Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Huawei Mate 20 Lite full review

Chinese manufacturer Huawei is enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity, which recently saw the firm overtake Apple in terms of the number of phones it sells.

One of the main reasons for this success is the range of quality devices available for every budget. We take a look at the latest Mate 20 line so you can decide which one should be on your shortlist. 

For a roundup of other phones from emerging Far East brands, check out our Best Chinese Phones 2018 guide. 

Price & Availability

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro was announced on 16 October, and is available to pre-order from EEVodafoneSky MobileO2 and Carphone Warehouse with the release date following just over a week later on 26 October. 

There is a single model available, which features 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, costing £899 or €1,049. As with other Huawei devices, none of the Mate 20 range will be available in the US. Here are the best Mate 20 Pro deals.

The Mate 20 is the 'standard' phone. But it's unlikely the device will be sold locally in the UK because having three models is probably too much for the likes of Carphone Warehouse and mobile operators. There are two models to choose from, with the 128GB storage and 4GB of RAM version set at €799 and the 128GB/6GB variant going for €849: you will certainly find them in European countries.

The Mate 20 Lite is available already and costs £379 for the solitary 64GB model. This can be expanded by up to 256GB via the microSD card slot, so larger capacities are easily obtained. 

It’s currently on sale from Amazon, Currys, and John Lewis, with monthly contracts available from Carphone Warehouse starting at £20.99 per month, with deals also available from most of the major mobile providers.

And just to confuse things even more, there's a Porsche Design version of the Mate 20 Pro which has a limited production run and costs €1695. There's also a huge 7.2in Mate 20 X, which definitely won't be sold in the UK. However, we're not going to cover these two models here: we're sticking with the core range.

Design & Build

As you’d expect from a flagship model, the Mate 20 Pro features an exquisite build that’s not dissimilar to the Samsung S9+. The 6.39in OLED display boasts a resolution of 2K+ (3120x1440) and delivers impressively rich colours with a high level of clarity. It also has curved edges that match the curves on the glass back, making the Pro feel slim and comfortable in the hand. 

Huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

There’s no fingerprint sensor on the front, or the back for that matter, as Huawei has very cleverly managed to place it under the display itself. This is accompanied by the facial recognition 3D cameras that bring with them the ‘notch’ that seems to be standard on most new phones these days. 

huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

A triple-camera arrangement adorns the rear of the Pro and standard Mate 20, but the Pro lenses are all superior grade. That being said, the range of options created by having wide-angle, ultra-wide angle, and telephoto cameras with optical zoom, makes either device a great choice for those who want to explore smartphone photography. 

While the Mate 20 features an attractive design, it can’t quite match the Pros gentle curves. What it does have is a slightly larger 6.53in 'Dewdrop' display panel dominating the front, with the name coming from the tiny droplet-shaped notch that houses the front facing camera. It’s tastefully done, and  certainly a pleasant change from the larger protuberances appearing on other models.

huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

Flip them both over and they look the same with a curved glass back and the distinctive square camera pod. Both are are available in the same set of colours with Huawei’s new Hyper-Optical finish on the Green and Blue versions, which has tiny grooves in the livery that is reminiscent of vinyl records. Both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro have USB-C charging ports, dual-SIM trays that double as hosts for Nano Memory cards, but only the Mate 20 has a headphone jack. Huawei does include some USB-C headphones with the Pro though. 

Wireless and fast-charging are features on both models, but whereas the Pro has an IP rating of IP68 for waterproof and dust proofing, the Mate 20 only manages IP53 so it cannot be submerged.

The Mate 20 Lite also boasts a sizeable display, with the 6.3in IPS panel being a decent offering, albeit not a patch on the OLED one we see on the Pro. Glass construction continues the design ethos found across the range, and the fingerprint sensor on the back is situated below twin cameras.

huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

No waterproofing or wireless-charging on the Lite shows where some of the costs have been cut, but there is some small consolation in the form of a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C charging port (running at USB 2.0 speeds) and dual-SIM/microSD slot.

Features & Specs

Both the Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 sport the latest Kirin 980 processor. This is a powerful chip, integrating the Mali-G76 GPU, which should deliver rapid performance in games. Dual Neural Processing Units also take care of the heavy lifting when recognising images, processing real-time video, and handling natural language analysis.  

The Mate 20 Lite has to settle for the Kirin 710. This is a solid mid-range option, but it does mean that the Lite is underpowered compared to its closest rival in this price range, the Honor 10. 

Storage options are generous, with the Lite sporting 64GB, and its bigger siblings coming with 128GB as standard. All can be increased by up to 256GB via microSD (in the case of the Lite) or the new (and proprietary to Huawei) Nano Memory cards for the other two. 

One real highlight feature here is the embedded fingerprint reader on the Mate 20 Pro. As the sensor is hidden under the display, you’ll need to look for the little icon that appears when you need to unlock the phone. 

huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

While this is an impressive technical feat, the ultra-fast face-unlock capabilities mean you might not actually use the feature that much. 

Another unusual idea on the Pro is Reverse wireless charging. This allows users to place the Mate 20 Pro next to another phone that supports Qi standard wireless charging, and the Pro will begin to charge the other device from its own battery.

Here's a breakdown of the main technical specifications for each device:

  Mate 20 Mate 20 Pro Mate 20 Lite
Display 6.53in LCD Dewdrop display, 18.7:9 DCI-P3 HDR display, FHD+ (2244x1080) 6.39in OLED display, 19.5:9 DCI-P3 HDR display, 2K+ (3120x1440), High color saturation, High contrast ratio 6.3in Full-HD+ LCD (2340x1080) 19.5:9 IPS display
Processor Kirin 980 Kirin 980 Kirin 710
GPU Mali-G76 720MHz Mali-G76 720MHz Mali-G51 1 GHz
Memory 4GB/6GB 6GB 4GB
Storage 128GB (expandable by up to 256GB via Nano Memory card) 128GB (expandable by up to 256GB via Nano Memory card) 64GB (expandable by up to 256GB via microSD)
OS Android 9.0 Pie-based EMUI 9 Android 9.0 Pie-based EMUI 9 Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2
Main camera Leica Triple Camera: 16MP (Ultra Wide Angle 17mm, f/2.2), 12MP (Wide angle 27mm, f/1.8), 8MP (2x Telephoto 52mm, f/2.4, OIS) Leica Triple Camera: 40MP (Wide Angle 27mm, f/1.8), 20MP (Ultra Wide Angle 16mm, f/2.2), 8MP (3x Telephoto 80mm, f/2.4, OIS) 20MP (f/1.8) + 2MP rear camera
Selfie camera 24MP (f/2.0, FF) 24MP (f/2.0, FF) 24MP (f/2.0) + 2MP
Biometrics Facial recognition + fingerprint sensor Facial recognition + embedded fingerprint sensor in display Facial recognition + fingerprint sensor
Battery 4000mAh with 22.5W Super Charge 4200mAh with 40W Super Charge and 15w wireless charging 3750mAh
GPS Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX HD
LTE 4G  Cat 21 (4G) 4G
NFC Yes Yes Yes
WiFi Wave 2 802.11ac Wave 2 802.11ac Dual-band 802.11ac
Ports USB-C (USB 3.1), 3.5mm headphone jack, Dual SIM/Nano Memory card USB-C (USB 3.1), Dual SIM/Nano Memory card USB-C (USB 2.0), 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD
Waterproofing IP53 IP68 N/A
Dimensions 158.2mm x 77.2mm x 8.3mm 157.8mm x 72.3mm x 8.6mm 158.3mm x 75.3mm x 7.6mm
Weight 188g 189g 172g
Price €799/€849 £899 £379

Cameras

Multiple cameras are a common sight on smartphones these days, but Huawei has outdone many of its rivals by opting to fit three lenses on the back of both the Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20. 

huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

These are comprised of wide-angle, ultra-wide angle, and telephoto variants, with the blessings of camera legends Leica. Note that Leica does not manufacture any component: the design is developed in conjunction with Leica.

On the Mate 20 you get a 16Mp Ultra-Wide Angle sensor, a 12Mp Wide-Angle sensor and an 8Mp 2x Telephoto sensor, while the Mate 20 Pro has better specs: 20Mp, f/2.2 Ultra-Wide-angle, 40Mp Wide-Angle, f/1.8, and 8Mp, f/2.4 with OIS (effective 3x optical zoom) Telephoto unit. 

Initial tests show that both sets of lenses deliver great results for close-ups, spacious landscapes, and portraits with cool bokeh effects. 

The Mate 20 Lite has a setup that looks a lot like last year's Mate 10 Pro with twin shooters, although the main 20Mp f/1.8 is the one that takes the pictures, with the 2Mp companion only there for depth sensing. It’s a similar story on the front, with Huawei fitting the dual selfie lenses 24MP (f/2.0) and 2MP, with the latter once again primarily intended to pull off the bokeh effect in portrait modes.

Huawei Mate 20 vs pro vs lite

The Pro and Mate 20 both have a 24Mp, f/2.0 aperture, with the Pro version also using the 3D Depth Sensing Camera for better depth detection and therefore better portrait selfies.

You can see how these cameras perform by also reading our Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 Lite reviews. 

Software

The latest version of Android (9.0 Pie) is the operating system of choice on the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. It isn’t a ‘pure’ version, such as you’d find on Android One phones or the Pixel 3 XL, as Huawei still includes its EMUI overlay. 

This doesn’t hold the devices back though, as the interface has been refined and performance improved since the days of the Mate 10 Pro. 

huawei mate 20 vs pro vs lite

There are a few dedicated features that emulate some of Google’s new apps, with HiTouch that can give you information about anything on the screen it recognises (just like Google Lens) while HiVision does a similar feature via the camera.

The Mate 20 Lite, which was released a little earlier in the year, runs Android 8.1 Oreo with the EMUI skin, but hopefully this will move up to Android 9.0 at some point soon.

Verdict

With many of the larger flagship phones in 2018 costing around £1,000, Huawei’s Mate Pro 20 actually seems like good value at £899. The design is beautiful, those cameras look very promising indeed, and the fingerprint sensor embedded in the display is an impressive addition. 

When you add to that the premium components, expandable storage, and up to date software, it’s quite a compelling package that will give the Samsung S9+ and iPhone XS Max stiff competition.

The uncertainty of the Mate 20’s availability in the UK is a shame, as it's a very solid device with easily the best notch design we’ve seen so far. Hopefully it might make an appearance in the coming months, otherwise you'll have to import one.

The Mate 20 Lite costs significantly less, which means specs aren't as good and performance merely reasonable. Ultimately, it competes with the Honor 10 and loses: we recommend the latter if you're on a budget.

If you’re planning on picking up one of the best flagships this year, then be sure to try the Mate 20 Pro before you lay any money down, as we think it might just be the one you’ll want. 

Specs

Huawei Mate 20 Lite: Specs

  • Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2
  • 6.3in Full-HD+ (2340x1080) 19.5:9 IPS display
  • Kirin 710 processor ((4x2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • microSD card slot (up to 256GB)
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual or single SIM (dual uses microSD slot)
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX HD
  • Fingerprint sensor (rear)
  • GPS
  • 20MP (f/1.8) + 2MP rear camera
  • 24MP (f/2.0) + 2MP selfie camera
  • USB-C
  • 3750mAh battery
  • 158.3x75.3x7.6mm
  • 172g

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Specs

  • Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9
  • 6.39in (3120x1080) 19.5:9 IPS display
  • Kirin 980 processor (2x2.6GHz, 2x1.9GHz, 4x 1.8GHz)
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB storage
  • Cat.21 4G LTE
  • Dual nano SIM
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • In-screen fingerprint sensor
  • GPS
  • 40MP (f/1.8) + 8MP telephoto (f/2.4) + 20Mp ultra-wide (f/2.2) rear camera
  • 24MP (f/2.0) selfie camera
  • USB-C
  • 4200mAh battery
  • 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm
  • 189g