Huawei Mate 20 Pro launches with in-screen fingerprint sensor
The new top-end phone from the Chinese firm aims to secure its place at the top of the market alongside Samsung, having recently beaten Apple to become the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in August.
The Mate 20 Pro follows Huawei’s tried and trusted format for its Mate series: a huge 6.39in QHD+ OLED screen, big 4,200mAh battery and powerful new Huawei Kirin 980 processor – Huawei’s first to be produced at 7 nanometres, matching Apple’s latest A12 chip in the 2018 iPhones.
The in-screen fingerprint scanner works in one particular spot that lights up when needed. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
New for this year is an infrared 3D facial recognition system, similar to that used by Apple for its Face ID in the iPhone XS, and one of the first fingerprint scanners embedded in the screen that is widely available in the UK, removing the need for a fingerprint scanner on the back or a chin on the front.
The Mate 20 Pro is water resistant to IP68 standards and has a sleek new design reminiscent of Samsung’s S-series phones, with curved glass on the front and back. The back also has an new pattern etched into the glass, which is smooth to the touch but ridged when running your nail over it.
“The hyper-optical pattern reduces smudging, is a little grippier than normal smooth glass so it’s less slippery in the hand, and it looks great,” said Peter Gauden, global senior product marketing manager for Huawei.
The three camera and LED flash array on the back of the Mate 20 Pro. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
On the back is a new version of Huawei’s award-winning triple camera system using a 40-megapixel standard camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom and new for this year is a 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, replacing the monochrome sensor used on the P20 Pro.
“The monochrome lens from last year was barely used, so we switched it out for the wide-angle camera,” Gauden said. “Now you can take really epic wide-angle shots, with the camera automatically zooming in or out on the fly, recognising when you’re trying to take a photo of a cat or dog, or something that would aesthetically benefit from a wider shot, or you can manually press the zoom button to switch.”
The Mate 20 Pro will also be the first Huawei phone with the company’s latest EMUI 9, based on Android 9 Pie, which it said has been optimised to significantly speed up regular tasks.
Huawei said that compared to the Mate 10 running EMUI 8, the new Mate 20 Pro will be able to launch apps 51% faster, responds to taps 47% faster and is smoother in operation throughout. The company also said that in its testing the Mate 20 Pro launched apps as much as 400 milliseconds faster than its chief rival Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, starting Chrome 43% faster, Google Maps 27% faster and Facebook 25% faster.
The Huawei Watch GT looks similar to the Wear OS Huawei Watch 2, but runs the firm’s own-brand LiteOS and is focused on fitness-tracking features with extended battery life. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
Alongside the Mate 20 Pro, Huawei also launched a cheaper Mate 20 without the face recognition or embedded fingerprint scanner, and a new fitness-focused smartwatch using its own-brand LiteOS called the Huawei Watch GT.
“These new devices will be of great concern to rival smartphone makers,” said Ben Wood, chief of research for CCS Insight. “The Huawei P20 devices (P20 Pro, P20 and P20 Lite) have already grabbed substantial share in key markets such as Europe and Asia/Pacific and have only been prevented from securing share in the US because of the ban on Huawei products that occurred in January 2018.”
Wood said that Huawei had shipped 95m smartphones in the first six months of 2018 accounting for a 30% year-on-year growth.
“We believe camera capabilities will emerge as the star feature on these new devices, in particular the Mate 20 Pro. If it can replicate the performance of the P20 Pro it will further underline Huawei’s growing status as smartphone camera maker,” Wood said.