Oh my god. I want this phone.
I want it bad.
I never thought I’d say that about a piece of tech, let alone a non-Apple product.
Here’s the Android phone that has me converted: The Mate20 series Pro, Huawei’s answer to Apple’s iPhone XS and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9.
It was announced by the Chinese smartphone maker overnight in London, and already people are calling it a contender for the best smartphone in the world. Others say it has the coolest smartphone innovation yet.
While there will be a lot of reviews out there which will speak to the specs and technical aspects of the phone, this is not that type of review. And I’m not that type of reviewer.
I don’t care about the nitty gritty. What I want to know about a phone is this: Is it easy to use? Does the battery last? Can it take good photos?
And will it make my life easier?
In summary, yes. The Huawei Mate20 series Pro can do all those things, and the way that it did blew my mind.
Let me explain.
Moving from iPhone to Android
I currently use an iPhone 6s. Like many consumers, when I get a phone, I get a contract deal, wait for it to run out, upgrade, rinse and repeat.
Until this year.
Nothing has excited me enough to want to upgrade, despite the fact my battery now barely lasts until lunchtime.
And I have never considered straying from the Apple product line out of fear of the unknown, and going through the ordeal of transferring my digital life to a new operating system.
But during the set-up, the Mate20 Pro offered this:
The Mate20 Pros’ Phone Clone system can transfer all your contacts, messages, calls, apps, files, and browser data from your old phone in a matter of minutes (up to 1 GB per minute, in fact).
I also thought an Android phone would be difficult to navigate. I thought wrong. The display and layout is much more simple to use than I expected – even somewhat reminiscent of an iPhone.
The biggest functionality difference I had to get used to was the lack of a Home button.
It’s replaced by three options: gestures, a navigation dock, and a three-button combination which includes back, home, and open all currently open apps.
The first two were a step too far from my comfort zone, and so I stuck with the latter. And while it took some time to stop pressing hard on the phone where the button used to be, I was comfortably operating the new phone in a day or two.
Without a lie, I charged this phone once in five days and it still had power.
I may have not used it a hell of a lot, but I know my iPhone certainly wouldn’t do the same.
That’s thanks to a 4,200mAh battery optimised by AI.
But that’s not even the best thing about the Mate20 Pro’s battery. It has reverse wireless charging, meaning that any other smartphone with Qi wireless capabilities can be placed back-to-back with the Mate20 Pro and be charged from its battery.
While this is great, and will be sure to make you everyone’s best friend on a night out, it is actually a little slow in execution. But you can bet that won’t be the case for too much longer, in software upgrades, or the next Mate series. For now, it’s an initiative that deserves widespread applause.
Although what would make it even better is if it was designed to take power instead of give it. Is that selfish?
So, when it does come time to properly top up, the Mate20 Pro can reach 70% capacity in 30 minutes when charged by cable.
It can also be charged wirelessly, with a $150 charger that comes as a gift if you pre-order. And it’s fast too. In fact, it’s 200x faster than iPhone X wireless charging.
The Mate20 Pro has a next generation Leica triple camera, which comes with an ultra wide lens, wide angle lens and telephoto lens, as well as a dual tone flash.
Here’s a look at just how powerful they are:
The ultra wide lens
The wide angle lens
And the same scene captured on the iPhone for comparison
Now, the telephoto lens which can get an ultra close-up from just 2.5cm away
When taking photos, the AI built into the phone can recognise the subject matter of the photo and adjust the photo settings to be capture it best. And because it spans 25 different categories and over 1,500 different scenarios, it usually gets it right.
It also has a great aperture setting which allows you to bring the subject matter into focus and let the background fade away.
One thing that I couldn’t wrap my head around though was the way portrait mode made my face look airbrushed.
But after some fiddling with the settings I found that if was just one of a few different effects you could use. Along with the “smooth face” effect, there was another option called thinner face, and warmth — both of which are self-explanatory.
And the effects don’t stop there. There’s no longer any need to edit in Instagram, with the phone hosting a plethora of its own filters, backgrounds and even an AR anime which tracks your face or a friend’s.
Night shots are pretty great too, although you need a steady hand. This was taken at 7.45pm AEDT.
Making life easier
With technology now embedded in our everyday life, we are quick to notice when the experience isn’t seamless. This is why the 3D face unlock on the Mate20 Pro makes life easier.
Sure, it also has an in-screen fingerprint capability which works fine, and the old school passcode option, but being able to pick up the phone and have it unlock with your face within 0.5 seconds, regardless of whether you’re wearing a pair of reading glasses or hat, or whether it’s day or night, is a pleasant experience.
The Mate20 Pro also exceeds the iPhone’s performance when it comes to work. The primary reason being the phone’s wireless desktop mode which can be projected on any screen connected to wifi.
Here’s a look:
While a little glitchy, the system was capable and would work well for presenting to clients on the run or as an impromptu set up while on the go. For the time being, however, I’ll keep the heavy duty stuff for my laptop.
A cool thing that I wasn’t expecting was the translation tool which is part of the phone’s Hi Vision AI system. Daily in the newsroom something needs to be translated, and most of the time we have to turn to Google Translate for a somewhat clunky and often mismatched interpretation.
Hi Vision translates on the spot, in real-time, using a camera tool. Here’s what I mean:
There are also a number of other small but considerate tidbits such as a split screen function so you can work and play at the same time, a safe volume alert when using the headphones so you don’t damage your ears, and eye comfort adjustments for reading.
All these things have made me seriously question why I have been resisting the move away from Apple for so long. Even with the recent negative press around the security of Huawei hardware, the allure of the phone’s useability outweighs any data that may be captured.
I mean, Google, Facebook and Apple do the same, right?
So is it the perfect phone? Well, it certainly comes close to it – and it would want to for $1,599.
The Huawei Mate20 Pro will be available for pre-order from October 17, and will hit the market with retailers on November 1.
Here’s a look at some of the plans being offered by Optus and Vodafone:
*This article was originally published on October 17, and has been updated with details from WhistleOut.
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