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Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review

We take a look at the Huawei P20, a smartphone with dual Leica lenses, to see how it performs.

| Huawei P20 in Camera Phones

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review: Huawei P20 Black (3)

Quick Verdict

The Huawei P20 is a powerhouse of a phone with excellent camera cability and plenty of camera options including RAW ability and manual controls, all in a stunningly sleek body. 

+ Pros

  • Dual Leica Rear cameras
  • AI mode great at identifying the scene
  • Full manual control and RAW capability in Pro mode
  • Great looking screen
  • Lightning fast

- Cons

  • Greenery mode can be a little toxic 
  • No headphone socket
  • Not waterproof


Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review: Huawei P20 Black (4)

The Huawei P20 is a flagship smartphone from Huawei, with an emphasis on photographic capability. Offering 3rd generation Leica dual cameras on the back, with a big pixel 12 megapixel RGB f/1.8 and a 20 megapixel BW f/1.6, the rear cameras also have 2x hybrid zoom, AIS and a dual-tone LED. On the front is a 24 megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera. Huawei claims a blisteringly fast launch to capture speed of just 0.3 seconds.

The Huawei P20 is part of a larger family of smartphones - the P20 Pro which has a stunning triple rear camera including a 3x telephoto lens and 40 megapixel f/1.8 main camera, and the Huawei P20 Lite which is a more budget offering, featuring dual 16 megapixel f/2.2 and 2 megapixel f/2.4 cameras on the back and a 16 megapixel f/2.0 camera on the front. 

The P20 is available in black, midnight blue and pink gold, for £549 through Amazon UK. Here, we take a look at how it performs. 

Huawei P20 Features

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review:

The Huawei P20 is a premium smartphone, offering a Kirin 970 processor of Huawei's own build and 4GB of RAM, making it more than capable of running lots of programs at once. There is also 128GB of flash memory, offering plenty of storage space for your images, video and anything else you want to store. 

There is a 5.8-inch 2244x1080 resolution touchscreen, with a notch for the speaker/front camera. Below the screen is a home button which also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. On the right-hand side is the volume control and on/off button, and on the right-hand side is the SIM card slot. On the bottom is the USB-C charging port, and speakers at either side. There is no headphone jack, however, a USB C to 3.5mm jack converter is available in the box. 

On the back, are the dual Leica cameras which are raised by about 1mm from the rest of the sleek, glass back. The phone is thin, at 7.5mm. Huawei has partnered with Dolby Atmos technology, using AI to detect the type of audio you are listening to and adjusting levels to give you the optimum experience.

There is AI power management to help you get maximum efficiency from the phone and Huawei SuperCharge offers you a fast refuelling capability. 

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review:

The camera app is well equipped, as you would expect, and has Aperture, night, portrait, photo, video and Pro modes readily selectable from the scrolling bar. Under the more tab, you'll also find slow-mo, panorama, monochrome, light painting, HDR, Time-Lapse, filter, 3D panorama, watermark and document scan modes. 

In the standard photo mode, there is a capability to toggle the flash and enable and disable a feature called 'moving picture' which captures a few seconds of video when you take a photo. There is also the option to change the capture from 'standard' to 'vivid colours' or 'smooth colours' depending on the look you want. In the settings, there are also lots of options including the ability to capture smiles, and turn on/off the master AI and assistive grid. There is also a feature called 4D predictive focus - which tracks the focus points on moving objects in real time. 

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review:

The Master AI (Artifical Intelligence) is very clever - it looks at the scene you're shooting and puts the camera in the most fitting mode - for example, foliage, text or macro. There is the option to shoot in RAW but this is only available in the Pro mode. 

The Pro mode allows you to change focal point, ISO, shutter speed, +/- EV the focusing mode and white balance by tapping on them and sliding scrollers as needed - it's very intuitive. 

For those that enjoy taking portraits, this mode is great too - there is an artistic bokeh feature which can be toggled on and off as well as several lighting effects and a beauty level which can be scrolled up or down. 

When it comes to video, the phone has 4K video capability. The phone has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review:

Key Features

  • 12 megapixel RGB f/1.8 and 20 megapixel BW f/1.6 dual Leica rear cameras
  • 24 megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera
  • 4D predictive focus
  • 5.8 inch 2244x1080 pixel touchscreen
  • Wi-Fi/NFC/Bluetooth
  • Dual tone LED flash
  • 4K video recording
  • AI smart photo technology identifies the subject you're shooting
  • 3400 mAh battery
  • RAW shooting in Pro mode 
  • ISO 50-3200 (Selectable in Pro mode)
  • Fingerprint sensor


Huawei P20 Handling

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review: Huawei P20 Black (7)

The Huawei P20 is a sleek smartphone that feels good in the hand although, a case is recommended due to the super smooth and easily scratchable back. The rear cameras do stick out a fair amount on the back of the camera compared to others - you'll need to be careful placing the camera down on its back without a case. 

The phone screen is bright, colourful and responsive - it's a joy to use. The phone has lightning fast reflexes, allowing you to act quickly on photographing subjects. 

The fingerprint sensor is built into the home button at the bottom of the screen which makes sense ergonomically. The power button has a stylish red colouring which reinforces its use, and the buttons all feel robust and reassuringly solid. 

The phone feels well built and looks very smart and professional in black. 

On tapping the camera app you are presented with a scroller allowing you to select aperture, night, portrait, photo, video and pro modes easily. Under the 'More' tab you can find further options. 

Pro Mode allows you to tap on the focus mode, ISO, shutter speed, EV, AF mode and white balance mode and slide left or right to select the level you like. This gives you a good level of manual control. This mode also has RAW photo capability. There is also a Monochrome Pro mode so that you have access to manual controls when using the monochrome camera.

Controlling the camera modes is very intuitive, with settings easily accessible. 

Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review: Huawei Screengrab Auto    Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review: Huawei Screengrab Pro    Huawei P20 Leica Smartphone Review: Huawei Screengrab Pro Menu

With Huawei claiming a launch to capture speed of 0.3 seconds, the ability to capture images quickly when the opportunity arises is at the forefront of the thinking here and it is very effective, with response times being almost instantaneous. 

The phone is powered by a super fast Huawei Kirin 970 octa-core processor, and has 4GB RAM along with 128GB flash memory, making it a bit of a powerhouse. Using Geekbench 4 it scored a respectable 1887 single-core score, and a 6711 multi-core score. AnTuTu benchmark gives the P20 a score of 205559, which is impressive.

Battery life - The battery is a 3400mAh offering, which Huawei says can last 16.9 days on standby and gives you about 19h of talk time. the battery fully recharges in just 1.5 hours. This should give you at least a full day of use depending on how heavily you're using the phone. 

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