Huawei has been teasing us with the camera prowess of the P20 Pro for a few weeks now. Add to that a brilliant design, a disappearing notch and speedy performance, the P20 Pro is certainly looking to shake the phone market.
It was announced alongside the Huawei P20, which might not make it to the Middle East, but features higher specs that include a three camera set up on the back. We're sure that is set to be a big part of the marketing for the new handset.
Following the launch event. we've managed to get some time to play with the device and here are our initial impressions.
Huawei P20 Pro release date and price
The Huawei P20 Pro will be on sale in the UAE and Saudi towards the end of April. We'll find more details on the release date and the pricing in the Middle East in the next couple of weeks and will update this article accordingly.
In Europe, the P20 Pro is priced at 799 Euros, however, Huawei generally prices its handsets more favorably in the Middle East. We expect the pricing to be in the range of AED/SAR 2,799. That number is purely an educated guess from our side and not something Huawei has said.
Design and display
If you were looking for a completely redesigned phone, the Huawei P20 is probably it. The reason Huawei chose to name this model the P20 and not the P11 is because how different the phone looks compared to its predecessor. It is, with doubt, the best-looking and best-built phone Huawei has ever made.
Unlike the Huawei P10 Plus, the P20 Pro features a glass back that sits comfortably in the hand. But like most glass phones, the unit is slippery and we recommend putting a case on it to avoid any accidentals. Also new to the P series is the IP67 waterproofing which will keep the phone safe during rain or an accentual dunk.
The P20 Pro has rounded edges on the rear and sits nicely in your palm. There are metal edges to the device, but even these are rounded, and don’t poke into your hand.
The power button sits on the right-hand edge and the back of the phone is plain, apart from the branding emblazoned down the edge and the three cameras at the top of the handset. The cameras do have a bit of a bump and aren't flat against the surface.
Huawei has removed the headphone jack from the P20 Pro so if you're looking to use a wired headset, make sure it has a Type-C connector. Alternatively, a 3.5mm dongle is included in the box.
Color options are black and midnight blue for the standard design and those will be the only ones available in the Middle East at launch. Huawei does make two more colors with a 'gradient' finish- twilight and pink gold which show a spectrum of colors depending on what angle you're looking at the device from, and the lighting.
We particularly liked the twilight version, as it looks different to anything we’ve seen on a phone before. Thankfully, twilight is expected to be available in the Middle East a couple of months after the P20 hits retail shelves.
The P20 Pro has a massive 6.1-inch 18:9 aspect ratio OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution. It doesn’t look as stunning as the Samsung Galaxy S9 display, but it’s still quite the looker, and grabs your eye immediately when it’s turned on.
At the top of the screen is the notch, which houses the front-facing camera and speaker. If you want, you can hide the notch by replacing the screen on either side of it with an on-screen black bezel on which the time and your notifications are displayed.
You lose a little in terms of overall screen size, but you may prefer the cleaner look and we like the fact that Huawei gives you that option as not everyone is a fan of the notch.
Performance and specs
Inside the Huawei P20 Pro there’s a Kirin 970 chipset. We saw this perform well in last year's Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and based on our initial usage of the P20 Pro, it looks like it will be able to keep pace with the other flagship phones announced this year.
That chipset includes a neural processing unit, which Huawei is putting a big focus on for both the P20 and P20 Pro, as it's at the heart of the artificial intelligence features inside the new phones.
A lot of the AI improvements here are within the camera, allowing it, for example, to automatically detect the type of scene you’re shooting.
The phone felt snappy in our limited tests, but we can’t currently comment on how fast it’ll work for day to day usage.
There’s only one version of the P20 Pro around the world, and it comes with a huge 6GB of RAM working away behind the scenes and 128GB of storage, so you should have plenty of space for all your media and apps.
The phone features a dual SIM tray allowing you to use multiple SIM cards on the P20 Plus but there is no MicroSD slot for the version releasing in the Middle East.
Android 8.1 Oreo software is on board here, but it looks different to what you’ll see on other phones as it comes in the form of Huawei’s own Emotion UI 8.1. This is one area where Huawei needs to put in some work- or rather, cut down on some of the UI customizations as it's a look that not everyone will love.
Nevertheless, EMUI adds a few extra features such as Huawei Share that allows you to transfer data between your phone and PC quickly and easily.
The P20 Pro is equipped with a 4,000mAh battery, which should perform well considering the phone has a well-optimized chipset, so we’ll be sure to push it to its limits when it’s time for our full review.
Huawei's Super Charge fast-charging technology is packed in here too, so you should be able to charge your phone up speedily as with previous Huawei handsets.
Huawei is putting a lot of its eggs into the camera-shaped basket with the P20 Pro. The Leica partnership is continuing, so the setup here is built in collaboration with that company, and it's the first time we’ve seen three cameras on the rear of a phone.
Why would you need three cameras you may well ask? Huawei has built numerous cameras with both a color and black and white sensor working in tandem to get photos with improved depth and definition. With the P20 Pro Huawei has added a telephoto lens letting you shoot pictures at 3x zoom with no loss of image quality.
The RGB (that’s color) lens is a whopping 40MP this time around, and that works alongside a 20MP monochrome sensor. For your normal, average automatic mode picture it’ll combine the images from the two lenses.
Above the RGB lens, which sits in the middle of the array, is the 8MP telephoto sensor. This allows for up to 5x lossless zoom, and while we’ve seen similar lenses on previous handsets from different companies, in our limited testing the P20 Pro's take seemed impressive.
The above gallery shows some of the pictures we've taken with the P20 Pro in Paris. However, we haven't had as much opportunity to play around with it yet and thus, we'll dig into the other camera improvements during our full review.
We played around with the zoom feature, which is easy to access within the camera app, and we were unable to see a quality difference in zoomed shots compared to wide-angle ones on the phone screen. There’s also a huge 24MP selfie shooter on the front of the phone. On the video side, the P20 Pro is capable of shooting at 960fps like the Galaxy S9.
The Huawei P20 Pro is quite a departure from the P10 model from last year and seems worthy of the jump in the model numbering. The big focus is on camera improvements but the new design language also makes it the best-looking phone from Huawei yet.
The camera is the star here though, and if you want one of the best shooters on an Android phone the P20 Pro may well be the phone to go for – we’ll have to do some further testing first to find out what it can really achieve.