I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw the Huawei P20 Pro launch. A 40MP camera? Zoom, monochrome AND a regular wide-angle lens? It almost sounded like one of those “dream smartphone camera” lists that people like to make up, only it wasn’t. For the most part it was all real. Some might even call it the “most advanced camera module” ever put into a smartphone.
But this isn’t a review of that phone. This is a review of the phone that started out as an equal but, as time went on, slowly got left behind.
You can argue that Huawei’s P20 and P20 Pro is the company’s “coming of age” phone and you’d be able to make a very compelling point. In many ways, the company’s latest pair of flagship smartphones have catapulted Huawei to a position where you simply can’t ignore them anymore.
But to me, Huawei’s renaissance began with 2016’s P9. That was the beginning of Huawei’s dual-camera revolution. The start of the Chinese company’s shift to truly premium smartphone builds. It was the beginning of their partnership with Leica, one that has definitely proven itself considering how much their camera capabilities have improved since.
And it is because of that that it hurts me to see how much Huawei has put into differentiating the larger phone from the smaller one. Sure, when the P9 and P9 Plus launched, there were noticeable differences (notably the lack of stereo speakers and fast charging on the P9), but Huawei didn’t compromise on the core aspect of the P-series smartphone: Its camera.
Then the P10 and P10 Plus come along and we saw some separation there. The P10 Plus had a faster f/1.8 aperture lens, but as far as image quality went, the difference was relatively minor.
Now? Now things are completely different. The P20 is missing an entire camera compared to the P20 Pro and that’s only the beginning of its differences with its bigger sibling. What happened to the love for the smaller phone?
That said, as much as I want to hate Huawei for how it feels like they abandoned the P20, I can’t. Throughout my time with the P20, it was really hard for me to fault the handset because Huawei gave the P20 something the company’s bigger rivals simply can’t compete with.