We’ve had a look at the latest and greatest from Huawei – the P20 series, namely the range-topping, three-camera-bearing P20 Pro; the P20 itself; and the low-man-but-not chopped-liver P20 Lite, and have come away quite impressed.
The long and the short of it: this latest series of phones from the Chinese tech juggernaut is an absolute winner in our book, and we’re certain that quite a few of you fellow gearheads will also come to the same conclusion.
Read through our review to find out why!
In terms of specifications, these phones definitely won’t be embarrassed even in the company of today’s highest-specced smartphones – and in more than one area can even lay claim to having equalled or even having pulled ahead of their rivals.
Imaging is definitely one of these categories, especially as far as the rear cameras are concerned. The P20 Pro boasts an insane imaging system out back – featuring a whopping three-camera setup (40MP RGB, 20MP monochrome, and 8MP telephoto; Leica optics; 960fps slow-motion PDAF, and dual-LED flash). The mid-placed P20 eschews its big sibling’s 40MP camera, but has almost everything else. The P20 Lite comes with a dual-lens setup (16MP and 2MP, Leica optics, PDAF, and LED flash).
As regards the front snappers, the P20 Pro and P20 share the same 24MP camera and 3D portrait lighting feature. That of the P20 Lite is a less powerful 16MP snapper.
Huawei’s also seen fit to further strengthen the imaging chops of the Pro and P20 with its Master AI feature, which identifies 19 different categories of photograph and automatically adjusts key settings such as lighting to optimize each photo.
The P20 series’ displays are impressive as well; the lineup-leading P20 Pro has the largest and sharpest one, a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED affair. Its brethren have slightly smaller screens (in the same size, as a matter of fact: 5.84-inch IPS screens). In terms of processors, all three models are powered by octa-core processors: the Pro and P20 both come with the 2.36GHz Kirin 970, while the Lite makes do with the 2.3GHz Kirin 689.
The three models are also kitted out differently in terms of their battery capacities and RAM. The largest battery, a 4,000mAh affair, is reserved for the Pro; a 3,400mAh pack is provided for the P20; and a 3,000mAh battery comes standard with the Lite. And the Pro gets 6GB of RAM, while the P20 and Lite come with 4GB of RAM.
We’ll wrap this section up by saying that the P20 phones all come with pretty up-to-date software: Android Oreo 8.1 for the Pro and P20 and 8 for the Lite, and Huawei’s EMUI 8.1 overlay for the Pro and P20 and EMUI 8.0 for the Lite.
But of course it’s no longer enough for any smartphone to possess great specs – it also needs to be designed really well to boot. Fortunately, Huawei’s designers appear to have kicked out the chocks to design these three new phones to a T.
The design of the P20 series is a nod to current trends and includes current cutting-edge design elements like edge-to-edge displays; imaging-sensor notches; and glass backs.
And where would any modern smartphone be if it didn’t come in nice color options? Buyers can buy their Pros in black, blue, pink gold, and a particularly fetching shade known as ‘Twilight’, which transitions from dark blue to deep purple; the P20 can be had in the same color palette as its higher-end sibling, but is also available in a unique shade of champagne gold; and the Lite is available in black and a unique color, Klein Blue. Something for all buyers, even if they don’t pick up the priciest versions.
What else? The only thing we can think of that might raise some hackles is the fact that only the Lite comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack (but then again, consumers seem to be slowly but surely moving towards adopting wireless headphones). Otherwise, people should be pleased as punch with the design of these smartphones.
We’re sure everyone’s wondering how good the P20 series really is at taking photos. In a nutshell – the cameras of the P20 Pro and P20 are some of the finest cameras any smartphone has mounted. Full stop.
The photos taken by the P20 and especially the P20 Pro are awesomely, gorgeously detailed and colored – even those shot in low light are outstanding. The cameras are exceptional in practically every way, even when compared to those of imaging leaders like the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9+, and Google Pixel 2.
But don’t take our word for it. The experts at camera image quality reference website DxOMark have heaped accolades upon the P20’s and Pro’s cameras – as a matter of fact, these two cameras happen to be the two best smartphone cameras the site has ever tested.
Quite honestly, the performance of these cameras needs to be experienced to be believed.
We feel quite sure that the P20 series’ superlative cameras will seal the deal for most would-be buyers. In other words, even if the phones had been merely OK, their imaging performance would still be enough to convert browsers to buyers.
These phones are anything but mediocre performers, though. The Kirin chipsets that run all three are powerful yet frugal performers, and will roll their sleeves up and get to work on whatever users need them to do without raising a fuss.
They’re smooth-as-glass performers and only really intensive tasks like gaming will raise the temperature of the phones noticeably. Battery life is significantly impacted (in a positive way) – our test units happily managed a full day’s work without requiring topping up before late afternoon.
And just in case users do manage to drain those batteries, fast charging is possible and can bring a phone back from the dead in practically no time at all.
There you have it – the Huawei P20 series easily ranks among the most captivating bunch of phones to debut in recent years. They’re striking and stylish and are smooth operators – and are truly exceptional cameraphones.
We think you owe it to yourself to have a look at these phones!