New to the market is the latest flagship smartphone from Huawei. Following the Mate series, last year’s Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are succeeded by the Mate 20 and the Mate 20 Pro, featuring the 7nm Hisilicon Kirin 980 chipset, along with a whole new design with added features. Out of the two, the Mate 20 Pro is aiming for the upsell, with new features such as reverse wireless charging, an OLED HDR display, an IP68 rating, a larger battery, and support for a 40W Supercharge.

Huawei Mate 20's
  Mate 20 Pro Mate 20 Mate 20 X
SoC HiSilicon Kirin 980

2x Cortex A76 @ 2.60 GHz
2x Cortex A76 @ 1.92 GHz
4x Cortex A55 @ 1.80 GHz
GPU Mali G76MP10 @ 720MHz
Display 6.39" OLED
3120 x 1440 (19.5:9)
6.53" RGBW LCD
2244 x 1080 (18.7:9)
7.2" OLED
2244 x 1080 (18.7:9)
Size Height 157.8 mm 158.2 mm  
Width 72.3 mm 77.2 mm  
Depth 8.6 mm 8.3 mm  
Weight 189 grams 188 grams  
Battery Capacity 4200mAh

40W SuperCharge

22.5W SuperCharge

Wireless Charging Qi
+ Wireless reverse charging -
Rear Cameras
Main 40MP f/1.8
27mm equiv. FL
12MP f/1.8
27mm equivl. FL
40MP f/1.8
27mm equiv. FL
Telephoto 8MP f/2.4
3x Optical zoom
80mm equiv. FL
8MP f/2.4
2x Optical Zoom
52mm equivl. FL
8MP f/2.4
Optical Zoom
Wide 20MP f/2.2
Ulta wide angle
16mm equivl. FL
16MP f/2.2
Ultra wide angle
17mm equivl. FL
Ultra wide angle
Front Camera 24MP f/2.0
Flood illuminator
IR camera
Storage 128 GB 
+ proprietary "nanoSD" card
3.5mm headphone jack
Wireless (local) 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
Cellular Kirin 980 Integrated LTE
(Category 21/18)

DL = 1400 Mbps
4x4 MIMO
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
(5CA no MIMO)

UL = 200 Mbps
2x2 MIMO
1x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
Splash, Water, Dust Resistance IP68
(water resistant up to 1m)
(no water resistance)
Dual-SIM 2x nano-SIM
Launch Price 128 GB: 1049€ 4+128 GB: 799€
6+128 GB: 849€
128 GB: 899€

A New Generation of Design

Even by Huawei’s own reckoning, the Mate 10 series sold extraordinarily well. As a company, in the first half of this year, they moved ahead of Apple to be the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world in terms of unit sales, totalling 95 million units. That represents a 30% year-on-year growth, although a big step up is needed to rival Samsung for that number one spot. Huawei believes that flagship devices such as the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are an integral part of that strategy.

Mate 20 Pro

In our briefings, Huawei made it clear that they want an iconic look. Smartphones, we were told, seem to be unifying over the design and it is often difficult to tell them apart. Huawei stated that it has made design choices this time around to remain identifiable and unique in the market, and from my perspective, the choices made here will instantly indicate that someone is using a Huawei smartphone. The first obvious feature is the rear camera.

Mate 20

Following on from the dual-camera setup of the Mate 10 series, the new three rear cameras now appear on the back of the Mate 20 in a square pattern, with the flash in one of the corners. This quadrilateral design is slightly different on the Mate 20 Pro, as it is a larger phone so the camera layout is slightly longer vertically, however the camera setup on both is very similar: a telephoto lens paired with a wide angle lens and then an ultra-wide angle lens just for good measure.

Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro

This means that the monochrome sensor has finally gone (it had questionable benefits in the last generation), and has been replaced with a new ultra-wide sensor. This allows the new phones for an optical zoom from 0.6x to 2.0x-3.0x (depending on model), beyond which the camera goes into a ‘hybrid zoom’ mode, combining optical and digital zoom. The differences between the two models are in the details:

  • Mate 20: 12MP Wide Angle f/1.8 + 16MP Ultra-Wide f/2.2 + 8MP Telephoto f/2.4
  • Mate 20 Pro: 40MP Wide Angle f/1.7 + 20MP Ultra-Wide f/2.2 + 8MP Telephoto f/2.4

The 40MP wide angle also supports "4-in-1 shots", or more commonly referred to 2x2 pixel binning, combining data from multiple pixels to produce 10MP photos that look better in low light. For both cameras OIS is found only on the telephoto lens, while other stabilization comes from Huawei’s AI-stabilization technology.

Sticking with the cameras, the front facing camera is different on both models as well. The standard Mate 20 will have a single 24MP f/2.0 RGB camera sensor on the front, whereas the Mate 20 Pro is going all in with proper facial recognition, with a dot projector, the 24MP RGB sensor, a time-of-flight proximity sensor, a flood illuminator, and an IR camera, similar to the Apple system but in testing felt a lot faster, capable of dealing with some sizeable side angles. Huawei was not clear if this is going to be used as a way to make payments, although some announcements might be being made at the presentation today. Huawei did state that apps and files can be locked away using the facial recognition.

Mate 20 Pro

Mate 20

Also on design uniqueness, Huawei is pleased with what the company has done with the rear of the device for feel. The main color choices for the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro use a glass ridged rear surface, with microbumps as an oleophobic coating. Running a nail across it gives that scratchy sound similar to vinyl, and the feel of the device is very natural, with Huawei stating that every edge uses rounded glass. Each model will be available in five different colors, three with the microbump ridge pattern (Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green) and two without (Twilight and Black).

The Hardware

Inside both devices is the Kirin 980, Huawei’s newest 7nm smartphone SoC. We covered the launch of this chip at IFA when it was announced, but the high level specifications include a tri-CPU design using ARM’s latest Cortex A76 and A55 processors and ARM Mali-G76 graphics. Huawei’s enhancements to the chip over the Kirin 970, aside from the new CPU/GPU and manufacturing process, includes the newest version of the sensor hub, an upgraded integrated modem now capable of Cat 21 download, and a dual core Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for neural network inference.

Back at IFA, we were told that this dual-core NPU is essentially just a double size NPU to that of the Kirin 970, except with 8-bit INT capabilities. Ultimately it acted like a single device, but could compute on one core for efficiency or both for throughput. At our recent prebrief, we are now told that one core of the NPU deals with 16-bit networks, while the other deals with 8-bit networks. We’ve asked several questions to clarify this, and are waiting on the response.

For the deep analysis of the launch of the Kirin 980, head on over to our article here.

On the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, one of the key differentiators will be with the screen. On the standard Mate 20, the display is a 6.53-inch 2244x1080 RGBW LCD unit, capable of a good amount of DCI-P3, and brightness up to 820 nits, in what Huawei is calling a ‘Dew Drop’ display based on the notch. The Mate 20 Pro by comparison uses a smaller but denser 6.39-inch 3120x1440 OLED display also capable of DCI-P3 and HDR, with Huawei stating it has a ‘high color saturation’ and ‘high contrast ratio’ but declines to give specific numbers.

Also up for differentiation is the battery, with the Mate 20 Pro getting a 4200 mAh battery capable of a new 40W Super Charge mode certified by TÜV Rheinland (we’re still waiting on exact details) which Huawei states is good to charge the device from 0% to 70% in 30 minutes. The Mate 20 Pro is also equipped with fast wireless charging, up to 15W, and can be used in reverse charging mode – if you need to charge another wireless device, it will do so up to a certain limit.

We tried this with an iPhone. No problems. But no luck with my LG V30.

The standard Mate 20 gets a 4000 mAh battery, which is a bump up from the standard Mate 10, and will do 22.5W Super Charge, which charge the device to 56-60% in half an hour according to the claims.

The fingerprint sensor is another area for differentiation, and the Mate 20 Pro has one built into the screen using a DPS sensor similar to the Mate 10 Pro. The Mate 20 has a rear fingerprint sensor, which in our hands-on seemed to get a lot of oil from fingerprints on it very easily. Another differentiation is the waterproof rating, with the Mate 20 Pro going at IP68, while the standard Mate 20 is an IP53 device. Also the 3.5mm jack: the Pro does not have one, but the regular Mate 20 does.

Both devices will support 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, capable of a theoretical peak of 1.732 Gbps in a perfect scenario, and both devices will ship with EMUI 9, based on Android 9, with the latest version of GPU Turbo technology and a high-performance mode for users that need it. As part of EMUI 9, Huawei is introducing a password vault, with data kept inside a secure zone in the processor. There will also be backup capabilities to a NAS with the SMB protocol.


On the software side, due to EMUI and the dual NPU, the AI has improved to allow for more scenes to be detected in the camera view, as well as skeletal representations of people in shot to help with framing. It uses real-time 4D predictive focus to keep objects in focus in videos, and with the wide angle lens can record natively in 21:9. A new feature is an AI-based highlight reel, which can take all the film from a day of shooting, identify people common to many videos and generate 10 second highlight footage of those individuals.

Also in the software is Huawei’s push to make it more ‘natural’, using a slow chirp of nature as the default alarm sound for example. There is a general push to give a more natural aural feedback across the interface. Huawei also states that it is up to 51% faster with built-in app startup, and that its ‘born fast, stay fast’ philosophy still applies with a supposed better aging process for devices than competitors and even the Mate 9 or Mate 10.

Both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are also taking Desktop Mode to a new level, by now supporting wireless desktop mode via Miracast. This allows users to take their device with them and stream wirelessly in desktop mode using the smartphone as a trackpad, or supporting a dual screen extension.

Another feature of the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro will be the Digital Balance part of the software, showing users where their time is spent, and offering to give warnings when the user is putting the device in front of their face too often during the day.

Configurations and Pricing

Both devices will come in dual nano-SIM variants, however rather than supporting the standard microSD, Huawei has developed a proprietary standard it is calling ‘nanoSD’ that it will sell and will fit into a standard nanoSIM slot. This is going to be fun (not).

The Mate 20 will be sold in 4GB+128GB and 6GB+128GB variants, with the Mate 20 Pro only in a 6GB+128GB variant. Exact details of regions and pricing should be announced at today’s launch.

Mate 9, Mate 10, Mate 20 Pro 

We are also expecting another Mate 20 design to be announced today, probably a Porsche Design model, with additional storage and a leather trim with certain PD specific design aspects.



View All Comments

  • imaheadcase - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    I never understood the whole "no expandable storage" thing. Do people not just transfer files with the million file managers out there to a home computer? I use my andriod phone and when i connect to home wifi, it literally transfers all items i want from a folder to home computers.

    I mean from his example the pixel 3 has 64gigs of ram min...that is insane amount even for a smartphone. I take pics and videos for my job and even on my older nexus 6p don't have a issue with space.
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    I don't generally leave my laptop powered up and it doesn't have enough storage to handle the ~220GB of data on my phone's SD card. I suppose I could leave my external backup HDD plugged into it all of the time, but the PC isn't something I use often these days since my phone does everything I need a computer for these days. It's a lot easier, to migrate to a new phone as well if you can just pull out the SD card and stick it into a new handset and the other thing is that if the phone abruptly fails or is damaged unexpectedly, information stored in internal storage is lost forever. Reply
  • goatfajitas - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    None of those are "flaws" they just aren't what you particularly want. Other people want them, and most flagships have them whether you like them or not. Especially the screen. This phone is the same size as the Pixel 2XL, 3XL, Galaxy S9+, iPhone 7 and 8 plus,Xs max, LG V40. It's actually a really good size for usability thus why it sells so well across platforms. Expandable memory is fading as the need for it fades and removable batteries just weren't selling with most users replacing the whole phone every 1-2 years headphone jacks will be 100% gone in a few years as well. . You can either live in the past or buy a new phone because there arent any that fit your list. Reply
  • Peskarik - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    No, other people are conditioned to want them or forced to want them. Just like they are forced to want absence of 3.5 audio. Reply
  • goatfajitas - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Not really. Just because you want it doesnt mean others do. I can honestly say I have used a headphone jack in my phone 1 time in the past 6-7 years... and that was just to test it. Like most people, when I use my phone for music its via bluetooth in my car or on my BT speakers. I do occasionally use a BT headset for music while working out or jogging. Some people (gasp) dont even listen to music on their smartphones at all. The jack isnt needed or wanted by most people. You seem to think sales drive features, but it's the other way. Features drive sales. If phones with jacks were selling so well, OEM's would still be making them. Reply
  • LiverpoolFC5903 - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    I like how you speak for everyone, when poll after poll have said users want and need the 3.5 mm jack. Multiple polls in multiple sites.

    ITS bs like this that gets my goat. You can use a goddamn bluetooth earpiece or whatever on a phone with a 3.5 mm if you want. Why piss on other people's parade by propagating fallacies like this.

    Make no mistake, a LOT of people want the jack. Most mid-upper mid range phones will continue to keep the jack. Despite how much you want the jack to die, it wont.
  • markiz - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    Those polls are flawed, because only nerds like us fill them out. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    People might laugh, but its true "users" that are upset are polls prob from tech sites. Let alone the fact that most people prob just picked up the article of someone ranting it was gone and took it for fact. I don't know many people IRL that use headphone jack really.

    Hell, even the pay as you go phones are getting rid of them.
  • goatfajitas - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    To be clear , I do not "want the jack to die". I am just stating it's dying whether you like it or not. Polls on tech websites mean zero because the vast majority of people don't visit tech websites. I get why some people want it, my only point is this... You need to get with your workarounds because it will be extinct soon whether you like it or not. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    "You can either live in the past or buy a new phone because there arent any that fit your list."

    That statement is a fairly accurate summary of the state of the phone industry. Rephrasing it like this, "We'll tell you what feature you want and not give you any alternatives so Stockholm the trash we foist on you." It is at the heart of my dislike of the current state of consumer electronics.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now