In London today (16 October) Huawei fired its opening salvo at its rivals for the crown of the flagship race. The Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are top drawer stuff.

GadgetGuy had a preview and hands-on with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Channel 7 Sunrise GadgetGuy Val Quinn has braved the 24-hour flight time to be in London as a guest of Huawei for its launch. We will bring you more from chilly, rainy, royals obsessed London soon.

So why does Huawei think it can take the crown?

 It comes from three things:

  • A few years ago, we were all pronouncing it Who-are-we. Today Wah-Way rolls off the tongue as a recognised brand!
  • It is first to produce a 7nm Kirin 980 superchip that enables previously unseen levels of AI to make photos better and the phone smarter
  • Nothing is missing from the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Subject to a review they should take out the best camera award (as its P20 Pro already has) and very close to a 5-out-of-5 in our flagship rating paradigm.

First Look – Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Mate 20 standard in brackets)

A full review will come in about two weeks. Here are the important bits!

Mate 20

Processor

The 7nm Kirin 980 is, in every respect the super-chip of 2018. While comparisons to the flagship Qualcomm 845 are inevitable, these are two very different chips with different priorities.

It has 2 x Cortex A76 [2.6GHz] plus 2 x Cortex A76, [1.92GHz] and 4 x Cortex A55 [1.8GHz] cores and a GPU: Mali-G76. It should be very power efficient.

Huawei designs the silicon for its phones as does Samsung and Apple. This allows it to customise the silicon to its needs and in theory, should give it an edge. Unlike Qualcomm, it does not sell to others.

Raw horsepower tests indicate it is between 10 and 30% faster than the Qualcomm 845 for the same tasks, but a better comparison would be with the yet-to-be-released 7nm Qualcomm 855.

The design includes dual neural processors to provide higher AI capabilities. What it calls ‘malleable’ on-demand power to perform AI tasks.

Compared to its predecessor, the Kirin 970 in the P20 Pro, it is 134% faster, 88% more AI efficient and 58% more power efficient.

Our take – if it lives up to performance expectations it will offer the fastest processor and more AI than Qualcomm 845. Part of that will be how well Huawei can tune Android to the chip.

RAM/Storage

It has 6/128GB and new ‘nm’ memory card expansion to 256GB. ‘nm’ memory is proprietary to Huawei. It is smaller than micro-SD and offers 90MB/s which is perfect for 4K video recording.

Time will tell if nm is a wise move and if it is comparable in cost to micro-SD.

Screen

6.39”, 3120 x 144, 19.5:9 OLED screen with notch with HDR10 and + compliant In-screen fingerprint detection
(6.53”, 2244 x 1080, 18:9, LCD screen with ‘dew-drop’ and rear fingerprint sensor)

We understand the OLED screen comes from the joint venture between OPPO/Vivo and Huawei in Royole Corporation founded in 2012. Royole is known for its flexible AMOLED technology offering superior shatterproof, high-contrast, high-performance colour, ultra-fast response time, and low energy properties. It opened a new massive 1.1-million-square-foot Quasi-G6 Mass Production Campus in Shenzhen in June.

Regardless of which supplier Huawei uses it now controls 100% of its supply chain and sources everything except Android OS from China.