Back at IFA, Huawei announced a new budget smartphone in the form of the Mate 20 Lite - a phone that was presumably cheaper and less powerful than the proper Mate 20. Now the company has unveiled the next two phones in the Mate 20 range: the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Both are premium phones, but naturally one is more premium than the other. Now that they're here, and we don't have to worry ourselves with rumours, and can reveal all there is to reveal.
Despite the similarities in their names, there are quite a few differences in the design of both phones. The Mate 20 Pro comes with a 6.39-inch curved OLED display with 2K (3120 x 1440) resolution and a 19:5:9 aspect ratio. It also sports a sizeable notch featuring a 24MP front camera, IR camera, speaker, and a dot projector for better facial recognition. Meanwhile the Mate 20 has a larger 6.53-inch display with Full HD+ resolution, and an 18:7:9 aspect ratio. There's still a notch, but it's the smaller Essential Phone-style notch that Huawei has dubbed the 'dewdrop' notch, that only contains the front camera - which is also 24MP. Design-wise the 20 looks like last year's Mate 10, while the 20 Pro looks an awful lot like a notched Galaxy S9 thanks to the Edge-like curve in the screen.
The very Samsung Galaxy-looking Mate 20 Pro
Other major differences include the Mate 20 Pro coming with an in-display fingerprint scanner, while the 20 has the regular rear-mounted scanner beneath the camera array. I got to try the in-display system for myself, and while it was a pain to set up a finger compared to physical scanners, it worked pretty quickly and accurately. Which is good, because nobody wants to suffer through substandard new tech simply because it's new. The Pro also comes with 15W wireless charging, and a battery-sharing function that turns the phone into a wireless battery pack compatible with all other Qi-capable phones.
As for each device's battery and fast-charging capabilities, the Pro comes with a 4,200 mAh battery and can restore 70 per cent of its juice in half an hour thanks to Huawei's 40W 'Supercharge'. The regular Mate 20, on the other hand, has a 4,000 mAh battery which can recharge up to 58 per cent in the same time period with 22.5W fast charging.
Both phones have a triple-lens camera system, but unlike the P20 Pro it's not been arranged in a single vertical line on the right-hand side of the phone. Instead both Mate 20s store the three lenses and the flash in a square shape right in the middle of the phone's rear. Each lens has a different function, and on the Pro there's an 8MP telephoto lens with f2.4 aperture, a 40MP wide angle lens with f.18, and a 20MP ultra-wide angle lens with f.22. While it seems Huawei is doing what it can to restart the megapixel wars that plagued smartphone cameras only a handful of years ago, the Mate 20's camera will be less-hungry for pixels, dropping the resolution of each lens down to 16MP, 12MP, and 8MP.
The less notchy Mate 20
Being a Huawei device there's a lot of AI features built into that camera. Not only can it identify the objects in frame and the context of the image, it can use that information to automatically alter the settings and ensure you get the best picture possible. According to Huawei, this is also beneficial for macro photography and video stabilisation. It sounds pretty similar to the AI geatures from the Mate 20 Lite, which isn't all that surprising. Plus, like the Mate 20 Lite, both devices come with a Kirin 980 chipset, though the Mate 20 Pro has a superior Cat 21 antenna - which Huawei claims will offer up to 1.4GBps download speeds (or 1.7GBps on Wi-Fi).
There's a big problem where specs are concerned, though. According to Huawei both phones will come with 128GB of storage as standard, which isn't paltry, but the topic of expandable storage is a bit contentious. The phones both have storage expansion, but not with a microSD card. Instead the Mate 20 and 20 Pro use a 'nano memory card', and the impression I got was that it's a piece of Huawei's own proprietary tech. This card is roughly the same size of a nano SIM, and are available with 256GB of storage. I checked the card slot and there's no room for a regular microSD card, so your choices are pay a mystery amount for a nanoSD card or stick with the default. In terms of RAM the Pro will come with 6GB, while the regular Mate 20 will be available with either 4GB or 6GB
On the subject of the headphone jack, there are mixed results. The Mate 20 will come with the 3.5mm jack, just like the Mate 20 Lite, but the Mate 20 Pro will not. Annoyingly, Huawei is not putting a USB-C to 3.5mm jack into the box, though there will be a pair of USB-C earphones included. Kind of annoying that the latest trend in the smartphone business is assuming everyone has Bluetooth headphones, or doesn't need a 3.5mm adaptor. But that's the price you pay for an in-display fingerprint scanner.
Naturally, new phones means new versions of EMUI, with version 9 coming based on Android Pie. It looks a lot like EMUI 8, to be honest, though Huawei has been doing some tweaking behind the scenes to try and make everything run more efficiently. There are now 10 per cent fewer settings menus than before, with the goal of simplifying everything you do. It also means an updated GPU Turbo that's 22 per cent more stable and 14 per cent greater power efficiency. Or at least it is compared to the Galaxy Note 9, according to Huawei.
EMUI 9 also new gesture controls, though I wasn't a huge fan of them. Swiping up from the bottom-centre of the screen brings up the homescreen, while swiping in the same position and holding brings up the recent apps menu - much like every other gesture based phone. That's where differences end, however. If you've used the OnePlus 6, like me, you'll know that the back button gesture involves swiping in the bottom right or left corners. But not Huawei, because that gesture loads up Google Assistant. Instead it's implemented the same gesture as Apple's poorly-implemented take on the back button, forcing you to press the right edge of the screen, hold for half a second, then swipe right. Bit of a pain if you ask me, but then again at least Huawei implemented a back gesture. Google's still using a virtual back button in Android Pie.
Other points of note include Hi Touch, a two-finger tap gesture that has an AI detect what's on screen. That's related to Hi Vision, which can detect what the camera is seeing - a skill apparently useful for shopping, measuring calories in food, as well as identifying landmarks and art. Like previous versions of EMUI Huawei has also included a PC projection mode, which sends a desktop version of Android onto a larger screen. The big difference this time is that EMUI 9 can do it wirelessly via Miracast, with the phone itself functioning as a touchpad
Colourwise, Huawei is releasing the phone in the usual pretentious names. There's Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, regular-old Black, and Huawei's multi-coloured Twilight. The Blue and Green will also come with a 'hyperoptic finish', which involves 'fine hair-like' lines across the back of the phone. It's a bit like the lines on a vinyl record, and makes that strange scratchiness noise if you rub nails over it. Supposedly this finish offers better grip, and helps prevent smudging compared to the smooth glossy finish most phones have to offer.
We're still waiting for UK pricing to be confirmed, but the Mate 20 with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage will retail for €799, with a 6GB model available for €849. The Mate 20 Pro will cost €1049. Only the Mate 20 Pro seems to have appeared in shops just yet. It's available at Carphone Warehouse for £899 (slightly less than the Euro to pounds exchange would suggest), with a free wireless charger and Huawei smartwatch GT, with delivery on 26th October.