REVIEWED: Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone

With a capable ultra-wide camera, two SIM slots and unique reverse wireless charging, is this curved 6.4-inch phone the best for long-haul travel?

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What do you want from the ultimate travel phone? Huawei, pronounced Wah-Way, is a Chinese company, has here produced what TravGear thinks is one of the best phones on the market for travellers. With a 40 MPl camera, a huge battery capable of lasting all day (and even able to reverse charge any other wireless-compatible phone), this sleek 6.4-inch phone nevertheless makes a play for top spot on trips with its huge 4,200 mAh battery. TravGear isn’t sure if there’s ever been a phone with as long a list of features. So take a deep breath, here goes.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: design

No brand is very going to knock Apple and Samsung off top spot with a dreary-looking phone, but the Huawei Mate 20 Pro really does have a lot going for it in terms of looks. It’s not the most important thing when you’re travelling, but on a recent long-haul journey, this phone’s Full HD+ 1440×3120 pixel resolution AMOLED screen produced some excellent colour, black levels and detail from Netflix downloads. However, the design motif that Huawei will be most proud of is its curved display, which makes it looks like a Samsung Galaxy Edge phone (perhaps a little too much). However, at 189g it’s slightly lighter than Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy Note 9 at 201g, while Apple’s iPhone XS Max weighs 208g.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: ins and outs

Sadly – at least from a traveller’s point of view – the Huawei Mate 20 Pro uses the new USB-C charging port, which necessitates using a different cable, and since it doesn’t have a hard-wired headphones slot, also a USB-C adapter on headphones. There is also a SIM card tray that stores two Nano SIM cards, one on each side of the tray. Huawei says that it will soon be manufacturing smaller, higher capacity Nano Memory Cards, one of which could be put into the Huawei Mate 20 Pro if you only want/need one SIM. Makes sense.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: battery & reverse charging

Inside is that mighty 4,200 mAh battery – the biggest there is on a phone this size – but it gets better; not only can the Huawei Mate 20 Pro be recharged using a wireless touchpad, but it can pass some charge onto someone else’s Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It can also charge-up wearable devices, such as wireless earphones, fitness bands and smartwatches. Perhaps more importantly, it fast-charges to 70 percent in just 30 minutes. That’s life-saver when you’re quickly recharging between flights and connections.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: security

A face scanner, and a fingerprint scanner. So what? Nothing new there … well, actually. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first phone to include a fingerprint scanner within the glass, so you don’t have to have any buttons on the front of the phone. Both work well, although the face scanner – enabled by a tiny 24-MP (f/2.0) camera at the top of the phone – remains the easiest way to get let inside.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: camera

On the back of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a brilliantly designed four-way array for the phone’s camera. A small black square housing three lenses and one flash, it’s a slab of iconic design. Given how homogenous today’s smartphones are, that’s no easy thing to achieve. It’s also really impressive, and perhaps the highlight of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It’s some roll-call; 40 MP (f/1.8) wide-angle Leica lens (they’re all Leica), 20 MP (f/2.2) ultra wide-angle, 8 MP (f/2.4) telephoto for 3x optical zoom, and an LED flash. That makes lots of fancy features possible – notably AI Cinema, where only your subject appears in colour while the background remains black and white – but the bottom line is this; its photos are contrasty, and colourful, and perhaps a little over-processed. Perfect, then, for Instagram. Probably a better reason for using it is not for its AI-auto-processed photos (using object recognition it can sense about 1,500 different scenes, for which it makes adjustments automatically), but for its ability with low-light. If you’re in landscapes near dusk, or just after, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro finds more detail.

It’s also worth mentioning that it has 128GB storage inside, so there’s plenty of space to keep photos, even in Raw format.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: drawbacks

Sadly, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro isn’t on sale in the US. Nor is it particularly travel-proof; although its IP68 water resistant, there’s no rugged design. It’s a phone that’s more about style as much as features. There are also perhaps a few too many Huawei-made apps and, frankly, although Huawei tries to ape Apple in design terms, the modded-Android OS looks a little confused. Finally, the scene’s Full HD+ screen resolution is fine for now, but it is likely the last flagship phone that will get away with such a low resolution. Most of us will never notice.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: conclusion

While the Apple vs Samsung battle for ‘best smartphone’ now seems like a while ago, it’s only with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro that the contender for those established brands’ position looks increasingly difficult.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is its speed, which is thanks to its use of the new Kirin 980 processor. Of course, this is an Android phone, and it feels like one, which will be enough for iPhone users to be immediately put off, but the truth is that there is now almost no difference between flagship phones, whatever OS they use. Here, Android 9.0 runs fluidly, and the EMUI-modified version that Huawei almost creates the feel, if not the consistent look, of an iPhone. An excellent attempt at a phone that’s ready for long-haul travel, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is available now in Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight and Black.

Price as reviewed: £899 (about US$1,162, though it’s not available directly in the US)

Buy the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

 

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