By Krishna SinhaChaudhury
New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) Chinese tech giant Huawei has played its biggest bet in India by bringing in its first Mate series smartphone -- the Mate 20 Pro -- that costs a tad more than Samsung's latest flagship Galaxy Note 9.
Surpassing Apple, Huawei became the second largest smartphone seller in the world, after Samsung in the second quarter this year.
Its latest flagship offering is an attempt to build on the success of P20 Pro in India which had the world's first triple camera set-up at the rear.
The Rs 69,990 Mate 20 Pro also comes with a triple camera system, a posh built and top-notch internals such as the firm's homegrown Kirin 980 chipset.
We used the smartphone for a few days and here's how it fared against other flagships.
One of the high points is Leica-branded triple camera system. We saw the feature earlier on P20 Pro, but in the new device, the company has added a wide-angle sensor instead of a monochrome lens.
The camera also features night, portrait, pro, panorama, monochrome watermark and underwater shooting modes that are really handy.
The triple camera is placed in a 2x2 raised grid design on the rear along with a dual-tone LED flash. The set-up includes a 40MP main sensor, a 20MP ultra-wide angle lens and an 8MP telephoto lens with support for autofocus, laser focus, phase focus and artificial image stabilisation and 3D depth sensing.
The images shot in broad daylight were excellent with vibrant colour reproduction and high dynamic range. We particularly liked the shots taken without the AI mode which now identifies and tweaks settings for up to 1,500 scenes.
Having said that, the smartphone maker has now toned down the presets in blue skies and greenery scenes as compared to the P20 Pro.
Low-light photography did not disappoint either as the images came out bright (however, these looked a tad bit whitish).
The 0.6x macro mode on the device is worth mentioning; it lets you take photos from up to 2.5 cm away with no loss of details.
The emerald green colour variant's rear had a cool textured pattern that also ensured it did not slip off easily.
The device's back (in all variants) uses a complex hairline pattern to produce an effect that is not only highly durable but also makes it easy to grip and fingerprint resistant.
The Mate 20 Pro's 6.39-inch OLED screen is gorgeous with deep blacks and vivid colours. It has a resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixels and can be adjusted according to a user's needs.
The phone has no lower speaker grille; the sound comes out of the bottom-facing USB-C port and surprisingly, did not get muffled when we plugged it in.
The Kirin 980 chip ensured the device performed blazingly fast. This is the first 7nm chipset on Android phone and came in the market only after Apple's A12 processor.
The hefty 4200mAh battery easily lasted almost two days on a single charge, giving the smartphone an edge over galaxy S9+.
The addition of a novel feature allows the device to charge other smartphones (with built-in Qi). Once turned on, the reverse charging option lets the user add juice to another compatible phone.
The device can be quickly unlocked via an in-display fingerprint sensor and also through 3D face recognition.
What doesn't work?
Huawei's latest version of EMUI based on Android 9 Pie OS is not free of bloatware. There are dozens of pre-installed tool, "smart remote" being one of them. We, like most users, would like Huawei get rid the OS of unwanted apps for a smoother user interface (UI).
The sound output from the unique bottom-firing USB-C port was mostly average.
Absence of a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack can be a bummer for most users.
Conclusion: Huawei has pulled off quite a gorgeous-looking phone with extremely powerful internals. The stellar battery life, triple cameras and great user experience make it a desirable package.
(Krishna SinhaChaudhury can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)