To kick things off, we have a couple of native 40MP shots for you to check out. We didn't really spend that much time shooting in the full native resolution, since the Quad-bayer sensor employed by the P20 Pro is really not at its strongest here.
What that means is that instead of a single-pixel RGBG color pattern arrangement, the P20 Pro sensor has every four pixels grouped in a same-colored square, which are then arranged in a similar pattern. That effectively means that the P20 Pro has to do a lot more interpolation than regular sensors when used in its native resolution. Huawei knows that all too well, which is why it set the 10MP mode as default. It makes a lot more sense for general use and still has plenty of resolution if you want to go for prints.
And while this might all sound like a PR trick to sell you a camera of much higher resolution than it actually is, the quad Bayer sensor is actually a brilliant piece of engineering that helps enormously in most other aspects of the camera and delivers an unseen before simultaneously captured HDR. But, more on that later.
While clearly no slouch in low-light environments either, using the huge 40MP main sensor natively has its drawbacks when the sun goes down. Luckily, the P20 Pro has the 20MP monochrome snapper to help retain detail and keep the noise down.
You can also use the black and white camera natively for some impressive results. Definitely better and more lively than applying a filter on top of a color shot.
But the real impressive side of the P20 Pro camera setup in low light, only becomes evident once you turn on Night mode. In it, the phone almost miraculously manages to take long exposure shots hand-held, without the need of a tripod. To be fair, the system is far from bullet-proof and you can expect to have to throw out about half the shots. But the ones that do come non-blurry are simply stunning. You would never be able to tell that they were shot with a phone well past sunset.
We can only assume, it is achieved through the use of some clever EIS. Also, the quad Bayer pixel arrangement, we mentioned earlier has something to do with it as binning four pixels together results in much higher light-sensitive area than any of its competitors.
Since we are already on the subject, what the quad Bayer arrangement allows is for two of each square of pixels to be utilized for short exposure, white the other two handle long exposure. That effectively means that all the HDR information can be read simultaneously, in one go, opening up the possibility for instant preview and potentially more advanced HDR and other effects.
Greenery is one such mode, Huawei has implemented into the P20 Pro. The aptly-named setting boosts grass and foliage colors, giving you a far livelier if wildly overprocessed shot.
There is nothing really preventing you from running Night mode during the day either. Doing so actually produces some almost painting-like, over the top HDR effects that could make for an interesting social media post.
The obligatory food mode is also accounted for.
You can sort of think of these as cool modes for when you feel like experimenting. There is also a general camera AI system in place, which detects what is in frame and tweaks the settings accordingly. Huawei has put a lot of work into it as well, to keep up with the 2018 competition.
With three whole cameras on its back, some aperture tricks are pretty much a guarantee on the P20 Pro. There is a dedicated mode for such effects, along with an intensity slider. You can get some really impressive shots, if you put in the time. The best bit is that the phone retains all the information captured so you can change the focal distance and blur effect in post-processing.