some of the hottest premium smartphones you can buy today, the new Huawei P20 Pro with its triple-camera setup at the back wants to take that crown away. But will it succeed?
Priced at Rs 64,999, the Huawei P20 Pro will go on sale starting May 3 and will be available exclusively via Amazon India. The P20 Pro is an interesting smartphone for a number of reasons, right from the design to the cameras and more. After using it as my daily driver for around a month, here is my review.
Huawei P20 Pro Design: If looks can kill….
The P20 Pro is a looker. It features a metal frame with rounded edges, and a tall display which helps to trim the width. You get a glass back with a mirror finish and curved edges. The twilight and blue color variants just look stunning, and you definitely want to show that off.
Sadly, the glass back is slippery and attracts fingerprints, and putting a case would be a good option. Also, despite the glass back, it does not feature wireless charging, which is a bit disappointing.
Watch: Huawei P20 Pro review
Huawei P20 Pro display: Living with the Notch
Like the other flagship smartphones, the P20 Pro also offers full view display with 18.7:9 aspect ratio, and there’s a display notch too. After criticizing at first, I believe the notch is a clever implementation as it actually gives you a proper 18:9 display, whereas the sides of the notch are used as notification panel.
When watching videos or playing games, you don’t get that edge-to-edge experience, and black bars are visible, but the content is still displayed in the 18:9 ratio, even if you don’t realize.
Huawei P20 Pro Cameras
It’s a compact camera, it’s a DSLR – no, it’s a compact smartphone camera. Yes, the highlight of the P20 Pro is the Leica co-engineered triple-camera setup with AI-chops to help you click better photos. Out of the three, one is a 40-megapixel primary sensor, another is a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor for better low-light photos with less noise, and the last is an 8-megapixel sensor with a telephoto lens.
Yes, you get a total of 68-megapixels at the back. The third sensor not only helps in adding DSLR-like bokeh effects to your photos, but also enables 3X optical lossless zoom, and 5X hybrid zoom.
I’m sure you all want to know if it is the best smartphone camera in the market. Well, best is too big a word, and a claim. I’d say the camera is definitely better than other flagship smartphones out there, but it has minor flaws. For once, I see fringing issues is some photos, especially the ones shot in broad sunlight. Also, shooting in RAW mode adds a minor vignette effect to photos, but all these are mostly a result of software-based algorithms and can be easily fixed in future updates.
However, the low-light camera on the smartphone is something else. The OIS + EIS and AI stabilization works well, and even for a 5-second exposure shot, you don’t need to use a tripod, not something that you have seen on other smartphones. After using a lot of smartphones on regular basis, I can clearly say the night-mode on the P20 Pro is definitely ahead of the competition. You can click excellent photos in low-light with good details, and extremely low noise levels. Below are some camera samples.
Day light shot with 3X optical zoom
Day light shot with 5X hybrid zoom
Low-light samples shot on Huawei P20 Pro
Rear camera portrait
24-megapixel portrait selfie
Huawei P20 Pro Performance: Butter smooth…
Performance on the P20 Pro is no issue either. The Kirin 970 octa-core SoC powers the P20 Pro, and it is built on 10nm process, with four Cortex A72 power cores, and four Cortex A53 efficiency cores. It is powerful enough and with software optimizations in place, it offers a butter smooth performance.
Right from day-to-day tasks such as social networking and web surfing to gaming and more, the P20 Pro just handles things pretty well. However, when playing graphics intense games such as PUBG Mobile, Gangstar 4, and Marvels: Contest of Champions for over 20 minutes, the back gets slightly warm.
Specifications wise, the chipset is, in my opinion, the equivalent of the Snapdragon 835 SoC and Samsung Exynos 8895 SoC when it comes to performance, with a few pros that help set it slightly above 2017’s flagship Qualcomm chipset. The chipset is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage, and there is no expandable storage option. The P20 Pro runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.1 skin on top. Unlike the previous version, the customizations are minimal, and Huawei has done away with bloatware apps too.
The UI also comes with gesture support where tapping on the fingerprint sensor acts as the back function, press and hold takes to home screen, and swiping to left or right brings up recent apps. By enabling gestures, you can do away with the on-screen navigation bar, and get more screen real estate to use. Huawei has also added a software-based face unlock feature, and it is pretty quick in unlocking the smartphone.
The P20 Pro also supports Project Treble, and now it remains to be seen if it will help in rolling out Android updates faster. The 4,000mAh battery with Huawei’s super charge feature tops up to full in an-hour-and-45-minutes. And the battery life is very long lasting too. On weekends with less usage, I was able to go without charge for two days, with about 8 percent battery left at the end of the second day. With heavy usage, the battery easily lasts a day with screen-on time of more than six hours, which is really impressive.
Verdict: Should you buy one?
Well, the Huawei P20 Pro comes with a premium and impressive design. The fingerprint sensor and face unlock is pretty quick in unlocking the smartphone. The software is barely bloated, and even though the UI is not impressive as stock Android that many prefer, it is not bad either. Features like water resistance, IR blaster and dual 4G are some interesting add-ons.
The performance is butter smooth and you get the whole flagship experience. The Leica co-engineered triple cameras definitely steal the show, and be it day light or low-light, the performance is something that we haven’t really seen on many camera centric smartphones. It has some misses, like the fringing issues that I discussed, but it’s just a minor thing that would bother some pro photographers, others won’t notice it either.
In terms of misses, the lack of microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone socket, no QHD display and no support for wireless charging like the competitors are a few disappointing things. At Rs 64,999, the P20 Pro is an excellent smartphone for those who want the best camera. It costs as much as the Galaxy S9+ and slightly less than the iPhone X, both of which are excellent alternatives for those who are not convinced with the idea of buying an expensive Huawei phone.
Premium design with mirrored finish
Long-lasting battery life
No QHD display or wireless charging
No microSD card slot
Front camera could have been better
No 3.5mm headphone jack
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