The 6.1-inch near-edge-to-edge screen on the Huawei P20 Pro is very good. It’s an 18.7:9 panel, making it taller than a standard 16:9 screen. It’s similar to the one found on the Galaxy S9, for example, which lets manufacturers squeeze more screen real estate in a smaller handset.
Also like the S9, Huawei has used the OLED screen tech here rather than LCD. Oddly, the smaller P20 does use LCD – making the Pro have a noticeably better panel. OLED offers perfect blacks and better contrast than LCD.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a small notch at the top of the screen à la iPhone X. I’ve used a couple of smartphones that feature a similar cut-out (the Essential Phone, for example), so I didn’t find it to be too much of a nuisance. That said, I can certainly see how it could be a bit of an eyesore for new adopters.
If you’re unable to adjust to the design, however, Huawei has baked an option into the Huawei P20 Pro that uses software to mask the notch. Once enabled, the space either side of the notch at the top of the display is filled with black light, thus creating the illusion of a symmetrical design – and it works well.
The screen itself has an HD+ resolution (1080 x 2160), churning out rich text. Colours are vibrant but, as is the case on the budget Huawei P Smart, they can often feel oversaturated. Fortunately, you can adjust the colour balance to suit your personal preference by diving into the Settings menu.
Just like the Galaxy S9, the Huawei P20 Pro offers full support for HDR10 – the leading standard for high dynamic range. What’s more, it can also stream HDR content from sources such as Netflix, to take advantage of a wider colour gamut to deliver a viewing experience that can only be rivalled by Samsung’s latest flagship.
In my opinion, the best thing about the screen on the Huawei P20 Pro is the brightness it can deliver. When cranked up to maximum, you’ll have no trouble reading a message or watching a video in sunlight – although sub-par viewing angles mean you’ll need to hold the handset head-on to see what’s going on.
Huawei P20 Pro – Software
Where the Huawei P20 Pro surprised me the most is in the software department. I’ve long said that Huawei’s EMUI interface is the worst of the worst, but I found myself warming to it on the firm’s latest handset. And that’s because the P20 Pro ships running Android 8.1 Oreo, skinned with a much-improved version of EMUI.
Much to my surprise, Huawei somehow managed to iron out all of the creases that plagued previous builds of EMUI. The latest version delivers superb performance, switching between applications and launching sub-menus in the bat of an eye. It also includes a number of useful aftermarket features:
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An integrated Smart Controller application takes advantage of the on-board IR blaster to provide users with an interface to control various appliances, ranging from ACs to TVs. I found this feature to be nice treat, seeing as it’s now a rarity to find an IR transmitter on a smartphone.
A Quick Settings cover can be activated from the lockscreen, separate from Android’s native Quick Toggles option, offering users one-click access to a number of core applications including a calculator, torch and voice recorder. There’s even a barcode and QR scanner.
There’s also an iOS-like 3D Touch tool, which allows users to dive straight into a section of an application from the homescreen. Take Twitter as an example. Just hold down on the icon from the homescreen, then a menu will appear asking you if you’d like to compose a new Tweet or send a DM.
The Huawei P20 Pro also comes with a voice assistant – HiAssistant – to rival Bixby, Cortana and Siri, as well as an AI-driven recognition tool that’s capable of identifying a product and tracking it down on digital marketplaces such as Amazon. But here’s the bad news: the last two features are limited to China at present.
Authentication is all the rage nowadays, and you’ll be pleased to hear the Huawei P20 Pro covers all bases. There’s 2D face recognition – which is a lot faster, but isn’t as secure as the 3D alternative found on the iPhone X – and a fingerprint reader, in addition to the slew of standard features baked into Android, including a PIN.