In case you didn’t realise, in recent times Huawei have managed to surpass Apple and become the second placed smartphone maker in the world. Only Samsung is now ahead of them. The Huawei P20 is the latest model flagship from the Chinese powerhouse. In creating the P20, Huawei have created a phone that embraces a new design philosophy and packs plenty of punch.
The P20 flagship comes in two variants, the P20 and the P20 Pro. The model we got to play with is the P20. The P20 Pro is a smidge bigger than the P20 and packs a few more features, like more storage, more RAM and more powerful cameras. That being said the P20 is an absolute beast of a handset and I find it hard to fathom that the P20 Pro can pack in more features, that’s just how good the P20 is.
Let’s start with the design because this is HUawei’s biggest shake up to the P series flagship. Huawei have started to embrace the all-screen (or nearly all-screen) design philosophy and yes that means we see the Apple-esque notch make an appearance. The only thing stopping the screen from completely taking over the front of the phone is the home button which is functional but a tad distracting from what is an impressive, immersive and vibrant screen. Making use of the notch design allows Huawei to give users more screen real estate whilst packing it into a relatively small form factor. The display is 5.8 inches with a pretty impressive 80.4% screen to body ratio. If they had of gone for soft keys on the screen rather than a physical home button that ratio would have been in the 90’s.
I’ve gotta say, even with the home button it is an impressive design. This is a phone that at a glance has been mistaken for an iPhone X on many an occasion. That in itself is a testament to what Huawei have created given that Apple is still (for better or worse) the benchmark for smartphone design.
Under the hood of the P20 you’ve got an Octo-core processor Kirin 970 CPU that boosts advanced AI. 128 GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. I’ve already mentioned the display but going with the 5.8 inches is a resolution of 1080 x 2,244 outputting 428PPI. The front facing camera is 24MP, f/2.0 aperture. The rear cameras are dual leica, one is 12MP, f/1.8 aperture (that’s the colour camera), the other is 20MP f/1.6 aperture and it’s monochrome. The phone is only dust and splash proof, not fully waterproof. Otherwise all the usual bells and whistles you expect from a flagship are in there, NFC, bluetooth all that shizz.
Performance wise, the P20 is the most impressive phone I’ve ever used. It runs on Android 8.1 with Huawei’s proprietary EMUI 8.1 over the top. EMUI has copped some flack over the years, mostly due to it being very Apple-centric but it’s come a long way. It’s one of my favourite Android overlays and combines the best of Android with a smidge of iOS to create an intuitive navigation experience. The home button can be used in different ways too. I use it to do everything, swipe right to see open apps, tap to go back, long tap to go to the home screen. It’s simple and easy to use but a pain when using a fingerprint app because your long press can be mistaken for wanting to go into the app. You can turn it off though and get supporting soft keys on screen but that takes up screen space.
Anyway I got distracted there. Back to performance. This thing is fast! I mean very fast. The Kirin 970 is a killer chip from Huawei capable of handling everything you’ve got to throw at it. I’ve not seen it slow down once and trust me I’ve thrashed it with gaming, watching videos, doing a combination of both. Brwosing apps while making it play video in the corner of the the screem. The P20 can multitask like no phone I’ve seen before and handle like a phone that should cost twice as much in price.
Camera wise the dual leica lenses are absolutely fabulous. Again, the P20 Pro has better cameras but I struggle to see how it could create better images. The use of advanced AI means the P20 can recognise a whole range of different subjects, people, pets, food, scenery and it will optimise the camera to take the best shot for you. If you prefer to rely on your own photographic intelligence rather than use the AI then you can manually adjust setting but I’m no camera buff so I stuck to the AI. It didn’t let me down once, even in low light you’ll get vibrant, highly detailed photos (and video) that you can show off to friends and family. They’ll also come up looking bloody good if you wanna print them out too.
Battery wise, the P20 has an 3,400mAh battery that supports fast charging. I am a power user relying on my phone for pretty much everything during the day. The phone is usually always doing something for me and as such I drain battery life like it’s going out of fashion. That being said the P20 gets me through the day and home on a single charge. On the very rare occasion where I’ve gone OTT, the SuperCharge charger has been amazing. You’ll get about 50% juice back in about 20 mins and that is gonna save you and get you through the rest of the day no probs.
The Huawei P20 will set you back just shy of $1,000 and it is worth every cent. The value for money proposition here is off the charts. There is no flagship available at the moment that delivers this much performance at a comparable price. In the P20 Huawei have advanced their design and created a striking phone that wows from start to finish.