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Review 4 min read No comments

Mate 20 hands-on: Huawei's attempt to strike a happy medium

Somewhere between Lite and Pro there’s the perfect middle ground, at least in Huawei’s Mate series. But “middle” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “mediocre” because the Mate 20 has a lot to offer. In our first test we’ll see how this XXL smartphone fares.

Not a bargain, but there are more expensive phones

Let’s get the unpleasant things out of the way first: the price. Huawei is asking for 799 euros (around 925 dollars) for the Mate 20. No matter what way you look at it, that’s a lot of money for a smartphone, but still 200 dollars less than Huawei charges for the Mate 20 Pro. The current iPhone and Galaxy Note9 are of course a pinch more expensive.

Large and stylish

The Huawei Mate 20 looks quite similar to the Mate 20 Pro, and that’s a good thing . There's glass on the front and back, stylish colors - black, green, blue, rosé and twilight - and excellent workmanship. That’s the way it should be. But the Mate 20 is even bigger than the Mate 20 Pro, especially the width. An additional half centimeter makes a difference. The Mate 20 is also little thinner than the Pro model and slightly longer.

AndroidPIT huawei mate 20 notch
The notch on the cheaper Mate 20 is much smaller, but doesn’t house as much technology. / © AndroidPIT

The most striking difference on the front of the smartphone is the notch. While the Pro model has quite a broad recess on the top of the display, the notch on the Mate 20 is just a small drop that takes up very little space. This is because the notch only houses the front camera, as the earcup is higher up in a narrow slit between the glass and the frame.

Mini-notch instead of a wide bar

The display is quite large at 6.53 inches, and Huawei has opted for 18.7:9 for the format. Unlike the Pro model, the Mate 20 doesn’t use an OLED panel, but instead has an IPS display with a resolution of 2,244 x 1,080 pixels, i.e. Full HD+. The pixel density of 381 ppi, which isn’t the best, but the display is sufficiently sharp and is altogether well done. It doesn’t, however, come close to the top OLED displays.

Lots of power and a new memory card format

The Mate 20’s processor, the Kirin 980, is setting a bunch of records . It’s the first 7-nanometer chip, the first chip with two NPUs, and has the newest ARM cores, the fastest RAM and more. We’re expecting a lot from the Mate 20 in terms of performance, and it looks good at first glance. The smartphone runs fast and smoothly and gives you the feeling that the device has a lot of power reserves. 

AndroidPIT huawei mate 20 back
The new Mate 20 has enough power. / © AndroidPIT

The 128GB of internal memory in the Huawei Mate 20 can be expanded, but not with a microSD card. Instead there’s a so-called NM card. This is a new memory card format that was developed by Huawei and currently isn’t supported by any other manufacturer. So if you want to expand the memory, you’ll have to buy a card directly from Huawei.

Three cameras, but less megapixels than the Pro version

Just like in the Pro model, the Mate 20 also a triple camera , but with slightly lower resolution and different focal lengths. The normal wide-angle lens with a focal length of 27 millimeters has a 12-megapixel sensor. The ultra-wide-angle camera with a focal length of 17 millimeters has 16 megapixels, and the telephoto lens with a focal length of 52 millimeters has an 8-megapixel sensor. The camera app and the features that are supposed to benefit from the AI in the Kirin 980 don’t differ from those in the Mate 20 Pro. It’ll be exciting to see how the camera compares to competitors’ devices.

AndroidPIT huawei mate 20 camera app
It remains to be seen how well the new Mate 20 camera performs. / © AndroidPIT

Big battery with no wireless charging

The Mate 20 has a battery with 4,000 mAh , which is quite a lot and ensures good battery life. We’re still not sure how long the battery lasts, so we’ll have to test this further. Fast charging is possible at up to 22.5 watts, but the new 40-watt technology and wireless charging are reserved for the Mate 20 Pro.

Huawei Mate 20 technical specifications

Dimensions: 158.18 x 77.12 x 8.26 mm
Weight: 188 g
Battery size: 4000 mAh
Screen size: 6.53 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2440 x 1080 pixels (409 ppi)
Front camera: 24 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 9 - Pie
User interface: Emotion UI
RAM: 4 GB
Internal storage: 128 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 980
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.6 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 5.0

Early Verdict

The Mate 20 is just the right smartphone for people who are looking for a stylish device with the largest possible display, a thick battery and lot of power. In contrast to the Pro version, there are a few small things missing in the triple camera, such as wireless charging or the 40-megapixel sensor, but everything essential is still there. It’s too bad that Huawei has introduced their own memory card format, and we’ll have to wait see if the price is a little too high for consumers jump on board. We’ll know more when we come out with our comprehensive review!

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