The Huawei Mate 20 wants to be your daily companion


Usually, the difference between Huawei’s P series of smartphones and the Mate lineup was that the former concentrated more on the photo taking capabilities whereas the latter focused on pure performance and processing power. With the Huawei Mate 20, however, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer looks to be creating a hybrid of the two.

The Packaging

We’re no stranger to Huawei’s packaging and the Huawei Mate 20 doesn’t disappoint at all. Packed in a matte black box, the phone comes with everything you need to get started. This includes a plastic case, SIM tray ejector, quick start guide, earphones, and a fast charger. On the Mate 20 Pro, there’s an additional USB Type C to 3.5mm converter as the device has no 3.5mm port.

Looking at the Huawei Mate 20, it’s clear that Huawei has invested a lot of thought into the design of the device. The body is comprised of an aluminum frame. This adds a level of sturdiness to the device and helps protect it against accidental bumps.

Hands-on with the Huawei Mate 20

As always, the first thing you notice with the device is the display. Unlike its higher-end Mate 20 Pro, the Mate 20 ditches the AMOLED display for an IPS one. The 6.53-inch display is marginally larger than the Mate 20 Pro as well, albeit at a lower resolution, aspect ratio and pixel density as well. That being said, the display is nothing to scoff about.

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The IPS display is nowhere as good as the AMOLED, but it’s still colorful and vibrant

The notch on the Huawei Mate 20 is also less glaring than its elder brother. This is probably because it doesn’t have the same amount of hardware in the front as the Mate 20 Pro. Nonetheless, the dewdrop notch is actually quite appealing and gets the job done. If you’re not a fan of notches, then you can always turn it off.

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The Teardrop Notch on the Huawei Mate 20 adds a touch of elegance to the overall design of the device

The other aspects of the exterior of the Huawei Mate 20 are pretty standard. You have your volume rocker, power button (framed in red to be easily identifiable), 3.5mm audio connector, USB Type C port, and stereo speakers as well.

Alongside the fingerprint sensor (yes, there’s no in display fingerprint sensor with the Huawei Mate 20), you also find an array of lenses and a single flash. All of this is arranged in a square grid pattern that Huawei claims “inherits the Mate series’ central and simple camera design concept”. We admit it does look quite aesthetically pleasing.

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Inspired by the Porsche, the Huawei Mate 20 packs 3 cameras and an LED flash in a square grid

In terms of the camera lenses themselves, the Huawei Mate 20 packs a 12 MP, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), 16 MP, f/2.2, 17mm (ultrawide) and an 8 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto) lens. We will be testing out the camera capabilities later on in this article.

What makes the Huawei Mate 20 Tick?

Since the Mate 20 lineup is Huawei’s flagship Mate lineup for 2018, it’s obvious that the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro comes with all the bells and whistles that Huawei has been working on. An Octa-core Kirin 980 processor powers the Mate 20 series. Huawei is throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the Kirin 980. Fabricated on a 7nm process, the Kirin 980 is the first to incorporate a dual NPU design and also the first chip to support LTE Cat.21.

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The Kirin 980 chip boasts an impressive upgrade over the Kirin 970 (Image Credits: Twitter)

What all this means is basically that the Kirin 980 is much faster than its predecessors and competitors and is smarter as well. It also generates less heat and is designed to provide an efficient, power saving and smooth experience to users. Just how true are these claims? Well, we were about to find out.

With up to 6GB of RAM, the Huawei Mate 20 ships with 128GB of internal storage. Additional storage is possible, but with a twist. Rather than opt for the standard microSD card, the Huawei Mate 20 lineup now supports an NM card. The NM card packs the same dimensions of a nano sim, thus making it incompatible with MicroSD cards. So, if you have a high capacity MicroSD card, you’re unfortunately out of luck.

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The size and form factor difference between a Samsung MIcroSD card and Huawei’s new NM Card (Image Credits: Inside Handy)

The face unlock feature and fingerprint sensor are also insanely fast. The phone can be setup to wake up as soon as you pick it up. Combine that with the face unlock and the Huawei Mate 20 unlocks in under a second.

A sweet slice of Pie

The Huawei Mate 20 ships out running EMUI 9.0 based on Android 9.0 Pie. This means that the device has all the bells and whistles of the latest Android operating system slightly varied. For example, Google’s Digital Wellbeing feature is replaced by Huawei’s own Health feature which offers almost an identical experience but is under the Huawei umbrella.

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The Mate 20 comes with all the features of Android 9.0 Pie skinned with EMUI 9.0

Apart from that, there are a number of under the hood tweaks that Huawei has carried out for EMUI 9. Keeping with Android 9.0, there is an option to navigate using gestures. Swiping up and holding down will bring up your recent apps, whereas a quick swipe-up will take you back to the home screen. If you want to go back in any menu, all you need to do is swipe to either side of the phone’s screen. It takes a bit of getting used to and can always be reverted if needed.

Taking a screenshot has also undergone a change. Once you capture a screenshot, you can swipe up on the screenshot to immediately share it or swipe down to take a scrollshot. This makes the whole process of sharing a screenshot a lot easier.

Apart from that EMUI has its fair share of apps such as a music and video player, a health monitoring app, the usual mirror app and a lot more. They can be uninstalled if required (which is what I did). The rest of the features are pretty standard for EMUI. If you’ve used a Huawei device before, you’d be familiar with it. If this is your first time, then you can take time and explore each option.

A camera inspired by a luxury sports car

This is where the strength of the Huawei Mate 20 lies. While the camera setup is nowhere as powerful as the Mate 20 Pro, it’s no slouch either. Controlling all aspects from focusing to capturing and image processing is the Master AI, powered by Huawei’s dual NPU.

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The Master AI on the Huawei Mate 20 intelligently recognizes the scenery and offers options such as opting to use the wide angle lens

The Master AI essentially detects what the camera is pointed at and focused on and then shifts to the appropriate mode accordingly. For example, if you were to take a photo of a person, the Master AI would switch to Portrait Mode. Other modes of the camera are pretty much the same across most midrange to flagship Huawei devices such as SlowMo, Panorama, Monochrome, Light Painting, HDR, and Good Food.

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The Huawei Mate 20 packs a mix of new and existing features in the camera

Amongst these modes on the Huawei Mate 20 was the Super Macro mode. This kicks into play if you take a close up (around 2.5cm) of an object. As soon as the camera focuses on the object, the Master AI shifts the mode to Super Macro mode allowing you to focus on the minute details of the object you’re trying to capture.

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The Super Macro mode on the Huawei Mate 20 in action (Yes, that is a button on a Sofa)

The 3D Panorama was another cool feature. Similar to how the iPhone X can take 3D photos, the 3D panorama mode on the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro allow you to take a panorama of an object or person. It then uses 3D mapping technology so that you have a rotatable 3D model of the image. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the results are pretty interesting. You can also upload the image onto Facebook using the Fyuse platform.

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The Portrait mode and front facing camera on the Huawei Mate 20 add some interesting effects

Portrait photography too has undergone some improvements. Enhanced HDR technology incorporated into the camera software allows your portrait images to have more depth, whilst maintaining a good white balance in images.

Video never looked this good

In terms of video, the Huawei Mate 20 can shoot at 4K UHD, 1080p FHD+, 1080p at 60FPS, and 720p HD. Obviously, shooting at 4K UHD would result in higher file sizes, but I found myself recording clips at 1080p 60FPS simply because video playback was a lot smoother. But that’s just me. If you want to crank up all the settings and shoot at 4K, then, by all means, you can go ahead.

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Huawei’s AI filter in action when capturing video (notice how my hand is in color and the background is in monochrome)

Huawei’s AI has done some really cool stuff with the video mode as well. For example, with the AI Color filter, you can focus on a person who will be in color and the background elements would be in black and white. All this happens in real time. We’re not talking about where the filter is added after the video is shot. The NPU and AI on the Kirin 980 work at superspeed to make sure that the processing is done in real time. This opens up new avenues of creativity for cinematographers, movie directors or anyone, for that matter.

Do you even lift, Mate?

What good is having all that horsepower if we can’t see the Huawei Mate 20 break into a sweat, right? As such, we fired up our usual benchmarks (Antutu, GeekBench, and 3D Mark) to see how it would perform compared to its competition. Given below are the screenshots of our results.

The Huawei Mate 20 wants to be your daily companion 4
Benchmark results from Antutu, 3D Mark and GeekBench 4

As you can see, the Kirin 980 on the Huawei Mate 20 is no slouch at all. Although, having the same chip, we expected the Huawei Mate 20 and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro to have near similar results. The results, however, prove otherwise. That being said, the Huawei Mate 20 can pretty much run any 3D intensive application thrown at it with no issues at all. Exactly what we were hoping for.

A battery to last the entire day, and then some

You’d obviously think that the 4,000 mAh battery on the Huawei Mate 20 would be enough to get through the day without you scrabbling for your charger. And you’re absolutely right. The battery life on this phone is nothing short of stellar. With almost 7 hours of screen on time (8 at max), the Huawei Mate 20 lasts for almost a day and a half on a single charge.

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The battery life of the Huawei Mate 20 is quite impressive

This is with me doing my usual things such as constantly switching between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and reading articles on Chrome with around 7-8 tabs open. In addition, I also play Pokémon Go, connect to my Bluetooth headset to listen to music and use 4G/VoLTe as well. So even with all this, I still have enough battery to use while walking home from Bambalapitiya to Dehiwala.

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Running Ampere on the Huawei Mate 20 shows exactly how much power is being delivered to the battery

In the event I did need to charge the Huawei Mate 20, you’d think a 4,000 mAh battery would take ages to fully charge, right? Well, that’s where Huawei’s Super Charge comes into play. The charger that ships with the Huawei Mate 20 packs 5A at 4.5v. In simple terms? The Huawei Mate 20 charges really fast. How fast? Well, it can go from 20% to a full charge in about 40 minutes. This is accurate as Huawei claims up to a 58% charge in just 30 minutes.

Final Thoughts

The Huawei Mate 20 and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro are the companies’ flagship Mate devices for 2018. Are they cheap? Obviously not. Are they affordable? Well, that is entirely up to you. If you’re the type of person who wants the best of the best with no expense spared, then you can look at the Huawei Mate 20 or even the higher tier Mate 20 Pro. If you want to go all out and make a statement, you can even go for the Huawei Mate 20 RS Porsche Design.

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Boasting all the bells and whistles of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, wrapped up in leather (Image Credits: YouTube)

The camera capabilities of the Mate 20 lineup also make it a good candidate for the photographer on the go. It won’t give the same image quality as a professional camera, but it does have the portability aspect going for it. So, you can have your professional equipment with you and take a Huawei Mate 20 along to capture those flashing moments on camera as well.

The Huawei Mate 20 is priced at Rs. 124,900/- and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is priced at Rs. 175,000. Both devices are available at Huawei showrooms, certain Dialog showrooms and Singer showrooms across Sri Lanka as well.

Are you using a Huawei Mate 20? Love it? Hate it? Let us know what you think about it.


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