Huawei is claiming a lot of World firsts for its Mate 20 Pro mobile phone, but the thing that interests us the most isn’t a first. It’s the camera. Huawei was the first company to put a triple camera system into a phone. That was for the Huawei P20 Pro, and its the best phone camera around. Now it’s done it again for the Mate20 Pro and Mate20 announced at the same time.
However, Huawei hasn’t used exactly the same camera system in the Mate20 Pro as it has in the P20 Pro. Instead of the Leica Vario-Summilux-H1.6-2.4/27-80 ASPH camera arrangement in the P20 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro has a Leica Vario-Summilux-H1.8-2.4/16-80 ASPH. That translates to the equivalent of a 16-80mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. It means that the Mate 20 Pro’s camera can capture considerably wider-angle images than the P20 Pro’s. However, the aperture is just a little narrower.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

Huawei has created this camera in partnership with Leica. It’s used a 40Mp f/1.8 wide-angle camera with a 20Mp f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens and an 8Mp f/2.2 telephoto camera. It means that the monochrome camera unit of the P20 Pro is missing. In that phone, the monochrome camera is used to increase the level of detail in images. However, according to Huawei, cameras have developed to the point where an RGB (colour) sensor can now record enough detail. So instead we have a wide-angle shooting option.

That ultra-wide camera also enables focusing as close as 2.5cm from the lens.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

Other Features

The Mate 20 Pro uses the new Kirin 980 engine and Dual-MPU (processors). This enables up to 4500 images to be recognised per minute. As a result, there’s a 134% improvement in the AI (artificial intelligence) performance.

This enables better subject recognition as it can identify details rather than just outlines. It can also understand more elements of an image and optimise them independently. That should be useful in high contrast situations.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

According to Huawei, the 4D Predictive Focus has also been improved so its better at tracking moving subjects. Sadly, that’s not available when shooting 4K video though.

Huawei has given the Mate20 Pro a 4200mAh battery. That’s 1000mAh more than the previous incarnation. There’s also a 40W SuperCharge option which charges a dead battery to 70% in 30mins.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

Build and Handling

I got to use a Huawei Mate 20 Pro a few days before its announcement and it feels very nice. Its curved glass design is slick and attractive.

It’s available in 5 colours, Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight and Black with some having a ‘Hyper Optical Pattern’ finish. That pattern makes the phone just a little bit more secure in your grasp.

Reassuringly, the Mate20 Pro is water and dust-proof to IP68 standard and the 6.39-inch 2K+ (3120×1440) curved OLED HDR display has a19.5:9 ratio. It provides a superb view of your images.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

As with the P20 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro camera app has a Pro mode. When this is selected, you can set all the exposure settings and take control of the white balance and focusing.

The easiest way to shoot, however, is to use the ‘Photo’ setting. This puts the camera in charge and uses AI to detect the subject. There’s also a ‘More’ option that allows you to select specific scenes/subjects such as Light Painting, Night Shot and Panorama. The Mate 20 Pro adds a new Underwater mode that’s designed for use with a bespoke underwater housing.

Performance

As I mentioned earlier, the Huawei P20 Pro has the best camera of any smartphone currently available. The Mate20 Pro doesn’t have the same set-up, but it seems to deliver images of a similar standard. There’s lots of sharp detail and vibrant colours.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review
The Night mode, which is a revelation with the P20 Pro in low light, is also on hand in the Mate 20. And it seems every bit as good. It takes a series of shots and combines them to create a single, blur-free image with plenty of detail and very low noise.

The stabilisation system, which is now available in 4K video appears to do a very good job. It makes footage that should by all rights be unwatchable look good.

Further good news is that the autofocus (AF) system does a good job, even in low light. I shot a video of someone surrounded by balloons and the AF system detected his face and kept it sharp as I moved towards and away from him.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

There’s also a fun video mode called AI Colour. When this is activated, the camera turns the background monochrome but any people within the scene are in colour. Even someone walking through the scene was in colour when I tested it.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

Thanks to the ultra-wide camera, the Mate20 Pro can capture more dramatic images in some situations. Buildings can seem to tower higher above and you can fit more in the foreground.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera Review

Aperture Mode

Having 3 cameras means the Mate20 Pro can recreate the look of wide-aperture images on a large-sensor camera. This works incredibly well on the P20 Pro and I’ll be checking it carefully on the Mate 20 Pro when I’m able to save images from it.

Sample Images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution sample images.

Huawei Mate20 Pro Sample Images

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Early Verdict

The Huawei Mate20 Pro looks to have an excellent camera. Over the coming day,s I’m hoping to be able to compare it with the P20 Pro’s to see which is best. On the face of it, the wider angle available with the Mate 20 Pro gives it an edge for some photographers.

However, it will be interesting to see how much difference losing the monochrome camera makes. Huawei has used this in the P20 Pro to provide more detail so I’ll be checking my shots carefully.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera