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Huawei Mate 20 Pro performance: Kirin 980 proves itself

With the Mate 20 Pro, Huawei wants to take the smartphone throne, and indeed the Chinese device has an enormously powerful platform to offer. Is that enough for top scores in the performance tests? Let's find out.

On paper, the hardware of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is quite impressive. The Kirin 980 is the first 7-nanometer processor for smartphones and brings not one, but two neural processing units for AI tasks. The Mali-G76 MP10 powers the graphics, while the available RAM is 6GB. As expected from an Android flagship in 2018.

First, we'll put the Huawei Mate 20 Pro through the usual benchmark tests. Although they do not necessarily reflect performance in everyday life, they offer a good comparability in various aspects. The 3DMark tests mainly examine the graphics performance, Geekbench tests the individual processor cores and their interaction, and PassMark evaluates memory performance.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Benchmarks

  3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 3DMark Sling Shot Volcano 3DMark Sling Shot 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme Geekbench 4 (Single/Multi) PassMark Memory PassMark Disk
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 3.564 3.335 2.648 37.330 3.326/9.726 31.071 75.478
OnePlus 6T 4.702 3.861 6.388 64.753 2.396/8.981 12.364 75.065
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 3.304 3.021 3.966 38.701 3.771/8.923 24.164 67.765

The fluctuations in the Sling-Shot volcano test are quite noticeable - here the scores go down from over 4,000 to just under 2,200 points in several runs. The memory test did not produce uniform results even with repeated attempts either. The results from the third Sling Shot test also turned out surprisingly low.

Kirin 980 3
The HiAI Kirin 980 is the heart of the Mate 20 Pro / © Huawei

On the other hand, best scores in both PassMark ratings show that the LPDDR4X fast memory of up to 2,133 MHz, which the Kirin 980 is the first smartphone chip to support, has a positive effect. No smartphone was as fast in our tests up to this point. Even in the multi-core rating, the Mate 20 Pro is ahead of all other competitors.

However, everyday performance is more important than benchmarks and there's nothing to complain about with the Mate 20 Pro. Apps launch much faster than most other smartphones and also much quicker than the Huawei P20 Pro. All games we tried ran very smoothly and without any issues, and even with multiple apps running in the background. Multitasking is not an issue for the Mate 20 Pro - unlike the Google Pixel 3. The fluctuations in the benchmark tests don't seem to have a negative effect in practice.

No burnt fingers here

A word about the heat problems that plagued the Huawei P20 Pro - the smartphone got so warm during use that it was uncomfortable to hold. The Mate 20 does much better in that regard - it can get a little warm but it doesn't overheat even after long gaming sessions or multiple benchmark tests.

huawei mate 20 pro 01
Chic on the outside, strong on the inside - that's the Huawei Mate 20 Pro / © AndroidPIT

What does the second NPU bring to Kirin 980?

The AI performance of the Kirin 980 deserves a special mention. The new chipset has a second NPU on board, which should provide a significant improvement in machine learning applications. This is hard to see in everyday life, but in Andrey Ignatov's AI benchmark the Mate 20 Pro actually outperforms the result of the P20 Pro with the Kirin 970 by almost 50%. A definite improvement!

Our P20 Pro device already runs Android 9 Pie and EMUI 9 and thanks to the new software, it scores a good 1,000 points more in the benchmark than the average for this model. Software always plays a role - the update also improved the overall AI performance on the P20 Pro.

huawei mate 20 pro ai benchmark
In the AI benchmark, the Mate 20 Pro scores significantly higher than the P20 Pro / © AndroidPIT

Huawei must work on software

Talking about updates - Huawei should, of course, continue to improve the performance of the Mate 20 Pro with them. Even though there are no hiccups during everyday use, the strong fluctuations in some tests and the frequent interruptions during the 3DMark test are irritating. When it comes to software, the Mate 20 Pro didn't get off to a very good start anyway, and even now there still are some missing features, such as the 3D scanner. The bottom line is that with the help of the Kirin 980, the Mate 20 Pro is certainly one of the fastest smartphones on the market.

What do you think? Can the Huawei Mate 20 Pro compete with rival flagships in terms of performance? Let us know in the comments below.

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