back to article Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year

When, four years ago, I predicted Huawei was coming to eat Apple and Samsung's lunch, derision swiftly followed. Either it couldn't, or it would take a very long time. For years, Japanese and Korean cars were nasty little tin cans, jokes on wheels, remember? But smartphones aren't cars. The Chinese production miracle, and …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    £899 - Ouch

    "Huawei is no longer the plucky underdog and at £899"

    That is an understatement to say the least. I have the P10 Pro and would like to upgrade but not at that price... That is moving towards the ridicoulous Apple/Samsung price inflated shiny shiny levels...

    Corporate greed knows no limits.....but my pockets do...

    Shame because it looks like a nice device...

    1. Craig 2

      Re: £899 - Ouch

      Yea I'm never paying close to £1k for a phone! The BOM for the iPhone XS was quoted as something like 1/3 sale price so plenty of wiggle room while still making obscene profits. Hopefully this slowing in phone sales / upgrades recently is the tip of the iceberg and people will wake up to the fact that they are being fleeced.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: £899 - Ouch

        > Hopefully this slowing in phone sales / upgrades recently is the tip of the iceberg and people will wake up to the fact that they are being fleeced.

        There are lots of competent phones available for far less, so who is being forced to buy the pricier handsets?

        Given no vendor is wildly undercutting the others, when comparing oranges with oranges, it's hard to make the argument that they're overpriced.

        The relationship between people's upgrade cycles and the price of a new phone isn't one way. For example, someone might deliberately choose a pricier phone with the intention of using it for three years, instead of a slightly cheaper / mildly compromised phone for two years.

        People also expect their phones to do more. Easy example is that many people haven't bought a discrete digital camera for a few years, so there's a £100 - £200 saving right there.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: £899 - Ouch

          I was out and about at the weekend and I was surprised at the number of iPhone 4/4S still in use. My youngest daughter's friend still has a 4S and is looking to replace it next year, when he finishes his intership and can get a 200€ phone to replace it - so probably not an iPhone.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: £899 - Ouch

      Dont worry. 99% of the features will be on the Honor 20 in 6 months or less for less than half that price.

      ( I havent even checked that there is an honor 20 but there will be something roughly equivalent.)

      1. thegroucho

        Re: £899 - Ouch

        For me it is the 1%.

        Although my priorities would be someone's 'meh, so what' list.

        The camera array, the IP6X-rated phone:

        1. I have young kids and lugging MILC (Sony a6000) every time we go out just sucks.

        2. Cycling (not commuting) in the rain and generally perspiring while cycling precludes me from having non-IP6X-rated phone.

        Of course YMMV.

        Not going to upgrade in 12-18 months so this is a long-term investment in a phone which will still be relevant (for me) in 3 years time.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: £899 - Ouch

          @thegroucho,

          You should worry about the X, not the 6 in your IP rating. The first digit stands for the intrusion protection, with 1 offering no protection 2 basically protecting against sticking your hand in Through 7 protecting from all dust. (6 is protection from any dust which may harm the device). The second digit indicates the moisture protection. In your case you'd want something atleast rated IPX7 rated, more likely an IPX8. (water jets, and immersion respectively)

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: £899 - Ouch

            IPX5 should also be fine for perspiration and the odd shower. x7 and x8 are really for prolonged submersion.

            We used to sell IP65 industrial terminals, they were protected enough for cleaning with high pressure water jets... Although that is way above standard IP65.

            We tried IP67, tested it inhouse and everything was fine, took it to TÜV for testing and it let water in. The difference was 2cm in height difference in the tanks - with out mounting bracket to pull the terminal down to 1M depth, we only managed 98cm, which the terminal survived without problems. By the TÜV it reached exactly 1M and those 2cm made all the difference.

            1. thegroucho
              Thumb Up

              Re: £899 - Ouch

              @imanidiot and @big_D

              I have been a moron as per my usual self and you are quite right.

              Although not an expert I have been to the relevant Wiki page for IP rating number of times and have no excuse for not remembering.

              I have this photo of me draining rain water from one of my cycling shoes into the other ... looks like I'm pouring a drink into a glass.

              It was proper deluge so I think IP65 might suffer.

              Luckily Mate 20 Pro is IP68.

        2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At TheGroucho, re: water protection.

          A trick I used to use back when I cycled all the time with my MP3 players (and Walkmans before that) was to stick it in a ZipLock Baggie, seal it, & manipulate the controls through the plastic. The water can't get in, you can still use it, & it may even survive a dunking.

          I don't know how well a SmartPhone screen would work through the ZLB plastic, YMMV, but it's worth a shot.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: £899 - Ouch

      Wait a month or two... I bought its predecessor, the Mate 10 Pro back at the beginning of the year.

      The launch price was 800€, I paid 700€ two months after launch and it is now around 430€ on Amazon.

    4. Steve Crook

      Re: £899 - Ouch

      And for a phone that'll only receive updates for a couple of years too. It's approaching the price I paid for my desktop PC and I expect to get OS software updates for that for some years to come...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: £899 - Ouch

        > And for a phone that'll only receive updates for a couple of years too

        They all have Android 9, so they all have Project Treble.

        1. vmistery

          Re: £899 - Ouch

          Project Treble is only half the battle. The OEMs are still not forced to release updates so you are still at their mercy. Personally I’d like to see google get direct control for security updates.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: £899 - Ouch

            > The OEMs are still not forced to release updates

            No, but it makes it much easier for them to roll out updates, and and removes their dependency on chipset vendors releasing binary blobs.

            In short, vendor's past performance in this area is no guide to their future performance. (And even before Treble, we've seen some vendors go from poor to good in this regard)

        2. Patrician

          Re: £899 - Ouch

          >They all have Android 9, so they all have Project Treble.

          If the manufacturer doesn't push out the updates it doesn't matter what "projects" it has installed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £900 nagware and a shit UI ?

    Next !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Having received this phone today after having read this review I was a bit concerned. However I have had no nagging at all. The huawei apps were all said 'no' to and I did not need to give any excess permissions.

      The phone itself is brilliant, even the emui layer is fine, loads of customisation to make it close to stock or bells and whistles. I was worried after having used awful android launchers and customisations of the past, this actually had some nice features that I don't think stock has, (loads of options for screenshots for instances)

      The twilight colour has a slippy, not ridged, back. The headphones that it comes with (USB C as well as a 3.5mm adapter) don't stay in my ears.

      The charging is super fast, quite a strange sight after my quick charge 2 phone, it goes up in seconds in front of your eyes.

      The notification area is rubbish, shame "hiding the notch" didn't bring the notifications down to the next line.

      Can't wait to properly try the camera out tomorrow.

  3. teamonster

    No word from ElReg on how a face scanner is probably not a good idea as it's most likely ridiculously hackable with a photograph.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would imagine it is not 'ridiculously hackable' with a photograph seeing as it has a dedicated infrared dot projector and dedicated infrared depth sensing camera.

      So it may be possible - some techniques have found that creating a 3d model of someones head and then placing photos in the appropriate places can have a good attack vector against Apple's Face-ID. Also some reports that creating a true infrared photograph under certain situations might be a cuase for concern.

      However 'ridiculously hackable with a photograph' is not a term that I would use for a 3D IR depth sensing unlock system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        3d dots in space...

        Just spoof the dots. Block the IR emitter, and have a pre-printed "hash crash" dot matrix. These things are "AI" driven (hint, just maths, not real AI). So if you know the average to try for, a few known hash/algorithm breaking dot arrangements and you can hit a false positive and open the device.

        Oh, it will take someone to do the math, as they did with the "turtle or gun" image recognition. And yes, the IR device means it's a bit more complex than an image hash false positive search. But at the same time, if they find the exploit, it will be up and out to everyone and their dog to replicate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 3d dots in space...

          But your dot matrix will have to be infrared to start with and will be different for every single person, and therefore would need significant time with the owner's phone to try repeated attempts of millions of patterns etc.

          This isn't trying to use AI to decide what a 2d image looks like and you can try over and over. This is deciding whether a biometric input matches the one that is stored on the encrypted pattern on the phone. You aren't even trying to fool it into thinking that it is looking at a 3d face from a 2d image. You are asking it to match it up with a single 3d face. Millions of times more complex.

          Therefore massively different from your proposal. If it really is that easy then the Apple face-id would have been hacked using that method a long time ago.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: millions of times more complex.

            Not really: https://youtu.be/uEJ71VlUmMQ

            So replace "pixels" with "3d dots". In fact, as said, with some IR reflective paint, and a TV remote control (IR light source) you could spoof an IR dot matrix. As shown in the other Reg reports, these things can be "spoofed" so a single paint blotch on a gun makes it look like a turtle, and a well painted turtle looks like a gun.

            While yes, it is different for each person, current exploits show it is doable. It's just a risk/reward time taken problem. A pin could not be spoofed. Biometrics can.

            1. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: millions of times more complex.

              So replace "pixels" with "3d dots". In fact, as said, with some IR reflective paint, and a TV remote control (IR light source) you could spoof an IR dot matrix. As shown in the other Reg reports, these things can be "spoofed" so a single paint blotch on a gun makes it look like a turtle, and a well painted turtle looks like a gun.
              And several other posts along these lines.

              You choose the unlock method that suits the level of security you are seeking.

              1) Just stop kids/friends screwing around with your phone (changing ringtones, etc), probably the most common use case - faceid, pattern, perfectly fine.

              2) stopping an opportunistic thief stealing your phone to sell on from accessing your data again faceid and pattern unlock are perfectly fine - probably the 2nd most frequent use-case.

              3) Has some business stuff or private stuff on it you don't want getting out, - fingerprint or passcode.

              4) keeping an affair or financial information in case of a divorce secret from your significant other - passcode (nothing that they could access while you slept in the bed beside them) - probably 3rd most common use-case.

              5) Has some highly sensitive stuff on it that many people might specifically target you for (financial secrets that could allow billion dollar insider trading/stock manipulation, or research on stuff you haven't patented yet - industrial espionage), professional thieves or government agencies that have the resources to - and care factor - to build a 3-d model of your face or steal fingerprints and make impressions of them - passcode.

              6) Has really sensitive stuff on it - kiddie porn, national security type stuff that foreign espionage would extraordinary rendition you for - where they might just beat you with a rubber hose or pull your teeth out before they turn you into a corpse and feed it to the pigs - just don't put it on a phone at all.

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: 3d dots in space...

          "Just spoof the dots. Block the IR emitter, and have a pre-printed "hash crash" dot matrix. "

          .... or just drug the owner, and hit him with this $5 wrench until he tells us the password....

          Ref. (that-eveyone-knows): https://xkcd.com/538/

    2. goldcd

      No - that's when you unlock with a reglar RGB/2D camera

      Mate 20 has got similar 3d scanning thingie that Apple does.

      (so yes, you could probably defeat it with a 3D model of a head, but that's only a small step away from cutting off my fingers for access)

    3. big_D Silver badge

      You can't hack these with a photograph, or at least not the Lumia 950, Apple iPhone X or the Hauwei P20...

      But Andrew did make a point of saying that biometrics aren't safe.

      They are your identity (username), not your secret (password), because if they are hacked or stolen, you can't change them!

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Facepalm

      No word from ElReg on how a face scanner is probably not a good idea

      Apart from the notes in the article that biometrics are inherently not secure… The review even briefly touches on the quality of the radios in case anyone wanting to use the phone as a phone is interested.

      I'm not currently looking for a new phone but credit where credit's due: an impressive device. But it's got a notch and Huawei phones are not well supported by Lineage OS, so not for me even if I was looking.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good to see another review which isn't hailing this phone as the second coming, like most are. But a couple of points. The Mate & P lines are distinctly different, one is not a successor to the other. Also not sure why this review is comparing it to the S8 & S8+, surely the S9 line is more appropriate comparison? Either way the upshot is still the same & correct, £900 is too much for a phone with a shit UI full of nagware & unnecessary bloat and same can be said for Samsung.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Samsung's TouchWiz isn't bad as it used to be, and the launcher can be changed if you must. It's hard to get another launcher to stick to Huawei phones.

      Additionally, Samsung flagships are well supported by the modding crowd.

  5. 45RPM Silver badge

    At that price I’d expect solid security, and a dedication to not sharing my data. Sadly, much of what makes Android great (such as an advanced and working AI (Siri, say ‘goodbye’ - here’s what I found on the internet about Goodbye) is predicated on sharing data - that’s what makes it work.

    For my use-case that doesn’t work - but my use-case isn’t for everyone and, in those cases, it seems that you can get ‘as good’ for less.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "One example is Apple's FaceID, developed at great expense, released on 3 November 2017"

    While Apples FaceID was released a year ago, Apple did not invent this technology in 2017, there have been other implementations of facial recognition on phones for quite a while. I had an Android phone around 2012 which had a basic unlock the phone with your face option.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Which could be fooled with a photo, so not the same thing as Face ID or the Mate 20 Pro.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      "there have been other implementations of facial recognition on phones for quite a while"

      Not the same thing. Those compare 2D images and are easily spoofed. A few (eg, Lumia 950) added crude depth detection via IR, to decide whether the image was a photo or a 3D "face". By contrast Apple's FaceID builds a 3D model using 30,000 points, then uses that as the basis for comparisons.

  7. big_D Silver badge

    Face-ID

    One example is Apple's FaceID, developed at great expense, released on 3 November 2017.

    Which is technology they bought in. It was also used in the Lumia 950 a couple of years before Apple got their mits on it. The iPhone X version was a generation or two further on than the Lumia 950, but it is essentially the same technology, from the same company; just that it is now a division of Apple.

    Also, the Hauwei version debuted on the P20 and P20 Pro during the summer.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Face-ID

      Addressing Andrews point. I very much doubt that Apples engineers and management view Face ID as a competitive advantage no matter what their Marketing says.

      Face ID was blindingly obviously a decision made to launch the iPhoneX with workable tech at a given point in time. And guess what they were right. Workable in-display finger print readers are only now appearing on the challenger phones and they still lag in responsiveness to discrete fingerprint readers.

      There is no way Apple could bin a flagship feature after one year so they were forced to double down for the XR/S/SMax

      Presumably there will be a iPhone7/8 replacement next year at the £550 mark - whether it has face id will depend on 2 factors .

      1. Whether the cost of the FaceID sensors can be scaled down to that price point.

      2. Whether Marketing decide that fingerprints are for the plebs and face id for the 10% who can afford an X model.

      Knowing Apple Im erring about 60/40 on the side of an 8 replacement with FaceID and fingerprints being consigned to the Reality distortion field of history (no fingerprints around here - nosirree). Although with most Mac laptops now coming with fingerprint scanners I could be wrong.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Face-ID

        Can't beat a discrete finger.

        1. Locky

          Re: Face-ID

          As Keanu foretold in The Matrix

          How about I give you the finger, and you give me my phone call

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Face-ID

        @Gordon10 on the other hand, the Lumia had the same type of sensor in a sub 700€ package, cheaper than iPhones with fingerprint sensors at the time.

        And Apple could have easily moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the case, where it fits nices to the index finger as you pick up the phone...

      3. DougS Silver badge

        Cost of Face ID sensors

        Was only a problem during the initial ramp up of the iPhone X last year, due to low yields. Once those problems were solved, it became a non-issue - which is why Apple was able to offer it on the cheaper iPhone XR. The big cost difference between the XS and XR is the OLED display with 3D touch layer.

        They'll likely keep selling the XR next year for $100 less than today, just like they are selling the iPhone 8/8S now for $100 less than they were a year ago.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Cost of Face ID sensors

          The iPhone XS panel is made by Samsung to Apple's spec, driven by a driver of Apple's own design. DisplayMate rate it a smidge higher than Samsung's panels on its own Note 9, but they're all in the 'so close to perfect colour accuracy you can't tell the difference' territory.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Cost of Face ID sensors

            Yes I wasn't implying Apple makes it, but that it costs them a lot more than an LCD, and that and the lack of the 3D Touch layer accounts for 90% of the cost difference between the XS & XR. The only other difference that matters cost wise is a single camera versus dual camera.

  8. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    It may be a £899 phone

    But with a £2.99 UI plus bloatware and nagware as described then just: no thanks.

    1. matjaggard

      Re: It may be a £899 phone

      Downvoted, I'm sure many people would pay more than £2.99 not to use that UI

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It may be a £899 phone

      I made a comment further up. First day of use and I haven't seen any nagware, everything just got turned off in the settings without a fuss. Maybe further use will reveal it, I don't know?

      Also the ui is fine so far, some nice customisations and nothing like launchers of yore. I thing the sub-heading is a bit brutal or maybe the software has changed since the review, but so far it's the best phone I've used by far.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: It may be a £899 phone

        "First day of use and I haven't seen any nagware, everything just got turned off in the settings without a fuss."

        I have to review what's in front of me, anon.

        HiTouch is turned off in Settings and should stay off. Instead, it requests permissions to start every time the phone detects a two finger gesture. Which is quite often. Arguably, this is coercion under GDPR and the process is not fully GDPR compliant.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It may be a £899 phone

          Could well be a bug that has been fixed, I've tried touching two fingers, three fingers on web in apps etc and not had anything pop up?

          I've so far (day 2) seen far less nag, intrusion or bloat than my wife's Xperia 5 compact.

  9. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    China and IP

    I am no fan of the Chinese government and am unlikely to buy a Huawei, but can we get this clear?

    China is officially run by the Communist Party.

    A core tenet of communism is that all inventions and discoveries belong to the People.

    Despite knowing this, since the 1990s more and more US companies (and UK ones) have shifted manufacturing to China in an effort to reduce costs and make more money.

    The result is obvious.

    I don't imagine anyone from the Chinese government approached Apple and ordered them to have iPhones made by Foxconn or Pegatron. They did it to increase margins and build up an enormous cash pile.

    The rise of Huawei, BBK and Xiaomi is entirely the result of unrestricted Western capitalism. I forget which Communist observed that capitalism would hand the communist world the tools to defeat it, but he was right. Even if China is emerging from communism...it just doesn't need to acquire Western IP any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China and IP

      >The result is obvious.

      The detail is interesting, in 1980 Shenzhen had a population of 30,000 farmers - now it has 20 million skilled and semi-skilled workers, Macau now has the fourth highest per-capita GDP, China is the USA's biggest creditor etc.

      >I forget which Communist observed that capitalism would hand the communist world the tools to defeat it

      That's not really the aim, they may not talk about it but they know Mao's vision starved 50 or 60 million. China is just slowly moving to social capitalism from the other direction. The upside of totalitarianism is the ability to enact and deliver plans (as with Shenzhen and other SEZ) which take a generation to bear fruit.

  10. iron Silver badge

    Sounds interesting but without a headphone jack or SD card forget it.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      My last two phones haven't had a headphone jack and I can't say I've missed it. I use a USB-C to headphone adapter and a good pair of Sony in-ears. I also have BT sport headphones for training and a set of noise cancelling Sony BT cans for when I am on the train / in a bus.

      I thought that I would miss the headphone jack and the typical "what do I do when I need to charge and want to listen to music?" But for the half an hour every 2 days to get a 60% - 70% charge, or an hour for a full charge, I've never encountered the problem - and I probably listen to around 4 hours of audio a day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nobody cares about headphone jacks and card slots, A cheap inline USB-C DAB not only comes in the box, it sounds better than the SoC cheapo bundled option, and is up-gradable.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        "Nobody cares about headphone jacks and card slots, A cheap inline USB-C DAB not only comes in the box, it sounds better than the SoC cheapo bundled option, and is up-gradable."

        No card slot. No sale. Period.... Guess that makes me "nobody" :-(

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There is a storage card slot but 1) you can only use 1 sim rather than 2 if you use it.

          2) it is a smaller than sd format so will have to wait to see prices.

          It does have 128GB BTW.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            @AC yes, 128GB should be more than enough for most people (yes, not everyone).

            I have a 128GB P20 and a 128GB Mate 10 Pro (business and private). I have 115GB free on the P20 and 90GB free on the Mate. My wife has a 32GB Hauwei P-Smart and she still has over half of the storage free.

            Some people "must" have everything available all the time, but for most people it is a non-issue.

            My ex-boss on the other hand is a prime example of a data horder. He had an iPhone with his Exchange account on it, he replaced his BMW 5 series with a VW Touareg. It could "only" show him 500 contacts. He had over 2,500 and "all" of them had to be available. He sent the car back 3 times to get the "problem" sorted, I had to find a solution (there was none, the 2017 model did solve the problem, but he had a 2016 model). In the end, he gave back the keys and got a Mercedes GLE Coupe... That was much easier than sorting out which contacts were actually still current. :-S

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Hi anon. My reply was not related the the Huawei phone, but to the previous comment "nobody wants a sd-card slot"

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      SD Card and battery, personally.

      The headphone not being there is annoying, but the other two you KNOW are going to fail or fill up and you'll want to replace at some point.

      1. FractalFragger2018

        ???

        Most handsets are going unibody nowadays so battery replacement is becoming a thing of the past. with regards to SD cards, the handset has 128GB on it and being android provides google drive as cloud storage or even Huawei's version of icloud at the same pricing, which i think is very good value. I have also seen NM cards on ebay, yes they are expensive but from what i have read they will be faster and more reliable than microSD that i find fails an awful lot.

  11. 0laf Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    P20 Pro £100 less?

    If you only pay £100 less for a P20 Pro you're not trying for a deal. I picked one up for just over £500 a couple of weeks ago. I expect you'll get similar or better deals come Black Friday.

    For £300 or £400 less the P20p seems a better option for now.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: P20 Pro £100 less?

      He was comparing launch prices, but yes, you are correct.

      With Hauwei phones (and Samsung), it pays to wait a couple of months after launch, before buying.

  12. Chz

    Getting there - Samsung had better watch out

    So they're where Samsung was a few years ago - fantastic hardware, meh software. The software side has been a long, slow battle for Samsung, so it's going to be interesting to see how Huawei gets on.

    A few comments on the company's efforts, as I own an Honor 8:

    Patches have been... patchy. They've put out what is probably their final Oreo update, but it is more than 2 years after the phone's release. So +1 there. -1 for how long Oreo took in the first place (I think it was August it was released), but that's been common from most manufacturers for phones that launched on Marshmallow. I can see their beta channel, and they've consistently produced monthly patch updates. But as to who they're releasing these to, it's a total mystery. You'll get an OTA update every 4-5 months.

    The hardware is fairly bulletproof. The H8 is a double-glass phone and I've dropped mine repeatedly (partly because the back surface is some sort of zero-friction prototype) and banged it up but good. No cracks. Performance is much the same as on Day One. Some of that is specific to my H8, but it does sum up Huawei hardware in general.

    The software. Step one is to turn off the power-saving option for everything and only re-enable it for apps that you know are a bit thuggish in the background. Step two is to install launcher of your choice. Neither is difficult, and it makes life a lot easier on you. Once you've done that, there are some Huawei quirks (control panel especially, as noted) but it's over all quite usable and if you use the Google Launcher, you'd think it was a fairly stock Android 95% of the time.

    As someone's already said, if you want a Kirin 980 for a lot less, just wait for the Honor (Magic 2, I think?) launch. Though the camera will certainly not be quite as nice.

  13. verno

    Have they Fixed Bluetooth?

    Have they sorted their implementation of the bluetooth stack that stops Huawei phones working reliably with Fitbit devices?

    Might not be a big thing for everyt=one but It's really annoying if you want to dig into your fitbit stats and your phone is your main device...

    See this thread:

    https://community.fitbit.com/t5/Android-App/Huawei-Sync-issues-the-truth/td-p/2515380

    Matt

  14. Niall Mac Caughey

    Speaker in the USB port - definitely worse for that!

    My Mate Pro arrived on Friday. I'm defnitely not an early adopter, I'm a strict second-hand car man (let some other generous soul pay for the depreciation), but the battery in my trusty HTC One really has given up and I opted for the Huawei at €519 delivered, including the GT Smartwatch and a wireless charger.

    It's also costing me an extra €15 x 24 over my existing SIM-only outlay, but I cancelled something else to cover this, so it's not too painful.

    Inital impressions are OK. It basically does what it says on the tin and battery life seems promising. Screen is good and the fingerprint sensor works well. The facial scanner seemed to have issues with my outrageously unkempt beard, so I had to give up on that. Definitely an infuriating amount of click-throughs required, but I haven't seen any in the last 24 hours, so we might be over the worst of them.

    The transfer utility that came with it sort of worked. It took a bit of fiddling and the HTC said that all transfers were successful , but the Huawei disagreed. Got there in the end.

    As far as the speaker is concerned, it's loud for ringing and notifications but, unlike the HTC, if I set it to speaker mode during a call and put it on the table, the volume is definitely too low to hear the caller clearly.

    The GT-1FO Smartwatch works OK, but it certainly isn't something I would pay for. The emphasis is very strongly on activity to the point that the App for setting up the watch is called Health. It does seem to track heartbeat and activity quite well and it has a lot of workout options. Battery life is impressive so far, although I haven't worked it hard and it is waterproof, so all good there. My main gripe is with the choice of faces which is very limited. I find the standard faces overly fussy and the GT doesn't use the normal Android watch OS, so there doesn't seem to be a way of downloading extra faces.

  15. Wade Burchette

    The notch

    It is awful, just awful.

    Also, no separate headphone jack, then no thank you.

    1. 0laf Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: The notch

      I honestly thought I'd hate it (P20pro), and I still think it's ugly but really within a few hours I hardly noticed it. A few days more and I really don't notice it at all now.

      So yeah it's an ugly artifact of phones for now but shouldn't be a deciding factor for any of them.

      Phone jack, yeah I'll give you that I do miss it. Huawei supply an adapter but it's stil a PITA for a car so you can't connect the phone to power and the aux at the same time. And that car doesn't do bluetooth

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The notch

        Crazy thing is, if you put a tempered glass screen protector on a notch-less Samsung phone it makes it look notched. The screen protector has a notch cut out for the Samsung's earpiece and camera.

    2. LochNessMonster

      Re: The notch

      "It is awful, just awful."

      Then thank Huawei you can disable it. [i]Settings/Display/Notch[/i] is your friend. Feature also available in the P20 family.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple didn't invent FaceID...

    "Apple likely made two assumptions with FaceID. It must have thought that with FaceID's absurd overkill of sensors (IR camera, proximity sensor, flood illuminator, and dot projector), Apple would have an unassailable lead for a few years."

    Sony were showing the same concepts at least 5 months before Apple launch using an Android based Xperia

    https://www.sony-depthsensing.com/NewsEvents/Articleview/ArticleId/520/NEWS-SoftKinetic-Introduces-Smallest-3D-DepthSense-Camera-Available-for-Mobile-Platforms

    https://androidcommunity.com/sony-to-demo-a-3d-facial-biometric-sensor-on-an-xperia-phone-20170628/

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Apple didn't invent FaceID...

      Apple could obviously have had concept devices out more than 5 months before they launch, they don't market that way. When Apple is first to market, with something people will say "well so-and-so showed a concept or had a patent about it first". When Apple is second to market, as with the notch, people will say they "copied" it - as if Apple could have copied Essential's notch when it came out only a few month before Apple and there were rumors Apple would have a display notch for over a year before the iPhone X actually launched.

      There are only so many ways to solve problems like "how the phone owner can authorize himself to the phone" and "maximizing screen area when you need to have some stuff on the front face of the phone" so obviously the same solutions will be arrived at. Doesn't require anyone copying, and coming up with a truly unique solution to any of those problems is pretty unlikely.

      I mean everyone knows that something better than the notch would be holes in the display where sensors go, and even better than that would be sensors that can 'see' through the display. Those will come, someone will be first to market, but it is virtually certain that Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others are all working towards that improvement so notches and top bezels go away.

  17. The Original Steve

    Simplification

    I admit it, after 20 years in IT I'm now stumped. Maybe I just can't be arsed to spend hours researching any longer, but I've just entirely lost track with phones.

    I love my S8 hardware, but the software is rather flaky, requiring a reboot once a week. But I can't stand Apple so soldiering on with Android is the best I can do.

    More than happy to go with a Chinese brand like Huawei etc. I just need the ranges explained to me!

    A 5" - 6" screen, QI charging, reasonable camera, waterproof, SD Card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C fast charging, battery that can last a day and a decent screen. Fingerprint unlock under the glass is a nice to have, but can live with a normal fingerprint reader if necessary. Not a fan of the notch.

    Budget is around £700 max, would prefer the £400 - £500 "mid range" if possible. (My last car cost me under a grand which lasted 9 months with no other maintenance costs. If you think I'm paying £1000 for a phone you can think again!)

    Any suggestions from my peers?

    1. Andrew Mayo

      Re: Simplification

      Note 8 Sim Free at £508 from Amazon ?

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-Galaxy-Note-SM-N950F-Smartphone-Black/dp/B0756FFZTZ

      Think that ticks all your boxes. Mine's been dead reliable since I got it at launch date - no reboots required.

      No notch, fingerprint reader is on the back admittedly but - you know what? - actually that turns out to be a fairly sensible place for it with the LED cover, since you open the cover and use your right hand index finger to activate the sensor. And the LED cover is now only £20 and a marvel of clever technology, with actual LEDs embedded in the front cover to quickly show you notifications, the time and even response to a touch swipe to answer calls or shut off the alarm. This really is a terrific phone for the new price, given the Note 9 is now out (and hardly a significant upgrade).

      1. The Original Steve

        Re: Simplification

        Thanks Andrew.

        I have the LED cover on my S8 and love it. Although this is the second one I brought after the first just packed in working after 3 months (not uncommon so I've been told).

        Will have a look at the Note 8. I forgot to mention that supporting Project Treble would be a big bonus too, just so I can ensure I don't get left behind should the hardware somehow last me more than a year or two!

        Thanks again

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Simplification

          Project Treble is the main difference between the Galaxy and Note 8s and the version 9s, other than price. But yeah, it seems to be only Samsung who tick all the boxes these days, SD card, headphone socket, wireless charging, waterproofing, HDR certification, AR Core support, no notch, etc

          Sorry to hear your Galaxy 8 is misbehaving, mine (Exonys version) has been solid. Maybe you have an intermittent hardware fault, or some app is upsetting it?

        2. Andrew Mayo

          Re: Simplification

          Yeah, there's a ribbon cable which connects a very large NFC scanning coil in the back of the case to the front, that powers the LEDs and it is prone to breakage. My first case lasted about a year. The replacement I've stopped bending the front cover right round to the back and just opening it out flat, to see if it lasts longer. But at £20 a pop that's not such a big issue now. When my first case failed I thought about getting a standard case but the LEDs were so useful I decided to replace it. Let's see how it goes....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simplification

      A £400 Pixel2 (or XL if you like supidly big phones), will still destroy an iphoneXS in pretty much every area, including the camera. Even iPhone fanboys at the verge can't deny it and maintain credibility.

      https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/19/17878018/iphone-xs-x-pixel-2-galaxy-s9-camera-comparison

      Absolutely no bloat, just Google Android. Updates every month for 3+ years (just over 2 now). Why waste an extra £400? That's £400 to spend in 2020 on a Pixel 4...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huawei problems.

    Superb hardware, but fail on 3 points:

    1/ Abysmal power management that breaks so many apps.

    2/ UI that is desperately trying to copy Apple, when stock Android is so much better.

    3/ They removed the ability to unlock the bootloader, mean you can't load a stock Android GSI (a binary bootable stock Android image, that every Treble certified device must be able to boot)

    https://www.xda-developers.com/google-test-android-q-project-treble-gsi/

    1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Huawei problems.

      1) I don't consider 2 days between charges in anyway "absymal" and no app on my phone (p20 pro) has been broken by "power management"... I'd look to your apps if I were you.

      2) The UI is a bit clunky but can be changed. I have a few icons and then a bunch of icons in folders *exactly* like I had on my Xperia Z1 - As well as an alphabetized list on a single screen - so I think you're talking more bollocks

      3) The majority of people don't give a flying hairy monkey fart about this.

      have a nice day!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huawei problems.

        Mine has been running since 7am and is still on 96% charge. Nothing has broken that I can tell

        Cloning Apple is actually quite handy when you're coming form an Apple to Huawei.

        Admittedly most of the rest of the OS settings are a frickin mess.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huawei problems.

        The broken apps are very high profile apps, Huawei decided to go their own way with power management, basically shutting down background services in a very dumb way, just to get headline grabbing battery stats

        Don't expect apps like Strava, Android Auto and anything else that relies on background long running services to work on a Huawei device.

  19. ChrisElvidge

    Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

    If I'm asleep can anyone just show the phone my face and/or fingerprint to unlock it?

    At least with a secret PIN/password they'll need to wake me up to unlock it.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

      My phone uses the Iris's so the eyes would have to be opened at least.

      I think fingerprint scanners must be the easiest to use for sleep access, gently pressing the phone against the fingertip sounds simple indeed.

      1. doublelayer

        Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

        I'd imagine that physically picking up someone's hand to get the fingerprint would wake them up. If face unlock works when their eyes are closed, however, that would probably be easy to do without waking them up. When security is included, a PIN is clearly the most secure option.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

          Having something in your brain (currently) leaves no physical impression or trace that can be detected or copied.

          Having something on your body doesn't. It may be "complex" to copy, but it's there. And can be fooled by things like Gummi Bears or just a high-quality print-out.

          Nobody has yet managed to pluck a thought from someone's head (though Derren Brown can show you quite a few tricks), so that's the ONLY way to be secure at the moment.

          Anything else is security snakeoil. In the same way that your briefcase doesn't need to withstand a bunch of safe-crackers (given 5 minutes, a fast hand, and the opportunity and I'll open any 6-digit briefcase combination lock for you), some people are happy with "no security but a slight inconvenience".

          If you care about security, a PIN / passphrase is the only way to go.

          1. fandom Silver badge

            Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

            "Nobody has yet managed to pluck a thought from someone's head "

            Of course they have, it's a method called "torture".

            Disgusting, maybe, but it works pretty well.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

              Like XKCD says, the $5 hammer is the best device to unlock any phone. Almost no one would allow their hands and kneecaps to be smashed by a hammer rather than unlock their phone, so this works regardless of the security it is using. A determined criminal will get in your phone, there's no way to prevent it short of destroying your phone - though if they were willing to take a hammer to you to unlock it they might be unhappy if you destroyed it so I wouldn't recommend it.

              The police may not resort to hammer based measures where we live, but they do some places. In more "civilized" places like the UK they can force you to reveal a password so the type of security makes no difference, you'll be in jail anyway just without broken hands. In the US they can't make you reveal a password, but they can make you perform a biometric unlock. So hit the volume/power buttons at the same time to disable Face ID / Touch ID when the cops are knocking loudly on your door, and hope they don't have any other evidence on you!

              1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

                > Nobody has yet managed to pluck a thought from someone's head (though Derren Brown can show you quite a few tricks), so that's the ONLY way to be secure at the moment.

                Actually Lee, researchers have had success with determining someone's unlock code from videoing their hand movements from across a room. Passcodes don't only live in people's heads, at some point they have to enter them into their phone.

                Now, where passcode are more secure is in their legal status. Passcode don't have to be surrendered in many jurisdictions , jurisdictions where a cop is allowed to hold your phone against your finger.

                For this reason, tapping the power button of an iPhone five times disables biometric entry and enforces a passcode. A passcode is also required if the phone has not been unlocked for a few hours.

                1. DougS Silver badge

                  Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

                  The 'tap power button 5 times' thing was replaced by holding down the volume down & power button for about a half second (as with shutting down the phone)

                  Dunno why people keep talking about passCODES. No one claiming to care about security should be using them unless their phone does not support a proper password! You can have a more complex password if you have some sort of biometric unlock that means you won't have to enter your password very often - having FaceID means I NEVER have to type my complex password in public. Thus I don't have to worry about a person or CCTV camera over my shoulder seeing me type it in.

                  People who complain about the insecurity of biometric logins but use a simple passcode they are constantly entering in public are worrying about the wrong things on the security front. I could MUCH more easily watch you type in a 4 digit passcode once or twice and get into your phone than go through the far more involved steps required to fool either a fingerprint or 3D facial recognition scanner.

                  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                    Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

                    Passcode can mean a string of characters, surely? I didn't say Pass number or PIN.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

            "If you care about security, a PIN / passphrase is the only way to go."

            I knew the pin or password to a number of the phones of my colleagues and my son knows our pins to phones, TV players, vox etc despite trying to be really careful. Its very hard to keep a phone code secret as you have to enter it so often.

            A biometric gives me all the security *I* need as noone I know will get past it.

            .

    2. Fred West

      Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

      The police or muggers can point the phone at your face to unlock it, they don't need you to reveal codes or patterns

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

        That assumes you haven't locked out the biometric before handing the phone to the police or mugger. Which is pretty easy to do given that the two buttons required on the iPhone are on opposite sides so you can squeeze them as you pull it out of your pocket to hand it over.

        Plus, by default Face ID requires "attention" - that is, your eyes have to be open. The police can point your phone at your face, but they can't order you to open your eyes. It only takes a few failures when they try it and you shut your eyes before it locks out.

  20. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Meh

    Not expandable memroy

    The P20 Pro doesn't have expandable memory, 128gig on board and that's your lot. I don't really consider the ability to access a USB stick as "expandable memory" in the same sense that sticking a card in the phone is.

    I really don't understand why people get so upset about lack of a headphone port. There's an adapter in the box and it works very well; recharging isn't an issue because the bloody thing barely seems to use any power

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not expandable memroy

      You can expand it, it's just you lose the second sim card slot and the cards are not yet widely available.

      1. doublelayer

        Re: Not expandable memroy

        They should stop making up new card types. Is this card any better than a micro SD card? Even if it is slightly smaller, the lack of any available rather nullifies that benefit. In addition, the phone has enough space for a micro SD card; it's not that big a difference in size. We already tried the lots of different incompatible portable storage type system. We didn't like it.

  21. jason 7

    Got the Mate 10 Pro two weeks ago...

    ...for £350!

    Very impressed and love the monochrome sensor.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's called depth of field...

    ....maybe when reviewing the photographic capabilities of a device it would help if you understood some of the fundamentals of photography.

  23. AstroCam

    Really?

    Send all your details to China via this phone? No thanks.

  24. Nathan 13

    £899!!

    When you can get a good quality android (that will in reality be no worse to use than the Mate20 Pro for 99% of users) for under £150, why would anyone pay 5x that?

    And in 12-18 months do it all over again, and again ...

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    I don't know why people buy these

    The hardware is nice but the software is superficially attractive but has *horrible* usability. As for the lack of a headphone jack, they should hang their heads in shame.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was weighing up getting this or a 6T... and honestly I'd rather have £300 of weed than extra phone I don't need, so I got the 6T and I'm so happy I did! The back of the 6T is flawless and on-the-cusp-of-transluscency that makes it look like sea glass rubbed supernaturally smooth and I love rubbing it <3

  27. FractalFragger2018

    Dont agree with the nagware

    I have had this phone since its release date and all i can say is once the initial setup was done, i have not had a single "nagware" notification as you call it. the UI is simplistic and very well thought out. Samsungs UI i find clunky at best and much slower. Having come from an iphone 7 plus to this (coming back to the android fold) was the best decision i have made in the last 4 years.

    I did toy with the oneplus 6t but decided on this as i had a test drive of a colleagues handset and it was amazing!

    Dont listen to what one "reviewer" thinks on this. What one person dislikes another might like. In my opinion this beats the S9+ hands down.

  28. pyite42

    Replace EMUI with e.g. Nova Launcher

    I have had a Mate 8 for a couple years now (no plans to replace it). It lets me get rid of the EMUI interface in favor of other launchers -- Nova is the one I prefer.

    Does the Mate 20 work well with other launchers? I would never get a new Mate if I couldn't use Nova.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Replace EMUI with e.g. Nova Launcher

      Mate 10 Pro works fine with other launchers.

  29. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Looks like the reviewer threw up into a sandwich. Was it any better the second time?

  30. TeacherMARK

    Are you accidently swiping the annoying 'HiSearch' feature on your new Huawei Mate 20 Pro?

    Well, now you can safely remove it and it's not that hard if you pay attention to the instructions below.

    (It may work on other Mate 20s but I've only tested it on my phone.)

    1) Download the ADB zip file to your Windows desktop computer or laptop.

    Unzip the contents of the zip file to your desktop. There will be a folder called 'platform-tools'.

    Direct link to the ADB zip file is here:

    https://dl.google.com/android/repository/platform-tools-latest-windows.zip

    2) Connect your phone to the computer and enable USB Debugging on your phone.

    (There will be a pop up on your phone asking you to do this.)

    Open the 'platform-tools' folder that you just unzipped and open a 'command prompt' from inside that folder.

    Put your mouse somewhere in the folder, hold 'shift' and right click your mouse.

    Select 'Open command window here'

    3) Type "adb devices" then enter.

    This just proves that you are connected to your phone.

    The long ID number of your phone will show up if you are.

    4) Type "adb Shell" then enter.

    5) Type "pm list packages" then enter.

    This will show you a long list of packages installed on your phone.

    6) Type "pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.huawei.search" then enter.

    7) Did you see the word "Success"?

    8) You did it. Aren't you clever! No more accidental 'HiSearch' swipes on your phone.

  31. RobHib
    Mushroom

    I would never own another Huawei - FULL STOP!

    I would never own another Huawei no matter how good it is!

    In May this year Huawei withdrew the option of unlocking the boot loader from its smartphones. I now have a piece of Huawei junk that I cannot use.

    I'm so annoyed that I'm thinking about making a YouTube video of me running over my brand new Huawei smartphone with a forklift. If nothing else, it would give me great satisfaction.

    El Reg, you shouldn't encourage bastards like this with good reviews.

    Fuck them!

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