back to article Huawei Mate 20 series: China's best phone, but a pricey proposition

With its vast, formidable production machine roaring behind it, Huawei is giving itself two entries in the annual flagship race this year – the prize some other OEMs struggle to hit annually. Not content with hyping its spring P-series, Huawei has turned its autumn line into a highly desirable consumer flagship contender too. …

  1. David 45

    Non-optional extras

    No built-in malware, then?

    1. K Silver badge

      Re: Non-optional extras

      I'll take one of these over a Samsung, laden with malware upsell-ware.

      On a personal note.. I wish OnePlus would do a larger screen, as I'm drooling over the X, I'm torn on this, 6T, 20X or the 8X which is a lot cheaper. I use constantly payments constantly (and from what I can tell, 8X doesn't have this)

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Non-optional extras

        If a OnePlus 7 Plus (horrible name - Know) comes out I'll certainly get one. Unless it's a silly priice

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Non-optional extras

      Really nice piece of hardware.

      Unfortunately there is no hardware that can mask a shit OS.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chinese phone models

    Not just Huawei that suffer this "brand fragmentation" with innumerable, rapidly changing models. I don't know why, but if you start taking an interest in a Chinese company's products, you quickly find that the range is vast, the labelling confusing and contradictory, and the rate of change rapid. Even the reviewers struggle to keep up with spec changes.

    It can be well worth it if you persevere and read reviews and labels carefully, but this looks to be something cultural. Perhaps some of our esteemed commentards from China could help us understand?

    1. K Silver badge

      Re: Chinese phone models

      I've been a follower for many year of Huawei and Xiaomi (And I have a Chinese sister-in-law), but I still find there modelling as confusing as hell. Part of the problem is many models are given different names / numbering depending on the market they are in..

  3. AlexGreyhead
    Thumb Up

    Oh go on, then...

    Having switched from being a die-hard enjoyer of the fruity Jesusmobe since the 3GS, I've spent the last year variously loving and hating an S8, the primary pain point being the inconsistent abilities of the face scanner to work if the lighting conditions aren't "just so", so the improved face scanner and in-screen fingerprint reader of the Huawei have set my heart somewhat aflutter.

    Mrs Greyhead's going to kill me when she sees how much damage the Pro is going to do to my credit card, though...

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Regards articles marked 'Review' are reviews, and have sample photos. 'Hands on reviews' are an impression based on a quick play with the device, often at a presentation or trade show.

      This article was merely an overview of Huawei's new range, and was described as such.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      "Leica" not Zeiss.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        It'll still be a naff camera.

    3. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Oh dear...

      I bet it's rubbish"

      There speaks a bloke who knows literally nothing about photography despite knowing the word Bokeh.

      If you think all mobile phones produce rubbish images you're not using it right, still if you ever learn to get out of auto mode you may begin to understand.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        Re: Oh dear...

        There are anamorphic lense adapters for iPhone used in some indie film experiments (makes for oval Bokeh), but the results are utter cr*p compared to a proper camera. Such a narrow set of options on a phone in "manual" mode. You can't get natural shallow depth of field with such horrible little lenses and those lovely light blowouts (referred to as Bokeh, why the hell why I have no idea) happen uniquely (unique Bokeh for every lens) because of the light refracting and reflecting inside a larger (than cr*p phone lenses) mass of glass or plastic/polymer/radioactive material coated (which also changes the qualities of the image and therefore Bokeh, can also cause blindness but hey it aint the 70s anymore thank f*ck) transparent object, but as an expert, you'd already know that. @IsJustabloke. Phone cameras are great for sharp shots in good light, when you are deluded enough to think you didn't need to buy a real camera, or have zero imagination or artistic sense, common in programmers and IT people generally.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I bet it's rubbish, like all phone integrated itty bitty lenses there's no real bokeh or shallow depth of field

      That's inherent in the physics of very small cameras. No matter who makes the lenses or the camera unit, the depth of field is huge, and you then have to fake a short depth of field, and the phone has to fart around artificially blurring what it hopes is the background. This will never change, although the processing may improve a bit.

      But you probably know that already. Along with the fact that the tiny sensor will always be prone to digital noise and blown out highlights. And again, it is image processing that attempts to come to the rescue with (claimed) HDR pics.

      It'll be a phone, with a (probably) very good phone camera. But it won't hold a candle to a dedicated camera with a large sensor and proper lenses.

      1. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

        @LedSwinger

        Glad there's a Vulture member who knows his onions, or onion shaped lenses. Image processing is only going to become more sophisticated and when partnered with multiple data points using mutiple lenses phone cameras will eventually surpass DSLRs and the like. This particular fondleslab aint it though. It ruins the rep of (historically excellent creators of truly epic lenses) companies like Zeiss and Leica when they lend their branding to such rubbish. What makes the smartphone photo "magic" happen is post processing and at the moment, it's awful.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It ruins the rep of (historically excellent creators of truly epic lenses) companies like Zeiss and Leica when they lend their branding to such rubbish

          Hmm, not sure about that. If you start with not so fantastic basics, anything you can improve helps. Although you shouldn't expect the performance of a proper camera with several pounds of precision manufactured glass, a large image sensor and processing that can use the output of that sensor properly, smartphone cameras have their use - just the range of deployment possibilities is less due to sheer physical limitations.

          Most importantly, it's always around. Lugging full picture gear kit is not a fun exercise, but a pro will do just that. In addition, it's content and talent that matters first, then tech. I know people who can shoot great pictures even with a smartphone because they know composition and the story telling of a picture, I have seen overpaid city louts make crap pictures with the best of kit..

          In short, anything you can do to improve the image is worth it, so getting Leica and Zeiss involved is IMHO not bad. It's a fully separate market IMHO.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "Image processing is only going to become more sophisticated"

          Still, it's image modification coded by someone that will make all photos look alike unless you're a programmer and can change how the algorithm work. Also, most image processing is *lossy*, the more rounds, the more processing, the more the image degrades, as original information is lost. Algorithms may attempt to recreate it artificially, but once again, it makes images look the same.

          Anyway, one day algorithms will be able to create whole realistic images from scratch on cheap hardware, so you won't need to take photos at all...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But it won't hold a candle to a dedicated camera with a large sensor and proper lenses.

        .. which could actually manage to take a decent picture by the light of one candle.

        :)

  5. larokus

    Cable free screen mirroring and casting over WiFi, no cable or dock needed!?

    Does Andrew know anything about Miracast or the DLNA standard used by Androids for the better part of a decade? I've been doing this very feat for that same period, using various androids.

    Just saying.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Cable free screen mirroring and casting over WiFi, no cable or dock needed!?

      This is more than Miracast because Huaweii have a PC node akin to Samsung's Dex - apps optimised for mouse, keyboard and big screen.

      1. larokus

        Re: Cable free screen mirroring and casting over WiFi, no cable or dock needed!?

        I love the optimization and added peripheral support, but again, "no cable or dock needed" suggests the author is evidently unaware of the previous cast support by virtually all androids.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Cable free screen mirroring and casting over WiFi, no cable or dock needed!?

          Suggests, maybe, but the 'no cable or dock required' statement was the latter half of a sentence about 'Continuum Mode' for business users.

  6. Jeyell

    Painting lasers on Samsung

    Camera work on these are impressive and a great divergence from Google's Pixel monocle with its with excellent results. But they are targeting Samsung (handsome hardware, sloth software).

    I've been watching Huawei P20 pro's support for Android P coming very soon and comparing my Note 8 (8.0.0) currently unscheduled and likely Easter 2019. Three months before Android Q announce!

    Complex quality camera arrays, bigger batteries, gorgeous hardware, close-to-Google OS. Huawei Pro's are compelling and may be a serious threat to the Korean Chaebol. Who need a kick up the Chaebols.

    1. Jason Hindle

      Re: Painting lasers on Samsung

      For the P20, P is meant to be imminent. As with all none Google phones, I won't be holding my breath.

      1. Jeyell

        Re: Painting lasers on Samsung

        Has the P20 been getting monthly Google security updates?

        1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Painting lasers on Samsung

          "Has the P20 been getting monthly Google security updates"

          My P20 Pro has been

          1. goldcd

            Thanks

            I'm due an upgrade on my original Pixel XL, and after being remarkably unimpressed with the Pixel 3, was looking at a switch to Huawei.

          2. Jason Hindle

            Re: Painting lasers on Samsung

            “My P20 Pro has been”

            As has my bog standard P20.

  7. Timmy B Silver badge

    nope. not ever again...

    Three Huawei devices tried. Two had one firmware update in the two years of ownership and one had none. This is simply not good enough when compared to OnePlus who do one nearly every month. Also when one of the phones, that actually got an update, bricked on updating I was told by Huawei UK support that it had water damage and would not be repaired (though I managed it myself in the end) - this device had come out of the box, been charged, connected to wi-fi and then updated. At what point did it get water damage!!!

    They may be good on paper but after sales support is terrible. Never again.

    1. Chz

      Re: nope. not ever again...

      Maybe someone can explain how these companies do their firmware updates to us?

      There's an app out there called "Firmware Finder" that supports most Huawei (and Honor, natch) phones. Fire it up, and you can see that every month, like clockwork, there's an internal build with the latest Google security patches. Some lucky users even get to try them! But for the vast majority, these builds are never pushed out over the air. This even applies to my Honor 8, which is now past its second birthday.

      So why are these never released? I don't accept that the standard 10-50MB Google security patches are going to break anything. Besides which, for a while FF would allow you to actually *install* these firmware updates, so I know for a fact that they're stable and bug-free. I can understand major version upgrades do take quite some time to sort out, but the security patches shouldn't be withheld like that.

      FWIW, when Huawei saw what FF was doing they cut it off (you can still see them, just can't install them now). And now I'm in firmware no man's land on a firmware version that's not supposed to exist and so I can't get any updates at all any more.

    2. bengoey49

      Re: nope. not ever again...

      Huawei Mate 10 Pro bought in the UK on Android 8.1 Security Patch 1 June 2018.

      Xiaomi Pocophone F1 on Android 8.1 Security Patch 1 September 2018 ( just got this update today)

      Huawei is not as good as Xiaomi regarding updates.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: nope. not ever again...

        OnePlus 5T for me. 1st September security patch on 8.1.

    3. Ryan Clark

      Re: nope. not ever again...

      I have a P10 plus which I have had for over a year. Had about 6 updates to it and running July 2018 security update. Had more frequent updates with this device than any I have had before.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mono sensors....

    A real "monochromatic" sensor would work well only in the hands of an experienced photographer. Many probably don't know, but good B/W photos (of course made on B/W film or sensor), usually need a few filters to achieve good tonal separation when turned into shades of gray, Yellow, orange, red and green (rarely blue) filters were commonly used - otherwise areas of the image with the same brightness will turn into the same gray, and the result can easily become a dull image.

    "Color" sensors are actually mono ones with color filters above it. Capturing color data also, a software can decide how to deliver an appealing enough B/W image - and moreover it can be tweaked in post production.

    So a Leica camera with a mono sensor could work - but a Leica branded mono camera on a phone makes little sense. Sure, you can take two photos with different cameras to get the color data, but then you'll have to assess each pixel properly, especially along hard transitions area, or it's very easy to introduce issues.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Mono sensors....

      A mono sensor without RGB filters above it would deliver a sharper image. Each pixel can record the total intensity of light hitting it, compared to an RGB sensor where the pixels alternate. In multi camera setups, the mono sensor is usually used in conjunction with RGB sensors to allow some post processing - sharpness from the mono sensor and colour from the RGB sensor are combined into the output image.

  9. Fursty Ferret

    Third party launchers blocked

    This isn't being mentioned in any of the hands-on articles (too much fawning over the colour), but recent betas of EMUI 9 have disabled the option to run third party lauinchers (such as Nova Launcher or the Pixel Launcher).

    There's a workaround but it involves using ADB to uninstall a lot of the Hauwei software, breaking other things in the process. Just a heads up.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      Re: Third party launchers blocked

      Just had a look on XDA and it does seem like this is what they are doing from EMUI 9 and above. This is certainly not good at all. I have Nova on all my Android devices as I can make them all look and behave the same. I would refuse to use any provider that did this and if anyone added this as a "feature" after I purchased the devices I would ask for my money back.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Third party launchers blocked

        I've had a Huawei phone where i just couldn't get a third party launcher to stick... Huawei's own launcher kept overriding it. Still, it was a far cheaper model from a couple of years back.

  10. _LC_
    Meh

    Pricey?

    What terminology should be apply to Google’s line of products or even Apple's, then?!?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Pricey?

      Since they're all in the same price ballpark, 'pricey' will do.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No notch?

    From OP: "...the Notch is optional, and the device looks very smart without it."

    Consider the implication of that statement: a phone with a notch looks idiotic.

    Astute observation, sir!

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