Since the Mate 9, Huawei has been synonymous with big screens, big batteries, and big megapixel counts, and, we’re pleased to report, nothing has changed with its latest flagships: meet the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.
- Excellent battery life
- Incredible power for the price
- Versatile stills and video camera
- Full HD+ screen resolution is low
- IPS screen inferior to flagship AMOLEDs
- No IP68 water and dust resistance
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro offers a bit heavyweight of 189 g (6.67 oz)
- It does not have 3.5 mm jack
- It does not have FM Radio
- it does not offer a removable battery
The Mate 20 is powered by the flagship Kirin 980 processor, which is teamed with either 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage or 6GB RAM and 128GB storage; the storage can be expanded by up to 256GB using Huawei’s new Nano Memory card format. There’s a 4,000mAh battery, and Huawei’s SuperCharge tech, introduced on last year’s Mate 10 series, is onboard, and can get you from 0% to 80% in 45 minutes.
While the Mate 20 Pro version has IP68 water and dust resistance, the regular Mate 20 is IP53-rated, so is only splash-resistant. Like the Pro it’s protected by Gorilla Glass and has a pre-fitted screen protector as well as a soft plastic case in the box.
The 6.53-inch IPS 18.7:9 screen sports a teardrop notch and an 88% screen to bezel ratio. It isn’t the sharpest display around at 381 pixels per inch, but it still looks great, clocking in a significantly higher PPI than the iPhone XR for example, and boasting HDR capabilities.
The cameras are where things get interesting. Sitting somewhere between a mid-ranger and flagship, the new Mate 20 series triple camera system – one ultrawide, one wide and one telephoto – is a first for Huawei. That said, the cameras’ pixel counts are lower than those of the Mate 20 Pro.
The Essential phone, the upcoming OnePlus 6T, Honor’s 8X Max – all these phones have one thing in common: a ‘teardrop’ or ‘water droplet’ notch.
Now the Mate 20’s name can be added to the list, with the small notch at the top of its 6.53-inch screen housing the 24-megapixel selfie camera. The small size of the notch is the reason the phone sports an impressive 88% screen-to-bezel ratio, which makes for a highly immersive experience when gaming or watching video on this phone.
The big flat display is traditional and functional, making tasks like two-handed typing easier than on curved-screen phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Note 9. That said, it adds width, and this is a wide phone – 3.3mm wider than the Huawei P20 Pro, and 4.9mm wider than the Mate 20 Pro.
The frame is metal with a high gloss finish, and there’s red accenting and a different, scratchy finish on the power button. This color popping and tactile effect doesn’t just look good, they also make it easy to differentiate the power button from the volume button when thumbing over the phone’s right side.
With a case in the box and a pre-fitted screen protector, other than upping the IP rating there doesn’t seem to be much Huawei could have done to make the Mate 20 more protected out of the box – and indeed, it’s fared well in our time with the device.
It’s also just 8.3mm at its thickest point, so isn’t as beefy as much of the competition, with a tapered edge helping it feel more manageable than its huge screen size would suggest it should.
Other design highlights include a new SIM and NM (Nano Memory) card tray. The latter is Huawei’s newly introduced, proprietary expansion card that’s the size of a nanoSIM, so 45% smaller than SD cards, and which offers up to 256GB capacity and read speeds of 90Mbps. There’s also a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and a square camera bump, housing three cameras which we’ll look at in much more detail shortly.
The 6.53-inch screen of the Mate 20 is engulfing. Just 12% of the phone’s front is bezel and the notch is tiny, so there really is very little distracting you from your content, and games look stellar.
With a Full HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2244 pixels the screen has a pixel density of 381ppi – that’s the same as found on much cheaper devices like the Honor 8X, but while this doesn’t sound like a great start it’s still sharper than the pricier iPhone XR and looks fantastic, with support for HDR 10 and extensive customization options in the settings.
Talking of the customization options, it makes sense we start with the screen, and Huawei hasn’t cut corners here – this is an excellent display by IPS standards. With a peak brightness of 820 nits brightness it shines bright and it packs depth in its colors, as well as great viewing angles.
Only when you place the Mate 20 next to inky OLEDs like those on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the Mate 20 Pro does it look noticeably less rich, but even then, at no point does it look bad.
In the settings, there is a range of options, including an eye comfort mode to filter blue light, color temperature controls, and a feature that adjusts the screen temperature to match the ambient light color, similar to Apple’s True Tone.
Not a fan of notches? Not a problem, you can easily hide this one, although while you might want to do so on a device with a more overbearing notch, like the Google Pixel 2XL, we’re guessing you’ll leave the Mate 20’s minimal cutout intact if you’re anything like us.