Huawei Mate 20 review

It's Mating season!

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The question is, does the Mate 20 deserve to exist in a world in which the Mate 20 Pro is a thing? 

Yes. Yes it does. It offers much of what makes the Mate 20 Pro great at a lower price, and adds a headphone jack. It also delivers much more than the Mate 20 Lite, and differs significantly from any other Huawei or Honor (Huawei’s sub-brand) phone currently on the market.

If you don’t need the bleeding edge in-screen fingerprint scanner, wireless and reverse wireless charging, 2K AMOLED display tech, IP68 water and dust resistance and 40MP of camera power, therefore, you could save yourself €250 or AU$500 when compared to the Pro.

To sum up: the Mate 20 is an excellent-looking phone with a giant, immersive display, a great camera, sensational battery life and monumental amounts of power under the hood.

Who's it for?

Gamers – it has an excellent screen and solid sound performance. It’s also incredibly powerful and offers up to 128GB of built-in storage. With a less angular design than the Razer Phone 2, it’s also a bit more accessible, despite lacking the gaming phone’s 120Hz display.

The Mate 20 is also well suited to tech enthusiasts who want function over the latest, bleeding edge tech. It’s fundamentally a more sensible phone than the Pro, costing less and offering a comparable user experience in key areas.

It’s also for photography fans who can’t stump up the price of the P20 Pro or Mate 20 Pro. With a plethora of manual modes, excellent video performance and that killer long-exposure Night Mode, Huawei takes this ‘not quite a flagship’ phone into top tier territory.

Should I buy it?

If you like big phones, the Mate 20 is very easy to recommend.

Will it last a full day? Absolutely. Will it take excellent pictures? Yes. Do we notice the Full HD screen being weaker than the displays on other QHD devices? No – the only time we noticed it could be better was when we placed it alongside flagship AMOLEDs, and even then it performed well. As for the rest of this phone, it pretty much nails it in every respect in day to day use, so if you don’t mind doing without waterproofing and wireless charging, you will likely like the Mate 20.

First reviewed: October 2018

Looking for other options? Check out the following alternatives:

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The Galaxy S9 Plus has a slightly smaller screen to the Mate 20. It has an excellent camera that supports dual apertures though, edging ahead in low light when shooting in automatic. The fact that it’s been out for a while now is the big thing in its favor as the price may undercut the Mate 20 in your region, and while it may lack the wide angle camera, it does pack a beautiful 2K OLED curved display.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

Huawei P20 Pro

With its triple camera, the Huawei P20 Pro is a different beast to the Mate 20, offering a monochrome sensor as opposed to an ultra-wide angle lens and a less curvaceous look and feel. The P20 Pro also has an more traditional notch, paired with OLED screen technology. Also sporting a 4,000mAh battery, it too lasts for ages, but unlike the Mate 20, it features the last generation Kirin 970 processor and doesn’t have a headphone jack.

Read our full Huawei P20 Pro review

iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is the only iPhone currently available that goes toe-to-toe with the Mate 20 in terms of size. The iPhone’s UI – iOS 12 – is more refined than EMUI 9, but is less versatile and potentially less functional in turn. The same can also be said of the camera, with the iPhone delivering a reliable point and shoot experience, but the Mate 20 delivering many more tools to play with.

Read our full iPhone XS Max review

LG V40

The LG V40 is an alternative for anyone who wants a similar three camera setup with an OLED screen. It’s pricier and doesn’t offer the excellent value for money in regions like Australia the Mate 20 does. In its favor however, it’s widely available in the US, sports excellent design and has plenty of power under the hood. 

Read our full LG V40 review

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.