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Huawei P20 Pro

The Huawei P20 Pro represents the high end of Huawei’s flagship range of smartphones, boasting the biggest screen and an eye-catching, headline-grabbing tri-lens camera module. Like the P20, the P20 Pro comes in an attractive iridescent purple-and-blue gradient that helps it stand out from most other flagships, and a glossy, reinforced glass finish. We got a chance to check it out ahead of its announcement.

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Design and Features

On the design front, the Huawei P20 Pro is essentially a bigger version of the P20; it features gentle, rounded corners, with the front and back coated in glossy, reflective glass and bordered by a matte metal edge. As well as the signature Twilight color gradient, you’ll be able to pick up the P20 Pro in Blue, Black, and Pink Gold versions as well.

It feels very classy to the touch, with a nice weight to it. The iridescence of the Twilight version is especially eye-catching; you’ll want to keep turning it over in your hand to marvel at how the colors shift and change, as well as how the reflective finish catches the light and the reflections of your surroundings.

Huawei P20 Pro

That said, like pretty much anything you wrap in glass, the finish is somewhat spoiled by its tendency to pick up prints very easily. For both aesthetic and practical reasons, you’ll want to get a case.

As with the P20, there’s a fingerprint scanner mounted on the front. As well as letting you lock the phone, a single press will send you to the home screen, while a long press will take you back, though you can use the standard on-screen controls too.

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Display

The Huawei P20 Pro’s screen is an OLED panel, boasting high levels of contrast and color fidelity. The 2,240-by-1,080 display comes to 407 pixels per inch (ppi). That’s a bit lower than the iPhone X‘s 458ppi and significantly lower than the Galaxy S9+‘s 529ppi. Unless your eyesight is particularly excelent, however, you won’t notice a huge difference between such high-density screens, and it may even work in the P20 Pro’s favor with regards to power consumption.

Like the P20, and, yes, like the iPhone X, the P20 Pro’s screen features a notch, but not one that really takes up a huge amount of screen real estate; it looks as though the front-facing camera and light sensor have been pushed as close together as possible so that the screen’s “wings” are as large as they can be. If notches irk you beyond all reason, Huawei’s taken the liberty of adding a Hide Notch option in the settings.

Huawei P20 Pro

Cameras

The P20 Pro’s tri-lens camera packs in a lot of cool features. The main one is 5x lossless zoom, something that’s possible mainly thanks to an 8MP telephoto lens, which sits next to the 40MP RGB sensor, separate from the 20MP monochrome lens.

Laser-assisted PDAF (phase detection autofocus) is augmented by the onboard AI chip, which means that when the camera detects moving objects, it’ll use a number of prediction models to guess where the subject(s) may be in the frame, projecting a number of possible focal points—great if you’ve recently become a parent or if you’ve got a cute pet that won’t sit still.

Huawei P20 and P20 Pro

Left to right: Huawei P20, P20 Pro

A color temperature sensor with a 1,000 to 10,000K spectrum means you’ll be able to capture images with a greater color fidelity, though you’ll only be able to force this down to 2,400K or up to 7,000K in manual mode.

In terms of sensitivity, the P20 Pro features a maximum ISO setting of 102400, higher than the top 6400 setting of the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, and, Huawei says the onboard AI will help compensate for any slight hand motion when you’re doing things like taking long exposures.

The front camera features a dense 24MP sensor, which, aside from letting you take absurdly high-resolution selfies, allows for fast face unlocking.

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Hardware

As with the P20, the HiSilicon Kirin 970 octo-core CPU (four 1.8GHz Cortex A53s and four 2.4GHz Cortex A73s), combined with the signature NPU (Neural Processing Unit) run the show. Unlike the P20, you get a meatier 6GB of RAM instead of 4GB, meaning that the P20 Pro should be able to handle anything you throw at it. You also get 128GB of storage.

The P20 Pro features a Cat 18 LTE radio with a 4×4 MIMO configuration—bleeding-edge kit that promises top download speeds (in theory) of 1.2Gbps. Of course, depending on network availability, your mileage may vary.

On the Wi-Fi side, it’s a dual-band phone supporting 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. It also has Bluetooth 4.2.

The P20 Pro’s battery is a 4,000mAh cell, which ought to easily last you a day, possibly two with conservative use. Fast charging via the USB-C port should see you go from zero to 50 percent charged in half an hour, and the onboard machine learning processes mean that your favorite apps will be identified, and RAM prioritized, adding up to more efficient memory use, less processing power, and less of a strain on that battery.

Huawei P20 Pro

Software

While some manufacturers are turning toward Android One, Huawei’s sticking with EMUI, which has been updated to Android 8.1 Oreo on the P20 range. Aside from a tweaked look, other improvements include faster app launch and running times for any apps that uses Huawei’s HiAI platform, like artsy photo manipulation app Prisma.

Automatic detection of blurry pictures and a memory cleaner tool, both useful features of EMUI, return. Aside from this, it looks like business as usual, with a stripped down settings menu that boasts a more practical layout.

Pricing and Availability

The Huawei P20 Pro’s camera is seriously impressive. It feels like something that might have begun life as a high-end point-and-shoot but evolved into a smartphone somewhere along the way. We’re itching to do some side-by-side comparisons of the P20 Pro and the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, just to see how the camera stands up, let alone the rest of the phone.

As with the P20, a drawback for users in the United States is that if you want one of these, chances are you’re going to be restricted to buying one unlocked and SIM-free, unless Huawei can resolve its American difficulties. While we wait for word on a US release date, the phone is otherwise available globally for €899 (about $ 1,115).

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