Huawei P20 Pro review | What Hi-Fi?

Huawei is aiming to take hold of a seat at the smartphone top desk, and with its newest flagship cellular - the Huawei P20 Pro - it might simply deserve one.

At nearly £800 it’s dear, however it’s additionally brimming with the latest options and generation, from facial popularity and fingerprint sensors to an AI-assisted digicam or even the on-trend ‘notch’ design.

Crucially it appears, feels and functions on the stage we expect from a flagship telephone.

MORE: Huawei launches P20 and P20 Pro flagship smartphones with Dolby Atmos

Build

As befits a high-end telephone in 2018, it’s a sliver of classy glass carrying a super-size 6.1in display.

The aluminium front and all-too-familiar appears to be like aren’t essentially a foul thing, but they without a doubt don’t make the P20 Pro stand out in the crowded smartphone marketplace.

However, turn it around and the glass on the again is relatively crowd pleasing - particularly if you choose the midnight blue possibility.

You’ll additionally notice 3 lenses and a few Leica branding, suggesting the P20 Pro digicam manner industry.

It looks and feels each bit the premium telephone, and it’s noticeably smarter than rivals such because the Google Pixel 2 XL - although certainly at the slippy side unless you add a case.

First noticed on the iPhone X, the notch makes an appearance right here too - regardless that we’re now not positive why it’s needed. The P20 Pro includes a little indent on the most sensible of the display, which makes way for the face scanner.

The entrance digicam and a speaker fill probably the most the space, however fortunately you'll be able to remove it altogether.

A display screen environment turns the top standing bar all black, making the notch invisible and leaving simply the grey notifications on a black bar. A wise, simple fix for notch non-believers.

MORE: Google Pixel 2 XL review

Power and quantity buttons are at the most sensible right aspect, and there’s a home button at the bottom. While many high-end telephones are removing these, Huawei has caught with it - and added a fingerprint sensor.

On the P20 Pro, it’s now not across the again as it was on closing year’s flagship Mate 10 Pro (and lots of Android competitors). The sensor works as fast as every other and in a way this is pretty much same old.

What isn’t same old is the facial reputation function. The P20 Pro Face-ID mode manner you'll be able to unlock the telephone simply by taking a look at it - despite the fact that it really works smartly in both gentle and dark stipulations, it proves a little bit extra temperamental will have to you be wearing glasses.

The phone should get up in a position to scan your face on every occasion you elevate it up, but this serve as is a bit of hit or miss too.

When conserving the phone or moving round, we every so often find ourselves observing a clean display. A slightly of the facility button turns on the display and awakens the face free up, regardless that.

MORE: Huawei Mate 10 Pro review

Features

The fingerprint sensor and facial reputation are two of the extra crowd pleasing features, but this Huawei has masses extra. Huawei’s partnership with Leica has reached a pinnacle here - this phone offers an industry-leading three lenses on the main rear digicam.

A 40MP lens is supported by way of an 8MP telephoto lens for zooming and a 20MP monochrome lens that helps add element in low-light stipulations. The entrance digicam, in the meantime, is 24MP – around thrice the choice of pixels of the iPhone X’s selfie digicam.

All this generation is aided by means of the telephone’s 4D Predictive Focus feature, which calculates the motion of moving objects to take higher, extra solid footage.

The digicam functionality and features are considerable, with Master AI most likely the headline-grabber - it provides computerized adjustment of your photographs for optimum results. There are Night Mode, Pro Mode, HDR, Panorama, Time-Lapse purposes and extra.

The P20 Pro runs Android 8.1 Oreo, the latest version of Google’s running device. (Android P is currently in beta.)

Like maximum different Android telephones, there's a specific amount of bloatware right here. Huawei has added its personal apps, the ‘Huawei ID’ login for get right of entry to to but more Huawei products and services, and some slight variations to one of the telephone menus. Thankfully it’s a fairly subtle tackle Android.

The telephone has 6GB of RAM and the corporate’s Kirin 970 CPU (the similar as we saw on the Mate 10 Pro closing year), plus 128GB of integrated storage (which will have to be enough for apps, photos and tune). But sadly there’s no SD card slot for expanding the reminiscence.

It has the similar 4000mAh battery as the Mate 10 Pro, so should easily stay you going all through the day.

At the ground of the telephone is a USB-C connection for charging and connecting the bundled headphones, however there is not any 3.5mm enter in your headphone jack.

Huawei supplies a generic dongle for connecting your stressed headphones to the USB-C port – though if (like us) you to find dongles stressful, you can always pass wi-fi.

Screen

The P20 Pro has a 6.1in OLED display screen, whole with a 2240 x 1080 resolution and a claimed 16.7m colors. It’s lower answer than the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, which each game 2960 x 1440 displays, and also the iPhone X's 2436 x 1125 solution.

The P20 Pro also supports HDR, shown via an icon whenever you choose a compatible show on Netflix.

So how does that OLED display in fact glance? We fan the flames of BBC iPlayer and obtain some daylight hours TV programmes in ‘High Quality’ – and we’re inspired. The P20 Pro delivers programmes which are blank, crisp and clear.

MORE: BBC iPlayer review

BBC dramas are a super check of natural colors and skin tones - and in comparison with some rivals, the P20 Pro truly is like casting off a film from the display. Faces are sensible and there’s a real sense of intensity to pictures.

Edges are sharp and there’s spectacular background detail. You can tweak the colour mode and color temperature, but we find this Huawei telephone in a position to punchy, shiny, vivid hues.

HDR content material is supported, and the P20 Pro ticks the entire containers to toughen HDR programmes on Netflix. That puts it in lofty corporate, with various flagship handsets necessarily now not assembly the Netflix criteria although they do strengthen HDR video.

Pictures are dynamic, showing impressive contrast between dark levels and shiny colors, once more digging out plenty of detail without sacrificing black depth.

The P20 Pro can boast of being co-engineered through Leica, and with its three-lens digital camera gadget, it certainly sticks out on paper – and at the again of the display screen. The lenses don’t sit down flush, however that’s usual at the present time.

MORE: Best smartphones 2018

Numbers and features are best part the tale, however if you want to just level and shoot to get first rate footage, the excellent news is you'll be able to. Images are detailed and vibrant.

Details are sharp and there’s no softening to edges even on giant landscape pictures. It performs smartly in low gentle, with good distinction ranges rendering shadows faithfully, showing a practical difference between darkish and light-weight.

Master AI will magic up your picture and we’re pretty proud of what we see. It gives up a brighter, shiny palette, so when you’d slightly a more natural, practical glance, you may well be higher with Pro or just turning off Master AI.

But either method, the P20 Pro digital camera is conveniently one of the best in the marketplace.

Sound

The Huawei P20 Pro boasts support for Dolby Atmos and content material encoded the use of Dolby's AC-Four audio codec, promising a larger soundstage than competitors. The P20 Pro additionally helps wireless audio courtesy of aptX Bluetooth.

There’s no 3.5mm headphone connection, so you need to use the dongle to glue your usual headphone jack to the USB-C port as an alternative. There are some freebie headphones, too, but they’re now not a lot cop.

The phone supports hi-res audio as much as 32bit/384kHz audio and, in contrast to some Android telephones, there’s a easy ‘Music’ app so you don’t must depend on Google Music or pick a generic utility for your song library.

MORE: Dolby Atmos - What is it? How can you get it?

The spec can have taken a bounce when compared with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, however the audio efficiency is identical.

A hi-res version of R.E.M’s Pilgrimage presentations a decent amount of element, with readability on the best end and an open midrange. Bass notes are picked up neatly sufficient, too.

Sea by means of Blocks & Escher requires a bit of more pressure and punch and, when put next with rival handsets, the Huawei is found a little bit in need of.

Kick drums don’t hit with the same thud and snares don’t reasonably snap with the same precision. The observe sounds larger and extra spacious on rival phones, too, the P20 Pro now not relatively giving the observe the same sense of scale.

MORE: High resolution audio - everything you need to know

D’Angelo’s Prayer requires timing to be right at the cash to convey the essential sleaze and subtlety, however again it sounds better on an iPhone X or the Samsung Galaxy S9.

The smartphone marketplace is aggressive sufficient to imply we don’t hear many poor-sounding phones, and this is a working example.

However, if you’re ready to spend flagship money on a phone, look somewhere else if music quality is your key worry.

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Verdict

The Huawei P20 Pro is a good telephone with a super digicam and a few eye-catching features.

But it’s now not the last word in audio or video performance, this means that it’s now not easy for us to wholeheartedly suggest.

See all our Huawei reviews

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