Huawei Mate 20: What’s the big deal?

UPDATE: Huawei Malaysia has revealed the official local pricing for the Mate 20 series. Click here to read more.

Samsung has shown their hand. Apple has shown their hand. Google has shown their hand. Now, it’s time for Huawei to show the world what they’re capable of with the company’s biggest flagship launch of the year. This is the Mate 20 series, and while it goes without saying that these are the most capable smartphones Huawei has produced yet, I think the bigger achievement here is that we aren’t looking at a simple “tock” update.

It’s a whole new smartphone. Well, three whole new smartphone, actually.

Huawei Mate 20

Let’s start with the base device — Huawei’s Mate 20. Up front, the Mate 20 features a large 6.53-inch 18.7:9 Full HD+ RGBW LCD display that pushes a resolution of 2244×1080 pixels with a peak brightness of 800 nits. While this large display is surrounded by really slim bezels, the phone does have a notch at the top, albeit a really tiny one that looks like the water drop notches on OPPO’s more recent devices.

Inside, Mate 20 is powered by Huawei’s brand new flagship processor, the octa-core 7nm Kirin 980 with two “brains“.  Huawei says that this SoC is 20% faster than its predecessor and is up to 40% more power efficient.

Additionally, it also comes with a new Mali GPU that boasts an increase in performance of up to 75% while being 58% more power efficient. Keeping everything running is a large 4,000 mAh battery with support for Huawei’s SuperCharge fast-charging technology via USB Type-C.

Mate 20 will also come with 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, though the most interesting part of this phone comes in the form of its expandable storage. Instead of opting for the regular microSD card slot, Huawei has actually developed their own special NM (nano memory) cards that are 35% smaller than a microSD card, but offer no real performance improvements. Why they did such a thing is perplexing, but they do say that they will open this design up to third party manufacturers as well.

Encasing all of those internal components is a brand new glass and metal body that’s refreshingly unlike its predecessor. In fact, Huawei’s even given the glass special treatment they call the “Hyper Optical Multi-Pattern. What this means is that they’ve imbued the back of the phone with a set of really fine lines so users can get a better grip it. Yes, I’m not the biggest fan of the way it looks in photos, but I have to give Huawei credit for giving us meaningful design changes in a world full of similar incremental updates.

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Speaking of, the phone’s most identifiable feature has to be its square camera module that sits right above the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Its a polarising design choice for me, but a bold one nonetheless. Huawei says that it was designed to look like the headlamps on Porsche’s 919 Hybrid prototype race car, draw from that what you will.

In the module though, lives Huawei’s new triple camera setup. On the Mate 20, you’re getting a main 12MP wide-angled camera (27mm) with an f/1.8 aperture lens, a 16MP ultra wide angled camera (17mm) with an f/2.2 aperture lens and a third 8MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture 2X telephoto lens (52mm).

Other features on the Mate 20 include an earpiece-plus-bottom-firing stereo speaker setup and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, there is no IP68/IP67 water resistance so you will have to be careful when you’re around liquids.

Mate 20 will retail for EUR799 (around RM3,837) for the 4GB + 128GB variant, while the high-spec 6GB + 128GB model will retail for EUR849 (around RM4,077). It will be available in Europe from today onward.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Moving up one rung from the standard device, you’ll find the Mate 20 Pro. This phone takes a lot of the Mate 20’s features to the next level, but packages it in a more compact form factor.

Up front, you get a smaller 6.39″ display, but this time it’s an OLED panel that pushes a Quad HD+ resolution of 3120×1440 pixels. It’s also got a taller aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and is curved on both sides like a Samsung flagship. But, Mate 20 Pro also has a much larger notch, though that’s by necessity because the Mate 20 Pro has a lot more technology crammed into that space. Huawei’s actually included a 3D depth sensing array that comprises a dot projector, an RGB camera, a floodlight illuminator and an IR blaster. This allows for more secure face unlocking that Huawei says is 100% faster than the iPhone X.

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Over in the camera department, things are also a little different. On the Mate 20 Pro, you’re getting the same general layout as the Mate 20, but the each camera has been given an upgrade. Now, you’re getting a 40MP wide angled camera (27mm) with an f/1.8 aperture lens, a 20MP ultra-wide angled camera (16mm) with an f/2.2 aperture lens, and a third 8MP sensor that’s paired with a 3X f/2.4 aperture telephoto lens (80mm) for even more reach.

Mate 20 Pro is still powered by Huawei’s Kirin 980 processor, but this time it comes with only 6GB of RAM, though it also employs the same NM card for expandable storage. Besides that, Mate 20 Pro also features a larger battery, rated at 4,200 mAh, but thanks to Huawei’s new 40W SuperCharge 2.0 technology, you can get up to a 70% charge in just 30 minutes. Additionally, this device supports 15W fast wireless charging which is 200% faster than the iPhone X’s wireless charging and 100% faster than the iPhone X’s wired charging.

And if really faster wireless charging wasn’t enough, Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro can also wirelessly charge OTHER Qi Wireless compatible devices. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is the first smartphone that can do that.

Much like the Mate 20, the Mate 20 Pro is also a glass and metal sandwich, but this phone is IP68 dust and water resistant. Besides that, it doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner at the back, as Huawei opted for an in-display pressure sensitive fingerprint scanner instead — similar to what you’d find on the Mi 8 Explorer Edition.

However, like it was on the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro doesn’t feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. In fact, there isn’t even a cutout for a bottom firing speaker as audio comes right out of the USB-C port. How this will affect audio playback when you’re charging your phone remains to be seen.

Mate 20 Pro will retail for EUR1,049 (around RM5,038) for the 6GB + 128GB model and will be available in Europe from the 16th of October onward.

Huawei Mate 20 X

Finally, we have the biggest beast of them all: Huawei Mate 20 X. This is by far the largest Mate 20 phone of the lot as it packs a tablet-like 7.2-inch OLED display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. It pushes a Full HD+ resolution of 2244×1080 pixels and has an 87% screen to body ratio. Unlike the Mate 20 Pro though, Mate 20 X doesn’t have an in-display fingerprint, but it does have a front-facing one that sits in the bottom chin just below the display.

While it sports similar specs to the other Mate 20 devices — and the main camera setup as the Mate 20 Pro — the Mate 20 X is designed for pen input as it supports Huawei’s M-Pen intelligent pen. You can write on it, take screenshots with it and jot down quick memos.

Besides that, Mate 20 X features a fairly balanced pair of stereo speakers and a whopping 5,000 mAh battery that Huawei says can last up to two days on a single charge. Unlike the glass sandwich body on the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X features a metal back.

But that’s not all as Huawei’s pushing the Mate 20 X towards the gamers too, even including a dedicated gaming accessory that the company even compared to the Nintendo Switch. Additionally, to keep it cool, the Mate 20 X features a vapour chamber with a Graphene sheet for heat dissipation.

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Since it features a metal back, the phone doesn’t support wireless charging, and it also doesn’t come with IP68 dust and water resistance. It does retain Huawei’s NM card expansion though.

Mate 20 X will retail for EUR899 (around RM4,318) for the 6GB + 128GB model and will be available in Europe from the 26th of October onward.

Huawei Malaysia has finally revealed the official pricing and availability details:

Huawei Mate 20 Pro — 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM3,599
Huawei Mate 20 — 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM2,799
Huawei Mate 20 X — 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM3,199

For more on the pre-order details, click here.

Update: A previous version of this article stated that the Huawei Mate 20 featured the company’s new 40W SuperCharge 2.0, when it does not. The article has been corrected and the error is regretted.

Update 2: The article has been updated with the official Malaysian pricing.