Dialling into the Huawei Mate20

Whether you can pronounce the company’s name or not, it’s for sure that Huawei (say: wah-way) has become a significant presence in the smartphone market today.

Now with corporate ambitions to become known for its cloud business and wider development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the chipset and software level, the firm has one of those stands at Mobile World Congress that you can’t just walk onto without a meeting booked.

This is a smartphones + ecosystem play, for sure.

The latest ‘shiny shiny’ from the Chinese telecoms giant is the Mate P20 series, a device group that now ranks as the firm’s flagship — please note that this overview focuses on the Mate20 Pro.

“This is not a smartphone, this is a smart AI-enabled computer,” ran the big production video intro to the launch of the P10 Pro, this line’s predecessor — a presentation we saw played out in a strange underground bunker of a conference centre in Munich last autumn.

A good dose of the same ‘it’s more than just a phone’ rhetoric is slapped across much of the Huawei Mate20 series messaging and, in fairness, the device’s camera probably outstrips the ageing Nikon in your drawer that you’re not really using any more… and it’s ability to hook up to a full monitor and effectively be used as a PC is also good.

This year’s Mate20 event was staged in London’s ‘glittering’ big E, little x, big C, little e, big L ExCeL centre, presumably because it’s roomy… and everybody loves a ride on London’s DLR Docklands Light Railway, right?

Specs for spec fans

If you’re one of those specifications (specs) list fans, you’ll want to know that the Mate20 Pro is 7.8mm thick (or thin) and weighs in at 180 grams with a 2244×1080 RGBW resolution screen creating what is an 82 percent screen-to-body ratio.

The display is actually curved at both edges with higher colour saturation than delivered in any of the firm’s previous devices.

In terms of engine room power, the Mate20 Pro ships with Huawei’s own Kirin 970 octa-core chipset processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage — as a whole, the Mate20 series are available in in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes.

The SoC at the core of smartphones has a determining factor in a device’s performance and efficiency. Manufactured with 7nm technology process, the SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world. The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG.

Huawei’s Richard Yu spoke at the launch event to enthuse about the device’s 4200mAh battery and it’s AI power, “With an AI processor, we can bring forward more and more AI services to the applications running on our smartphones,” said Yu. “

Camera power

The device has what Yu called a ‘four point design’ in its rear Leica camera lens sent up. This is a wide angle lens, plus an ultra wide angle lens and a telephoto lens… all of which are served by a larger light sensor which allows the camera to perform in very low light conditions without flash.

We can also note that in camera functionality, slow-motion video is also included for the first time… and, perhaps most fun of all, the camera’s so-called ‘Hollywood-style’ effect allows you to take a video with a foreground subject in colour and the background in black and white — examples (not taken using this device, but just for explanation) are shown here and here.

“The Mate 20 Series can isolate human subjects and desaturate the colours around them to dramatically highlight the person,” reads the official line.

The much loved Bokeh effect has also been extended and can now be made to produce a soft focus background that is now whooshed with a swirl effect rather than just a soft blurred focus.

Huawei has upgraded the water and dust proofing of this device. It has also used what it calls a ‘hyper optical pattern’ on the glass etching of the screen — and this is supposed to reduce the amount of fingerprints that the user will leave after uses.

Neural power

CPU, GPU and NPU (neural processing unit) power all upped in terms of performance and power efficiency. All of which are meant to produce a more ‘responsive feel’ for the user.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro houses a large, high-density 4200mAh battery — and supports 40W Huawei SuperCharge, which gives a [dead] device 70 percent charge in 30 minutes. The safety of the technology is certified by TÜV Rheinland.

The company says that the Mate 20 Series comes with EMUI 9.0, a smart operating system based on Android P. Through AI self-learning algorithms, an integrated and granular resource allocation system, and a highly optimised Android environment, EMUI 9 delivers an ‘evergreen’ experience.

This device also heralds the first options for wireless charging via a 15 W connection, which also allows you to charge other wireless charge devices and so share a portion of the power that the device has on board.

Summary thoughts

There’s a lot to like here — but then, there’s a lot (of apps and extended functions) here in general.

Naysayers might suggest that a) some of the apps are extraneous to most users’ needs and so, for some, will be considered bloatware and that b) with so many functionality enhancements being shipped that Huawei is almost testing out emerging use case functions live upon its users.

Did you need 3D modelling calorie counting calculation functions to take photos of food and have the ingredients recognised by AI-powered analytics in order to tell you how many calories there are in your meal? Well you’re getting it.

“It’s all very convenient, we aim to make your life easier,” repeats Huawei’s Yu throughout his high-energy presentations.

The good news (for those worried about digital dependency) is this product is built as one of the first phones to ship with Android 9 Pie… which does actually come with ‘digital wellbeing’ features that have been developed by Google, because it’s important to know what device functions do actually make your life better and also help users to know when to switch off.

More product info is available on the Huawei website pages for this product.

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