Lightning struck twice this year in the smartphone industry but instead of Samsung or Apple—the lightning came from Huawei in the form of the P20 and now the Mate 20 series.
It comes at a time when people were starting to wonder if the smartphone companies are running out of ideas and are questioning the need for yearly upgrades. Yes, we get a faster phone, more colors options, better cameras, better battery—but all these are merely iterative updates that only seem grander because of the flashy event launches, with the most shocking part usually coming from the big price reveal. And while I think Huawei should have left the trolling games to the two other brands, they did live up to their promise of “real upgrades” and got the attention they wanted for their new flagship device.
The Mate 20 Series was launched in London earlier in the week and Huawei sent us a mystery box a day before the event. Although it didn’t include the Mate 20 yet, it did contain several clues to highlight some of the new features of their upcoming flagship—the magnifying glass (new camera setup) hourglass (faster charging), bottle of juice (bigger battery) and jar of nuts (new processor, or make other brands go nuts?).
MATE 20 x 5
THIS year, instead of getting four, we now get five versions of the Mate 20: Mate 20 Lite, Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, the limited-edition Mate 20 RS, and the huge phone for gaming called the Mate 20 X.
For this article, however, we’ll focus on the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro first and include a bit of the Mate 20 X. I’ve been a longtime Huawei user and I’ve always been envious of phones with curved screens so imagine my delight when I saw the new Mate 20 Pro.
The Mate 20 Pro has a 6.39-inch curved OLED display, running a 3,120 x 1,440 resolution in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The Pro has a wider notch compared to the standard Mate, as it houses a more advanced 3D depth-sensing array built into the front of the phone.
Meanwhile, the Mate 20 has a tiny dewdrop notch on top of its 6.53-inch HDR display, with a 2,244 x 1,080 resolution and an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. The Mate 20 X is the largest of them all with a huge 7.2-inch HDR display, and emulates the look of the Mate 20, complete with the tiny notch.
On its back is an interesting camera setup, three lens and the flash arranged in a 2-by-2 box forming a distinctive square. This definitely makes the Mate 20 range unique and easily stand out from all the other phones. The glass back still sports Huawei’s magical color-changing gradient finish but now there’s some sort of a pattern to decrease the visual impact of greasy fingerprints and smudges, and also improve grip. The Mate 20 phones will be available in five colors—Black, Twilight, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Pink Gold—although we’re not sure if all variants will be available here in the Philippines.
There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back of the Mate 20, but for the Pro version the fingerprint technology has been incorporated into the phone’s OLED display.
Just like last year, the Mate 20 series are again the first Huawei phones to use their most advanced processor, the Kirin 980.
Huawei claims this new processor boosts speed by 20 percent and power efficiency by 40 percent compared to the older Kirin 970. The eight-core processor is Huawei’s first built on the 7-nanometer process. Why eight? The 980 consists of four cores that handle low-intensity tasks, two middle cores for more demanding tasks, and two advanced cores to help it run smoothly through the most demanding of apps and games.
The Kirin 980 has two neural processing units (NPUs) inside that outstrip the older NPU by 134 percent in performance, and 88 percent in power efficiency. This would help in real-time image processing, and object recognition and segmentation both for photos and video. A powerful smartphone requires huge batteries and the Mate 20 comes with a 4,000mAh battery, while the Mate 20 Pro goes one better with a 4,200mAh battery, the Mate 20 X has 5000 mAh. Huawei’s phones always had exceptional battery life, so I guess we can expect the same from these new devices.
Huawei’s SuperCharge tech is also back and Huawei claims the 40W charger included with the Mate 20 Pro can charge up to 70 percent battery in just 30 minutes (one of the clues in our box). The Mate 20 and Mate 20 X will come with a lower-powered 22.5W charger. If you think that’s unfair, remember that the iPhone only ships as 5W charger and you have to buy a fast charger separately.
Those who have been complaining about the lack of wireless charging will be happy to know that Mate 20 support 15W fast wireless charging—200-percent faster than wireless charging on an iPhone X, says Huawei. But perhaps the most impressive part of it all is that you can even use the Mate 20 Pro to wirelessly charge your other wireless charging-enabled device. All you have to do is place it on the back of the Mate 20 Pro. As to being waterproof? You can now take the Pro model to the pool as it has an IP68-rated water resistance. The Mate 20 is rated at IP54 while the Mate 20 X is rated for IP53 and can only withstand splashes. The headphone jack is still present in the Mate 20 and Mate 20 X, but not on the Pro.
Now, about those triple cams.
The Huawei P20 Pro still sits on top of the DXOMark chart but it looks like the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are going to be pretty strong contenders.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a fan of the monochrome lens so I’m quite happy that they finally ditched it in favor of an ultra-wide-angle lens.
For the Mate 20, the triple-camera system is comprised of a 16-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture, and an 8-megapixel 2-times telephoto zoom lens with optical image stabilization (OIS), and an f/2.4 aperture.
The Mate 20 Pro further beefs up those numbers with a 40-megapixel wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture, a 20-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture, and an 8-megapixel 3-times telephoto zoom lens with OIS and an f/2.2 aperture.
Will the lack of monochrome lens have an effect on the color quality of the photos? That remains to be seen.
AI, or artificial intelligence, again plays a crucial role in the camera of the Mate 20. More than just boosting color, the new “Thinking Lens,” AI can control more aspects of your camera such as switching to the ultra-wide-angle lens, improved scene recognition and even apply cinematic effects.
As for the prices, the Huawei Mate 20 will sell for around $930; the Mate 20 Pro for $1,220 and the super-sized Mate 20 X will sell for roughly $1,050, based on euro-to-USD conversion. Huawei’s Facebook page has just launched a guess-the-price game and the numbers that have been appearing are P35,005, P45,500, P55,999 and P60,500. What do you think?
I’ve been a Huawei user for the past several years and it seems they actually saw my wish list and included everything I wanted on the Mate 20 Pro. On paper, and as much as I’m tired of reading those template superlatives, the Huawei Mate 20 series does seem to be a spec beast and camera monster, but how will it do in real life use? We’ll have a review soon.
This article first appeared on BusinessMirror Technivore October 27, 2018