Huawei Mate 20 first look: Say hello to the ‘Dewdrop’ notch

Huawei Mate 20 hands-on, price, specs: Huawei's Mate 20 sits below the Mate 20 Pro, but offers a couple of different design ideas

Key Features

  • 6.5-inch FHD+ display with 'Dewdrop' notch
  • Kirin 980
  • three cameras on the back
  • 4000 mAh battery

Huawei Mate 20 first look: Say hello to the ‘Dewdrop’ notch

Launching alongside the Mate 20 Pro is the Huawei Mate 20: a less exuberant device that lacks some of its pricier sibling’s key features but keeps the packed camera and high-end Kirin 980 chipset.

It also brings an interesting design flourish to the party in the form of a ‘Dewdrop’ notch.

Huawei Mate 20 price

The Huawei Mate 20 will retail for 899 euros. We’re still waiting for the UK price.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20 release date

The 4GB RAM model will cost €799, while you can expect to pay €849 for the 6GB RAM version. The phone launches on October 16.

Headlining the Mate 20 is a solid-sounding camera array on the rear. Arranged in a square, you’ve got a 12-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel telephoto camera for zooming and a new 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera. During my briefing for the phones, Huawei said that due to the quality of the 16-megapixel sensor there’s no longer any need for the monochrome camera it’s used on many of its previous flagships. This is fine by me as the ultra-wide sensor lets you cram so much more into your shots.

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Huawei Mate 20

There’s a load of AI stuff going on inside the camera too; automatically altering modes to boost colours and adding in a bokeh effect when you’re taking a portrait. This is a smart camera, even if some of the effects do seem a bit aggressive.

The other main component shared between both Mate 20 devices is the Kirin 980 – the chipset that sits inside a phone. What makes this special is the new 7nm architecture that allows it to be both more powerful than the Kirin 970 and more energy efficient. Inside the Kirin 980 you’ve got the CPU, GPU and the dual-neural engines that helps power the AI smarts. Huawei is touting a general 20% speed improvement across the device, with a 45% boost in graphics and 40% better efficiency. I’ll have to see how realistic these claims are in the full review.

Where the Mate 20 starts to deviate from the Pro version is in the design and screen. On the front here is 6.5-inch FHD+ LCD with HDR support and a currently very unique ‘Dewdrop’ notch. I’ve seen this a few times before; it looks like the OnePlus 6T will have something very similar. Instead of having a notch running across half of the top of the screen, the one here is a small cutout just large enough to cover the front-facing camera.

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Huawei Mate 20 rear

This notch approach is certainly more appealing than others I have seen, yet it does mean you can’t jam as many sensors or a front-facing speaker above the display. Sacrificing functionality for design seems to be the case here.

The Mate 20 also sacrifices an IP-rating for water-resistance, however, in return Huawei is keeping the headphone jack around.

It’s a good-looking phone even if it does feel very large to hold. There’s a slight curve to the back and it comes in a range of lovely colours, including the shiny twilight and slightly moody green.

There’s a 4000mAh battery inside and Huawei’s fast charging will give you over 50% of a charge in 30 minutes. Wireless charging remains MIA.

Software remains a weak point for Huawei. Even though the Mate 20 runs the latest version of Android 9 Pie, it still retains the look of EMUI from previous years. A couple of the Pie-specific features like gesture navigation and a Digital Wellbeing section to help curb your phone usage are here, but the general look, feel and UI is still very much Huawei.

Huawei has cut out some needless items from the Settings menu, added more ‘natural sounds’ throughout and improved how quickly apps open. But if you weren’t a fan of Huawei’s aggressive approach to skinning Android before then you won’t be won over here.

Huawei Mate 20 rear

Opening Impressions

The Mate 20 is clearly sitting behind the flashier Mate 20 Pro in Huawei’s line-up, yet its clever approach to the notch makes it feel like one of the best Android phones around for people who want an all-screen phone.

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