There are few times when a smartphone manages to surprise me. In this age of leaks and insubstantial annual improvements, a phone can Really get my attention, it happens infrequently. And yet, despite the leaks everywhere, Both the P20 and P20 Pro stole a smile from me, that feeling of a boy with a new toy that we reviewers – who rarely spend more than a month on the same phone – have.
HUAWEI P20 vs P20 Pro: TWO REVIEWS IN ONE.
I want to start that review by commenting that There are more differences between the P20 and P20 Pro than just a battery and larger screens, as is often the case on the market.. Here we have two phones that share the same name but with so many improvements and advances in the P20 Pro that, at times, it feels like a generation ahead of the basic model.
They both share the same Kirin 970 processor and basic design, but almost everything else is different between the two models. It should also be noted that both models present huge improvements even compared to the Mate 10 Pro presented just a few months ago. Not in terms of processing power, which remains almost identical to the Mate 10 Pro – which is comparable to what high-end Android devices offer us, but it lags behind when we compare it to the performance of the iPhone and its powerful A11 -, but in practically everything else.
The difference is so great that in each section you will find points that affect, individually, each of the phones. Segments such as the screen and battery, or the camera, for example, vary greatly according to the model.
An exquisite Design and Screen for the Huawei P20
We have seen Huawei progress steadily with the design of its smartphones year after year, but never excel for it. I confess to you that every time I receive a test phone to review I only postpone my move to the equipment because it used to come from a phone with a better industrial design and more ergonomic, like those of Samsung or Apple. Huawei has always given us a more conservative design, and without a great evolution
The opposite occurred when I had the Huawei P20 in my hands. Huawei has really given an exponential jump with the P20 Pro, especially if we compare it with the P10. Here we have a phone that adopts the new aspect ratio or 18: 9 format that was launched by the Mate 10 Pro, but in a phone with a much more elegant and refined design. The P20 and P20 Pro feel phones premium; dense without feeling heavy, elegant wherever you look at them. Two models stand out: one called Twilight or twilight that offers us a gradient that goes from blue to purple and looks simply spectacular, and a reflective pink that, also, varies according to the type of lighting. Accompanying these two colors we have more traditional shades such as blue, black and gray.
Yes, the phones have a notch, or ring on the top where the camera is housed, the proximity and brightness sensor. As I have already commented on multiple occasions, the notch does not bother me at all because I feel that it is winning space in a place where other phones cover with plastic. And thanks to this, we can place notifications, the time, and more. Since the P20 pro's notch is smaller – it doesn't have the complex iPhone X camera and sensors on the front – it can fit even more icons and notifications. And when we watch video? Well, this space on the sides of the notch is black, so the video is not cut. It is an excellent implementation that, yes, in some cases – such as in Instagram Stories, where part of the content is lost in this section – needs to be refined, but in 95% of use with the phone, it has not bothered me at all. What if they hate notch? Well they can hide it in the configuration, putting black bars on the sides and leaving us a symmetrical front part. So if they hate the Notch or it bothers them for some reason, it is very easy to make it disappear, leaving it as a regular Android phone.
Something that Huawei has not abandoned, however, is the front fingerprint reader that we have in the P10. And yes, as in other Huawei (and other brands) phones, we can use this fingerprint reader as a button on Android, replacing the virtual buttons with gestures. It is something that is always active because in this way we even gain more space on the screen, hiding the Home, Back and Multi-Tasking buttons, and replacing them with this useful and functional single button. Attached to this button are the Volume and Power buttons on the right side and, as with the P10, the Power button has a red color and a small slit to quickly identify it by sight and touch. The aluminum used for the edges of the phone is shiny, which pairs very well with the glass Huawei uses for the P20 on the back and front. Unfortunately, it is a model that does not include wireless charging yet. It is these little details and the attention to them that makes the P20 a phone that really feels Premium, in our hands, regardless of whether it is the P20 or the P20 Pro.
Both models offer a huge improvement, in my opinion, the P10 and all Huawei designs to date. It is a design that gives pleasure to admire
The P20's display is a 5.8-inch LCD that uses an RGBW pixel setting (W for White or White). This allows you to reach a high level of brightness and I was surprised by the quality of the screen. It is not an OLED panel, but it does offer vibrant colors very comparable to those of the P20 Pro. I tried it with an all black wallpaper and indeed, it managed to hide the notch quite well, which shows a good level of contrast (the P20 I have it is black).
Where there is an apparent difference is in battery consumption. This LCD panel is less efficient than the OLED panel of the P20 Pro, so you noticed a higher power consumption when using the phone. Both phones were configured with the same apps. In stand-by, both behaved exemplary, using only 2% to 3% of battery for prolonged moments (8 hours). However, under heavy use, even browsing the web or Instagram, the P20 drained its battery faster. This is due to a variety of factors, among which is the fact that the LCD panel consumes more battery overall.
Both the P20 and P20 Pro panels share the same Full HD + resolution, or 2240 × 1080, with a PPI of 408
Screen: P20 Pro
The P20 Pro's display is a 6.1-inch OLED panel with a 19: 9 aspect ratio (if we count the notch section, otherwise it's 18: 9) that offers a high level of brightness and image saturation. The panel is more efficient than that of the P20 and in combination with the larger battery, it offered better overall autonomy.
In addition to being more efficient and offering better contrast than the P20, the OLED screen allows Huawei to implement what it calls the Natural Tone, which, like Apple's True Tone Display, adapts the white balance according to the light. environmental. This is super practical when we are reading something in the room or a room with warm light, since the screen will not look so blue.
Yes, it is only Full HD, but honestly, on this screen size, it is practically impossible to notice the difference between QHD and FHD. And the P20 Pro's panel is among the best, even directly comparing it to that of the S9 +.
A revolutionary photographic camera.
The point where both the P20 and P20 Pro stand out above the rest is in the camera. That's right, both phones offer great cameras. The P20 Pro offers a better photographic sensor (larger, 1 / 1.7 vs. 1 / 2.33 of the P20) and a third lens, but the P20 is also a noticeable improvement over the Mate 10 Pro.
Both teams offer artificial intelligence-assisted image stabilization that is miles away from what I've seen on other phones. Thanks to this, it is possible to capture images in night mode or Night Mode with exposures of 3 or 4 seconds holding the phone in hand, and still get extremely sharp photos. It is impressive, because even professional cameras require a tripod to achieve this effect. The night mode is what impressed me the most about the cameras, managing to merge multiple images at different exposure values, giving us really spectacular night photos . This night mode is available on both the P20 and P20 Pro.
In addition to night mode, Huawei has implemented artificial intelligence and object recognition in its camera to alter the values and modify the characteristics of the image., according to what the camera captures. The idea behind this, according to Huawei, is that of have a kind of professional photographer based on artificial intelligence that modifies the camera values to take a better photo depending on what is being photographed. And in my tests, it worked quite well. When blue sky predominated in a landscape, the camera increased the saturation of the blue color to give us a more vibrant photo. When the camera detected food, the camera modified the contrast, exposure, and temperature of the photo to make the food more provocative. When pets were in front of the sensor, the shutter speed was increased so that the images were not blurred. It is a system that works very well and helps to capture better photos without much effort.
Finally, there is the video theme. Here Huawei has advanced considerably compared to the previous generation of its smartphones, but it still needs to fine-tune some functions. For starters, finally, the software included in the P20 and P20 Pro allows us to record audio with external microphones, something that has been a big complaint on my part with Huawei phones, which were unable to recognize external microphones. Now the same microphone that I use for my videos with my camera – the bib – can be used with the P20 using an adapter (and, well, the 3.5mm to USB-C cable). Additionally, a We will find a huge improvement in the stabilization of video at 1080p at 30 frames per second. Huawei uses what it calls AIS or artificial intelligence-assisted stabilization, which offers a much higher level of stabilization in video than what we see on other phones. However, this stabilization mode is limited to 1080 only at 30 frames per second. 4K videos come out extremely bumpy, so if you want to record whatever in 4K, or at 60 frames per second, you will need a gimbal. The P20 and P20 Pro both offer the Super Slow Motion mode that we have already seen so well implemented in the Galaxy S9, but it seems that it is an added mode at the last minute; The image quality is not so good, and it is so difficult to activate, that I only managed to get a good shot after 10 attempts. The implementation of Super Slow Motion on the Galaxy S9 is superior.
Another point where the S9 stands out above the P20 and P20 Pro is in the front camera. Yes, we have a 24 megapixel front that gives us huge photos, but this does not translate into very good quality photos. The Galaxy S9 takes much better selfies or group photos in a variety of situations. With the P20, I always came across blurry, overexposed photos, and generally not as good as the S9. And unlike what several reviews say, if it is possible to disable Beauty Mode completely. Just put the camera in Photo mode instead of Portrait and that's it; photos without any blur. What happens is that the camera goes by default to Portrait mode when we go to the front camera, but a quick swipe takes us to normal mode.
Both phones also offer a 3D Portrait Lightning or 3D lighting mode that allows us to simulate the effect that taking a photo in a studio would give us, a mode that Apple debuted on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Here, however, we have more control than On the Apple phone, letting us move and relocate the lighting, and with a little work, great results can be achieved with this mode. In addition, the 3D Portrait Lightning works with both the front and rear cameras on both phones.
The P20 camera offers us the dual lens system that Huawei debuted with the P9, with a 20 megapixel monochrome sensor and a 12 megapixel color sensor. However, even though we have the same configuration as with the Mate 10 Pro, The P20 offers an image sensor with a larger pixel size of 1.55 microns. This, in Spanish, means that the sensor is capable of capturing more light than the previous generation of smartphones.. Combined with the f20 aperture of the P20 in both lenses, it gives us excellent photos in any circumstance but, above all, at night as we saw in the general section on camera. The P20 Pro's camera is very, very good. But if you are interested in the photographic theme, that of the P20 Pro is superior, as we will see below.
Oddly, but despite sharing the name, the P20 Pro feels a more advanced generation than the P20. And this is the true great surprise of this Huawei line. We do not usually see these advances from one generation to another (from P10 to P20), much less, we usually see so much difference between the regular model, and the larger Pro model. In addition to the difference in screen size we saw above, the P20 Pro brings a new camera system; It is the first 3-camera phone on the market, and one of the few to feature a 40-megapixel sensor..
However, It does not mean that the P20 Pro gives us very heavy images, but rather it uses a technique called pixel binding that brings together 4 pixels to give us an image that retains more detail and also offers less noisy images in low noise situations.. As a consequence, we end up with 10 megapixel photos by default, which is the recommended mode of camera operation. We can of course take photos in RAW, and receive the 40 megapixel file and then edit it in Lightroom, but much of the magic of the P20 Pro's camera is the fusion of software, artificial intelligence and hardware.
What do these three sensors consist of? A RGB and monochrome sensor system is maintained. The main sensor is an unusually large 1 / 1.73-inch sensor, which is about twice the size of what we usually see on smartphones. A larger sensor allows more light to be captured than a smaller oneSo a large sensor with an f / 1.8 aperture is brighter than a small sensor with an f / 1.6 aperture. In addition, this sensor is capable of taking 40 megapixel photos, but mainly to do a downsampling at 10 megapixels. Concentrating a 40 megapixel image in a 10 megapixel image gives us the possibility of obtaining much more detail. This is combined with the 20 megapixel monochrome sensor that we see from the P10 and Mate 10. This monochrome sensor is used to capture more light than a colored one and, therefore, much more detail. The result? Not only do we have a true monochrome sensor to take black and white photos, but, by software, the P20 Pro (like its predecessors), combines the image obtained from the monochrome sensor with that of color to give us an image with a higher level of sharpness.
To these two lenses, it is joined a 3X telephoto (with zoom), with an equivalent of 86 mm. In this way, the P20 Pro offers the possibility to have a real 3X Zoom, in addition to a hybrid 5X zoom, using the combination of the main sensor with the telephoto. This is something that the P20 does not have as it is limited to two sensors, and one with a greater number of megapixels.
In practice and usage, after using both phones extensively, I could see that both the P20 and P20 Pro take very similar quality photos in most situations.. However, thanks to the larger sensor, the zoom photos of the P20 Pro are much sharper, in addition to being able to get photos with a 5X Zoom without a noticeable loss of quality. Both phones take great photos, and they both have that almost magical night mode, but the P20 Pro stands out for its excellent zoom. If photography is your thing, the P20 Pro is the clear choice.
Photos of the P20 and P20 Pro
Battery: Two different stories, depending on the model.
The battery issue is perhaps the most divisive between the two models. The P20 Pro brings a massive 4,000 mAh battery, while the P20 brings a 3,400 mAh battery. The difference in screen size should, in theory, make up for the smaller capacity battery in the P20, but the reality is different.
Battery in the P20: Somewhat disappointing.
Due to the smaller battery size (3,400 mAh vs. the P20 Pro's 4,000 mAh), and a more consuming LCD panel, my average screen time with the P20 was 3:30 to 4:30 hours total. In real life, taking it out of the charger at 7:30 a.m., I had to be charging it, like my daily use – which is kind of strong – at around 5 or 6 in the afternoon. Luckily both teams come with the Supercharge charger so, in half an hour, the phone was again from 15 to 20% battery, at 80 – 90%.
The standby time is quite good thanks to the improvements that Google has made in Oreo in this regard, but when the phone is in use, due to the fairly bright LCD panel, the power consumption is quite large.
Battery in the P20 Pro: above average for smartphones
The story couldn't be more different on the P20 Pro. Thanks to a larger battery (4,000 mAh), in addition to using an OLED panel and improvements to Android Oreo, the P20 Pro's battery is exemplary; equal to or better than the Mate 10 Pro. Taking the phone out of the charger at 7:30 in the morning, I was able to arrive quietly at midnight with 20 to 30% heavy use. With more conventional use, he could quietly extend the use until the middle of the next day. And again, with the Super Charger, it is very easy to recharge the 4,000 mAh battery.
If you need to have a phone with good autonomy, the P20 Pro is the model to get.
Conclusion: A phone almost, almost perfect.
What we have with the P20, is one of the most complete phones on the market. An exquisite design, with unique colors that make it stand out from the rest. A photographic camera that surpasses what we find in other smartphones. The latest version of Android, which is on par with the recent Google Pixels (comes with Android 8.1). A 4,000 mAh battery that makes it last longer than direct competition.
The only thing missing from the phone? Refine the video theme. In 1080p at 30 frames per second, as we saw, it is excellent. It has a level of stabilization superior to the competition. But as soon as we jump to other modes, even 1080p at 60 frames per second, this electronic stabilization, assisted by artificial intelligence, disappears, leaving us with a poorly stabilized video that is useful only if we use it in conjunction with a gimbal. In this sense, both Apple and Samsung offer better options.
And yes, we have spoken wonders of the rear cameras, but the front camera, 24 megapixel, leaves something to be desired. The selfies come out a bit blurry, and even turning off the beauty mode (if possible, just change the portrait mode to automatic mode), the results are not as good as the excellent front camera of the S9 and iPhone 8 / X.
These are two small complaints that prevent the P20 Pro from being the perfect phone. And yes, I honestly believe that it is worth investing a little more in the P20 Pro than the P20, because not only will they have a much superior autonomy compared to the regular model, but they will have the best camera on the market.
For now, I can confidently say that the P20 Pro is my favorite phone so far this year, and one that probably won't leave my pocket in good weather.