Huawei sent along a P20, see my full review, and a P20 Pro, see Sandra's full review, in early April and I have had one of my SIM cards in the device ever since. It's a shame these will likely not be sold directly in the US since they may be the best Android smartphones of 2018.
Similar to flagship phones from Samsung and LG, there are a ton of settings available on the Huawei P20 Pro and I continue to discover new things on a regular basis. I just found the setting to "Darken interface colors" buried in the battery settings and now the P20 Pro has a global dark mode with blacks that I find makes the rest of the colors pop. It is a way to save power on a device that will already go for nearly a couple days.
CNET's review: A killer low-light camera you can actually afford
As I look back over the last month of use and towards the future, here are several reasons to consider the Huawei P20 Pro. If you live in the US, you can find these devices on eBay and trust that they work on T-Mobile, AT&T, and other GSM carriers in the US:
- Cameras: On the back of the P20 Pro you will find the Leica triple camera setup with a 20 megapixel monochrome lens, 40 megapixel main RGB lens, and an 8 megapixel telephoto lens. No other smartphone has this much capability and technology contained in three rear cameras. While regular photos look awesome, the major differentiator comes into play in low light conditions. Huawei uses AI digital image stabilization and captures light for low light shots over a period of time shown like a video countdown on the viewfinder. 960 fps super slow motion is also supported. In addition, there is a 24 megapixel front facing camera with support for various portrait modes.
- Design: Like most phones today, the P20 Pro is composed of two pieces of Gorilla Glass 5 assembled with an aluminum frame. The rear glass panels are stunning, especially the unique gradient Twilight and Pink Gold colors. The fit and finish of design is exceptional and you will be hard pressed to find another device built this well.
- Display: The Huawei P20 Pro has a 6.1 inch OLED, dubbed a Huawei FullView display and it looks fantastic. There is a notch in the top for the front facing camera and headset speaker, but software lets you hide the notch if you desire. I embraced the notch on the iPhone X and have used it daily on the P20 Pro without any issues. The display also supports Natural Tone so it will adjust the color temperature based on ambient lighting. You can also adjust the view mode, text size, and screen resolution to make sure the display satisfies your specific needs.
- Innovative technology: The Huawei P20 Pro is powered by a Kirin 970 processor with Neural Processing Unit. AI is used in the camera to identify your photo subject into one of 19 different categories designed to help you improve your photo skills and capture the best shot. The camera also offers intelligent layout suggestions to help you improve your composition.
- Water resistance: While working in the field, I often spend time communicating with others and taking photos in the rain. With new flagships launching with water resistance, it has become a new requirement for any phone I purchase. I need my phone to work where I need to be and can't worry about carrying my phone in a plastic bag or some kind of bulky case. While I don't plan to swim with my phone, being able to handle some elements is essential to my work. The P20 Pro has an IP67 dust and water resistant rating.
- Battery: Battery technology is stale, but Huawei works hard to provide the largest capacity batteries and the 4,000 mAh battery will easily get your through at least a day of heavy usage. I've had it go through one full day, through the night, and halway through the next day. Huawei SuperCharge also tops off the battery faster than I have seen on other phones.
- Off-screen navigation button: One major reason I enjoy using the iPhone X is the gesture-driven interface. With the Huawei P20 Pro, I enabled the off-screen navigation button option that lets me use gestures on the oblong bottom fingerprint scanner to navigate to the home screen, go back, view recent apps, and view the Google Assistant. This functionality removes the on-screen buttons and makes the P20 Pro feel like the most modern Android phone available.
- Facial recognition: While there are no silly Animojis and you cannot use facial recognition for secure applications, I have it setup to unlock the phone and for a month it has worked flawlessly so I don't have to perform finger gymnastics to tap on the awkwardly positioned front fingerprint scanner.
- Knuckle functionality: I take a lot of screenshots and as iPhone X users will tell you sometimes capturing these can be a confusing endeavor. Thanks knuckle gesture technology, powered by Qeexo FingerSense, I just knock on the display with one knuckle to capture a screenshot. You can choose to launch up to four different apps with the letter c, e, m, and w. You can also slide your knuckle across the display to enter split screen mode. Give it a try and you may find it will help you improve your productivity.
- Easy Projection: Unlike Samsung DeX where you need a $100 accessory to extend your smartphone to an external display, you simply plug in a USB-C adapter to a monitor and enable Desktop mode. It works very well on the P20 Pro so you can get work done on the road or when visiting clients.
No phone is perfect, but the Huawei P20 Pro is about as close as you are going to get in 2018. I miss having wireless charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack. However, with a battery that won't die and a common practice by most manufacturers to remove the headphone jack, these are not concerns that would prevent me from buying the P20 Pro.
Some phones are great for audio (LG G7 ThinQ), others have a large ecosystem (Samsung Galaxy S9), and others run iOS. The Huawei P20 Pro is a battery rock star and provides you with a camera that will truly let you leave a dedicated camera at home and never worry about missing that great shot. It will last a long time and has been rock solid so you can trust it to get your work done.