In the ocean of new smartphones, it can be really tricky to find the one that suits your lifestyle, and include the features that you come to expect from a mobile.
Huawei is probably not a brand that instantly comes to mind when listing the big players in the phone wars. That is usually reserved for the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google’s Pixel range.
But here we are with one of the most fascinating mobile devices of the year so far from Huawei, with its release in Australia this Friday (May 18th) at multiple retailers including Harvey Norman and priced at $1,099 – which is cheaper than those other heavy hitters.
What’s in the box?
The device we have is the Huawei P20 Pro in the stunning Twilight colour. It comes with what you’d expect to be included; the phone (of course), earbuds, USB-C headphone adapter, sim ejector tool, power adapter and USB-C cable. What was very welcomed was the clear case, which you’ll need as the phone is a total fingerprint magnet.
Let’s just say it. Apple’s iPhone X was stunning when it was first released, however, there were a couple of little quirks that took away from an otherwise great phone, such as gestures which replaced the home button.
Huawei has made a bold choice to not remove the home button from the P20 Pro, and again, in other reviews, it’s a real sore point. But I have actually found it to be more convenient than a fingerprint scanner on the back of the device, like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2.
The other controversial addition, and what seems to be the trend in phone design, is the inclusion of the dreaded ‘notch’. This houses the speaker, front-facing camera and proximity sensor – and isn’t nearly as annoying as some reviewers have made it out to be. From using the phone over the past two weeks, and coming from a Google Pixel 2 XL, I don’t really notice it.
Turning the phone over, and things turn a little bit magical. The ‘Twilight’ version of the Huawei P20 Pro is absolutely gorgeous. In sunlight, the back will seemingly shift colour from a deep purple to a shade of green. But because it’s prone to picking up fingerprints, having the included plastic clear case takes a little away from the magic.
Then we get to the main event which is a triple-camera setup – the first time we’ve seen this on any smartphone. Huawei has once again teamed up with German company Leica to take things to the next level. But more on that later.
The fingerprint sensor is also one of the quickest I’ve used on a phone and unlocks blazing fast.
As with any Android phone, the setup is quite simple compared to 3-4 years ago. And if you’re coming from another Android phone, you can simply copy your accounts, photos, videos and apps across the new phone. Huawei run their own ‘skin’ over the top of Android which doesn’t seem to appeal to hardcore Android fans, however, I found it to be less intrusive than the likes of Samsung or Xiaomi.
If you’ve already used an Android phone, you’ll feel at home with everything playing nice and working how you’d expect. If you’re coming from Apple’s iPhone, you might find it a little bit harder to get the hang of things.
The Huawei P20 Pro has one of the biggest batteries in a current flagship smartphone, so you’d expect it to last. And luckily it does. Running a test on YouTube between the Google Pixel 2 XL and Apple iPhone X saw the P20 Pro outlasting them all.
The iPhone X had the worst battery life coming in at 4 hours and 27 minutes, followed by the Google Pixel 2 XL at 5 hours and 14 minutes and then the Huawei P20 Pro at 5 hours and 58 minutes.
Day to day usage will differ, and from using the P20 Pro as my daily driver for two weeks I haven’t had any of the charging emergencies I usually suffer from with other phones previously.
It will easily last your emails, camera-taking, video watching and social media on the day before you need to charge it.
This is the feature that Huawei have been heavily promoting. It is a three-camera setup after all, but does it live up to the hype?
The main camera sensor is 40 megapixels, a black and white 20 megapixel and the third is an 8 megapixel 3x zoom camera. This ultimately means that you can take a photo at 3x zoom and still see incredible results.
I found in my time with the Huawei P20 Pro that the daylight photos matched the best from Apple, Samsung and Google, however, the dedicated night mode is actually mind-blowingly good. And while I was sceptical at first, taking photos at night when it was 9pm with very little light outside with both the Pixel 2 XL and P20 Pro, the results were very obvious.
Remember that these photos were taken late at night, in auto-mode on all phones and with the flash off.
The camera definitely lives up to the high expectations that have been put out there.
It's also powered by artificial intelligence, but we also found that some of the photos we took were too sharpened and started looking very unnatural in colour. You can turn off the ‘Master AI’ feature in the camera settings, so it’s not a deal breaker.
- Leica triple camera 40MP setup
- Large 4,000 mAh battery
- Big and clear AMOLED screen
- Fast internals (CPU and RAM)
- Android 8.1 (Oreo)
- IP67 water + dust resistant
Make no mistake, this is Huawei’s best phone to date. While there are some shortcomings such as no wireless charging (but who uses that anyway) and the ‘notch’ that everyone seems to have problems with – the design is absolutely stunning, the camera is brilliant, the battery will get you through an entire day easily and the software works pretty well and isn’t as bloated as some other manufacturers versions of Android.
There is very little to fault with this phone, and if you’re in the market for a new device you definitely need to give this phone your time of day.
It's available from Friday, May 18 and you can find it from select retailers including Harvey Norman.