The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is a beautiful phone that comes with all the features you’d want from a handset in 2019, but it doesn’t sport Google’s core services, such as the Google Play Store and that severely hampers what it can do.
Lovely curved edges
No Google apps
The new Huawei Mate 30 series has just debuted, and there’s no denying the Mate 30 Pro is the shining jewel in the Chinese smartphone brand’s crown.
It features top-end specs, including what looks to be a massively improved camera array in a variety of ways, all packed into a sleek design.
The problem is, it’s not clear in which countries you’ll be able to buy the new phone. Google revoked Huawei’s license to use all of Android’s services on future devices earlier this year, after an executive order in the US by President Trump.
That has had a knock-on effect which means Huawei is unable to offer Google services on its devices. So you won’t be able to access Gmail, YouTube or even the Google Play Store easily on this phone – and Huawei apparently believes this will limit the appeal of its device in certain markets.
Huawei has confirmed it won’t be ranging the Mate 30 series in all areas in Europe, and you won’t be able to get it in the UK. Huawei doesn’t release its phones in the US either. However, Huawei has confirmed that the Mate 30 Pro will be coming to Australia. Pricing and availability has yet to be determined for Australia.
That aside, we’ve taken a look at the technology on offer from Huawei at the company’s launch event in Munich, Germany. So what does the Mate 30 Pro have to offer?
Huawei Mate 30 Pro price and release date
As we’ve already noted, it’s unclear if you’ll be able to buy the Huawei Mate 30 Pro in your home country. There’s always the chance that you’ll be able to import the handset if you can’t buy it through domestic outlets, but getting Google’s services onto the phone is likely to be a complicated process.
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro price is €1,099 (around $1,200 / £970 / AU$1,700), which gets you 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That’s for the 4G version of the phone; Huawei is also offering a 5G variant for €1,199 (around $1,300 / £1050 / AU$1,850).
Design and display
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro feels like a premium smartphone when you first pick it up, and that’s mostly because of its curved display. The screen curves stylishly around the sides of the handset, giving the phone a unique look that reminds us of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
The 6.53-inch display looks great at first glance, and the quality of the screen seemed to be strong in our initial testing.
The back of the phone is made of glass, and comes in Green, Silver, Purple and Black finishes. There’s also a leather version of the phone, which is made of a vegan-friendly material rather than traditional leather, which comes in Orange or Forest Green.
It’s currently unclear if the leather version will cost more than other variants of the Mate 30 Pro.
The phone is IP68 water and dust resistant, so it’ll be able to take a dip in water without being ruined, and the edges of the phone are made of metal that feels premium.
In our short hands-on time with the phone this seemed to work smoothly, but it’s important to note that Huawei doesn’t have access to Google’s services on this phone.
That severely limits what the phone is capable of doing, as you’ll be limited to apps provided by Huawei on the device by default, or those offered through Huawei’s own app store.
It’s currently unclear how much will be missing from the device, but it’ll be a big deal for a lot of people outside of China.
In terms of spec, the Huawei Mate 30 Pro is sporting some of the very best, including the recently launched HiSilicon Kirin 990 chipset, which is set to sport enough power to keep up with the top-end Snapdragon and Exynos chipsets from its competitors.
The phone comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The standard version of the phone is limited to 4G connectivity – you’ll have to spend a little extra to get the 5G version.
Camera and battery
Huawei has once again put a lot of focus on the cameras in its Mate series. There are three rear cameras – 40MP f/1.6 wide-angle, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto and 40MP f/1.8 ultra-wide – plus a 3D depth sensor.
All of that makes for a strong camera setup on paper, but we’ve been unable to properly test the camera in our hands-on time so far – we’ll be sure to push the Mate 30 Pro to its limits here and in other areas for our full review.
The front camera on the phone has a whopping 32MP sensor, alongside a time of flight depth sensor.
We’ve yet to be able to test the battery life on the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, but we’d expect it to be strong with its 4500mAh cell inside. There’s fast-charging technology on offer, plus fast wireless charging.
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro looks to be the best phone the company has produced to date, with specs that enable it to go toe to toe with the top phones from Samsung, Apple and others.
Without Google’s core services, however, the Mate 30 Pro is unlikely to impress many outside of China, and it’s going to be hard to recommend without the Google Play Store on board.
Huawei has launched its newest smartphone, the Nova 5T. It’s also the latest member of the Nova 5 series, sporting a 6.26-inch screen, flagship-grade Kirin 980 chipset, and quad rear cameras. Can the Nova 5T establish itself as one of the best smartphones of 2019, just like what the Nova 3 accomplished in 2018?
Design and Construction
If the Huawei Nova 5T seems familiar, that is because you have already seen it before. In a way, it’s already in the market, just under a different name – the Honor 20. Yes, the Nova 5T is the Honor 20 but with some changes externally and internally.
On the front, is the 6.26-inch screen with thin bezels that curves on the edges. Placed above it is the earpiece that’s also hiding the notification light. As you might have noticed on the corner is the hole-punch for the 32MP selfie camera. We’ll discuss more of it later. Up top are the secondary microphone and the light and proximity sensor.
On the left is the tray for dual nano-sized SIM cards. While on the right, are the volume rocker, the power/lock button that also doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
Although we’re more accustomed to rear-mounted or in-display fingerprint scanners, I find the side-mounted ones tend to make more sense since your fingers naturally rest on that location when you hold the phone.
Found up top is the secondary microphone and the light sensor, while down at the bottom are the main microphone, USB Type-C port, and the loudspeaker. Sorry guys, there’s no 3.5mm audio port, but Huawei included an adapter in the package.
At the back, we have the protruding camera module that houses three cameras, and the LED flash then placed just beside it is the fourth camera. The glass back, on the other hand, produces a 3D light effect which is different from the Honor 20.
Even with the large screen, the Nova 5T feels compact and premium. The sides and corners are rounded, so it’s easier to grip. The metallic frame is cool to the touch and has a glossy finish which matches the glass panels. I hope that Huawei includes a protective case in the final retail package to protect it from bumps, scratches, and fingerprints.
Display and Multimedia
If you like big screens, the Nova 5T has 6.26-inches of it. It has a Full HD+ resolution which equates to a good 412ppi. You can also adjust the resolution to a lower HD+ if you want to save on power or activate Smart resolution to have the phone adjust it for you.
It uses an IPS panel, so colors are natural with great viewing angles. You can also choose between two color modes: Normal and Vivid, depending on your preference. A screen protector is also pre-installed, which is nice.
Going back to that hole-punch, this can be distracting to some, especially if you’re using apps with important elements in that corner. If you don’t like it, you can hide that hole by activating a toggle inside Settings. It doesn’t look good though, as the effect makes it look like you have an unusually thick bezel at the top.
As for the audio, the single down-firing speaker is loud and crisp. Bass is weak, though, which is expected, but it’s good enough for watching YouTube videos or streaming Netflix. When gaming, make sure to place on an upside orientation so that it doesn’t get muffled by your hand.
The Nova 5T is equipped with four rear cameras. Looking from top to bottom, we have the 16MP ultrawide, 48MP Sony IMX586 main, and 2MP depth assist. Huawei dropped the telephoto camera in favor of a 2MP macro which is placed outside of the camera module. If you want to zoom, the high-resolution main camera can provide up to 10x digital zoom.
Given the different kinds of lenses, the Nova 5T has become a very versatile shooter. Camera quality is great, especially in bright scenarios. Images are sharp with really vibrant colors and good contrast. However, the AI sometimes can be too aggressive, especially when it applies HDR. It’s okay though as you can still adjust it on your favorite photo editing app.
Low-light performance is also impressive, and there were times that it was able to illuminate the whole scene and apply HDR without having to activate Night Mode. It’s not perfect though, as noise tends to creep in. If you want better quality, that’s when you want to use Night Mode. It’s AI Image Stabilization was proven very capable of handling shakes to minimize blur.
When it comes to video recording, it can shoot at up to 4K resolution at 30 fps. What I like about it is that you can shift from the normal field-of-view to ultrawide, to zoom in one shot. Also, video stabilization is smooth that it looked like we recorded with the help of a gimbal. Watch the sample video below.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software department is the Android 9 Pie-based EMUI 9.1, which is also found in Huawei’s most recent devices. The UI is clean and uses multiple home screens to house the apps.
It doesn’t have pre-installed applications aside from the usual Google apps and services, which is good. If you’re a fan of Dark mode, unfortunately, this one doesn’t support it probably because it doesn’t have an OLED panel like some of its more powerful P and Mate cousins.
When it comes to storage, you’re getting 128GB with 110.18GB as usable. That’s still a huge amount but if you’re thinking of expanding it using a microSD card, sad to say that it doesn’t have that capability.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Nova 5T is a HiSilicon Kirin 980 with an octa-core CPU, Mali-G76 MP10 GPU, and 8GB RAM – the same hardware that is powering the Huawei P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. If we’re going to classify the Nova 5T, it’s technically a flagship.
As expected, performance is excellent in all tasks, including gaming where GPU Turbo 3.0 shines. It was able to run PUBG Mobile in its highest settings without any loss in fluidity. It can get warm at the back near the cameras, but not to the point of causing any trouble or discomfort.
We performed two sets of benchmarks, one in Normal mode and one in Performance mode, to see how much computing power the Nova 5T can provide when handling basic and heavy tasks.
PC Mark (Work 2.0)
3D Mark SSE
2,144 (OpenGL ES 3.1)
4,275 (OpenGL ES 3.1)
787.74 MB/s (Read)
787.74 MB/s (Read)
572.33 MB/s (Write)
572.33 MB/s (Write)
The numbers show the difference in performance. It even topped the scores of the P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro in our reviews.
Connectivity and Battery Life
When it comes to connectivity, the Nova 5T has dual-SIM support, LTE, WiFi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and USB 2.0 Type-C. Again, what’s only missing is the 3.5mm audio port.
The Nova 5T is equipped with a 3,750mAh battery which is a decent capacity although it would have been nicer to have 4,000mAh instead. Despite that, we’re still getting around 9-10 hours of mixed usage. In PC Mark, it got 14 hours and 16 minutes of battery life. While in our video loop test, we got 15 hours of playback. It supports Huawei’s 22.5W SuperCharge, and we were able to replenish the battery in under 2 hours.
Let’s do a quick rundown. The Nova 5T has an attractive and premium design, nice display, good cameras, decent battery life, and excellent performance. If you’re coming from the Nova 3, there’s still plenty of reasons to upgrade to this phone. So, if you’re looking for a flagship-grade Huawei smartphone but don’t have the budget for the P30 Pro, this is the one to get.
Huawei Nova 5T specs:
6.26-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080) 19.5:9 IPS display, 412ppi
HiSilicon Kirin 980 (7nm) 2.6GHz octa-core CPU
Mali-G76 MP10 GPU
128GB of storage
48MP F1.8 (main) Sony IMX586+ 16MP F2.2 (ultrawide) + 2MP F2.4 (macro) + 2MP F2.4 (depth)
32MP F2.0 front camera (in-screen)
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS
USB 2.0 Type-C
Fingerprint scanner (side-mounted)
EMUI 9.1 (Android 9 Pie) w/ GPU Turbo 3.0
3,750mAh battery w/ 22.5W SuperCharge
154.25 x 73.97 x 7.87 mm
Black, Crush Blue, Midsummer Purple
What I liked:
Great flagship performance
Photography is anything but a simple task. Getting good results is part composure, part experience, and part hardware. The mobile phone space has been blowing up over the past few years with fewer and fewer people buying dedicated point and shoot cameras and instead relying on their smartphone. Honor has risen to the task though with the Honor 20 lineup and today we are going to talk about how to get the best out of the Honor 20 Pro and its many camera sensors, techniques to get the best shot, and how Honors Master AI system helps meet that challenge.
If you aren’t familiar with the Honor 20 Pro’s cameras, here is a quick rundown of all the specs. The main sensor is a 48MP Sony IMX586 with Phase Detect and Laser autofocus, Optical and Electronic Image Stabilization, and a bokeh enabling f1.4 lens that brings in significantly more light than competitors F1.8 or F2.0 lens. The second camera is a 3x 80mm f2.4 telephoto lens that also features Phase Detect and Laser autofocus. The third is an ultra-wide 16MP camera and the fourth is an industry-first dedicated Macro camera. The Honor 20 Pro has a vast array of cameras for every situation, so let’s go over some of those common scenarios and how the Honor 20 Pro helps you get your best result
AI Master On vs AI Master Off
The Honor 20 Pro features MagicUI’s AI Master mode to automatically identify and adjust the shot settings for whatever scenario you are in. Take the below examples for instance and see how AI Master has its advantages and disadvantages.
Honor 20 Pro – AI On
Honor 20 Pro – AI Off
Depending on what your desired end result is, you first have to decide if you want to have AI Master enabled or disabled. The above images reflect the changes that AI on and AI off make. While the second image is closer to reality, the AI Master mode does make the flower pop a lot more and adds more yellows and greens. This type of shot would be ideal for Instagram.
Honor 20 Pro – AI On
Honor 20 Pro – AI Off
This second image taken with the wide-angle sensor shows how much more of a difference the AI Master mode makes on panoramic shots. Each of the colors is well beyond what they are in real life, but it does make for a photo you won’t need to retouch for Social Media sharing and does have a WOW-factor.
Honor 20 Pro – AI On
Honor 20 Pro – AI Off
In this final test of AI Master, you can see that it keeps everything very realistic and just applies normal HDR settings to the shot.
Regular and Zoom Vs Macro
As we have discussed, the Honor 20 Pro features both a 3X zoom sensor and a dedicated Macro sensor. Sometimes you might want to get super close on an image and you have a choice, should you use the Macro sensor or get right up and close with the primary one. What about the zoom lens, could you just zoom in on it? See how the below image perspective and feel is changed depending on what lens you use.
Honor 20 Pro – AI On
Honor 20 Pro – 3X
Honor 20 Pro – Macro
The Primary sensor clearly delivers the best all-around shot, but the 3X sensor does a really good job as well. While its colors could use some tuning, thanks to the narrower field of view you get a larger than life feel from the zoomed-in shot. The final image taken with the Macro sensor shows its advantages and disadvantages. You can really get super close on an object and see things you normally couldn’t, but it also doesn’t have the quality of the larger sensors and at 2MP you will not be able to blow up this image to print or see on a larger screen for more details.
Honor 20 Pro – Macro
Honor 20 Pro – Primary
This image though shows the benefits of using the Macro sensor. I could get very close to my subject and still have it in focus whereas the primary sensor could not focus at this close range.
48 Megapixel Ultra Clarity Mode Uses
We’ve already discussed in previous articles the benefits to using the AI Ultra Clarity mode available on the Honor 20 Pro. It is great for large panoramas and areas with little movement. Below you can see a less than ideal scenario where leaving the camera in the 12MP mode is superior.
Honor 20 Pro – 48MP Ultra Clarity
Honor 20 Pro – 12MP
The image on the left was taken using the 48MP Ultra Clarity mode and resized for uploading to the site. You can see that the benefits from stacking the images for the 12MP image are in the detailed shadows and overall image exposure. The 48MP photo does have more detail, but you can see that there is less detail on any moving objects. 48MP Ultra Clarity takes about 6 seconds to shoot and process, so any moving subjects could have blurring due to the process. While this mode is ideal for landscape shots, you won’t want to use it for closeups or objects that are moving.
Honor 20 Pro – Regular
When to Use the Ultra-Wide Angle
One of the most common questions I see asked is when to use the normal wide-angle camera versus the ultra-wide-angle camera. The answer is whenever you want a super wide or tall shot and you are not taking a portrait of a person. The neat thing about wide-angle shots is that you can take them in both landscape and portrait for some neat angles and interesting shots.
Honor 20 Pro – Ultra-Wide
Honor 20 Pro – Regular
Honor 20 Pro – Ultra-Wide
Honor 20 Pro – Regular
Night Mode vs Pro Mode and Regular Mode
The Honor 20 Pro features Honor’s excellent night mode, and that is what we are comparing next. One of the downsides of the night mode is the time to shoot. It can take up to 6 seconds to capture the scene, so you need to have steady hands and no moving objects for the best result. With the last image, I decided to put the phone into night mode, lower the ISO to 400, and shutter speed to 1/10 to capture a really cool nightscape with very little noise.
Honor 20 Pro – Regular Mode
Honor 20 Pro – Night Mode
Honor 20 Pro – Pro Mode
The Honor 20 Pro has one of the most versatile setups available today, and we hope these tips will help you to master the camera and its various settings!
One of 2017’s major smartphone trends has been the move to 18:9 extra-tall displays that take up most of a device’s body. While Samsung and LG were the trailblazers with their 2017 flagships, the rest of the industry has followed suit. Huawei is no exception, but it’s brought these newfangled screens to a surprisingly low price point with the Nova 2i : $499.
Key specifications for the Nova 2i include a 5.9-inch display running at 2160×1080, a Huawei-made Kirin 659 eight-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a rear-facing fingerprint reader, and a 3340mAh battery. It runs EMUI 5.1 based on Android Nougat.
The Nova 2i is also known as the Huawei Mate 10 Lite in some markets. Other than a slightly different name, the two are essentially identical (with the exception of minor regional differences such as antenna band configurations).
The phone comes with a 5.50-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080×2160 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18:9.
Huawei Nova 2i is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor. It comes with 4GB of RAM.
The Huawei Nova 2i runs Android 7.0 and is powered by a 3,340mAh non-removable battery.
As far as the cameras are concerned, the Huawei Nova 2i on the rear packs a 16-megapixel primary camera and a second 2-megapixel camera. On the front, the Huawei Nova 2i packs a 13-megapixel primary camera and a second 2-megapixel camera.
The Huawei Nova 2i runs EMUI 5.1 based on Android 7.0 and packs 64GB of inbuilt storage that can be expanded via microSD card (up to 256GB). The Huawei Nova 2i is a dual-SIM (GSM and GSM) smartphone that accepts Nano-SIM and Nano-SIM cards.
Connectivity options on the Huawei Nova 2i include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, Bluetooth v4.20, NFC, USB OTG, FM radio, 3G, and 4G (with support for Band 40 used by some LTE networks in India). Sensors on the phone include accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, proximity sensor, and compass/ magnetometer.
The Huawei Nova 2i measures 156.20 x 75.00 x 7.50mm (height x width x thickness) and weighs 164.00 grams. It was launched in Black, Blue, and Gold colours. It bears a metal body.
What’s good about the Huawei Nova 2i?
The Nova 2i is – physically and aesthetically – an impressive package; Huawei has managed to squeeze a 5.9-inch display into a body that’s almost identical in size to 5.5-inch devices like the OnePlus 5 and OPPO R11, and a touch smaller than iPhone 8 Plus.
For a $499, it’s a little nuts. The display itself isn’t quite edge-to-edge – there’s still a noticeable frame on the left and right of the phone, which is something Huawei has managed to reduce almost entirely on the Mate 10 – but this is also the case with pricier devices.
While the Nova 2i‘s screen runs at 1080p+ rather than Quad HD+ as found in the majority of other extra tall phones, it doesn’t really make much of a difference unless you’re shoving the device right up against your eyeballs. It’s still a high quality screen that’s bright, works alright in sun for the most part, and has great viewing angles; it ticks all of the boxes you’d expect.
As novel as 18:9 displays are, they aren’t without their challenges. Since they’re still quite new, not all apps are optimised for them. This means you’ll end up with a black bar between the Nova 2i‘s software buttons and your unoptimised app. This bar gives you the option to run the app in “full screen” mode, but this mode can obscure parts of an app’s interface. Frustratingly, the button asking you whether you want to run an app in full screen never disappears, and looks especially awkward in landscape.
App compatibility issues aside – which will almost certainly be worked out in time, given the entire industry’s pivot – the extra tall display does make reaching to the top of your phone a little bit awkward, especially if you’re trying to get things done with one hand. This also affects the reachability of Nova 2i‘s volume rocker, but that’s more of a minor quarrel. To be honest, we wouldn’t have cared if Huawei made the Nova 2i a 16:9 phone with minimal bezel.
There’s more to the Nova 2i than its futuristic display – the overall build has a very polished feel to it. Aluminum might be considered the bare minimum for a phone these days, but the Nova 2i still impresses thanks to a slender yet solid frame with a seamless join between glass and its body. A microUSB port is the only feature that lets you know the Nova 2i isn’t a pricier phone.
The Nova 2i is fast and smooth for the most part, especially when it comes to day to day tasks. It can get a little sluggish with games, but it’s far from unusable, even when it comes to the more demanding apps. In terms of battery, you’ll easily get a full day of usage with a comfortable buffer, but two is probably out of the question. We typically found we had around 35% left at the end of the day.
64GB of storage at $499 is a nice bonus too.
What’s not so good about the Huawei Nova 2i?
Quality tends to be more important than quantity, and the Nova 2i proves this with its cameras. While the phone has four – two on the front, two on the back – they’re easily its biggest shortcoming. Both the front-facing and rear-facing cameras have been paired with a secondary lens that’s solely used to capture extra information to simulate depth of field – there’s no option to use them individually as on the latest iPhones.
The depth effect – essentially blurring the background behind your subject – works best when it comes to portraits, results tend to be very inconsistent when dealing with other objects. Extremities such as ears can get a little lost, but the effect is reasonably convincing provided you don’t dial it up too high (or look too close). You can however adjust the amount of blur after you’ve taken a photo, which can help get it just right.
While the Nova 2i can take good photos in a lot of conditions, it struggles in lowlight and sharp daylight. While hit-and-miss lowlight performance (and the motion blur that entails) is the norm in this price range, struggling with bright sunlight isn’t. We found that the Nova 2i could overexpose photos taken on sunny days, potentially leading to blowout and reduced contrast. This won’t necessarily ruin an image in the way poor lowlight performance will, but it’s nonetheless worth mentioning.
Huawei is known for being quite liberal when it comes to customising Android, and its take on Google’s operating system – EMUI – won’t be to everyone’s liking. EMUI has certainly gotten better over the years, but you can still find yourself going up against a couple of quirks.
The most egregious has been a reoccurring notification about “essential” apps you should install, which is tantamount to an ad. Once is fine, but it’s not great when it pops up multiple times in a day.
I’m not the biggest fan of the Huawei’s default iconography; the gradient heavy icons contrast heavily with Android’s flatter aesthetic. Some of the pre-installed themes let you tone this down, and you can always replace the Huawei launcher with the Google Now launcher, the Google Pixel launcher (which you’ll need to get through an APK mirror), or another third party solution. I went as far as replacing any app with an “ugly” icon with something else. Yes, I know I sound like a wanker, and I’m guessing you’re probably not going to be as bothered by any of this as much as I am.
Android purists won’t dig EMUI, but Huawei’s gotten much better at not letting software modifications get in the way of the user experience for the most part.
The $499 price tag means the Nova 2i makes a couple of omissions; the most notable missing features are NFC and water-resistance. Water-resistance is still far from common when it comes to midrange devices, but the lack of NFC means you can can’t use the Nova 2i for services like Android Pay.
Huawei Nova 2i camera samples
Who’s the Huawei Nova 2i for?
If you’re after a $499 phone that looks a $1,000 phone, the Nova 2i is for you. Slim bezels, an 18:9 display, and a seamless unibody mean Huawei’s latest midrange smartphone feels more like a flagship. You’ll make some compromises on camera quality, but the Huawei Nova 2i offers the best look and feel of any budget smartphone around.
Huawei Nova 2i Full Specifications
156.20 x 75.00 x 7.50
Battery capacity (mAh)
Black, Blue, Gold
Screen size (inches)
HiSilicon Kirin 659
Expandable storage type
Expandable storage up to (GB)
16-megapixel + 2-megapixel
13-megapixel + 2-megapixel
Wi-Fi standards supported
Yes, v 4.20
Number of SIMs
Supports 4G in India (Band 40)
Supports 4G in India (Band 40)
Ambient light sensor
The Nova 2i is a smartphone that pushes the envelope forward on what you should expect from an “affordable” device. The screen wouldn’t look out of place on a phone twice its price, and neither would the build quality. Camera quality can be inconsistent, but for the money, the Nova 2i is a top handset.
Huawei‘s newest mid-range phone arrived in China. It’s called the Nova 4 with an all-screen display and a new design to boot. Does the beauty run skin deep and is deemed worthy for a successor?
Design and Construction
If you’ve seen the Nova 3, then the new Nova 4 sports the very same aesthetic, save for noticeable design changes.
Huawei got rid of the notch, and it’s now an all-screen with a cut-out hole at the top-left corner for the 25-megapixel front camera. No call speaker grill here, if you see it from this view. If you’re not down with a hole on your screen, there’s an option to hide it via the settings menu.
The device’s front panel is still a bit flat and is assisted by the arched metal sides and curved glass back for a better hand grip. At the bottom of the phone is the USB Type-C port, a speaker grille, a microphone hole, and two lines that aid in signal reception.
The call speaker grill sits at the topmost edge of the front display, and you’d probably see it better if you look at it from the top. Herein also lies the IR blaster, another microphone hole for noise cancellation, and the 3.5mm audio port. When laid on a flat surface, the protruding rear camera gets in the way.
At the right side of the device are the volume rockers and the power/lock button. Pressing any of these feel well-built and relatively silent. The left side, of the device, on the other hand, houses a dual SIM card tray setup which could be a bummer for some. Sorry folks, no microSD card slot here.
When looked at the back, the phone will remind you of a Nova 3 with the cameras at the corner. This time, a triple module setup of a 20-megapixel, 16-megapixel, and a 2.2-megapixel shooter for depth-of-field, along with the accompanying LED Flash. The fingerprint scanner sits right at the center while the Huawei wordmark is at the lower left part. While it bears an Aurora blue gradient finish, it is a lot lighter in hue compared to the Nova 3 and resembles the one on the Y9 2019.
The glossy finish may leave a few fingerprint smudges and grime from time to time, but its gradient back does a decent job at hiding this. You’d typically enjoy holding an enormous, all-screen phone, but I sometimes find myself uneasy with one-hand operation and use two hands to navigate the device most of the time. The phone also bears a good grip, but its smooth finish may leave one the need to buy some protective gear.
Display and Multimedia
The Nova 4 sports a 6.4-inch Full HD+ IPS display with a 19.25:9 display aspect ratio, amounting to around 398 pixels per inch. While it’s packing a good density, the quality is inconsistent when viewed at different angles. While there are manual options for choosing the color and temperature, it feels a bit lacking compared to what we saw in other Huawei phones with IPS screens.
The punch hole camera sitting at the top-left corner can be a bit distracting at first, especially if you love to watch videos in full screen. If that is the case, you can get it out of the way by enabling the black bar to hide the punch hole.
When it comes to audio, the speaker can fill up a small, quiet room with its 76dB average loudness, and the details are crisp with decent tones and a hint of bass. The included headphones in the package are decent at its best for casual listeners.
This Nova 4 we have for review has a triple camera setup consisting of the 20MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture for low-light shots, a 16MP secondary, and a 2MP as a third lens. The software offers AI scene detection, 480fps slow motion, a night mode, a portrait mode similar to Apple’s new camera mode, AR lens, 3D panorama, and even light painting, to name a few. The camera can digitally zoom up to 10 times, and also offers ultra-wide angle mode at the rear camera.
Colors are vivid and punchy, images are all sharp, we get a decent amount of brightness and contrast, and its dynamic range is quite okay. You may find yourself struggling a bit with low-light and night photography, though, as shots may tend to work slower than the usual since the built-in AI compiles consecutive shots to create a brighter image.
Videos, on the other hand, offer good details and colors, and its gyro-EIS enables the device to record clips with fewer shakes than the usual. Here’s a sample clip.
The Nova 4’s cameras are good for an upper mid-range phone but are nowhere as good as what you could have with its P or Mate series of phones.
OS, UI, and Apps
As with other Huawei devices, the Nova 4 comes with EMUI 9 based on Android 9 Pie inside. The absence of app drawers makes the smartphone use more straightforward, and constant app organization into home screen folders is a must if you want to keep it clutter-free. As we mentioned in our unboxing video, one thing we liked about the Nova 4 is the more simplified way to record what’s on your screen. A two-knock by a single knuckle instantly captures what’s on your screen, while knocking twice with two activates the phone’s video screen recording function.
The company’s homebrew features are also here. Party Mode lets you join more Nova 4s for an amplified loudspeaker experience, while a mirror app allows you have, well, a mirror with a fancy border — think of it as a more fancied version of the phone’s front camera preview.
With a 128GB internal storage built in, would you need more? The Nova 4 has around 113GB of free space left when we first opened the device, that’s just enough for casual phone users who download a few massive games while upping their selfie game.
Performance and Benchmarks
For a smartphone sporting a 2017-released HiSilicon Kirin 970 chip coupled with 8GB of RAM, we expected a lot. True enough, we played a lot using games such as Tekken 7 and Asphalt 8, and we barely noticed any lags or hiccups during our gameplay. Multitasking is also a breeze, but noticeable warmth is felt at the upper left part when heavily used for prolonged periods.
We tested the Nova 4 with our standard benchmark tests, and here are the scores we got:
For a smartphone packed with such beefy hardware, we’re surprised to know that the device’s AnTuTu score ranks even lower than what the Nova 3 could offer. The score also is at not that far when compared to mid-range smartphones bearing Snapdragon 660 or even Helio P60 chips.
Call Quality, Connectivity, and Battery Life
Calls made on the Nova 4 were great. The noise-canceling microphone at the top aids well in effectively eliminating background noise, while the actual microphone at the bottom relays speech audibly and clearly. Connectivity was not an issue — WiFi connects strongly to approved routers, Bluetooth connects quickly, and mobile Internet connection is excellent with 4G LTE.
Security add-ons are also helpful. The fingerprint scanner can accommodate up to five registered fingerprints and reads them well when used to unlock the phone. Face ID is also okay with recognition well-received on brightly-lit environments, while it struggles in low light.
The phone’s battery life was great, thanks to its 3,750mAh battery. Daily use lasted almost 20 hours with moderate calls, texts, and online activities both via WiFi and 4G. It scored 11 hours and 22 minutes in our PCMark battery test, while our video loop test yielded 14 hours and 16 minutes of playback.
The Huawei Nova 4, coined as the successor to the much-favored Nova 3, is a smartphone that we can say could be an all-screen twin of its predecessor. We sure got an all-screen device with an innovative punch-hole camera, triple camera setup, and long battery life. Those, though, does not justify the fact that we’ve seen more significant downsides than that.
For a smartphone line deemed by many as bang-for-the-buck, this specific Nova phone does not meet the performance expectations at CNY 3,099 or roughly PHP 23,100 when converted. While its daily performance is actually good, the benchmark scores do not sit well for a device that features 8GB of RAM and a 2017 flagship chip. The Nova 3, equipped with the same chipset and a slightly smaller RAM, excelled more if we’re talking about that. I can’t call it a worthy successor myself because the upgrades we’ve seen are just incremental.
Huawei Nova 4 specs:
Huawei Nova 4
6.4-inch Full HD+ 19.25:9 display @ 2310 x 1080px, ~398 ppi
HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core (4x Cortex A73 2.36GHz + 4x Cortex A53 1.8GHz) CPU
If you liked the look of the Huawei P20 Pro, but didn’t fancy the price, then the Honor 10 is a solid alternative. It packs the same Kirin CPU as the P20, has an excellent FHD+ screen and a premium design that makes it look and feel way more expensive than it is.
EMUI Android skin is bloated
Some performance bugs
5.84-inch 2280p x 1080p FHD+ display
Kirin 970 CPU
Android Oreo with EMUI
Rear 24-megapixel and 16-megapixel, f/1.8 dual-camera dual-camera, 24-megapixel front camera
What is the Honor 10?
If you liked the look of Huawei’s uber-swish, triple-camera-packing P20 Pro, then the Honor 10 may well be the phone you’re after.
The Honor 10 is a baby Huawei P20 aimed mid-range phone market. It follows the same tried and tested pattern as the Honor 9, stripping the more expensive aspects of Huawei’s current flagship, while retaining its core design features and hardware to offer a great-value smartphone.
Editors Note: Due to the recent retraction of Huawei’s Android license, future Huawei and Honor phones won’t be able to access Google Play Services and as a result many Android apps including YouTube and Gmail. Both Huawei and Google have confirmed Huawei and Honor phones, like the one in this review, will continue to have access for this time being. Until we know more about the situation we’re leaving the scores on all our Huawei reviews, however as the situation changes we’ll revisit this.
The strategy worked a treat on the Honor 9, which was one of 2017’s best mid-range phones – and it generally still works out for the Honor 10. This phone has a pretty, albeit slightly flashy, mixed metal and glass design, a top-end Kirin CPU and solid battery life.
The only real downside is its slightly buggy EMUI software. However, that’s forgivable given the Honor 10’s cost – you’ll still struggle to do better for the money.
Honor 10 – Design
Honor made a huge deal about the 10’s design during its London launch. Specifically it claims to have achieved the super-polished, ridiculously blue finish by stacking more than 15 layers of glass over each other.
But outside of the ultra-bright colouring, the Honor 10 has a similar mixed metal and glass design to pretty much every other flagship to arrive this year. The phone has metal sides and a shiny 2.5D glass back; were it not for the Honor branding, it could easily be mistaken for a Zenfone 5 or LG G7 ThinQ.
It also has the same ‘notch’ that’s become increasingly common since Apple launched its iPhone X. This is a consequence of the phone’s near-bezel-free design. The notch is a rectangular bump breaking up the top of the screen, where the phone’s front camera is housed.
Android P is set to support using the screen around the notch, but as it stands Honor’s set it to display incoming notifications as well as battery life and network availability. Those who wish to can also turn it off in the phone’s settings leaving a plain black bar.
The only minor difference to those other notched phones is the appearance of a 3.5mm socket, and the absence of a rear-facing fingerprint scanner. Instead Honor’s baked the scanner into the home button just under the screen.
Lack of originality aside, the design is solid and ticks all the right boxes when it comes to functionality. It gives the phone a much more premium feel than your average handset.
Build quality is excellent. The glass back has zero give and a seamless, slightly curved join to the metal sides that makes it comfortable to hold. The bottom fingerprint scanner is also wonderfully reactive, though take Honor’s claims of it being an in-screen scanner with a pinch of salt. The scanner sits at the phone’s bottom, in the same location as the home button. The only difference between it and past handsets is that it’s actually under the glass. It’s also a less essential addition since the Honor 10 has a reliable face unlock feature, which lets you open the phone simply by looking at it after registering your identity to it.
My first issue with the phone’s design is that, like all glass-backed phones, it’s an outright smudge magnet. Within minutes of taking the phone out of the box it was covered in marks. I’m also nervous about dropping it. Though it feels solid, I don’t trust any glass-backed phone to survive even a minor accidental drop scratch- or crack-free without a case.
The more serious issue I have with the design is its slightly lacklustre speaker. This sits on the phone’s bottom and, like most standalone units, is at best functional and a far cry from the boombastic dual-driver setups you’ll find on things like the Razer Phone.
It’s just about good and loud enough for watching the odd YouTube clip and playing a round of PUBG. But max volumes are noticeably lower than on most competing handsets. The low end is also fairly weedy.
Going beyond skin-deep, the 128GB of internal storage will be more than enough for most users.
Honor 10 – Display
The Honor 10’s 5.8-inch IPS display is one of the best you’ll find at this price. Blacks aren’t as deep as on competing AMOLED screens, but colours are nicely calibrated and whites are pristinely clean. Holding it next to the Pixel 2, the Google phone’s whites were horribly yellow by comparison.
Those who prefer cooler or warmer colours can also tweak the colour temperature and contrast in the phone’s settings, though by default I kept it in the out-of-the-box Vivid mode.
Max brightness levels don’t match the quoted 1000 nits brightness of LG’s flagship G7 ThinQ and the Honor 10 isn’t Mobile HDR certified. However, at this price you’ll struggle find a handset that does either, and the screen is more than bright enough. On a sunny day in the park the screen remained legible in everything but direct, very bright sunlight.
The HD+ 2280 x 1080 resolution isn’t noticeably higher than regular FHD, as it’s mainly a move to accommodate the phone’s longer 19:9 aspect ratio. You can get higher-resolution phones at this price point, but I never had any issues with it. Text and icons uniformly look sharp and are readable and in general I had no issues with the Honor 10’s display.
I’m a little less enamoured with the software, however, which I cover in detail on the next page of this Honor 10 review.
Honor 10 – Software
Honor phones use the same EMUI skin as parent company Huawei. In the past EMUI has been a key contributor stopping Honor and Huawei phones from achieving top marks on Trusted Reviews for a variety of reasons.
The first is the sheer number of pointless UI changes and duplicate applications it adds to Android. Key offenses here include removing the app tray and rejigging where certain options sit in the settings menu to the point even seasoned Android users can’t find them straight away.
Being fair to both, the skin has gotten a lot better in recent years and makes it easy for you to do simple things such as re-add the app tray. The settings menu has also been cleared up so it’s now fairly easy to find most options. But the fact is that EMUI is still nowhere near as clean or pleasant to use as vanilla Android.
The UI’s full of duplicate apps for things like music, calendar and email. The company’s also ditched the OS Material Design, replacing the app icons with fairly childish looking equivalents. Since Android Nougat the OS design has been pretty nice and I really wish companies would stop feeling the need to make needless changes like this.
Honor 10 – Performance
EMUI also had a terrible track record for impacting phones’ performance. Early Huawei phones running it were terribly buggy and suffered from serious performance degradation over time, in part because of the Android Skin.
Huawei and Honor have done excellent work addressing these issues over the years, but the Honor 10 does still seem to have a few issues. In general the phone is smooth to use, wonderfully reactive and plays even the most demanding of 3D video games, like PUBG, with zero effort.
But it can on occasion still feel a little buggy. At least once a day I notice a very, very minor chug swapping between menu screens or have an application inexplicably crash. The events aren’t anywhere near frequent enough to be deal breakers, but considering the Honor 10’s powerhouse Huawei Kirin 970, octa-core and more than adequate 4GB RAM, they shouldn’t be happening at all after a week’s use. The CPU is the same one seen in Huawei’s premier P20 and P20 Pro phones.
The Honor 10’s synthetic benchmark scores back up my findings, showing the device is, outside of its minor bugs, a powerhouse performer. You can see how it compares to the P20 and Galaxy S9 in the table below.
The other benefit of the Kirin chipset is its AI camera features. These work pretty much the same way as on Huawei’s latest P20 phones. Specifically, the features mean the cameras can intelligently optimise their settings to capture “500+ scenarios in 22 categories” in real time.
These features aren’t at all unique to Honor or Huawei. Qualcomm’s been making a similar move via its latest line of Snapdragon CPUs, and you’ll struggle to find a mid-to-top-tier handset that’s not boasting something similar. Even the (expected to be) more affordable Asus Zenfone 5, has a similar camera feature set.
The only differentiator is the addition of Huawei’s “Semantic Image Segmentation technology”, which apparently lets Kirin 970 phones recognise more than one object in photos. I’m not sure I’ve seen a radical improvement in recognition over other Snapdragon AI cameras I’ve tested, but the tech works just fine on the Honor 10’s dual lens rear camera.
The only downside I’ve noticed is that, for people eyeing the Honor 10 as an affordable alternative to Huawei’s P20 Pro, the camera hardware doesn’t match its more expensive sibling on specs. The Honor 10 is completely free of Leica branding and features a regular 24-megapixel and 16-megapixel, f/1.8 dual-camera setup which is a far cry from the insane triple setup you’ll find on the P20 Pro.
Image quality, particularly in low, or awkward mixed lighting conditions isn’t as good as a result. But compared to other £400 the rear camera is pretty darned good.
The AI mode does add a little bit of processing time, but for the most part it does a decent job fixing blemishes, improving contrast and adding minor bokeh effects to photos. If it’s not to your taste the camera also automatically saves a non-optimised version of the photo that you can check just by tapping the top AI icon on the top right of the camera app UI.
This is important as in very bright conditions, I have noticed the AI camera can oversaturate photos’ colours, though being fair, a lot of people I showed the before and afters to actually prefered the optimised version.
The only real issue I’ve noticed with the AI cam is that, when viewing photos blown up on the big screen, it is sometimes possible to spot mistakes in the processing. These are generally basic things, like areas where pixels have been sloppily cloned or the fake bokeh has accidentally blurred a section it shouldn’t have. I only noticed the issues when viewing the images on a 55-inch TV but it is something to be aware of.
Low-light performance isn’t best in class, but it’s still a cut above what you’d find on most £400 phones. Noise can creep in and there’s definitely some pixelation when you look at photos blown up on a big screen, but they’re usually usable for social media.
Video works well enough, though the lack of any form of stabilisation means you’ll want to invest in a tripod before shooting to avoid unwanted wobbling. The only downside is that the mic feels underpowered, so captured sound quality is fairly poor.
For the more vain amongst us, the 24-megapixel is more than good enough for selfies. Image quality is generally more than good enough for sharing on social media, and the addition of lighting and an AI Portrait mode mean you can take a usable selfie, even when shooting in a dingy bar.
Honor 10 – Battery life
The Honor 10’s 3400mAh isn’t the biggest around for a phone this size, but after a week with it, I’ve found it’s more than good enough.
Using the Honor 10 as my main work and personal smartphone, the handset usually lasts between one to two days on a single charge. Regular use entails listening to music on my morning and evening commute, regularly checking my social media and email feeds, playing the odd round of PUBG, constantly browsing the internet and streaming some video to my Chromecast during the evening.
More intensive tasks put a more serious drain on the battery, but overall life still held up well on the Honor 10. Looping streaming video the Honor 10 lost an average of 8-12% of its charge per hour, which is solid for a phone this size.
Playing demanding 3D games, like PUBG and Riptide GP2, the phone lost a heftier 15-22%, but again this is a decent result. Other handsets I’ve tested have lost as much as a quarter of their charge per hour running the same processes.
The only downside is that, during prolonged gaming sessions the Honor 10 did heat up, though not to the point I noticed any CPU throttling.
Huawei has seen its smartphone strategy flipped on its head in recent weeks. Despite its issues with the US trade ban, the Huawei P30 Pro is an incredible device which can compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and many other flagship devices we’ve seen this year. The Huawei P30 Pro goes beyond featuring some of the best hardware packed into a smartphone, including optics which redefine expectations for a smartphone camera. But there’s much more than just the lenses to be impressed by.
Huawei P30 Pro Review: Optical Excellence!
SAMSUNG GALAXY S10 plus VS HUAWEI P30 PRO
Huawei P30 Pro vs Samsung S10 Plus vs iPhone XS Max Camera Test Comparison
Hardware and Design
Huawei has been refining the look of its P-series smartphones over the years, improving its screen-to-body ratio, rounding out the hard edges and delivering a device that’s as good to look at as it is to hold. The first thing you’ll notice about the Huawei P30 Pro is the reduction of the notch found on the Mate 20 Pro in favor of a waterdrop design with a smaller footprint. There are fewer sensors packed into the notch, unavoidable given the reduction in space, but It’s a much cleaner and less intrusive design.
The second thing you’ll notice, which is a less attractive feature, is how the P30 Pro preserves fingerprints. While the glass finish on the rear of the device makes for a premium feeling smartphone, it gets grubby very quickly without a case. It’s not so much of a problem if you carry your device with a case or skin, but running it naked will leave a very smudgy layer of prints.
The camera array on the back of the device is a satisfying vertical arrangement but does protrude so will wobble when used flat on a desk. The aluminum frame feels solid in the hand, with the heft of a premium device at 192g with a profile of 158 x 73.4 x 8.4 mm and IP68 water resistance. I’m a big fan of the glass Huawei uses on the P30 Pro and the quality feel this gives the device, but it also does mean that any drop will likely be fatal so I would recommend using a case.
There’s the standard USB Type-C charging port on the bottom of the device along with the SIM card slot that supports either 2 SIM cards or a single SIM and Huawei’s proprietary micro memory card.
Huawei has kept the external buttons to a minimum with just the volume rocker and a single button on the right-hand side of the device. Rather than include a dedicated button to trigger an assistant, like some OEM’s have, Huawei has embedded a trigger to call Google Assistant in the power button itself. Complimented by a red accent, the textured button will call Google Assistant with a single press and then trigger the power options with a long press. It is quite tough to get to the power menu without triggering Google Assistant; I’m pretty sure during my time with the device I never actually succeeded in turning off the device without the inadvertent trigger, but how often do you turn your device off these days?
The Huawei P30 Pro is certainly a head turner and, in my opinion, the perfect blend of maximum screen real-estate without the need for a pop-up camera or a notch that takes up the entire status bar. The device feels very tall and narrow in comparison to, for example, the Galaxy S10+, which some may prefer. It does make one-handed operation pretty impossible without giant hands, but Huawei has included accessibility features as part of EMUI to help with that.
Display and Specs
With a 6.47-inch display, the P30 Pro has an impressive 88.6% screen-to-body ratio with extremely slim bezels and a subtle chin at the bottom of the device. It’s not quite as impressive as the full-screen display on the OnePlus 7 Pro but then there are no mechanical moving parts to have to deal with. While the display is certainly sufficient, the OLED display provides a 1080 x 2340 resolution, which is a step down when compared with the likes of the S10+. It provides sufficient performance and quality with 398 pixels-per-inch but for those who care about the low-level specs of the display, the P30 Pro cannot compete with the flagship competition. The P30 Pro out of the box comes preset to a zoom level that made the images and text on the device appear massive, which personally I found uncomfortable. It meant that only 5 or 6 emails would appear on the screen at once in the Gmail app. Some may prefer this zoomed in look but I found it a waste of the big screen. Thankfully, Huawei allows you to configure this and reduce the text size and screen zoom but the default setting seems more aggressive than other OEM’s.
The P30 Pro is powered by Huawei’s in-house HiSilicon Kirin 980 using the 7nm manufacturing process and paired with either 6 or 8GB of RAM depending on storage configuration, which comes in 128, 256, or 512 GB options. Throughout our use of the P30 Pro, it handled everything we threw at it without hesitation. The experience was not limited by the hardware but rather Huawei’s aggressive memory management that would close background apps in favor of preserving battery life.
The 4200mAh battery, while not the largest on paper, in practice, is an absolute powerhouse. The P30 Pro could easily achieve 2 days of light-medium use and even heavy use would allow me to reach the evening with 40% left. This is in no small part due to the power management employed by Huawei’s software that sacrifices background flexibility to extend battery life. This preservation is intrusive but completely customizable and could be a trade-off that most are willing to make to get this kind of battery performance.
On the topic of battery, despite only really needing to charge every other day, the P30 Pro has 40W fast-charging for quickly topping up the battery when you’re in a hurry and also features 15W wireless fast-charging. The P30 Pro also features reverse wireless charging, which while a novelty and not really practical for charging any significant battery, such as a smartphone, can be helpful to top-up accessories like Bluetooth headphones.
Huawei has continued its fingerprint implementation of positioning the sensor under the display. The optical sensor is equally as unreliable as other implementations but much more accurate than the ultrasonic sensor on the S10+.
The Huawei P30 Pro is an impressive device with a spec sheet to support a modern flagship even without considering the camera. However, when the DxOMark-topping optics of the Huawei P30 Pro are brought into the mix, the smartphone is elevated to one of the best of 2019.
The P30 Pro comes equipped with a 40-megapixel f/1.6 27mm wide-angle lens with OIS, a 20-megapixel f/2.2 16mm ultra-wide lens, and the pièce de résistance – an 8-megapixel f/3.4 125mm lens capable of 5x optical zoom and up to 50x digital zoom. All of this is paired with a 3D ToF sensor, dual LED flash, and phase-detection autofocus.
The camera app is packed with Huawei’s AI features, which are capable of automatically detecting scenes to optimize the settings for things like food, animals, HDR, and others. This enables even photographic amateurs to capture amazing shots by not having to fiddle with a ton of camera settings. The app itself is well organized, which allows users to easily switch between the wide-angle modes, as well as engaging the 5x and 10x zoom modes.
Overall, there are very few complaints about the images produced by the P30 Pro. Eagle-eyed viewers would notice that the Huawei image processing often made the images look a bit washed out. Detail, on the other hand, thanks to its excellent sensor capabilities are preserved even at 10x zoom thanks to the AI processing and RYYB sensor. Things become a little unstable as you progress through to the maximum 50x and at that highest zoom setting, the images are relatively unusable without a tripod, and even then don’t expect to preserve much detail. Even so, the capabilities of what the camera on the P30 Pro can do completely change the landscape for smartphone photography across the board.
EMUI has progressed significantly over the years and version 9.1, which is based on Android 9.0, is packed full of features but is a stark departure from a stock Android experience. Many will find the software a steep learning curve with Huawei skinning elements throughout, while others will enjoy the larger fonts, lack of app drawer, and rearranged menus.
Historically, the software has been a stumbling block that would detract from the excellent hardware, but EMUI has evolved and can be managed to no longer make it a deal-breaker. Of course, the elephant in the room means the software on the Huawei P30 Pro is at risk and will cease to function as we know it given recent developments. We’ll keep things short and simple in this section since this landscape is set to drastically change in the coming months.
If camera performance is important to you then the Huawei P30 Pro is a no-brainer. The versatility of the hardware means that the camera is capable of performing and yielding impressive results throughout a number of different scenarios and the AI software doesn’t get in the way, instead, helping the user avoid the need to adjust settings for the optimal shot.
EMUI is a tough learning curve, but its nothing a third-party launcher cannot fix and you soon begin to learn the system. The Huawei P30 Pro takes everything that was good about the Mate 20 Pro and bolts an amazing camera on. Make no mistake, the main talking point about this device is the camera. It does that brilliantly while doing everything else just ok. The battery performance is a strong positive of the P30 Pro but this is at the cost of multitasking and memory management.
The P30 Pro is a well-rounded device that I would have recommended to anyone looking for a flagship device, but the recent sanctions placed on Huawei mean that future and current devices are left in a state of limbo. We will have to see how this plays out and what it means for the wider ecosystem before confidently recommending a Huawei device going forward.
The Bottom Line
An excellent device that takes what was good about the Mate 20 Pro and bolts a game-changing camera on the rear. There are still areas of improvement that could make the P30 Pro even better, but will all be overshadowed by the recent developments with Huawei’s relationship with Google and Android.
quad cameras, punch hole displays, and the Kirin 980
A new challenger has entered the battle of the 2019 budget flagships: Honor. The smartphone brand unveiled its latest flagship smartphone duo, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro, at an event in London today. It’s only been a few months since the Honor View20 launch, but the recent flood of impressive-looking budget flagship smartphones like the OnePlus 7, Xiaomi Mi 9, and ASUS ZenFone 6 has prompted Honor to launch new smartphones with significant camera upgrades over the last generation model to stay competitive.
The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro have all the hallmarks of a 2019 budget flagship: a speedy processor in the Kirin 980, a nearly bezel-less display, a beautiful design, and multiple cameras on the back. But the same is true for all the other budget flagships, so Honor’s latest devices are no longer in the position that the Honor View20 was when it came to market in January. Honor needs to do more than just check off the list of flagship-tier specifications if they want people to buy their latest smartphones. Let’s cover everything we know about the new Honor 20 series to see how it stands up to the competition.
Honor 20 Pro First Impressions
Check out our first impressions of the Honor 20 Pro from TK Bay on our YouTube channel.
Above: Honor 20. Below: Honor 20 Pro.
Honor 20 Series Design
The Honor 20 Pro with an “All-view” punch hole display.
You’d be hard pressed to tell the new Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro apart from one another. Unlike “Pro” models from other smartphone brands, the Honor 20 Pro doesn’t have a better display than the Honor 20. Instead, both models have a 6.26-inch “All-view” IPS LCD with a 4.5mm hole punch in the top-left corner.
Honor boasts that their hole punch is still the smallest of its kind, resulting in the two devices having a 91.6% screen-to-body ratio. That means there’s more screen on the front of the phone than on the Xiaomi Mi 9, OnePlus 7, and Samsung Galaxy S10 series, but the ASUS ZenFone 6 and OnePlus 7 Pro have higher screen-to-body ratios at 92% and 93.22% respectively. The ASUS ZenFone 6 and OnePlus 7 Pro achieve such high screen-to-body ratios by moving the front camera to a mechanical flip-top and pop-up camera module respectively, which has their trade-offs in durability and facial recognition speed. On the other hand, the 32MP front camera sensor on the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro is located under the display where the hole punch is located.
The Honor 20 Pro in Phantom Blue.
Honor created a great-looking phone in the Honor View20 with its reflective glass back creating a “V-shaped color gradient with a gleaming effect.” Honor is following up on the View20 with an equally impressive design on the Honor 20 series. The company is calling the design on the back their “Dynamic Holographic Design” which employs a two-stage process to create a 3D curved glass back with a “depth-inducing” optical effect.
The Honor 20 series comes in 4 different colors: Midnight Black and Safari Blue for the base model and Phantom Blue and Phantom Black for the higher-end model. Oddly, the Phantom Blue appears greenish in person while the Phantom Black looks purple.
Camera and Fingerprint Scanner Placement
Both the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro have 4 cameras on the rear, though as expected the Pro model has slightly better camera hardware. The difference between the two models isn’t as substantial as the difference between the Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro, though, so you’re not missing out significantly by opting for the regular model.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S10e, the Honor 20 series have side-mounted fingerprint scanners embedded in the power button. Honor couldn’t pack an optical fingerprint sensor underneath the display like the Xiaomi Mi 9 or OnePlus 7 because the Honor 20 series has an LCD; the company also likely didn’t go for an ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor to save cost. While having an under-display fingerprint scanner is cool, the side-mounted physical sensor is more practical since unlocking happens within 0.3 seconds of placing your finger on the power button. No need to wake the screen before using the fingerprint scanner – you turn on the screen with the power button and unlock the phone at the same time.
Although both of Honor’s latest flagships have quad rear cameras, there are a few subtle differences between the two even among the shared image sensors. Here’s a rundown of the camera hardware on both models:
The main difference between the cameras on the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro is that the Honor 20’s 2MP Depth Assist sensor is substituted for an 8MP Telephoto sensor with OIS on the Honor 20 Pro. The 48MP main camera on the Honor 20 Pro also has OIS and a wider f/1.4 aperture for better low-light photography.
Honor is bringing back the 48MP AI Ultra Clarity mode from the View20. This mode allows both Honor 20 models to take sharper 48MP photos by combining multiple 48MP shots over a 5-second interval. If you’re not a fan of overly processed images, then you can use the Pro Mode to save in RAW.
Honor’s “AIS Super Night Mode” is also returning, making it possible to take handheld long-exposure shots that aren’t overexposed and still retain a good amount of detail. There are 4 steps in the process: handheld detection, light detection, image processing to compensate for shakes, and image compositing. The “AI” in “AIS” comes from the fact that the Kirin 980 analyzes sensor data from the gravity sensor and gyroscope to compensate for handheld shaking by “moving the lenses in the opposite direction of the motion in the picture.”
Unlike the Huawei P30 which uses auto-focus on its wide-angle lens for macro shots, both the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro have a 2MP 4cm fixed-focus Macro lens. Users will have to manually select the Macro mode in the camera app to take photos close to the subject, but Honor is considering adding a recommendation to Master AI to automatically switch to the mode when appropriate. The inclusion of a dedicated Macro lens is interesting since the Huawei Mate 20 and Huawei P30 series both pull off awesome Macro photography without a dedicated lens. Honor is still experimenting with what works, like when they had a TOF sensor on the Honor View20. The idea is to allow users to take photos at all distances. With a wide-angle, telephoto, and macro lens, nothing is too far or too close to take a photo of.
While the wide-angle lens on both smartphones isn’t stabilized, Honor has brought its Super Night Shot camera mode to the wide-angle lens. On the Honor 20 Pro, they’ve also added a 30X digital zoom option and a handheld “moon shot” which, like the Huawei P30 Pro, uses AI to optimize details in photos taken of the moon. The Huawei P30 Pro’s Moon Mode raised suspicions that the camera software was replacing the moon in the image, but Huawei shot down those rumors in a statement to AndroidAuthority.
“Moon Mode operates on the same principle as other master AI modes, in that it recognizes and optimizes details within an image to help individuals take better photos. It does not in any way replace the image – that would require an unrealistic amount of storage space since AI mode recognizes over 1,300 scenarios. Based on machine learning principles, the camera recognizes a scenario and helps to optimize focus and exposure to enhance the details such as shapes, colors, and highlights/lowlights. This feature can be turned on or off easily while taking a photo. While there is a Moon Mode, the shot can still be taken without AI mode because of the periscope lens.” – Huawei spokesperson in response to inquiries about the Huawei P30 Pro’s Moon Mode.
We’re hopeful that Honor is using the same algorithm, but we’ll have to test the Honor 20 Pro’s own moon shot mode to see how it stacks up against the Huawei P30 Pro’s version. We’ll also test the camera quality on the Honor 20 series, and in particular, on the Honor 20 Pro. Famed camera testing lab DxOMark has already rated the Honor 20 Pro with a score of 111 overall (117 for Photo and 97 for Video), tying the OnePlus 7 Pro but barely falling behind the Huawei P30 Pro and 5G Samsung Galaxy S10.
For high-end performance, Honor has equipped the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro with the latest 7nm HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC. The CPU on the Kirin 980 consists of 2 ARM Cortex-A76 cores @ 2.60GHz, 2 ARM Cortex-A76 cores @ 1.92GHz, and 4 ARM Cortex-A55 cores @ 1.80GHz. The GPU is ARM’s Mali-G76MP10. In raw performance, the CPU is slightly bested by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 while falling significantly behind it in GPU performance benchmarks.
Benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, though. Our test of the Honor View20 against the most performance-intensive Android games from Google Play as well as emulators of retro game consoles proved that the Kirin 980 is more than capable of handling whatever you throw at it. Furthermore, the Honor 20 series launches with Magic UI 2.1, a re-branded EMUI 9.1, out of the box. The software, based on Android 9 Pie, comes with an upgraded GPU Turbo 3.0 for faster touch responses and lower energy consumption in supported games. One of those supported games, Fortnite, is getting some special attention by Honor. The company has worked with Epic Games to allow players to run Fortnite Mobile at 60FPS, and they’re also offering another exclusive Fortnite skin.
The available memory and storage capacities will be more than enough to handle your needs. With up to 8GB LPDDR4X RAM, the Honor 20 series can handle multi-tasking between games, documents, music playback, and most importantly, Google Chrome tabs. With up to 256GB, Honor’s new devices have enough storage to hold your photos, videos, documents, and other media files. Sadly, the storage is non-expandable. Honor has yet to support Huawei’s NM Card standard, which would allow the second nanoSIM slot to be used for expandable storage. The storage meets the UFS 2.1 standard which is still plenty fast, but slower than the new UFS 3.0 standard in storage benchmarks. How much of a day-to-day improvement a move to UFS 3.0 storage would make is something we can’t say, however.
Battery Life and Charging
Although both smartphones are the same thickness, the Honor 20 Pro has a slightly larger battery at 4000mAh versus 3750mAh on the standard model. At least charging speeds are equivalent between the two devices, with both supporting 22.5W SuperCharge 1.0. So far, the only Honor smartphone to support the faster 40W SuperCharge 2.0 is the China-only Honor Magic 2.
Honor has equipped both of its latest smartphones with “Virtual 9.1 Surround Sound.” This allows the user to hear where the sound is coming from, which can be useful if you’re playing a game with directional sound like PUBG Mobile. It requires the use of headphones, though. Honor says most headphones and earphones will work, fortunately. I don’t know if Honor developed this audio technology in-house or if they’re licensing it from a company, but I have heard similar technology in-person so I can say that it’s not a gimmick. Lastly, Honor is introducing what they’re calling “AI frequency compensation” to reduce earphone irritation and fatigue.
The Honor 20 series has a single speaker, but unlike the Honor View20, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll have to use the USB Type-C port or Bluetooth to take advantage of “Virtual 9.1 Surround Sound.”
Honor is shipping both smartphones with its custom Android 9 Pie-based software called “Magic UI 2.1.” Magic UI 2.1 is EMUI 9.1 in all but name as it has the same design, features, and apps. EMUI 9.1 is a minor improvement over EMUI 9.0, which we’ve already reviewed extensively in a two-part review.
EMUI 9.1 offers a few improvements over EMUI 9.0 such as the upgraded GPU Turbo 3.0, a new Assistant power button shortcut, new icons, and other under-the-hood changes. All of EMUI’s best features are there including Easy Projection, full-screen navigation gestures, and Digital Balance.
Now, this is where things get a little tricky. Days before the Honor 20 launch, Reuters published an explosive report alleging that Google has revoked Huawei’s Android license. Statements made by Google and Huawei strongly suggest that this indeed has happened, though the U.S. Government has given Huawei a 3-month reprieve. We’ve covered all the details of what this means and the latest updates in this article, so be sure to read it thoroughly.
Honor operates as a separate brand under the Huawei Consumer Business Group, so it’s unclear if the restrictions on Huawei apply to Honor as well. If they do, then that puts Honor in a tough spot. Will the company be able to update the Honor 20 to Android Q? Will they be able to roll out timely security updates? As the U.S. trade war with China plays out, we’ll have to see how it affects Honor’s business. If we learn more information about Honor’s software update policy in light of the recent news, we’ll update this article.
Miscellaneous Odds & Ends
Honor is one of the few smartphone brands that still includes an IR blaster in their smartphones, and that’s still true for the Honor 20 series.
Pricing and Availability
The Honor 20 costs 499 Euros for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage model. On the other hand, the Honor 20 Pro will cost 599 Euros for the 8GB RAM + 256GB storage model. In India, Honor has partnered with Flipkart for sales.
Last year’s Huawei P20 Pro flagship set a new bar for Huawei in terms of photography capabilities and popularity for the company’s new design language. After hitting a stride, the new Huawei P30 Pro takes everything that made the P20 Pro a hit and aims to build on it. The question is whether the new handset does enough to stand out in today’s competitive marketplace.
Photography, design, and performance have all been knocked up a notch this year. The new camera boasts much improved low light and zoom capabilities, there’s a new Kirin 980 SoC onboard, and that awesome looking Amber Sunrise color option. But does the P30 Pro do enough to make it a worthwhile yearly upgrade?
Specs vs specs
The two handsets are similarly sized, though the P30 Pro is slightly larger. The handset offers more screen real estate thanks to its thinner bezels and lack of chin. The P30 Pro offers a 6.47-inch curved OLED with a taller 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The P20 Pro features a 6.1-inch OLED panel with 18.7:9 ratio. As such, the P30 Pro offers 2,340 x 1,080 pixels of resolution versus 2,240 x 1,080.
The heart of the latest Huawei P-series models replaces the Kirin 970 with a faster Kirin 980. That’s the same chip found inside last year’s Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The Kirin 980 also doubles the power of its NPU for AI and machine learning applications, while also providing a faster Cat. 21 LTE modem and better power efficiency thanks to its 7nm manufacturing node.
The chip boasts faster CPU and GPU capabilities too. Numbers point to a 46-percent boost to graphics performance and a 75-percent jump in single-core CPU grunt. If you’re after raw performance, the Huawei P30 Pro certainly trumps the Huawei P20 Pro, although the Kirin 970 is no slouch in day-to-day applications.
Huawei P30 Pro
Huawei P20 Pro
6.47-inch dual-curved OLED display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
6.1-inch OLED display
18.7:9 aspect ratio
2,240 x 1,080 resolution
Huawei has beefed up the RAM available in the P30 Pro. Capacity is set at 8GB versus 6GB inside the Huawei P20 Pro. Although both are overkill for Android’s needs and handle multi-task demanding apps without issue.
A bigger win for the P30 Pro can be found in memory. The P20 Pro is available with 128GB of memory and sans any external storage option. That’s a reasonable allowance, but heavy media users will probably want more. The Huawei P30 Pro starts at 128GB and is available in 256 and 512GB. The handset also supports Huawei’s Nano Memory card. Although we would prefer the cheaper and more universal microSD card format.
A 4,200mAh battery powers the new handset, which is a fraction larger than the Huawei P20 Pro’s 4,000mAh cell. Both phones easily take the vast majority of users into a second day on a single full charge. Perhaps more importantly, the P30 Pro boasts the 40W SuperCharge capabilities from the Mate 20 Pro. This can save you up to 40 minutes on a full charge cycle versus the already very fast charging P20 Pro.
Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro cameras
Enough techno-waffle, if you’re interested in a new Huawei phone then you’re probably someone who likes to take the odd picture or two. Quite a lot has changed with their cameras between the Huawei P20 Pro and new P30 Pro, although there are some similarities to the formula.
To recap, the Huawei P20 Pro offered the industry’s biggest sensor in a while, clocking in at 40MP for highly details shots. This was paired up with a 20MP monochrome sensor used to enhance dynamic range and low light detail. Finally, an 8MP 3x telephoto lens offered flexible shooting at a distance. It was a solid package that continues to be one of the best performing smartphone cameras.
Huawei ditched the monochrome sensor in last year’s Mate 20 Pro in favor of the extra shooting flexibility offered by a wide-angle camera. This setup remains in place with the P30 Pro. However, the 40MP main sensor has been revamped with a new RYB design that should improve low-light performance. Huawei was keen to highlight this particular point during its launch presentation. Based on my hands-on time with the phone, well lit shots look much the same as the P20 Pro (although I’m tempted to give the lead to the older model). We’ll have to see how well the phone performs in low light to draw final conclusions.
OIS across all sensors is a big improvement over the P20 Pro, which relied on software stabilization
Another major change is the introduction of a periscope zoom camera in the P30 Pro. This replaces the 3x telephoto lens in the P20 Pro. The newer model boasts a 5x optical zoom, extendable up to 10x with Huawei’s super-resolution Hybrid Zoom technology. Detail at a distance is simply excellent with the P30 Pro, although at medium zoom ranges is a much closer contest. The Huawei P30 Pro also supports a TOF sensor for AR/VR applications and improved bokeh blur. The P20 Pro’s Portrait mode suffers from common edge detection issues with hair and transparent objects. Hopefully, the TOF sensor will iron out these issues.
On paper, the Huawei P30 Pro is certainly the more flexible shooter. But we’ll have to wait and see which of the two is best in terms of quality.
Extra features make the difference
In this P20 Pro user’s option, the biggest differentiator in the Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro battle comes down to the extras. The P20 Pro was arguably lacking many of the little touches that make Samsung Galaxy handsets worth the premium. Fortunately, Huawei has addressed this with the P30 Pro.
Wireless charging is a premium feature that the P20 Pro really missed out on. Competitors including Samsung and LG have been offering this feature for a while, so it’s great that Huawei is finally caught up. The option to use reverse wireless charging to power up your Qi-enabled accessories is another nice touch.
The P30 Pro also boasts a slightly improved IP68 versus IP67 rating for water and dust resistance. The optical in-display fingerprint scanner is also neat. Although the P20 Pro’s capacitive scanner is so fast that some might prefer the older design. Using the display as a speaker is another cool trick right out of LG’s playbook, although there’s nothing wrong with a conventional speaker.
The P30 Pro packs in the the extras, but its improved design is the biggest draw.
Personally, I think the P30 Pro pulls ahead in terms of design. Aesthetically, the rear camera design, notch, and curved display look a lot better than the P20 Pro — and that phone is already a looker. Better still, the curved back and front glass means the P30 Pro sits perfectly in the hand. It’s an even nicer phone to hold and use than the P20 Pro, which already handles better than most other over-six-inch handsets.
The P30 Pro doesn’t get everything perfect. The lack of a headphone jack will be a sore thumb for some, EMUI 9.1 still has a few too many settings just like EMUI 9, and the camera interface could certainly be better. Fortunately, both phones are running Android 9 Pie and Huawei’s software is perfectly serviceable and nippy to boot.
Huawei P30 Pro vs P20 Pro: Which should I buy?
The Huawei P30 Pro price tag starts at 999 euros ($1,130) and can cost up to 1,249 euros ($1,410) for the 512GB model. The 128GB P20 Pro launched at 100 euros cheaper, just 899 euros. The P30 Pro is offering more for your money, but it’s on the expensive side. Especially now that you can grab a P20 Pro for around 500 euros, which is even cheaper than the regular Huawei P30 too.
If you want all the latest tech that Huawei has to offer, there’s no arguing with the value proposition of the new Huawei P30 Pro. Between an excellent camera, high-end performance, and an improved design, buyers won’t be left disappointed. However, the P20 Pro still offers value for those looking for an excellent camera experience in a hardware and software package that still feels up-to-date. Those who already own a P20 Pro probably won’t be feeling the urge to upgrade already.
“Foldable” is clearly the buzz -word of 2019. Well, that and 5G – a rather confusing situation that has been causing some evident confusion among manufacturers. Huawei clearly decided on a Pokemnon, “Gotta Catch ‘EM All” approach to the situation with the Mate X – a truly head-turning device that both rocks a foldable display and what Huawei claims is the faster 5G connectivity around.
Having said that, “rocks” is kind of a misleading way to put things, since the Mate X is far from a finished device ready for end-user markets. In fact, it falls squarely in the prototype category for quite a few reasons. Not only did it stop by and MWC with pretty much no hardware details, but it was also showcased vary sparingly, mostly from a distance and often even in a glass box.
This seems to be a common theme when it comes to this initial batch of foldable display handsets. The Samsung Galaxy Fold got very limited exposure. Clearly the tech just isn’t ready for prime time quite yet – a slightly annoying fact we’ve just had to deal with at MWC 2019.
Having said all thins, it should come as no surprise that the Mate X, in its current form, fas mostly teases from a design standpoint, lacking almost any particulars about hardware. Still, a first look is better than nothing, so read on for a more in-depth look into what could very well be the near mobile future.
We still have a very limited pool of foldable display devices to use as reference points from a design standpoint. The Samsung Galaxy Fold and a few scattered concept devices are hardly anything to go by. Especially seeing how getting some actual hands-on time with any of them is nearly impossible at this stage.
That being said, we feel confident enough in saying that Huawei‘s first approach to the foldable trend is radically different from Samsung’s. If nothing else, Huawei has its panel on the outside surface of the device.
Whether or not that’s a better approach overall still remain to be seen in the long run, but there are some particular details that already stand out. First off, a panel on the outside is clearly more exposed. With this particular design, there will probably be no way of handling the Mate X without you or some potentially harder surface being in contact with a portion of the screen.
No big deal right? Just let Gorilla Glass or whatever flexible alternative there is handle that. Well, there is still little info or any actual practical real-world experience to go by when in comes to the durability of this new breed of foldable displays. From our brief contact with a few our initial impressions are that the surface lack most of that hard glass feeling we have grown used to with Corning’s Gorilla Glass offerings. Instead It feels a bit more “silky”, if that makes any sense. We are hesitant to outright call it plastic, though. But even so, the feeling it gives off is not instantly confidence-inducing.
We’ll just leave it at that for now, but it is worth noting that Huawei will be offering what it calls a “Full cover case” for the Mate X. Whatever one might look like.
Before we move on to the rest of the Mate X‘s body and construction we do have another note to make about its display and particularly the way it looks in person. Even since we laid eyes on the first foldable OLED concepts we have been wondering about visual fidelity, panel quality and especially distortion. From what we saw of the Samsung Galaxy Fold on stage, there was definitely a noticeable seam on its display, even when fully unfolded.
Now, this might be an early prototype unit issue. We sure hope so. But even so, when fully unfolded the Mate X looks almost perfectly flat and nearly distortion-free. Unfortunately, without more extensive access to either device that’s as far as we can take this preliminary comparison.
Introduce any angle of fold and distortions become the main thing that gets displayed on the seam of the Mate X. Hardly surprising. Huawei is clearly aware of this, since the are of the screen right above the fold gets disabled when the Mate X is closed up. Folding phones naturally present challenges beyond the display itself. Purely mechanical ones at that – something the mobile industry had mostly left in the past during the “slab” design era of smartphone. Well, the hinge found its way back on to blueprints and its going to be a very important part of this new breed of devices. Huawei calls its design falcon wing.
It has five joints which deliver pretty fluent motion. There seems to be some built-in lock in the fully open state and although the joint never really appears straight, the display seems to lay almost perfectly flat. Like we already mentioned. When fully folded, the Mate X is held in its compact state by a few small pins on the inside of a groove on what we would call the back of the device?
It’s all rather relative, of course, but the Mate X does have a slightly thicker segment on one end, which houses the camera setup and a type-C port. Probably more less apparent hardware as well. Said segment measures 11mm and exactly represents the total or maximum thickness of the Mate X. Unfolded, the displays are just around 5.4mm thick.
There might just be a power button, plus fingerprint reader combo somewhere on that segment of the phone as well, since Huawei did mention it as one of the few Mate X specs details it shared. The side of the phone appears to have a volume rocker and a fingerprint reader underneath. There is clearly a button beneath the camera arrangement as well, though in an admittedly odd location. Join us on the next page for a run-down of the other hardware details we know about the Mate X.
We’ve been tiptoeing around this in the design section, but the two segments of the Mate X‘s panel are clearly different in size. The smaller one is a 6.38-inch one, with a resolution of 2480×892 and an aspect of 25:9. The other is a 6.6-inch unit, with a resolution of 2480×1148 and a 19.5:9 aspect. When fully unfolded those add up to a total surface area of 8 inches and a resolution of 2480 x 2038 (8:7.1). Quite a respectable tablet-grade work area.
We also feel like we should mention that the panel is of the AMOLED variety. Though in the current state of display tech folding is only achievable with OLED.
Another aspect of the Mate X we’ve already put off talking about for long enough is its 5G connectivity. As per Huawei‘s own PR team, the Mate X hold the title of world’s fastest 5G phone. While on the subject of titles, the same team has also tossed around: “world’s slimmest foldable phone”, as well as the more general: “world’s fasted charging phone”, “best in-class selfies” and “world’s fastest 5G phone”. We’ll get to charging in a bit.
As far as 5G goes, Huawei will have its own Balong 5000 modem inside the Mate X. Apparently thanks to its quad antenna design it can achieve speeds up to 4.6Gbps, while competitors like Qualcomm’s X50 and the Exynos 5100 cap out at around 2.4Gbps. Clearly all this will depend on the quality of the network available. Which, by the way, is still mostly non-existent in most places and won’t really become a thing for some time to come. This leaves us mostly doubting the practicality of this “weird flex”, so to say.
In fact, the thing we are more curious about is whether Huawei has managed or alternatively is planning to attach the Balong 5000 to anything other than the Kirin 980 chipset. Rumors and leaks prior to MWC featured numerous mentions of a familiar Kirin 980 chip. So did Huawei‘s presentation at the event. While not intrinsically bad in any way, it is already rather dated silicon and will only age more before the Mate X gets released.
Moving on to battery, Huawei quoted 4,500mAh for the Mate X. The design incorporates a dual battery design, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Circling back to the self-awarded “world’s fasted charging phone” title, the Mate X should feature 55W Huawei SuperCharge tech. Huawei says this should be able to pump the battery from empty to a whopping 85% in just 30 minutes. Indeed, SuperCharge is currently the top dog around when it comes to fast charging.
Last, but not least, we should probably address the camera situation on the Mate X and the last of those titles we mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, like most hardware aspects of the phone at this stage, its camera setup is clearly not finalized nor is Huawei offering any details on it. In fact, we spotted the Mate X with a four camera arrangement in some of the company’s renders.
The actual unit we got to see at the Barcelona show floor appeared to have a trio of snappers along with a single flash and the familiar Leica logo. Naturally, there is no dedicated selfie camera. You just use the main one for that, along with a viewfinder on the folded smaller display section.
Unfortunately that’s all the hardware info we currently have on the Huawei Mate X. Many potentially important pieces are still missing from the puzzle. Judging by the company’s often vague answers to particular questions and the fact that the unit we was on the show floor was the only unit available, we don’t really expect to many particulars to get cleared up in the immediate future.
Circling back to our original point – everybody is clearly excited about foldable displays, as well as 5G and the possibilities they enable. We don’t wish to sound cynical either – we are very pumped about the new generation of blazing fast and ultra low-latency mobile networks. Even more so about the major upcoming well overdue shift in mobile phone design. We can’t wait to see what manufacturers do with some tried and true old form factors and some new ones that are now achievable.
It’s just that sheer excitement appears to be tampling practicality and market realities and possibilities at the moment. It seems to be a common trend at MWC this year and one that Huawei is participating fully in with the Mate X – the single prototype for a future dream it decided to bring to the Barcelona show.
You can expect initial Huawei Mate X availability in the second half of this year, with an eye-watering price tag of EUR 2299 for an 8GB + 512GB unit.