Cameras

The Huawei Mate 20 series of smartphones are the first ever smartphone from the company to have this square camera setup. It has a total of 3 cameras and a single LED flash. These 3 cameras enables 3 different types of shot to be taken, which enables full flexibility.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Main star(s) of the show.

The Mate 20 Pro specifically, has these camera hardware:

ASUS ZenBook 13 UX333
  • Triple rear-facing cameras
    • Main: 40MP f/1.7 with laser autofocus
    • Ultrawide: 20MP  f/2.2 with laser autofocus
    • Telephoto: 8MP f/2.4 with 5x optical zoom, OIS, and laser autofocus
  • Selfie camera
    • 24MP f/2.0, fixed focus

Of course, let’s take a look at some photo samples first. As usual, you can head over to our Flickr album here for the full gallery. Unfortunately, this will be our last smartphone review to have picture samples on Flickr since they’re changing the terms of service.

Rear-facing cameras

Let’s first talk about the main camera. It can take up to 40MP and has laser autofocus as well. It can take some excellent shots – something that we’ve come to expect from Huawei since the P20.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/30921035067/in/album-72157703543196355/

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Huawei does tend to over-sharpen until the edges of objects in the image looks like it can make you bleed if you touch it. With that said, the colors share great and I actually quite like the main camera.

The Mate 20 Pro has some serious issues when it comes to picture resolution. There are 3 separate cameras on the phone – but if you select the main camera to take pictures in 40MP, you cannot use the other 2 cameras. You are locked out completely. If you want to use the other 2 cameras, you’ll have to drop 40MP to 10MP. That’s four times less pixels, and you’ll never get a good, big poster out of 10MP.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera UI

Then comes the ultrawide camera. It has an aperture of f/2.2 and take pictures up to 20MP – should be great, right? Not exactly. For some reason, the ultrawide camera takes pictures which look really dark in auto mode.

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When it’s well-lit, the ultrawide camera is doing quite well. Plus, it’s the first smartphone I’ve seen that actually has autofocusing for an ultrawide camera.

Lastly, the telephoto lens. Huawei brags the 5x optical zoom on the Mate 20 Pro’s telephoto lens – and we obviously put it to the test in daylight condition.

Using a 5x zoom lens without a tripod, we have to acknowledge the fact that a little vibration is now magnified 5x as well. Imagine for someone with shaky hands like me using this telephoto lens.

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Once again, heavy post processing was done onto the pictures. We can see once again that the photos were oversharpened. Edges are just way too unrealistic, and the details are gone as well.

We tried 3x zoom too – and the results are similar to 5x zoom. It’s still 3x the shakiness of the camera, yet the images appear blurry as well. Another issue is with the shift in white balance. Taking pictures at 3x zoom appear to have a blue tint for unknown reason.

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Selfie camera

Not a fan of selfies, but here you go.

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Even for such an expensive flagship from Huawei, the selfie camera still lacks autofocus. It’s blurry because it’s never in focus.

Camera UI

A few things are new with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro here. They’re boasting dual-NPU chips in the phone and it can now do faster image processing. Think of it like dual-core CPU but for NPU.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera UIThe first use of this feature is what Huawei is calling “4D predictive focus” which tracks moving subjects in the frame. It works quite well, to be honest.

The “Master AI” however, is still as aggressive and indecisive like when I choose where to have my dinner. For the same scene, it can switch between two modes suddenly. In this case, it detected clouds and sunset/sunrise at the same time. So which one are you going to use, Huawei?

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera UI Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera UI

Video?

Even with dual-NPU, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro can only do real-time beautification in video mode in 720p resolution.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera UI

Another problem with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s video capability is the lack of 4K 60FPS recording. The Mate 20 Pro can only record videos at 1080p at 120FPS or 4K at 30FPS. This is truly disappointing.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Camera UI

Huawei does have a new feature called “AI Zoom” where it essentially crops the video to the subject that it recognizes. I tried it, but it’s just too embarrassing to show as it locked into someone’s pants instead.