Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review: Phone Of The Year

Huawei Mate 20 ProI've carried the Mate 20 Pro in my second pocket for nearly two months. It's camera has kicked out some of the most popular photos on my Instagram. Its processor has owned every task I've thrown at it, and it's battery has outlasted every other smartphone. With all this hardware excellence, maybe it's no surprise that I named it the Mate 20 Pro Mr. Mobile smartphone of the year. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna go easy on it. (upbeat music) Understanding the full story of the Mate 20 Pro takes a long time. But understanding far ways intent behind it, only takes 15 seconds.

For the first five, taken at sleek modern lines. It's one of a kind twilight coating, its massive camera quad. Then take the next 10 to take apart the scintillating spec sheet with a special eye toward the dual direction wireless charging, and the Huawei made Kirin chipset, and more on that later. The Mate 20 Pro is a statement piece, a manifestation of pure prowess. But as with so many things, it's important not to become blinded by spectacle. Take that reverse wireless charging. It's seductive promises that you can lend a charge to a friend without a cable. But in practice, the output is so weak that it can barely maintain the battery level on most phones.

Unless you're charging something tiny like earbuds and so few of them have wireless charging, it's basically a gimmick. Then there's the software. I get asked pretty often, why I'm okay with a company like Samsung putting a custom interface on top of Android? But when Huawei does it, I complain. It's a fair question, and my answer is this. Huawei does it worse. I'm not even talking about the visual design which the company is all but admitted is meant to make life easier for iPhone converts. I'm talking about the janky transitions into multitasking.

The fact that when you pinch to zoom, say to resize a photo, it triggers Huaweis Amazon ripoff and virtual shopping app. I'm talking about the Google lens clone and the camera which does the same thing. The Huawei Share stuff and the rebranding of Android Beam to Huawei Beam. You know what? I take it back. It wasn't cool when Samsung did all this either. But sometime around three or four years ago, Samsung learned that for a Western audience, this sucked, sorry. And so it adapted. Hopefully someday, Huawei will follow suit.

So, I'm doing with the Mate 20 Pro what I've always done with Huawei phones. Disabling the annoying stuff, using Nova Launcher, tell him buzz. - [Phone] Over the ugly part, and recycling it for than it's worth. - [Narrator] And that lets me appreciate the many strengths of this phone like battery life. This thing once saw me through an 18-hour shooting day with five hours of heavy camera use, and 1.5 hours of mobile hotspot. For charging, I'm happy to have both, fast wired and Qi wireless options at my disposal with extra incentive to use the latter.

The bottom speaker is hidden in the USB port, so plugging in a cable does include it somewhat. And while the wireless reverse charging was something of a bust, you can lend some of your ponderous power supply to someone else using a USB cable. But as someone who loves smartphone cameras, I will admit it, most of the reasons to buy this phone are clustered inside of this camera quad. To recap from a hands-on, a 40 megapixel primary and 8 megapixel telephoto and my favorite, a 20 megapixel ultra wide-angle when you need to capture big scene. In the past, I've gravitated to LG phones because they were the only ones capable of shots like these.

But Huawei didn't just mimic LG's approach, it built upon it. The may 20 Pros wide-angle lens can be used for macro photography, getting as close as two and a half centimeters to a subject without losing focus. Also, the wide-angle camera is compatible with night mode. That's not confined to pitch darkness either. Shoot with it in many lighting conditions for a really distinctive look. With the possible exception of the pixel three, no other camera phone I've used can achieve this kind of dynamic range. And yes, the company's partnership with Leica, continues both behind the scenes on the optics and more prominently in the software with custom color modes.

Video capture is also improved over the P20 Pro. There's digital stabilization for up to 4K video now even on the wide-angle. Updates since October have simplified the viewfinder somewhat. But there are still some quirks in the interface shocker. For example, you can't use the timer in night mode, why? I don't know. If you frame up a shot in the wide or telephoto and decide to switch to night mode, you'll be reset to camera one. Why? I don't know. Also, you can't use Pro video controls when you're shooting in wide-angle, why? I don't know. So few phones offer wide-angle to begin with. It's tough to dock points here. And like the only major camera letdown for me is around front. The selfie shooters depth of field is shallow.

So hitting the exact right point to keep everyone in focus is a real project. Using the Mate 20 Pro for an extended period has revealed the same ups and downs you see in most phones. The in display fingerprint sensors just barely more consistent than the one on the OnePlus 6T, just to say not very. If you're into it, face unlock works well, and it's more secure than most. Phone calls are great, and software is insanely fast. And if you're worried about gaming performance, don't be. On that subject before we tackle the elephant in the room, a quick word from today's sponsor. - This video is sponsored by PUBG Mobile. The official mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. It's a free to play battle royale game, and works like this.

You parachute onto a remote island where you scavenge weapons, vehicles, and supplies, so you can try to beat 99 other players. The battlefield is graphically rich, full of tactical nooks and crannies. Oh and in case that's not intense enough, it shrinks as you play. Even as a guy who doesn't play a lot of these kind of games, I was surprised at how easy the customizable controls made it to pickup. And thanks to the Unreal Engine and True 3D Audio, it looks and sounds incredible. Finally, it lives up to the mobile in its name. Even if you've only got a spare moment to play, quick matches in arcade mode only take eight minutes. It's completely free to play. So join over 100 million people already playing PUBG Mobile on Android and iOS.

Hit the download link in the description below, And thanks to PUBG Mobile for sponsoring this video. So if the Mate 20 Pro is such a great phone, why can't you buy one in the US? Well it's not just US China relations, the after mentioned OnePlus 6T is also a Chinese phone, and it's on sale right now, T-mobile. The difference seems to be twofold. But one of Huawei's founders has deep connections to the Chinese government. And Huawei also makes network equipment that the U.S. doesn't wanna see deployed on American soil. And the other big difference? OnePlus phone runs on a processor designed by Qualcomm in San Diego, California.

 The Kirin 980 in the Mate 20 Pro is homegrown Huawei. How much of that should actually give you pause? I will admit to a degree of doubt on my part that wasn't there at this time last year. But Huawei has always maintained its innocence as seen in this statement to CNBC back in February. I'll leave it to the experts to unpack, and I'll link you to a nice write-up by the MIT Technology Review in the description. For now, the lack of evidence of any foul play combined with the raw capability of this device make me comfortable to keep carrying the Mate 20 Pro, and to keep recommending it, especially to those on the hunt for an exceptional smartphone camera.

A quick mention of the green screen problem on the way out folks. I haven't seen it myself. Huawei is whopping out affected devices. If you live in a country where it's not officially available though, I don't recommend buying this phone until this problem is confirmed cleared up as I've seen reports of repair refusals in non-supported regions.

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