Android Giants: Samsung Note 9 vs. Huawei P20 Pro, which one should you go for?

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The global smartphone industry has become a battle of Android phones, especially now with Huawei becoming the second largest smartphone vendor globally, surpassing Apple. With the competition getting fierce, it’s time to compare Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 9 to the HUAWEI P20 Pro in four areas that drive an end user to buy their new: Camera, chipset, design and, ultimately, value for money!

Superior Camera

We took the camera out for a few fun test shots, both during the day and night and found that even though launched in March, the HUAWEI P20 Pro, is still the best smart camera phone on the market.

Equipped with Leica Triple Camera, HUAWEI P20 Pro has a leading rear camera system comprised of a 40MP RGB sensor, 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens. Compared to the Note9’s 12+12MP dual lens camera, HUAWEI P20 Pro supports a higher resolution in both its primary and secondary sensors, and on top of that, it also has a third sensor with a dedicated telephoto lens.

In the simplest terms, the images shot on a camera with a higher resolution are clearer and more detailed, whilst a low-resolution camera is only capable of producing images that are comparatively blurrier and noisier. However, there are several more factors that impact image quality– for instance, the sizes of the sensor and photosites (pixels on the sensor).

With AI being the recent game changer in camera specs in smartphones, it is safe to say that Huawei was the first to launch the AI powered camera feature last year in its flagship device HUAWEI Mate 10 series, which offered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition. This basically meant that the camera settings were automatically set based on the object and scene, where actually the phone recognizes the object and scene and adjusts the camera setting automatically to capture a clear and sharp picture.

This feature was further developed and improved upon with the launch of their HUAWEI P20 Pro that comes equipped with a triple 40 MP AI camera. In all fairness, one of the most unmatchable features of HUAWEI P20 Pro is its low light photography capability, which is equipped with state-of-the-art AI Image Stabilization. Phone users are be able to capture incredible blur-free, handheld shots in low-light using Night Mode, without the need for a tripod. The HUAWEI P20 Pros night mode also balances high-contrast scenes for effortlessly clear, light-balanced snaps in any setting. In fact, HUAWEI P20 Pro’s Night Mode feature can sometimes capture scenes that even the naked eye cannot see.

Besides HUAWEI P20 Pro’s edge in sensor specifications, HUAWEI’s current top-of-the-line flagship also supports 3x optical zoom, allowing the HUAWEI P20 Pro to zoom farther than the Note9, which only can manage 2x optical zoom. Also, though both devices support 10x digital zoom, HUAWEI P20 Pro also supports 5x hybrid zoom, which leverages its on-device AI capabilities to combine both optical and digital data to minimize quality loss while zooming.

AI is the future and the P20 Pro is designed for it

CPUs are poorly optimized to execute AI tasks. Without the support of a dedicated AI processor, they struggle in areas such as image recognition.The Huawei P20 Pro comes built-in with a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) inside the Kirin 970 that is optimized for AI tasks. The EMEA models of the Galaxy Note 9 are powered by the Exynos 9810 processor which lacks a a discrete processor for AI tasks.

Without the support of a dedicated AI processor, the EMEA model of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will likely provide a subpar user experience compared to the HUAWEI P20 Pro. Another score for HUAWEI P20 Pro with its AI enabled Kirin 970 chipset.

Beauty beyond Compare

We chose phones that are trendy and stand out from the crowd. Over the years, phones have become a fashion statement that is an extension of ourselves. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will be launched in three colors in the Middle East: Lavender Purple, Ocean Blue and Midnight Black. However, their visual impact pales in comparison with HUAWEI P20 Pro’s Twilight color. Whereas all Note9 variants have a singular color, some also with a metallic finish, HUAWEI P20 Pro is available in an iridescent gradient color.

Drawing inspiration from the Northern Lights, Huawei created the unique Twilight purple-to-blue gradient color using the NCVM process, a lengthy industrial process that involves high costs and low yields, but produces a unique look that makes the HUAWEI P20 Pro instantly stand out from amongst others.

Huawei’s designers deliberately aligned the camera module in a way so that when a user holds the device horizontally, the look of the device resemble that of a compact camera. This is an exemplification of how Huawei speaks through design—just from looking at the device, a user can tell that it’s made for photography. On the other hand, Note9’s design showcases Samsung’s clear lack of attention to detail. The primary rear camera on the Note9 is slightly, though noticeably off from the center 

Yet again, HAUWEI P20 Pro’s gradient colours and camera + key placement, makes it a user-friendly and ‘haute’ phone to own and hold.

Better Value

Lastly, which works better for your pocket and gives you the best value for your money?

Launched in March 2018, the HUAWEI P20 Pro comes with a trove of innovations and features that competitor devices have only recently caught up to. For instance, when Samsung put a 3300mAh into its Note8 and a 3500mAh battery into the S9+, Huawei designed the HUAWEI P20 Pro with a massive 4000mAh battery. Following in Huawei’s footsteps, Samsung included a 4000mAh battery in the latest Note9. 

But that wasn’t the only feature that Huawei introduced first. One of the features that Samsung highlighted during its Unpacked event was the Samsung DeX desktop mode without the need of a dedicated dock. Huawei has the same feature on the HUAWEI P20 Pro under the name “Easy Projection”, for over five months now. Perhaps most importantly, Huawei is offering these premium features at a very competitive price today—while Samsung still needs another few weeks before they can put their costly new flagship into the hands of consumers.