Huawei Mate 20 Review

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Huawei phones. Nor is it a secret that I’m a fan of the Mate range. The Mate flagships from Huawei have always fallen into that “phablet” end of the smartphone market but over the past couple of years a fantastic design shift has occurred in the smartphone market.

No longer does a phone over 6 inched look “phablet-ey”, with reduced bezels these once over-sized giants now look less obtrusive. The Mate 20 is a perfect example of this design shift. The beastly 6.53 inch screen would have required a bezel the size of an iPad mini. In this day and age though, that screen is basically the entire size of the phone, making it a reasonablylcomfortable phone to hold that is packed with a massive array of Huawei wizardry inside.

Let’s get the core geek stuff out of the way shall we. Prepare yourselves for a geek-gasm. Yes the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is more higher specced but the Mate 20 is in no way lacking. Make no mistake about it, the Mate 20 is a beast in its own right.

The phone itself is 158.2mm high, 77.2mm wide and just 8.3mm deep. That translates into a gorgeous 6.53 inch screen that basically no bezel that features the teardrop style notch for the selfie cam. The screen isn’t OLED, rather it’s an FHD+ 2,244 x 1080 resolution screen that pumps out 381PPI and 16.7 million colours. OK so on paper that doesn’t jump off the page, smack you in the face and scream look at me but Huawei knows how to get the most bang for buck and in reality this screen is absolutely gorgeous. Colours leap off the screen with rich vibrance and a level of polish that makes the Retina screen on an iPhone look positively ordinary (iPhone XS excluded from that comment).

If you could look behind that screen you’d discover Huawei’s latest Kirin 980 processor that boasts 2 x Cortex-A76 Based 2.6 GHz + 2 x Cortex-A76 Based 1.92 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A55 1.8 GHz, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, all running on Android 9 with EMUI 9. What does all that tech speak actually mean? Well it equates to a phone that is blisteringly fast and powerful enough to deliver the most advanced behind the scenes AI that has come to flagship phones. Again, the Mate 20 Pro does better than that but honestly the Mate 20 more than holds its own and for less money it is no ugly sibling to its big brother.

In actual fact when I look at the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro side by side I actually prefer the design of the Mate 20. It is more true to the Mate design philosophy. The Mate 20 Pro has that strange elongated look to it that never looks quite right to me. The Mate 20 on the other hand has width that matches its height, making it look better proportioned. The Mate 20 also features the rear fingerprint scanner that opens the phone with the slightest of touches so you don’t need to find the right spot with the screen fingerprint scanner the Mate 20 Pro has.

If you don’t want to unlock via finegrprint then the Mate 20, with it’s AI capabilities has facial recognition that can recognise you even if you’ve got or are growing a beard. It will unlock instantly and it’s my preferred method of security.

As mentioned before, Mate 20 runs on Android 9 with Huawei’s proprietary EMUI 9 on it. This is significant EMUI update ladies and gents. It is more refined and reduces the amount of menus you need to get to when navigating through settings. It is still true to EMUI of old and retains it’s uniqueness that polarizes people but I’m a big fan of EMUI. It is easy to navigate, crazy fast and more importantly it is one of the most intuitive operating systems on the Android platform. And one of my favourite features?

Digital Balance. This is Huawei’s screen time management tool and it is fantastic. Digital balance provides much needed transparency on how much you use your phone during the day and what apps your spending most of that time on. You can even set limits on how much time you can spend on your phone and when that time is reached most apps will be locked. You can of course give yourself more time if you’re still instagramming or facebooking into the wee small hours of the morning. It’s a wonderful feature that is also great for kids. Which brings me to me next point…

Parents, this one is for you. How many times have you had your children take your phone to watch YouTube, or play games only to find your phone is now full of crap apps that your kids have downloaded? Well now with the Mate 20 you’ll get your phone back! You can set up multiple accounts on the phone that can be accessed via the fingerprint scanner. Put your finger on the scanner and the phone will log that person directly into their very own account on the phone. They will only see apps that they have put on their account and things like YouTube will log in to that users YouTube. That’s right folks, Mate 20 is the one phone to rule them all and in the process stopping arguments about what crap has clogged your home screens.

So all that is great but how does it perform? Bloody well is my answer! This thing is FAST and it lasts a very long time (if only I could perform like this phone). Gone are the days of getting lag when opening apps, you almost just need to think about opening an app and up it pops. Multitasking is and going between apps is a dream. Playing games doesn’t suffer from any lag at all and video playback is gorgeous on this screen. The thing I love about bigger, bezelless phones is the way consuming video content draws you right in. The Mate 20 is brilliant for consuming content on the go.

Navigation wise, you’ve got a few options. Including having soft keys appear at the bottom. A floating navigation option or my preferred option, gesture based navigation. Swipe up to go home, swipe left or right to go back or swipe up and hold to see what apps are open.

Oh and I guess I better mention the camera. The Mate 20 features 3, yes 3 cameras. a 12MP wide angle lens with f/1.8 aperture, a 16MP ultra wide angle camera with f/2.2 aperture and an 8MP telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture. All that equates to an absolutely stellar camera that takes the best photos I’ve ever seen on a smartphone. The level of detail and colour recreation is fantastic and Night Mode is second to none (well maybe not true, I haven’t used the Mate 20 Pro but I think that might beat it). I mean seriously, these lenses “create” light at night out of nowhere, have a look at these two shots taken seconds apart with no flash.

Where the hell does it gets the light from?! This level of wizardry is a testament to the engineers over at Huawei. Guys I take my hat off to you, you guys are obviously from another planet.

Look I read reviews too and it would appear that the Mate 20 Pro is the best phone Huawei has ever made. Well I’ve never used the Mate 20 Pro and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. All I can say is that the Mate 20 is THE BEST phone I’ve ever used. The 4,000mAh battery will get you nearly two full days even under heavy use and the phone is just a dream to use. Everything about the Mate 20 screams premium and it does so at a cheaper price than the Mate 20 Pro. If you want a market leading phone without the market leading price then look no further than the Mate 20.

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