Huawei Mate 20: A Worthy and Affordable Alternative to the Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20: A Worthy and Affordable Alternative to the Mate 20 Pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro set the entire gadget world on fire when Huawei released it in October 2018, and with good reason: it came with a lot of novel tech and features that pitted it directly against the most powerful flagship phones at the time, namely the Apple iPhone XS Max and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. In some areas, it even outstripped those phones, making it quite the viable option for those who have grown tired of choosing one of the two popular brands when it came to getting the most feature-rich smartphone around.

That said, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro competing in the premium flagship arena meant that it came with a similar price tag as the most expensive Samsung and Apple phones, much to many people’s disappointment. This put the smartphone out of reach for many consumers desperately clamoring for a more affordable alternative to Apple and Samsung’s offerings.

Thankfully, the popular Chinese electronics manufacturer had this considerable chunk of the gadget-loving population in mind, and so they also released the Huawei Mate 20 smartphone. It’s a device that sports a similar kind of build quality and processing power as its premium-priced big brother, but with fewer bell and whistles. This also means that it’s going to be a bit easier on the budget, with a price tag that’s some 20% less than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

But is it worth buying, or are the compromises made too much to even consider it as a purchase? Let’s find out together in this Poundit.com review.

Huawei Mate 20 Specs:

  • Powered by Android’s currently most powerful chip, the Kirin 980
  • Revolutionary teardrop-shaped selfie camera notch gives you back all the screen real estate you want
  • Huge 6.53-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display
  • IP68-graded water resistance protects against splash damage
  • Vivid and clear 1080 x 2244 pixel resolution with 18:7:9 ratio and 381 pixels per inch density
  • Durable and premium aluminum frame, encased front to back in Gorilla Glass
  • High capacity built-in 128 GB memory, expandable up to 256 GB
  • Mali-G76 GPU ensures jaw-dropping graphics for media playback and gaming
  • 24 MP front camera takes photo-perfect selfies every time
  • Triple rear camera Leica optics setup (12 MP/16 MP/8 MP) for mind-blowing photo quality

Classy and premium design

Let’s start with the exterior design of the phone. At first glance, the Huawei Mate 20 looks like nothing to write home about: it’s the same bar of aluminum encased in a front-to-back Gorilla Glass sandwich that we’ve seen before, not just in the flagship arena, but nearly everywhere else in the smartphone world. It’s got metal sides, metal buttons, and very thin bezels. Overall, a very attractive-looking phone, but quite basic in terms of looks—from a distance.

However, when you get up close and personal, you discover all the things that make it refreshingly unique. For example, instead of the wide, screen-gouging notch we’ve all been used to, the Mate 20 has a “teardrop” notch for the selfie camera, named for the fact that it does look like a single teardrop or water droplet welling up at the very top of your screen. While there’s still a bit of lost screen real estate due to the notch having to harbor the front-facing camera, it’s also much less visible and distracting than the regular-sized notches we’ve seen before in other phones.

There’s also the fact that the back glass sports a unique texture that feels oddly good and comfortable to grip. Running a fingernail across this texture gets you the nostalgic sound of doing the same thing to an old phonograph record.

Besides this interesting texture, the Huawei Mate 20’s backside contains two of its more exciting traits: a very quick and responsive fingerprint scanner, as well as its popular Leica Triple Camera setup. The latter is worthy of note here, as instead of being positioned in row, the three cameras have been stacked in a square-shaped camera bump by the phone’s designers, with the flash being positioned in the upper-rightmost corner, and the 3 cameras occupying the rest. While we’re not sure about how this benefits the phone’s photo-taking abilities, the fact that such a feature is organized in a very aesthetically pleasing manner is definitely something to praise Huawei for.

The top of the phone contains the infrared (IR) blaster, allowing you to turn your phone into a very expensive remote control for all your compatible smart appliances. Beside it is the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is always nice to find in a current-generation flagship phone. Finally, at the bottom, you can find the USB-C charging port as well as the loudspeaker. Overall, nothing we haven’t seen before, but there are a few special surprises that you will definitely enjoy.

Robust display that’s perfect for gaming and video watching

When it comes to screen real estate, the Huawei Mate 20 is no slouch either, sporting an impressive 6.53-inch screen configuration with minimal bezels and a very unobtrusive notch. This allows for some of the most unobstructed and distraction-free gaming and video viewing experiences that you can ever get on a notched smartphone these days. Combine this with a Full HD+ 1080 x 2244 resolution at 381ppi density, and you have a device that can deliver visual content effortlessly and reliably. And if you’re the type of person that likes to tweak your phone’s graphical settings into just the way you like it, then the customization options offered by the Huawei Mate 20 give you enough control to do exactly that.

As pleased as we are about the screen, though, we do have to knock down a few points, simply because it isn’t the same AMOLED display that the Mate 20 Pro uses. Don’t get us wrong, though; it still looks great, and we do understand that Huawei need to cut corners somewhere to be able to sell the Mate 20 at a lower price. It’s just that when compared side to side, the Mate 20’s IPS display looks noticeably less vivid and exciting. It’s something you’ll have to get used to, especially if you’ve had prior experience with screens of current flagship phones.

Sleek, iOS-like user interface

Now let’s venture into what’s being displayed onto the screen, namely the UI. The Mate 20, as with all other Huawei offerings, comes with the company’s own branded UI named Emotion UI (EMUI). This version is currently the most refined and advanced one, being built on top of the Android 9 Pie OS.

One look at EMUI, and you’ll notice a very striking similarity to the Apple iOS UI in terms of how the staple app icons are represented. Some of them even look lifted or directly copied, with the Settings, Calendar, and Weather app icons among those that look just too identical to their iOS counterparts.

That aside, however, the user interface does function quite smoothly and with very few hiccups. It also sports a gesture system that allows you to quickly switch between apps with a few quick swipes of the screen. It’s a refreshing change from having to rely on the navigation bar that’s always been a staple of Samsung smartphones, which requires you to swipe up to bring it up into the screen before you can use it.

One great bonus that we must mention here is the inclusion of an easily accessible Dark Mode, one that you don’t even have to download a paid app for. This feature essentially darkens all the white-colored backgrounds, giving your eyes an easier time to see things, especially at night. To engage this, simply go to your phone’s Settings, then head over to the Battery submenu. You’ll see the option to toggle “Darken interface colors.” Tap that, and you’re ready to go.

Groundbreaking three-camera system

Now for the good stuff: the Huawei Mate 20’s camera—or rather cameras. Yes, the Mate 20 sports three rear-facing cameras, all working together to offer a powerful and versatile photo-taking experience, one that should be comparable to the flashier and more expensive Mate 20 Pro . That being said, does the setup actually deliver, or is this another area where Huawei compromised for a less burdensome price tag?

Unfortunately, we have to say yes to the latter. None of the Mate 20’s three cameras can match up to the Mate 20 Pro’s 40MP juggernaut, offering only a 12MP main camera, a 16MP ultra-wide lens, and an 8MP telephoto camera with 2X zoom. This results in an image quality that, while not terrible, can be quite lacking when compared to what its more expensive sibling can do.

Once you take that comparison out of the picture, however, what you’re left with is still a powerful and versatile camera phone in its class. Colors are captured in a very vivid and lifelike fashion, while details are rendered very sharply and clearly, allowing you to pick out even the tiniest of them. If you’re a fan of bokeh or background blur, then it’s also featured here very competently, enabling you to change the amount of blur even after you’ve taken the picture. It also allows you to change the shape of the bokeh itself into something else for that added effect, such as hearts for your romantic couple pictures.

Night Mode is another feature that you definitely want to check out with the Mate 20, as it is honestly one of the phone’s best features. Just like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, this smartphone is able to deliver clear and detailed pictures in low light conditions, something that even many of today’s expensive phones struggle with. Just remember that you have to be quite still when taking pictures in Night Mode, or else you’ll have to deal with some motion blur. Still, the fact that it lets you take clear photos in near darkness makes up for that inconvenience.

As for video-taking, the Mate 20 does a very commendable job with stabilization and clarity, being able to handily compete with the Samsung Note 9 and the Pixel 3. It can even provide 960fps slow motion at a stunning 720p resolution, something that Samsung or Sony has yet to accomplish adequately. Just remember to film in good light.

Excellent performance and battery life

Let’s finish things off by talking about performance and a bit about battery life. Here is where Huawei clearly did not compromise, with the Mate 20 sporting the same Kirin 980 processor that its beefier sibling does. The result: amazing processing speeds all over the board, from photo-taking to gaming and even video-editing. You’ll rarely encounter any hiccups, even if you’re heavily multitasking. It can even download at incredibly fast speeds, up to 1.4GBps—blowing past the Snapdragon 845’s already robust 1.2GBps cap.

Does this hefty processing power come at a price, though? Surprisingly, no! Even with the Mate 20 going at full tilt and experiencing heavy use, its 4000mAh battery was able to last an entire day, with around 10% of life left at the tail end of the test. Meanwhile, conservative usage will easily get you two days’ worth of power.

You can also mess around with the power management options to really get as much longevity out of the Mate 20 as possible, like your phone automatically killing auto-syncing apps and other features when it detects a low-power situation. This could easily get you a few extra hours of battery life, something that’s always handy for emergencies.

Final verdict: The Huawei Mate 20 is a laudable substitute to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

If you’ve been looking for a premium-spec phone but want the price tag to be a bit easier to swallow and justify, then you should definitely give the Huawei Mate 20 a very long look. Far from just being a watered-down version of its bigger and pricier brother, this Huawei offering has enough going for it in terms of looks, features, and functionality that it won’t look out of place alongside many of today’s flagship devices.

Cop this wonderful piece of gadget goodness as well as any other tech products you might be interested here on Poundit.com. We’re the most trusted online retailer of gadgets and accessories in the Philippines, offering not only a diverse range of products but also the 100% genuine and brand-new guarantee. Moreover, each product comes with the manufacturer’s full warranty, so you’ll always be protected in case of defects or QA errors.

That’s not all, though! Order the Huawei Mate 20 right now, and you’ll be eligible for a PHP 600 discount off its current sticker price. Just enter the voucher code REVIEW 201915 upon checkout and you’ll have the full PHP 600 slashed off your total order amount. This voucher code can be used even if the Huawei Mate 20 is marked down, on sale, on promotion, or bundled with other products. Don’t delay, though, as the code is only valid 30 days after the publishing of this review!

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