Huawei’s launch event on 27 March 2018 in Paris saw the release of both the P20 and the P20 Pro, this launch being hot on the heels of the Galaxy S9 announcement at MWC. We’re going to take a look at Huawei’s recent mobile offerings, and see how they stack up against each other.
Price and Availability
Both of these phones are available on a variety of networks including Carphone Warehouse, EE, 02, Vodafone and Three. Ordering before 5 April (you’ll need to hurry!) will also get you a free pair of Bose QC35 II noise cancelling headphones (worth £329).
There is obviously a large price gap between these two models, so the thought to keep in mind isn’t of which phone is superior, rather which phone has the best value for money?
Without another word, lets dive in.
Features and Design
Both the P20 and the P20 Pro have the same eye-catching look, which is a complete redesign from the P10. The phone is available in variety of colours including black, champagne gold, pink gold, midnight blue and twilight pictured below.
The P20 features a 5.84in LCD display, while the P20 Pro holds a 6.1in AMOLED display. This is the first justification for the large price gap between the two models, not only is the screen on the P20 Pro larger by a substantial margin, but it also holds superior screen technology making the colours brighter and the blacks deeper.
Both screens feature the controversial notch, as 2018 is the year of the notch after all. You can see both screens below.
Both phones come with the Kirin 970 processor with ‘AI smarts’ and while the P20 comes with a 128GB storage and 4GB of RAM, the P20 Pro gains an additional 2GB of RAM on top of that.
128GB is a very respectable amount of default storage, and the processor is extremely powerful in both phones. While the Pro gets a little bit more grunt from the additional 2GB of RAM, the standard P20 is still extremely quick when running apps.
We’ve also sadly lost the headphone jack on both phones, in a continuation of the trend that no one asked for or wanted! It’s been replaced with a USB-C port, and the phone will come with a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter. Hooray.
If you like yourself a solid phone camera, you’ve certainly come to the right place.
The entire rear of the phone has been designed with the camera in mind, with several different cameras for your image capturing pleasure.
The P20 Pro holds three different cameras; the first being a 20Mp mono camera that has been featured on quite a few phones by Huawei at this point, the second being a 40Mp colour camera and the third being an 8Mp camera with a 3x telephoto lens.
The P20 Pro defaults to 10Mp, which allows it to enable a 5x Hybrid Zoom mode, allowing three cameras to combine and use some clever processing to deliver some great telephoto shots at 10Mp.
On the video side, the P20 pro’s capability falls down a little. The AI stabilisation is only used when recording at 1080p at 30fps, and not offered at 1080p60 or 4k. With no HDR video recording support either, this phone is probably not the best choice for budding film makers.
However, following in the footsteps of the Galaxy S9, a Super Slow Mode is available on recording which allows a burst of 960fps video at 720p.
The standard P20 gets two lenses, being a 12Mp colour and 20Mp monochrome. The selfie camera has been pushed up to a respectable 24Mp as well.
The P20 also gets the ability to capture video at 4k video at 30fps, and also has the Super Slow Mode option available as on the P20 Pro.
Despite the 7.8mm thickness of the P20 Pro, Huawei has managed to fit a 4000mAh battery into the little frame, which should easily be able to last a day of intensive use.
The standard P20 has a very respectable 3400mAh battery, which can easily be topped up with the included fast charger, although you’d need to be using the phone very intensively to charge it throughout the day.
Sadly, the P20 doesn’t include wireless charging which does put it at the pack of the pack for most flagship phones.
Both phones ship with EMUI 8.1 based on Android Oreo 8.1.
This software is clearly modelled on iOS from the grid-like layout, so if you’ve ever used an iPhone you’ll feel right at home. The good news is that EMUI is getting clearer and more intuitive with each update, which sadly is not always the case with other platforms.
The camera app in particular is very effective, and demonstrates Huawei’s further commitment to photography and the company’s partnership with Leica.
The software also includes several additions referred to as AI smarts, which are new layers of artificial help that will unveil themselves as you use your phone. One of the ways these additions help is to preserve battery life, and we’ve heard some very good anecdotal scenarios of hugely improved longevity – but we’ll need to do more testing before we claim anything conclusive.
Should I buy the P20 or the P20 pro?
While the price gap between the two phones is substantial, we can actually see a lot of value in the P20 Pro.
On the design side, both phones have seen a huge benefit from the revamped style that Huawei have brought in. The phones really do look great, particularly on the back, and the colours compliment the design beautifully. They’re very eye-catching phones, and will be sure to have your friends asking what they are.
The standard P20 is on the lower end of the price scale as a flagship smartphone, but it does lack in features when compares to a lot of its competitors. The lack of a headphone jack, full waterproofing, an LCD screen and no wireless charging means that there is a lot lacking that could, for example, be found in a standard S9 at a lightly increased price.
The P20 Pro on the other hand holds up much better against competitors like the S9+. This is a very promising addition to the market, as long as you’re not looking to shoot stabilised 4k video. We’ll explore it more in our further review, but the early signs look very promising.
In comparison, the P20 Pro certainly seems to have the best of it when it comes to bang for your buck, although it is also much more expensive phone.