Review: Huawei P20 Pro. Simply Magnificient

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HUAWEI P20 Pro Review
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Huawei P20 Pro Review. Huawei’s stylish designed flagship phone is a strong contender in the smartphone market and if you are looking for the best in class camera you will be more than glad with Huawei P20 Pro.

Huawei P20 Pro Review. But first, a bit of history lesson

There comes a time in life when you have to make a decision to choose a flagship device as your personal sidekick. Back in the day, it was your BlackBerry. Then came the iPhone era which revolutionized the whole smartphone industry blowing the competition out of the waters. Every single phone manufacturer was forced to go back to the drawing board to match up to their standards. Samsung did their best to come close but it simply wasn’t enough.

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However, as years passed by, the competition kept getting better. Android as an operating system kept getting far more efficient and versatile. People were no longer ambivalent when it came to choosing the right device that truly defined who they were.

Initially, though many generic brands existed, people would only choose between Samsung and Apple because having either of the devices exhibited a bold statement. It was more of a status symbol than anything. Samsung was dominating the market considering they weren’t just channeling their R&D into one particular flagship but diversifying their portfolio to cater to different tiers of the market. They had low cost budget phones for emerging markets and premium flagships for the elite. They practically had a phone for everyone. Apple on the other hand stuck to just one. Sure over the multi-billion dollar conglomerate too decided they needed to jump the bandwagon by catering to upcoming markets by launching the cheaper iPhone 5c or even the iPhone SE.

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But then in 2014, A Chinese company called “OnePlus” launched their first device and it shocked the industry. They were practically manufacturing high quality devices with flagship specs at a fraction of the cost of what you would essentially pay a large scale OEM. I mean, Samsung practically didn’t know where it hit them. The phones were rigid. Well built. Completely changed people’s perception on Chinese manufacturers. Slowly other brands like Xiaomi, Vivo and many more started to follow suite.

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But who emerged victorious in the battle for domination of the smartphone industry among the Chinese? Well. This is where Huawei comes in because as per current statistics from IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Tracker, they’re No.3 on the chart when it comes to global smartphone market share after Samsung and Apple shipping in over 39.3 million devices in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

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Introduction

Ladies and gentleman. I’m going to go straight to the point. The Huawei P20 Pro is without a doubt, the best smartphone that has been launched this year in 2018. Sure, it has its limitations here and there but nothing substantial. It all comes down to whether you’re okay with investing your ‘moolah’ on a brand that’s not Apple or Samsung.

Specifications 

  • One inch FullView OLED Screen (16.7 M Colors and FHD 1080×2240 with 408 PPI)
  • Kirin 970 Octa-core + Micro Core Processor with 6GB RAM and 128 GB Storage
  • USB-C Connectivity
  • Tri Lens Rear Camera with 40MP + 20MP + 8MP resolution that supports a plethora of focus options like Laser Focus, Deep Focus, Phase Focus and Contrast Focus)
  • 24 MP Front Facing Camera
  • EMUI 8.1 (Android Oreo 8.1)
  • 4000 mAh Battery 

Likes 

  • That beautiful twilight glossy finish
  • Best camera phone in its segment
  • IR Blaster to control your TV and other devices
  • Colossal Battery Life
  • Cheaper than the iPhone X by at least a thousand dirhams
  • Front mounted fingerprint sensor
  • IP67 Water-Resistant Rating
  • Dolby Atmos Sound

Dislikes

  • No Wireless Charging (Big Bummer)
  • EMUI seems extremely cluttered and really deviates from the classic stock android experience
  • Ridiculous amount of unnecessary bloatware
  • No headphone jack
  • No Expandable Storage
  • The entire thing is a fingerprint magnet
  • Prone to slip from your hand given how sleek the device is
  • Artificial Intelligence in the camera might seem like a overkill at times

Design 

Unlike Huawei’s previous suite of devices that used metal, P20 Pro on the other hand is made of glass completely. Sure, the phone looks absolutely stellar from a distance. Feels extremely premium to hold. The color options sure do pop out and grab a lot of attention. But again, glass has the tendency to become a fingerprint magnet and is also extremely susceptible to breaking with a single drop. So you might want to invest in a good case for sure! But otherwise this is one hell of a good looking phone. The metal frame that wraps the edges is extremely sturdy and Huawei seems to have done a brilliant job blending the metal and glass without having any sort of sharp points that might make it uncomfortable to hold.

It isn’t the lightest phone to hold but sure is one of the sleekest available in the market. Huawei decided to remove the headphone jack to keep the phone as thin and light as possible. Sure there is a dongle that is included in the box to connect your old headphones but it’s still a mild inconvenience.

Display 

With a 6.1 inch OLED display you might think Huawei made a bad call opting for a full HD screen as compared to even a 2K one. However this is no ordinary screen. Sure on paper, it’s significantly lower than other flagships like the Samsung S9 but picture quality is actually pretty mind boggling. At a resolution of 1080 x 2244 FHD+ that’s bogged down to a rather peculiar 18.7:9 Ratio, they still managed to pull it off brilliantly. Colors look vibrant. Blacks seem insane. The phone sports a notch like the iPhone X but this can be covered with some kind of a built in software tweak.

Display support multiple color profiles depending on your taste.

Battery Life 

During our time of testing, it took approximately 1 Hour and 36 minutes to fully charge the battery using the included fast charger, Yes. That’s actually really impressive. Not just that, I actually tried pushing the device to its limits by leaving the screen all day and it would probably have lost 1% charge per 8 minutes of viewing time. This means, Huawei has definitely put in a lot of efforts to optimize the hardware to work hand in hand with their EMUI interface. You can expect an all-day battery with medium use and probably take it two days with light usage. 4000 mAh is a lot. Trust me.

Camera 

At first, I thought this whole Tri-Lens camera powered by some Leica technology was some gimmick. Sounded too good to be true. At then at the media briefing, when I was informed how Artificial Intelligence plays an integral role in image processing, I was stunned. They weren’t kidding. From optimizing the colors depending on the scene to eliminating any shakes while shooting videos, this was practically the future. All the R&D Huawei seems to have invested in making this a professional camera seems to have played off. The resolution is always so sharp no matter how much you zoom into the picture. Huge reduction in noise and any color fading that occurs.

The tri-lens camera give you 3X Optical Zoom thanks to its telephoto lens. Images are usually captured in 10MP resolutions you go all pro mode and bump up the whole thing to take advantage of the 40MP sensor. Huawei also has something called the ‘Hybrid Zoom’ which takes up the whole thing to 5X. This we weren’t completely impressed but it is a pretty neat feature if you want to zoom into like far off text or sign boards or something along the lines.

Low light photography is stellar thanks to its night mode feature. Basically captures a set of images over 5-6 seconds and creates one spectacular image thanks to its AI image processing capabilities.

But heavily relying on AI all the time probably isn’t the best thing. Sometimes the colors of the photo seem over saturated. Some of them really come out dull so you’re best bet is to take matters to your own hands and see where that takes you.

User Interface 

Huawei definitely seems to have done a great job by ensuring the latest version of Android released by Google is supported by the P20 Pro. However like most OEMs Huawei has its own custom UI placed on top of the operating system. Samsung has TouchWiz. Huawei has Emotion UI (EMUI). Not exactly a big fan of it as I prefer a simple and clean stock android user experience. Huawei has its own suite of apps to replace the default ones on Android. Some of them are quite useful like the TV Remote app that uses the built in IR Blaster to control your appliances. Others…Well not so much. It’s like Huawei thought it would be a good idea to take some design cues from iOS and Android but don’t get me wrong. It’s extremely smooth and fluid. There was barely any lag through our testing.

Performance

The Huawei P20 Pro packs its own flagship octa-core processor the “Kirin 970” which by the way was first launched with the Mate 10 Pro. On paper, there are 4 Cortex-A73 cores which are designed for more rigorous and intensive applications and then the other 4 A53s which are merely meant for your regular usage. But how does this perform practically on a regular basis?

Well, Huawei’s Kirin 970 is no slouch. Seems to handle multiple apps open in the background without any issue at all. No lag. No unexpected shut downs. Buttery smooth app switches.

But in a competitive market like today, The Huawei P20 Pro is slightly behind its competition. Benchmarking tests on Geekbench 4 shows it below what we’ve seen from its Snapdragon 845 counterparts or even the Exynos series from Samsung. With a multi-core score of 6679, the Kirin 970 stays below the Samsung S9 series and the Sony XZ2. Single core isn’t all that impressive either with the P20 Pro scoring just 1907 points as compared to the Samsung which scored 3771 in the same test.

As I always mention in my reviews, bench-marking tests shouldn’t influence your decision to buy a smartphone because these don’t translate to real world scenarios. You wouldn’t be pushing your power to this level of peak performance uploading a few snap stories or Instagram posts. It all comes down to how comfortable you are using it.

Final Verdict

It’s quite straight forward actually. I have no intentions of returning our review unit back to Huawei. Just kidding. But I’m in total awe of this device. For the first time, I felt proud holding a device by a Chinese manufacturer simply because it is evident a lot of effort was made into making this device. It feels rich and premium in your hands. Raises a lot of heads, and turn them too. The stunning colors grab a lot of attention. Oh and that beautiful tri-lens camera! For a guy who spends a conspicuous amount of time making videos, I paired the P20 to my Osmo Stabilizer and the results are absolutely stunning.

Sure there are a lot of options out there to choose from when it comes to flagship devices. But after using the Huawei P20 Pro, I can personally vouch for the fact that you won’t be disappointed with this device. You practically have everything you need like stellar battery life. Solid performance. Yes, the device lacks a few things like wireless charging and a headphone jack, but I wouldn’t exactly consider those as deal breakers. This is a premium well-crafted device that targets a very niche market.

In all honesty, this review won’t do any justice to this device unless you go give it a try at one of your local electronic stores. Believe me. I approve the P20 Pro.

Huawei P20 Pro Dual SIM – 128GB, 6GB RAM, 4G LTE, Black is currently on offer on Souq.com for AED 2789. (as on 21st June 2018)

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