Mate 20 Pro: The Ace of Spades


The Mate 20 Pro is an intelligent phone that captures every minor detail. Nilofer Khan reports.

Mate 20 Pro

Within a few months after the launch of P20 Pro, Huawei introduced yet another phone with Leica’s triple rear camera—the Mate 20 Pro. This edition has some changes. For instance, Huawei has decided to ditch the monochrome sensor. Apart from the 40MP f/1.8 wide angle lens, it features a 20MP f/2.2 ultra wide angle lens, and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, which delivers 3x optical zoom, and 5x hybrid zoom. The 8MP telephoto sensor is the only one with optical stability. The others rely on Huawei’s software-based EIS. The ultra wide angle lens allows users to shoot macros with the help of the Super Macro feature in the phone. The object can be as close as 2.5cm from the lens. There is a 24MP f/2 front sensor.

A Lot to Offer…
The phone features a 6.39-inch 2K+ OLED display, and a Kirin 980 chipset. It has a 4200 mAh battery (wireless charging option), a USB Type-C charging cable, and no headphone jack. The device comes in two variants—6GB RAM with 128GB, and 8GB RAM with 256GB storage. It is powered by Android 9 and Huawei’s EMUI 9 UI.

On the rear, the phone has several options such as Aperture mode, Night mode, Portrait mode, Photo mode, Pro mode, Panorama, 3D Panorama, Light Painting, AR lens, Good Food, Slow-mo, and Time-lapse.

The Monochrome mode was quite effective. The shallow depth-of-field is great at f/4. But if you go below this, your subject will look like a cutout. This image was shot at f/4. Photograph/Nilofer Khan

To make up for the loss of the monochrome sensor, Huawei has introduced a Monochrome mode. The mode has three other options— Aperture, Portrait, and Pro mode. Unlike the main Pro mode, this one doesn’t allow you to shoot RAW images.

The Portrait mode (for the front and rear camera) has four options for bokeh—circles, hearts, swirls, and discs. Additionally, there are five Light options, which works a lot like the iPhone’s Portrait mode.

On launching any of the camera modes, the frame is always zoomed in at 1x. To zoom in or to switch to ultra wide angle, you need to tap the 1x symbol a couple of times, or press and slide the symbol up and down. In case you wish to shoot images at 40MP, you will have to go directly to the camera’s settings.

I enjoyed how the Huawei Mate 20 Pro rendered colours. It did not oversaturate or undersaturate. Photograph/Nilofer Khan

The Mate 20 Pro shoots 4K videos at 24fps, Full HD footage at 24fps/60fps, and 720p clips at 24fps. The 4D Predictive Focus is better at tracking moving objects. Huawei has also included an AI Cinematography feature which is quite useful for bloggers. The feature has five special effects, the most unique one being the AI Colour—It turns the entire background black and white, while retaining the colour of the subject. The mode is also capable of tracking subjects, but is only available at 1080p.

Once you have selected your subject with the AI zoom option, the video will automatically zoom in or zoom out to give you a better frame. Moreover, the triple camera allows 4-way hybrid autofocus that comprises of laser, phase, contrast, and depth detection.

The ultra wide-angle lens makes a huge difference. For instance, when I shot this image at 1x, I wasn’t able to get the clocks on either side, as well as the foreground. Photograph/Nilofer Khan

Is it Worth the Price?
The Mate 20 Pro is extremely quick to respond to whatever is in front of its lens, with great autofocus capability. As much as I enjoyed using the Master AI, it became quite cumbersome in certain situations. For instance, when I was shooting a dog, a girl suddenly popped up in the frame behind him, and the AI switched to Portrait mode. While shooting food, or the sky, or flowers, it did an excellent job of adding contrast and depth to the image.

The images that I had shot were quite sharp in the center, while the edges were a bit soft. This is to be expected from wide angle lenses. Moreover, at 3x zoom, the phone produces detailed images in sufficient light. In the same situation, the 5x hybrid zoom does a decent job, but you’ll notice a slight loss in details.

The Mate 20 Pro retains a good amount of details. Photograph/Nilofer Khan

The Portrait mode for the rear camera produces great images with strong colours, and accurately blurs out the background. In comparison to this, the Portrait mode in the front camera lags behind. I noticed that a chunk of my hair was often blurred out. The overall image also appeared quite soft.

On the video front, the camera’s stabilisation is fantastic. You can create great shots with extremely smooth movements, even while you’re shooting handheld. The AI Colour mode is quite interesting, but I was not too happy with the end results. On the phone, the video looked excellent, but on the desktop, I noticed that the black and white background was merging with the edges of the person’s ear.

The phone responds quickly when it detects a face, even in dimly lit conditions. Photography/Nilofer Khan

Final Verdict
Priced at Rs. 69,990, the phone competes with the iPhone XS and the Google Pixel 3 XL. It will pique the interest of photographers and bloggers alike. With the inclusion of an ultra wide angle lens, Huawei has opened a lot of options for users. It is an excellent alternative to any other flagship phone in the market.

SPECIFICATIONS 6.39-inch 2K+ OLED display, Kirin 980 chipset, Android 9, 40MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/2.2 ultra wide angle + 8MP f/2.4 telephoto rear sensors, 24MP front camera, IP68 water resistance, 128GB storage, and 6GB RAM
WHAT WE LIKE Image quality, low light performance, ultra wide-angle lens
WHAT WE DISLIKE Portrait mode in the front camera
WHY BUY IT Excellent image and video quality, triple camera set-up
CAMERA FEATURES 40MP f/1.8 wide angle lens, 20MP f/2.2 ultra wide angle lens, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens (optically stabilised) 24/25
IMAGE QUALITY Good reproduction of details, and colour rendition 28/30
VIDEO QUALITY Smoothly stabilises videos, great AI zoom function 13/15
HANDLING Sturdy built, sleek design, and smart interface 13/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS  Speedy phone with zero lags 14/15


Tags: better photography, Cellphone Review, huawei, Nilofer Khan, January 2019, Mate 20 Pro