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Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs. P20 Pro: Which should you buy?

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Mate 20 Pro combines excellent design with incredible performance. The dual-curved screen at the front is vibrant, the 7nm Kirin 980 chipset is one of the best in the world, and the cameras are just as great as what you'd find on the Note 9 or Pixel 3.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Outstanding

Gorgeous QHD AMOLED display
Incredible performance
Two-day battery life
Excellent cameras
Charges other phones
3D face unlock
No headphone jack
Availability

Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei P20 Pro

The P20 Pro has most of the same characteristics as the Mate 20 Pro, but it misses out on the higher-res screen, a 3D facial unlock feature, and wireless charging. It's also missing a wide-angle lens, but the main camera is just as good as the one on the Mate 20 Pro.

Huawei P20 Pro

Almost as good

Smaller notch
Top-notch performance
Same great battery life
Solid cameras
No headphone jack
FHD display
No wireless charging
Availability

Huawei came out all guns blazing in 2018, rolling out two of the best phones of the year. Both phones have high-end hardware and evocative designs, backed by excellent cameras that hold up to the best that Samsung and Google have to offer. The P20 Pro introduced three cameras at the back, and Huawei has refined the formula in the Mate 20 Pro.

Should you buy the Huawei Mate 20 Pro or the P20 Pro?

The P20 Pro is a great device in its own right, but to me, the Mate 20 Pro feels like a much better effort. The dual curved screen makes it almost seem like a Galaxy S9. In fact, the Mate 20 Pro falls somewhere in between the S9 and S9+ in terms of size, even though it has a 6.39-inch screen that's more in line with the Note 9.

The screen is not only larger, but it is also sporting a higher-res panel. With the Mate 20 Pro, Huawei is offering a QHD+ (3120x1440) AMOLED display, and it's just as vibrant as the panels Samsung uses on its flagships. Color saturation and viewing angles are excellent, and the screen gets adequately bright under harsh sunlight. The screen is also DCI-P3 and HDR10 compliant.

Continuing with the design theme, I like the fact that there's no fingerprint sensor on the front. Its removal has freed up a lot of room at the bottom bezel, and the result is that the bottom bar is significantly thinner than the one on the P20 Pro. Like most Chinese manufacturers, Huawei has switched to an in-display solution for the Mate 20 Pro, which is no different from the modules seen on the Vivo NEX or the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro.

There isn't a single area where the Mate 20 Pro is found lacking.

The in-display fingerprint sensor isn't as fast as a traditional module, but I haven't faced any reliability issues. Just know that it takes anywhere from a second to a second and a half for the sensor to authenticate your fingerprint. Huawei also has a 3D face unlock feature that is a viable stand-in, but the caveat is that it doesn't work very well if you have a beard.

The camera arrangement at the back also looks better on the Mate 20 Pro, and aside from the aesthetic value, what I like is that the phone doesn't wobble anymore when laid flat on a surface. The sensors on the P20 Pro jutted out slightly from the body, and as they weren't in the center, it led to a lot of wobbles.

Huawei not only changed the arrangement of the sensors but also switched out the monochrome module for a wide-angle lens, which is a welcome addition. Huawei still offers a monochrome mode, and I didn't notice too much of a difference between the monochrome on the P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro. To me, the wide-angle lens is much more useful in day-to-day shooting scenarios.

CategoryHuawei Mate 20 ProHuawei P20 Pro
Operating systemAndroid 9.0 Pie
EMUI 9.0
Android 9.0 Pie
EMUI 9.0
Display6.39-inch AMOLED, 3120x1440 (19.5:9)
HDR10
6.1-inch AMOLED, 2240x1080 (18.7:9)
ProcessorKiirin 980
Mali-G76
Kirin 970
Mali-G72
RAM6GB/8GB LPDDR4X6GB/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage128GB/256GB UFS2.1128GB/256GB UFS2.1
MicroSD slotNoNo
Rear camera 140MP f/1.7, OIS
4K@30fps, 720p@960fps
40MP 1.7-micron, f/1.7, OIS
4K@30fps, 720p@960fps
Rear camera 220MP f/2.2 wide-angle20MP f/1.6 monochrome
Rear camera 38MP f/2.4 telephoto8MP f/2.4 telephoto
Front camera24MP f/2.024MP f/2.0
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac 4x4 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPSWi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, NFC, GPS
AudioUSB-C
Stereo speakers
USB-C
Stereo speakers
Battery4200mAh
Non-removable
4000mAh
Non-removable
ChargingUSB-C
Fast charge (40W)
USB-C
Fast charge (22.5W)
Water resistanceIP68IP67
SecurityIn-display fingerprint sensor
3D face unlock
Fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Dimensions157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm
189g
155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm
180g
ColorsTwilight, Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, BlackTwilight, Black, Midnight Blue

There are other minor changes that add to the overall refinement of the Mate 20 Pro: it's rated IP68 for dust and water resistance (versus IP67 for the P20 Pro), it comes with Bluetooth 5.0, and there's the faster charging standard, along with a larger 4200mAh battery. The bundled wall unit charges the Mate 20 Pro from flat to 70 percent in just over 30 minutes, and that fundamentally changes how you use the device.

The Mate 20 Pro not only has excellent battery life, but it can also charge other phones.

The Mate 20 Pro delivers excellent battery life in and of itself — I routinely got two days' worth of use — but the incredible fast charging essentially eliminates the need to plug in the phone overnight. Plus, if you need added convenience, the Mate 20 Pro charges wirelessly over the Qi standard. That's not all, for the phone is able to charge other devices as well.

The Kirin 980 is also a huge upgrade from the 970 in the P20 Pro. The switch to the 7nm node allows for much more energy efficiency, and the all-new Cortex A76 cores are blazing fast. You're not going to notice a lot of difference unless you're playing titles like PUBG for hours on end, but the Mate 20 Pro manages to do better in terms of sustained performance.

If you already have the P20 Pro, it makes little sense to pick up the Mate 20 Pro. The dual curved screen makes it much more premium, and the cameras are more refined, but it's not so fundamentally different from the P20 Pro that it warrants an upgrade.

But if you're in the market for a new device, the Mate 20 Pro is an obvious choice. The phone is one of the best I've used all year, and there isn't an area where I found it to be lacking. The only real issue is that neither device is available in the U.S.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor covering Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone manufacturers, and writes about the semiconductor industry, storage servers, and audio products. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.