Huawei P20 Pro review

Last updated: 6 December 2018   By Jo Bailey

The top of the range phone from the company with the unpronounceable name, but is it any good? We take a look at the Huawei P20 Pro to see how it stacks up.

A relative newcomer to the UK smartphone market, Huawei are determined to disrupt the industry by bringing us top spec phones at competitive prices. And boy, are they disrupting.

According to market share, Huawei are now the second largest phone manufacturer in the world, selling more handsets in the first quarter of this financial year than even the mighty Apple. Only Samsung were able to shift more.

The Chinese firm might be a newcomer to most of us, but actually it's been around since 1987, and is a pretty big player in the world of telecommunications. Their flagship phones, the P20 and P20 Pro, have been widely acclaimed as genuine alternatives to the iPhone X and Samsung S9, and for less money too.

We're going to take a look at the specs and performance of the P20 Pro, the manufacturers most expensive and high performance handset. Let's find out whether this best selling alternative phone is really as good as its rivals.

huawei p20 pro

At a glance

Price Pros Cons
£799 list price, but can be found available for as little as £629 - Good battery life
- Fast unlock with facial recognition
- Excellent camera
- Lots of storage capacity and RAM
- No wireless QI charging
- Nowhere to plug in headphones
- Other flagship phones are faster

Key specifications

Weight 180g
Dimensions 155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm
OS Android 8.1
Screen size 6.1 inch
Resolution 1080 x 2240
CPU Kirin 970
Battery 4,000 mAh
Rear camera 40MP + 20MP + 8MP
Front camera 24MP


At launch, the P20 Pro was £799 list price, but a few months down the line and we're already seeing prices starting to fall. It's widely available from UK retailers right now from as little as £629, so shopping around could uncover a bargain.

The P20 Pro is around £200 more expensive than the P20, but it's worth the investment for the upgrade in specs. At this price point it's going head-to-head with some of the best smartphones out there, but it's still cheaper than a lot of the flagship models.

It comes in on the cheaper side of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and is significantly cheaper than the latest iPhones. It's even cheaper than the iPhone X; for the price of the P20 Pro, you could just about afford a 64GB iPhone 8 Plus.


Like many modern phones, there are a number of ways to get into the P20 Pro. The face unlock works well and is pretty fast, but if you prefer, there's also a fingerprint scanner built in which gets you to the home screen in a flash.

In terms of durability, it looks pretty good. Front and back are surrounded by Gorilla Glass to keep the case scratch free. It's water resistant to IP67, which means it should eb able to handle submersion in up to a metre of fresh water for up to 30 minutes (but we wouldn't recommend testing this out).

Its sheer size means it's almost into the realm of the phablet, but thanks to its slimline design and lightweight construction, it doesn't feel like one in the hand.

In terms of navigation, the P20 Pro runs Android 8.1 with Huawei's own EMUI 8.1 interface over the top. This means apps are dumped onto home screens to be organised into folders, much like on iOS devices. Some enjoy this, others find it a challenge.

On the upside, the EMUI is incredibly responsive and provides lightening fast app load times. There's a little bloatware installed in the factory, but mainly just some apps Huawei think you'll find useful; nowhere near the heavy load that arrives on Samsung phones.


The on board battery is 600mAh bigger than on the P20, giving it a total of 4,000mAh. That's more than the iPhone X and the new iPhone XS and even the Galaxy S9 plus. The supplied fast charger gets you from completely flat to 100% in and hour and 24 minutes, with 80% charge in just 45 minutes.

Thanks to the OLED display, the screen is kinder to the battery life than some alternatives. This means that with normal use, a running time of 36 - 48 hours is more than achievable. In tests when the screen was left on constantly the battery easily made it to the 15 hour mark.

Despite the battery being larger than many of its rivals, the P20 Pro doesn't add any weight for this fact. It's actually slimmer and lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, at just 7.8mm thick.

The one big downside to the P20 Pro is that it does not support wireless charging. However, if your last phone needed to be plugged in, its unlikely you'll miss this, and QI charging still takes a lot longer than a plugged in alternative.


Under the bonnet, we've got a Kirin 970 CPU, driven by a whopping 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The processor itself clocks in at 2.4GHz, which is not as fast as some of the Snapdragon 845 powered smartphones that are around today.

Compared to other flagship phones, it's not as fast as the S9 Plus or the iPhone X by quite some way. However, on multi-core processes it outperforms the Pixel 2 XL and Huawei's other models, the P20 and P10 Plus.

However, its unlikely you're going to notice any difference with the typical tasks we demand of smartphones today. Apps and processes just don't exist that would really test the performance of a processor like this, so it's not really something to be concerned with just yet.

There's a generous 128GB of storage for all your beautiful photos and videos, which is a good thing really as there's no option to add an SD card. It runs it's own video and music app, which is slick and well designed. However, it doesn't support Full HD streaming from Netflix yet.


The P20 Pro has a 6.1 inch AMOLED display, boasting 1080 x 2244 resolution. Pixel density is 408ppi, which is less than the Galaxy S9's 529ppi, but not particularly noticeable for general use. You can set the colour profile to suit your preference, choosing from subtle tone, natural colour or eye popping vivid settings.

Interestingly, the Huawei P20 Pro can alter its colour temperature in real time, to suit the light conditions of the local environment. You can also black out the top part of the screen to hide the notch, while still using this area for notifications.

In general, the display is excellent. The blacks are a good, inky black, contrast is good and even on a tilt the colour stay true. Unlike other phones, it comes with a pre fitted screen protector, which is a nice touch. However, because it's plastic, it does attract fingerprints, so you might want to exchange it for a glass one.


The on board speakers are very good quality. It has a main speaker along the bottom edge of the phone, with an additional high frequency speaker where the earpiece (and notch) are located. Overall, it's a good sounding speaker, with decent bass for a phone.

At max volume it can begin to become distorted, but for watching YouTube and podcasts it's pretty good. It features compatibility with Dolby Atmos and supports high resolution audio up to 32bit / 384kHz.

The downside to this is there is no 3.5mm headphone jack. To listen through headphones, you'll need either a dongle to connect them through the USB-C port or will need to use wireless.

Wireless audio is provided by aptX Bluetooth, and the manufacturer has helpfully included a pair of headphones in the box. However, they're not great quality, so you'll probably need to invest in your own.


One of the big selling points of the P20 Pro is the camera. There are no less than three cameras on the back; the main sensor boasts a massive 40MP, then there's also a black and white 20MP camera and a three times optical zoom 8MP camera too.

Without using digital zoom, it's possible to shoot at 3 x magnification, and even up to 5x, still getting some pretty amazing results. However, the best performance comes in at low light levels.

The standard night shooting is competent, matching the capabilities of most other smartphones in this price bracket. But the real star of the show is when the dedicated 'night mode' is activated. Using this, you can achieve incredible low light shots on a par with digital SLR performance.

As well as the many cameras on the rear of the phone, there is also a super high resolution front facing camera too. With 24MP, it's ideal for the most detailed of selfies, as well as helping the facial recognition unlocking function perform perfectly.


Looks-wise, it's a very pretty phone. The glass and metal design work is eye catching to say the least, and the overall impression is slick and very, very shiny. If you like your smartphones big and sparkly, this is a fantastic choice.

The gorilla glass plates front and back are bordered by metal finishing all around the sides. The metalwork is aluminium to save additional weight, but because of the way they've brushed the finish, it gives the appearance of steel, making for a very attractive profile.

If you're an iPhone lover, you may be aware that the iPhone X did use actual stainless steel around the sides of the phone. Although it looks and feels great, users are already complaining of how readily it scratches; not so with the faux-steel finish on the P20 Pro, which is a good sign for the durability of this model.

The majority of P20s in the UK are sold in either black of blue versions. However, there's a really good looking 'gradient' version which you might be lucky enough to find at some retailers. This one starts off purple at the top, blending to a pretty turquoise at the bottom, making for an unusual and eye catching finish.

Like the iPhone X, it sports an odd little 'notch' at the top. Apple said they needed it for all the tech they'd built in, but the reason for the P20 Pro's notch is less clear. As far as we can see it houses the front camera and a speaker. Whether it was absolutely necessary we can't be sure, but it seems the notch is all the rage right now.


We're seriously impressed by the Huawei P20 Pro. It's a top quality smartphone offered at a price that won't break the bank.

The photographic capabilities of this handset are second to none. The low light photography is the best on the market from a phone right now, and that's before we get into the enormous battery life and beautiful aesthetics.

Brand lovers will no doubt struggle to detach themselves from the Samsungs and Apples, but if you can look past the label, this is a great little phone.

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