Huawei Mate 20 has a lot to offer over the Mate 10. There is a new design, new display, new 7nm chipset an entirely new camera setup at the rear and new selfie shooter.
Well, okay, calling the same glass-sandwich built a new design might be a bit of a stretch. But the new larger screen with the waterdrop notch and the square camera at the back do make the Mate 20 look very different from the previous model.
The Huawei Mate 20 features a 6.53" frame-to-frame IPS LCD, larger and taller than the 5.9" unit on the Mate 10, although it retains the 1080p resolution. There is a tiny waterdrop notch at the top for the earpiece and the brand-new 24MP selfie camera.
The screen has the same RGBW underlying matrix as the Mate 10 and should deliver superb brightness and contrast. It's HDR10-certified, too. From what we saw in our limited time, the Mate 20's display indeed looks great and its brightness levels are impressive.
The Mate 20 didn't grow since the Mate 10 though - the screen expansion has all come at the expense of bezels. But because there wasn't enough space to keep the fingerprint scanner at the front, Huawei has it on the back. It's always-on, as usual, and blazing fast. Huawei was among the first makers to adopt the rear-mounted fingerprint and we are glad it's still offering that option.
Speaking about the back, the new, and heavy teased, camera square setup is the first thing you'll notice. Huawei has made quite a few attempts to make those Leica camera setups standout, but this one is probably the most successful one since its first dual-cam on the P9.
The triple camera, obviously, occupies three of the corners, while the fourth one is for the dual-LED flash.
The tri-camera on the Mate 20 is actually slightly less impressive compared to the Pro model, but still a major step forward over the Mate 10. It has a 12MP main sensor behind f/1.8 lens, an 8MP cam with f/2.2 telephoto lens, and a new 16MP snapper with f/2.2 17mm wide-angle lens. The monochrome shooter is now gone, and this marks an end of an era.
While black-and-white photos from monochrome sensors are better than those coming from regulars ones and are then desaturated, the gains are rather small to justify the existence of a dedicated camera. Particularly now, that the more sensitive monochrome sensor is no longer used to boost the low-light shooting capabilities, we are certain that the ultra-wide will be way more useful.
The Pro model is the one boasting the 80mm lens on its 8MP OIS snapper - it's the same we first experience on the P20 Pro, which is 3x optical zoom compared to the regular lens and when you factor in the ultra wide one the it means the Mate 20 Pro offers 5x optical zoom range. The Mate 20 only gets 3x optical zoom with its 17mm and 52mm lenses and there is no OIS at all. Still impressive, if slightly disappointing when you've seen the alternative.
The good news is Huawei's EIS stabilization is here to stay, and it should be at least as good as on the P20. The Night Mode from the P20 phones is another goody available on both Mates, so the Mate 20 isn't losing those cool long-exposure handheld photos.
Just like the Mate 10, the Mate 20 is keeping the 3.5mm audio jack, which will be appreciated by those who haven't switched to wireless headphones yet. Unfortunately it's also keeping its sub-par IP53 rating for dust and light splashes.
Huawei Mate 20 lacks stereo speakers - it has just one and it's bottom-firing, behind a dotted grille. The hybrid SIM slot is also at the bottom, and it can house two nano-SIMs, or one nanoSIM and one nano memory card. Yes, you read that right. Huawei has created a new memory card standard and the Mate 20 phones are the first to support it. Toshiba will be the first OEM to release such cards.
This is quite odd. Nobody really needed a new memory card standard, especially one that can't go beyond 256GB as per Huawei's specs. If the maker decided to come up with cards to solve the hybrid slot dilemma, okay that might have been a somewhat good point. But it didn't solve anything as the slot is still a hybrid one. The top tray reads SIMs, the bottom can accept one of those new NM cards or a nanoSIM.
The worst thing is that none of your SD cards would work with the Mate 20, so you must buy new ones, which can't be easy or cheap given that only one company will make them. And then buy a new card reader - if anyone decides to make one, that is.
So, if you ask us, consider the Mate 20 as with non-expandable storage, at least at time of launch.
Huawei Mate 20 has a large 4,000 mAh battery underneath the rear glass. It supports the company's proprietary 22.5W SuperCharge, but strangely enough no wireless charging.
The rear glass is slightly curved as before, and you can get it in some cool new color-shifting hues.
The Mate 20 is as big as the Mate 10, as we established, because it's cut some bezels. Neither the metal frame, nor the two glass pieces help the overall grip and the Mate 20 is as slippery as it looks, which is worrisome for such a big device. Then again, Huawei is providing you with a transparent and grippy silicone case in the retail box, so it got you covered out of the box.
This year it feels like Huawei has done more to differentiate the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro than it did with their predecessors. The non-Pro version is about 35% cheaper and it does miss on more cool features.
You are getting an entirely different trio of cameras, a FullHD LCD instead of a QHD OLED screen, and missing on the super rapid 40W wired and 15W wireless charging, the water resistance and slightly bigger battery. There's no advanced FaceID either and you get a conventional rear-mounted fingerprint sensor instead of a fancy under-display one. Even so, the Mate 20 feels like a massive upgrade over the Mate 10 and we don't see any reasons for disappointment.Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20
Plus, the non-Pro Huawei Mate 20 got a memory boost to 128GB/6GB and it still brings the 7nm Kirin 980. It looks fresh and it has a bigger screen than the Pro - the shorter aspect means difference in surface is actually bigger than the 0.14" difference in diagonal suggests. And the waterdrop notch is not only much less of an eye-sore, but it also means much more of the screen is actually available for your content.
All this makes the Mate 20 the safe upgrade option - bringing plenty of novelties compared to the past generation, while maintaining a reasonable price in a market where 4-figure tags are no longer considered outrageous.