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In March this year, Huawei unveiled the P20 Pro, a high-end handset with three rear cameras and the sort of look and feel that put it right up there with the other big names in smartphones that it's clearly eager to outshine. Now with the Mate 20 Pro, the Chinese manufacturer has demonstrated the podium’s not good enough: it’s coming for the crown. We got some hands-on time with the Mate 20 Pro at the London launch event, and this is what we found.
Touch and keep going
Photography skills aside, there are two things that are particularly interesting about the Mate 20 Pro. First up, there’s no fingerprint sensor around the back, nor is there one in a chin beneath the display. There isn’t even one in the power button on the side. Instead, it’s built into the 2K+ OLED display itself.
Wake the phone by lifting it, and if the oh-so-speedy facial ID doesn’t get it unlocked first (or you’ve turned that off because you have an evil identical twin), a fingerprint image will glow softly on the screen. Press one of your registered fingertips to it and the device will unlock. The in-screen solution feels no less responsive than the physical sensors we’ve used on other phones, and it’s undeniably way cooler than any of them.
The Mate 20 Pro’s other top party trick concerns its battery. First up, there’s a class-leading 4200mAh battery squeezed into its slim shell. Then there’s the 40W ‘SuperCharge’ wall plug and cable in the box that’ll take the handset from nought to 70% charge in about 30 minutes.
Next there’s support for 15W wireless charging. There was no wireless charging on the P20 Pro, so getting a high-speed version of it this time around feels like a real step up. But it’s the ability to charge other devices wirelessly that really wows. Wait, what? Yeah, that’s right, you can turn the Mate 20 Pro into a wireless charging mat itself and charge most items that support the Qi wireless charging standard.
Take it all in
Huawei knows that camera quality is one of the primary motivators for consumers when they’re deciding on a phone, and the Mate 20 Pro really, really wants people to consider it for the role of portable, pocketable memory maker.
On the back of the handset there are three cameras and a flash arranged in a square. Instead of using the third camera to help with the zoom capabilities like it did on the P20 Pro, though, this time around Huawei’s going wide. Ultra-wide, in fact. The Pro packs a 20MP ultrawide-angle lens (16mm, f/2.2) in with a 40MP wide-angle lens (27mm, f/1.8), and an 8MP 3x telephoto lens (80mm, f/2.4).
That means you can choose from wide, regular, 3x telephoto or 5x ‘hybrid zoom’ shooting modes. And that’s just the rear cameras. The front-facing one is capable of 24MP resolution, and in conjunction with the array of front-facing sensors, dot projectors and the like that occupy the notch above the screen, is also key to the face-unlocking feature the Mate 20 Pro offers.
We took a few test snaps with the Mate 20 Pro and were impressed with the results. The hybrid zoom still works best in good light with things that hold relatively still, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Meanwhile, the ‘macro’ feature that lets you get as close as 2.5cm from your subject is downright remarkable. If you’re looking for an all-in-one camera solution in a phone’s form factor, the Mate 20 Pro has got to be on your list of options.
Look and love
The spec sheet of the Mate 20 Pro reads like a phone fan’s festive-season wish list, but rather than bore you with the numbers we’ll tell you about our experience with the thing that matters to consumers almost as much as the camera setup and the battery life: the display.
Huawei’s gone with an almost edge-to-edge, 6.39in 2K+ (that means resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixels) curved OLED panel that’s also capable of displaying HDR (high-dynamic range) content, making it great for watching videos on the go. Start a video and the bits of screen next to the notch get a touch of black so you won’t be distracted.
Colours are bright, blacks are inky and the pixels are so small and numerous as to be almost imperceptible. Whether you’re climbing mount inbox, slaying on the socials, or admiring your selfies, the Mate 20 Pro’s screen is ideal.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro will be available on Vodacom from 26 October. Order yours online and get free delivery, free connection and free SIM.