Test Huawei P20 Pro: one of the best smartphones of the year

Presentation

Huawei P20 Pro is the spearhead of the Chinese manufacturer's smartphone range. Coming with a good dose of assets, it marks above all Huawei's desire to show that it can come and play on the field of its rivals, notably Apple and Samsung. This competition unfortunately involves an increase in sales price: the P20 Pro is launched at €899, compared to €799 for the P10 Plus last year. However, the P20 Pro remains cheaper than a Samsung Galaxy S9+ (€959) and far from the €1,159 Apple is asking for iPhone X. The race for the best smartphone is also about price.

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P20 Pro, Huawei's new spearhead.

Ergonomics and design

On could blame theP10 for its lack of imagination on the design side. Huawei is making up for it with its P20 Pro, which brings a breath of fresh air to the manufacturer's range. Of course, no one will have missed it, the screen of the Chinese flagship has a notch on it. A cleaving enclave that has the merit of being smaller than that of the iPhone X. The P20 Pro can accommodate this by distributing the notification, network and battery icons on either side. It also remains possible for "encochophobes" to make this peninsula disappear by deactivating the screen areas on either side.

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notch, love it or hide it.

Sur leP20 Lite, we wondered about the relevance of this notch, as it was accompanied by a black stripe at the bottom of the screen. The P20 Pro makes the same choice as its little brother, but optimizes this space under the screen to integrate the fingerprint reader. This placement makes it always accessible, even when the smartphone is placed on a table. The reader falls under the thumb without a problem and unlocks the P20 Pro very quickly.

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An facade fingerprint reader, an endangered species.

Comme still on Huawei's high-end smartphones, the finishes are exemplary. The P20 Pro exudes elegance, with its metal rim and glass back. However, this material has the same flaw as usual, namely its annoying tendency to retain fingerprints.

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An elegant shiny back, but sensitive to fingerprints.

Huawei is catching up on an important point by offering this P20 Pro with IP67 certification (dust and water resistant up to 1 m for 30 min). This waterproofness has become a must for high-end smartphones: it guarantees that the nearly €1,000 smartphone we've just bought won't die from an unfortunate fall in a watery environment.

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Pas 3.5 mm jack plug.

On may, however, regret that the P20 Pro is missing the microSD port, even though the amount of internal memory is comfortable (128 GB). The 3.5mm headphone jack also disappears, but Huawei provides a USB-C adapter with its toy.

Screen

L he screen of the P20 Pro is distinguished not only by its 19:9 ratio and notch, but also by its tile technology. Huawei seems to be taking the Oled's fold, following in the footsteps of theMate 10 Pro. The tile looks a lot like Samsung's Super Amoled tiles, with a diamond-shaped sub-pixel arrangement. The main interest of the Oled here is its almost infinite contrast ratio, far ahead of LCD technologies. This is done without sacrificing the maximum brightness, which reaches 581 cd/m², allowing easy reading in bright sunlight, especially since the light reflection rate is only 8%. In the dark, the P20 Pro does not burn the user's retina, with brightness as low as 3.5 cd/m².

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An very successful Oled screen.

Désormais, Huawei systematically takes particular care with the colorimetry of its smartphone screens. The P20 Pro offers two colorimetric profiles. By default, the "Vivid Colors" mode is active. Unsurprisingly, it lacks fidelity, in addition to being rather cold. Switching to the "Normal Colors" mode is recommended for those looking for the best rendering. Once this mode is selected, we measure an excellent delta E at 1.6, among the lowest in our comparison and a guarantee of very faithful colors. And for once, there's no need to choose the "Warm" setting to get a good color temperature: the P20 Pro offers a temperature of 6,070 K, already a little too warm compared to the standard of 6,500 K.

P20 Pro introduces a new display mode called "Natural Colors". This mode is reminiscent of Apple's True Tone mode. It adjusts the color temperature according to the lighting environment. The stronger the ambient light, the colder the screen and vice versa.

Enfin, the P20 Pro's screen responsiveness is slightly above the average of our comparison. We note a touch delay of 69 ms, compared to 87 ms on average, and zero afterglow.

Performances

SoC Kirin 970 in the P20 Pro is the same as the one found in the Mate 10 Pro. It comes with 6 GB of RAM, which ensures excellent performance for all uses. You will have to be very picky to detect a weakness during use.

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Températures found during the CPU + iGPU solicitation.

Avec At its power, the P20 Pro shows some signs of heating up when subjected to heavy loads. The front side of the P20 Pro shows up to 40 °C and the rear side up to 38 °C. Temperatures that can be uncomfortable after a while, but then drop back down very quickly.

La The Mali-G72 MP12 graphics chip is one of the most powerful in the smartphone market. It opens wide the doors of the Play Store to the P20 Pro, allowing it to play even the most graphics-intensive games. It's enough to satisfy video game enthusiasts on the go.

Audio

Comme mentioned above, the P20 Pro does not have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Therefore, it is necessary to arm yourself with a wireless headset or use the supplied USB-C adapter. As is often the case with Huawei, the output level of the adapter is not very high and very power-hungry headphones may lack power. On the other hand, this adapter leaves no room for distortion and delivers a fairly wide dynamic range. The stereo image rendering is in the middle range.

Huawei gratifies its P20 Pro with two speakers for multimedia. One is positioned on the edge and the other on the front. They offer good stereo, with comfortable power for watching a movie or even listening to some music. However, be careful not to push the volume to the maximum, otherwise you may hear distortion at the top of the spectrum.

Photo

We have devoted a complete article to some of the photo performances of the Huawei P20 Pro. Huawei claims to offer a rebirth to photography, which is not the case. However, when it comes to picture quality, the P20 Pro is a step up from the P10 and competes with the Samsung Galaxy S9. The 40 MP sensor does not fully meet our expectations and does not manage to catch up with the best students like theHTC U11+ or theLG G6.

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In low light, Huawei puts an end to several years of wandering and finally manages to offer a good result. Admittedly, it's a long way from the fantastic promises made when the smartphone was announced, but it's a clear step forward that allows the P20 Pro to prove itself almost up to the mark.

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P20 Pro has no less than 3 photo modules on the back. In addition to the main module and its 40 MP sensor, mentioned above, Huawei is replicating the P10's 20 MP monochrome sensor module. This one is still very good and as interesting as ever. Although there are hardly any benchmarks on the market, this little "extra" from Huawei is still a sure thing.

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3rd and last photo module is based on an 8MP sensor and an 80mm equivalent lens. It is one of the longest crossed focal lengths on smartphones (most competitors are satisfied with a 50 to 56 mm equivalent lens for their add-on module). In the example above, we compare the TV rendering of the P20 Pro to that of the Galaxy Note 8. It is easy to see that Huawei's smartphone does very well, even though it offers a longer focal length. The P20 Pro offers one of the best telephoto lens performance on the market for smartphones.

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Trois photo modules on the back, is that enough?

In video, the Huawei P20 Pro can edit up to UHD definition (3,840 x 2,160 px) at 30 fps. This is a definition that should be avoided if light is not sufficient, otherwise electronic noise will appear in masses. Full HD (1920 x 1080 px) at 30 fps is still the best at all conditions - and here, smartphones are almost all in the same boat. A slow motion mode allows you to shoot in HD (1280 x 720 px) at 960 fps, just like on the Galaxy S9. While the small slow-motion replays created look pretty good, keep in mind that this feature is only viable in very good lighting conditions.

front sensor displays 24 Mpx at the meter. While it produces good quality images, it is difficult to find a real gain in detail compared to the competition, which is satisfied with less defined sensors. The P20 Pro's front-end module is quick to smooth out the finest details, but almost always provides good exposure of the face. The "3D lighting" mode, which is reminiscent of an iPhone X feature, is not very convincing.

Autonomy

Here again, we feel that Huawei has put the emphasis on optimizing its smartphone. The choice to stay on a Full HD+ definition also pays off in terms of autonomy. On our SmartViser test protocol, the P20 Pro held for 16 hours 32, a score that places it in the top tier of high-end smartphones. It equals the score of its cousin theHonor View 10 and exceeds that of the Samsung Galaxy S9. In practice, the Huawei P20 Pro can withstand two full days of standard use and about a day and a half of extended use. A very good score for a smartphone that is not stingy on power.