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Huawei P20 Preview: Not just an impressive camera-centric phone

19 April 2018 5

This year Huawei skipped the MWC 2018 event to showcase their new offerings instead the company took a separate stage on March 27 in France to launch the new flagships P20 and P20 Pro. The P20 series is undoubtedly one of the most refined products from Huawei. The P20 and P20 Pro are indeed powerful enough to challenge to the existing big players like Galaxy S9, iPhone X, and other rivals. Both the devices are quite impressive in a number of aspects. If we consider camera setup, the P20 Pro set a new benchmark for flagships to be announced later this year.

From the look of the things it seems like the camera will play a significant role in the success of this year flagships because so far we have seen Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei and Sony flagships are all camera-centric which clearly indicates what to expect from upcoming flagships. Undoubtedly Huawei impressed everyone with their growth in last few years. The company not only refined their hardware the Kirin chipsets but also paid special attention to their devices cameras and build quality.

We always put new devices in head-to-head comparison with their competitors. We already compared P20 against a number of competitors. Now its perfect time to preview P20 to know in detail how much it is refined and whether it is indeed the most refined product from Huawei so far or not.

The last year P10 series was impressive but certainly not the best-in-class. However this year Huawei learned from their mistakes to bring a refined product capable to challenge the iPhone X and Galaxy S9. So far the start of this year is pretty great for Huawei, let's find out how perfect their latest P20 is.

70.8 x 149.1 x 7.65 mm
5.8 inches - 2244x1080 px
Go to comparison page
Design

Huawei is trying to bring a different and innovative design for quite some time. They introduced unibody metal design with the P8 series, they retained the same design until P10 with minor improvements and diamond cut finish. Last year Huawei jumped to glass and metal sandwich design language with the Mate 10 series. The device receives well appreciation from gadget geeks and enthusiasts. The company opted glass and metal for the P20 as well. The rear glass on the P20 Pro is quite a shiny and undoubtedly it looks great.

The edges of P20 are round from edges which makes it an easy device to hold. The chassis is made up of aluminum with glass covering the front and rear side. The finish is seamless and striking. On the bottom edge, the device has USB Type-C port and speakers grilles. The front-facing side has a full front-facing display with a notch at a top. Despite having full front-facing display the P20 still retains the fingerprint scanner on the front below the display panel.

The notch on the top is certainly one aspect which isn't liked by most of the Huawei fans. Most of the customers consider it as an evil feature where many don't have an issue with it. One thing is sure notch is next big thing in design segment that's why many smartphone manufacturers are adopting this trend.

Huawei's notch is way smaller than the Apple iPhone X notch that's why it isn't as intrusive as the iPhone X. The notch features earpiece speaker and selfie camera. If you are amongst those who don't like the notch at the top they can activate black bar form the setting as well. The rear side is adorned with dual rear cameras placed vertically on the top left corner.

It's an IP67 certified device which means it can resist 1.0 meters deep water for 30 minutes without any damage. However, the water resistance comes at a price of 3.5mm headphone jack. The P20 lacks the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.

Display

Despite being a full HD+ display it is one of the sharpest and vibrant displays in the market. The P20 features a 5.8-inches IPS LCD panel. The colors vibrancy and contrast ratio is pretty awesome. The display pixels density is 428 pixels-per-inch. Being an LCD panel it doesn't have deep blacks like the P20 Pro's OLED display but still, it is worth appreciating great display.

The colors vibrancy allows you to watch media content with great experience. You can watch HI-Res content without worrying about the viewing angles and colors accuracy. Huawei provides a number of customization options to better adjust display according to your requirements. Overall colors are a bit cooler but you can switch to warmer colors by enabling the Eye comfort mode. There is a Natural Tone mode to adjust colors tone automatically.

Software

We have to admit the latest iteration of EMUI over the stock version of Android OS is certainly much improved from the earlier bulkier versions with huge bloatware. Huawei improved in all aspects of their custom UI, they removed most of the bloatware. Another interesting aspect is EMUI 8 is the successor of EMUI 5.1, the company stated the reason behind this huge jump is improvements in the OS.

Now the EMUI is cleaner and slick than the earlier versions. The P20 is pre-installed with Android Oreo 8.0 based EMUI 8.1. The best thing about Huawei's custom UI is its customization options which allows you to adjust it according to your preference. You can choose hundreds of themes. You can either adopt folders of apps on your main screen or you can put your apps in app drawer. The home screen animations are also customizable.

On the main screen, there is a permanent search bar which allows you to easily perform tasks on the go without worrying about finding it. Though the EMUI isn't pretty close to stock Android OS still it isn't far away like its predecessors. Huawei brought a number of apps to further enhance the user experience. For instance, the device has PC mode which allows you to directly connect to PC without requiring a hub like Samsung Dex. The screen record feature is something which is exclusive to Huawei's EMUI only.


Hardware

Being the latest premium smartphone the Huawei P20 is packed with the best possible hardware. The Huawei's Octa-core Kirin 970 SoC is powering the device with 4GB RAM which was 6GB for the Pro variant. Thanks to dedicated Neural processing unit the device is more than capable to handle AI tasks quite brilliantly. The device can easily handle HIFI games which require huge power to handle. You can play intensive games for hours without worrying about lagging. The device prowess match in other segments as well like opening apps in a blink of an eye. The speed of switching between two apps is also pretty awesome.

Huawei paid special to machine learning to enhance the device performance in handling AI tasks. Undoubtedly the P20 will attract those buyers who want a premium smartphone with powerful hardware under the hood. The best thing is machine learning and AI enhancements on P20 makes sure the device remains fast even after usage of years. One of the reasons behind the impressive battery life of P20 is indeed it's AI capabilities which optimized the device pretty well.

Specs Huawei P20
Display 5.8-inches
Screen resolution 1080 x 2240 pixels
Chipset Kirin 970
RAM 4GB
Storage 128GB Non-Expandable
Rear camera 12MP+20MP
Front camera 24MP
Battery 3,400mAH
USB Type-C
3.5mm headphone jack No
IP67 Yes
OS Android Oreo with EMUI 8.1

Camera

One key aspect of P20 is indeed its camera modules. Huawei paid special attention to their cameras marketing ahead of official announcement. The company's slogan ahead of P20 and P20 Pro's announcement was "See Mooore". Once again the company joined hands with Leica for the camera modules.

Huawei uses AI to enhance the P20 camera capabilities. The P20 lens is capable to detect 20 different items to ensure the camera settings are well optimized for the certain scenario. The camera adjusts settings once it detects what it is looking. Once the camera lens is opened it detects objects including person, dog, cat, flowers, leaves and many others. For instance, while capturing the greenery the device camera automatically enhances the saturation and contrast to make sure you get the best results of greenery.

If the device detects people it automatically actives portrait mode to ensure you can capture the subject solely. For the Pro users, the device has a manual mode which allows you manually set camera settings according to your requirement. For low-light scenarios, the device has Night Mode which enhances the light exposure to make sure it captures amazingly even in low-light conditions.

The P20 primary snapper is a 12MP RGB lens with f/1.8 aperture whereas the secondary monochrome lens is a 20MP module with f/1.8 aperture. The dual rear snappers are accompanied with dual LED flashlight. It provides optical zoom up to 2x. The device can record 4K videos as well as slow-motion HD videos at 960 frames per second.

Overall the P20 results are quite brilliant in both daylight and low-light conditions. If you don't want AI enhancements, you can turn on auto mode as well which capture amazingly without readjusting again and again. During low-light conditions, it is recommended to use Night Mode to reduce the noise. Up front, the selfie camera is a 24MP module with f/2.0 aperture. It is one of the best selfie-camera in its niche. Overall the P20 camera excels in a number of areas.

Battery

Being a smaller variant of P20 Pro, the P20 isn't featuring a large battery cell as its larger sibling. The battery cell on the P20 is a 3,400mAH. On normal regular usage, the device easily lasts the day with more than 25% energy under the hood. The regular usage includes patches of video gaming, watching video content, checking social sites and few calls throughout the day. It last better than most of its competitors including Galaxy S9 due to Full HD display panel and the larger battery cell.

Huawei's brought Super-Charging tech to recharges the device pretty quickly. The device reaches from 0 to 50% in just half an hour. One feature which is missed badly is lack of wireless-charging support. It's quite disappointing to see Huawei didn't bring wireless charging support especially when the device has glass rear.

Conclusion:

Traditionally Huawei smartphones have great hardware but they have little issues with software especially related to camera and EMUI. However, the good thing is that's not the case with this year P20. The device is well tuned in terms of software that's why it well optimized the hardware to the fullest.

As nothing is perfect, same is the case here. Despite the fact P20 features one of the best in class cameras still it lacks slightly in low-light conditions and lack of wireless charging support is something which the company could bring on board especially with the glass rear. Although it is an IP67 certified at the same time it lacks the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Last but not the least it is important to mention that Huawei did a commendable job this year as far this year flagship is a concern. They produced a strong competitor to Samsung's Galaxy S9 and the device will certainly challenge all others in this category. In the end, we would like to hear our readers thoughts regarding the P20 Preview in the comments section below. Stay tuned for more comparisons and previews.

The Huawei P20 isn't still available. To be notified when it becomse available click here.

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Huawei P20 Preview: Not just an impressive camera-centric phone
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