Huawei P20 Pro review: Perfect shots in every setting

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By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation

Huawei again teams up with Leica for a triple camera that also takes calls and surfs the Net

Released last month to critical acclaim, the new Huawei P20 Pro the leads the smartphone pack with its Leica triple camera.

That third camera is an 8MP telepro camera complete with a Leica 3 x telephoto (VarioSummiluxH 1:1.62.4/2780ASPH) lens.

The DxOMark, a trusted industry standard for camera and lens image quality measurements and ratings, has confirmed Huawei’s winning triple design. On March 27, the DxOMark announced that it had helped Huawei P20 Pro become the most capable smartphone camera on the market, awarding it a score of 109, 10 points ahead of its nearest rival.

Having a separate lens and image sensor for a telephotography camera is a great idea because the 3x camera, with an equivalent focal range of 80mm, retains a wide aperture – the aperture would be been narrower had the tele lens been incorporated into the main camera’s lens.

Huawei made the right decision to introduce a dual-camera design with Leica back in 2016 with the release of the P9. The dual-camera was then used in the Mate 9, P10, and Mate 10 series and set a standard for other brands to follow suit.

The dual-camera design allows the main camera to simulate a very wide aperture, achieving the bokeh effect or a professionally blurred background of a quality more expected of a DSlR camera. This smart and popular design helped the P9 sell and spawned the saying “if you want to buy a camera that comes with a smartphone, you must go for Huawei”.

That success apparently prompted Huawei to strive for even better camera performance and it has achieved that with bells on. The P20 Pro’s main camera configuration is comprised of a 40MP RGB QuadBayer sensor, a 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens. It also features a temperature sensor for better colour reproduction.

The main sensor uses f/1.8 lens while the monochrome sensor uses f/1.6 lens. These wide aperture lens and highly sensitive image sensor allow the main camera of the P20 Pro to have impressive lowlight performance with a sensitivity of up to ISO 102400.

The main camera of P20 Pro is designed to achieve outstanding quality with Artificial Intelligence powered by the Huawei Kirin 970 processor. The P20 Pro automatically identifies more than 500 scenarios in 19 categories and selects photography modes and camera settings to deliver incredible, professional-looking images – even for novice photographers.

The camera uses Huawei AIS to allow you to achieve impressive night shots without a tripod. It also introduces 4D predictive focus. When this setting is activated, the camera predicts moving objects and focuses on them to capture minute details. In addition, the Huawei P20 Pro features AI-Assisted Composition, providing intelligent suggestions to frame group shots and landscapes. It also features a temperature sensor for better colour reproduction.

During the test, the P20 Pro captured truly beautiful photos with vivid colours. In particular, the P20 Pro achieved beautiful portraits with a professionally blurred background.

Two shooting modes allow you to achieve the bokeh effect – Wide Aperture and Portrait.

The Wide Aperture allows you to adjust the aperture bar. The lower the number, the wider the aperture and the more blurred the background.

The Portrait mode does just achieve the desired bokeh effect but also applies beautification effects to the face of your subject. This mode allows you to select one of 3D lighting effects from the choices of No lighting, Soft lighting, Butterfly lighting, Split lighting, Stage lighting and Classic lighting.

When I used the auto mode, which is called “Photo”, the camera’s AI automatically recognised various scenes accurately, including landscapes and food.

To switch to the telephoto camera, you simply tap on the Zoom button, which is shown as “1x” on the viewfinder screen. The 3X optical zoom is really useful, allowing you to get closer to the subject.

There is also a Pro camera mode that lets you adjust exposure, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus type and light metering type to give you full control.

The main camera is capable of shooting 960 frames per second super slow motion, which is four times higher than the standard 240fpx, allowing it to capture details and fast actions that may be missed by the naked eye.

The camera boasts an Ultra Snapshot mode, allowing it to capture an image in as little as 0.3 seconds by just double clicking the down volume button, even from an off screen.

The 40MP resolution is huge and seems like overkill, especially as it takes up a lot of internal storage. In most cases, it’s better to switch to the 10MP resolution option.

The P20 Pro also has a 24MP front camera for high quality selfies.

As a smartphone, P20 Pro is sleek and just 7.8mm thick. It comes with beautiful 6.1-inch 18:9 Full-View OLED display with 1080×2240-pixel resolution.

It’s water resistant too, conforming to IP67, and incredibly powerful thanks to the good hardware. The P20 Pro is powered by Huawei Kirin 970 octacore processor with 4x Cortex A73 cores running at 2.36 GHz and 4x A53 cores running at 1.8 GHz. It also has an i7 co-processor and Neural Processing Unit (NPU). The NPU is in charge of handling AI performance of the smartphone including the AI function of the camera.

The P20 Pro comes with a generous 6 gigabytes of working memory or RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. The smartphone has two nano SIM slots but no expansion slot for storage.

It runs on Google Android 8.1 operating system with EMUI 8.1 user interface on top so it comes as no surprise that performance is fast. Measured by AnTuTu Benchmark v7.0.7, the smartphone got a score of 207,599. As of April 13, it was ranked sixth on the evergrowing benchmark database of AnTuTu.

The P20 Pro has fast Internet connection too. I tested it on TrueMove H’s LTE network. Applications were downloaded fast and my snapshots were backed up to my Google Photos cloud storage in seconds.

I used the Ookla Speedtest app to measure the connection speed and found that it achieved the download speed of 128 Mbps and upload speed of 43.7 Mbps.

The P20 Pro also has a fingerprint reader embedded in the hardware home button for fast unlocking of the phone.

It plays good quality music wirelessly and supports LDAC and aptX HD Bluetooth connection. I connected it to Sony MDR1ABT headphones in LDAC mode and was impressed by the sound. The P20 Pro does not provide a 3.5mm stereo jack but instead comes with a USB TypeC to 3.5mm stereo adapter for connecting to wire headphones.

It also has a large battery of 4,000 mAh that allowed me to survive a day of use on just the one charge.

Huawei P20 Pro has a suggested retail price of Bt27,990.

Huawei P20 Pro Key specifications:

– OS: Android 8.1 with EMUI 8.1

– Network: LTE TDD / LTE FDD / WCDMA / EDGE / GPRS

– CPU: HUAWEI Kirin 970 octacore CPU (4 x Cortex A73 2.36GHz + 4 x Cortex A53 1.8GHz) + i7 coprocessor

– Memory: 6GB

– Storage: 128GB

– Display: 6.1inch HUAWEI Full-View Display 18:9 OLED with 1080×2240 pixels

– SIM: dual nano SIM

– Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, USB TypeC, Infrared remote control

– Cameras: Front: 24MP, f/2.0; – Rear camera: 40MP RGB (f/1.8) + 20MP monochrome (f/1.6) + 8MP telephoto (f/2.4)

– Dimensions: 155.0 mm x 73.9 mm x 7.8 mm (H x W x D)

– Weight: 180g

The Nation
Republished with permission from The Nation
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