Huawei P20 Pro Leica Triple Camera Review - Verdict

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Huawei P20 Pro (12)

Value For Money

The Huawei P20 Pro will be available for £799 sim-free with 128GB, which makes it quite good value for money in this range of larger premium smartphones. Alternatives include the following:

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, 6.2inch screen, dual 12mp camera, wide (f/1.5-2.4) and telephoto, £869
Google Pixel 2 XL, 6inch screen, 12mp f/1.8 camera, £799.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8, 6.3inch screen, dual 12mp camera, wide and telephoto, £869.
LG V30, 6inch screen, dual camera, 16mp wide-angle and 13mp ultra-wide-angle, £799.
iPhone X, 5.8inch screen, dual 12mp cameras, wide and telephoto, £999.
Samsung Galaxy S8, 5.8inch screen, 12mp f/1.7 camera, £669.

Have a look at more smartphones in our Top 10 Best Smartphones for Photography or have a look at the Best Smartphones under £300 for Photography for more options. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Huawei P20 Pro Verdict

You've got a 40mp f/1.8, 27mm equivalent camera. This gives improved detail in images that are reduced down to 10mp, however, any lens or image problems are replicated in the smaller 10mp images, so if the lens is soft on one side (which ours was), or soft in the corners (which ours was), then this will also show up in the 10mp images. You do get images with lower noise and impressive levels of detail, giving more detail in images compared to 12mp smartphones, even when looking at 10mp images. The benefit of this is the larger sensor size, which gives improved low-light performance. You can shoot at 40mp, but most likely won't be impressed with images when viewing them at 100%.

There's an 8mp f/2.4, 80mm equivalent camera - for 3x telephoto reach, producing 10mp images. For 5x zoom, Huawei says this is "lossless" or a "Hybrid" zoom, however the camera uses the 3x lens, and effectively uses digital zoom (and multiple shots) to produce an image that is supposed to have as much detail as a 5x optical zoom (135mm equivalent), unfortunately, we were unimpressed. Detail is low and images simply look like they're made from digital zoom and sharpening.

The wide-angle monochrome 20mp f/1.6 camera can be accessed by pressing "more" and finding the monochrome shooting mode, it's a shame this isn't easier to access. You can shoot in Pro mode with the black and white camera, although you don't get the option to shoot raw images using this camera. The 20mp black and white camera offers sharp detailed images and is a great choice for creative shots. 

For most people, they won't particularly care that to get the best out of the P20 Pro, you need to shoot at 10mp. Images can look oversharpened, and over-processed, and at times we were disappointed when viewing the 40mp images. Stick to 10mp images, and avoid the 5x zoom and you get a smartphone camera with a good wide-angle camera, a decent 10mp 3x camera, and a very good 20mp black and white camera.

You can switch off "Photo Genius" (AI) and/or shoot in Pro mode to avoid the camera increasing the saturation excessively. There's plenty of manual controls available, as well as the option to shoot raw (for the main camera). 

The P20 Pro gives you pretty good images from the main camera, excellent black and white photos, a reasonably good 3x telephoto lens, and a disappointing selfie camera, despite the "24mp" labelling. I'd much rather use an 8mp selfie camera with AF, such as the one found in the Samsung Galaxy S8 onwards.

If you're not bothered about telephoto reach, then you can get a dual camera colour/black and white camera, such as the P20 and Mate 10 Pro, or if you don't want a monochrome camera, then you can go for something like the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, with 2x telephoto lens. Having a 3x telephoto lens on a smartphone is unique, and it wouldn't surprise us if this is the future of smartphones. Imagine a smartphone with a wide-angle, 2x telephoto, and 3x telephoto cameras, and you've got the future of photography. However, the P20 Pro is almost there, but the lack of successfull optical image stabilisation (OIS) can be frustrating, as images aren't always sharp when taken with the 3x telephoto lens. Alternative smartphones offer a 2x telephoto lens, and with the S9 Plus and iPhone X, you get OIS in both cameras. 

On first impressions, and as long as you don't look at the photos in too much detail, the P20 Pro produces reasonable results. The ability to shoot photos with a 7-second exposure handheld when taking night photos, is quite breathtaking, as long as you don't mind the soft image that you get. If you're more serious about photography and do want to spend time editing photos or use them for something more important, then you get better images from the alternative smartphones mentioned, albeit without the same number of cameras.


Huawei P20 Pro Pros

  • Fast and responsive
  • Large 6.1inch screen
  • 40mp main camera
  • 20mp f/1.6 black and white camera
  • 3x telephoto camera
  • Large 4000mAh battery
  • Plenty of storage and RAM

Huawei P20 Pro Cons

  • Lacks a headphone socket
  • Soft corners with main (40/10mp) camera
  • Unimpressed by 5x zoom image quality
  • 4K video lacks stabilisation

Overall Verdict

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27 Apr 2018 9:52PM
Great read as always Josh. Missed you at the awards last week.

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