Phone with plenty of show

HUAWEI'S confidence in its latest smartphone is evident in its naming.

Released hot on the heels of the Mate 10 series and as a follow-up to the P10 series, the P20 series forgoes expectations, skips over 10 naming sequences, and is the best smartphone Huawei has to offer.

This review looks at the P20, the standard unit in the line-up.

On paper, the P20 ticks off all the checkboxes for the buzzwords manufacturers used to tout their flagship phones: a notch, dual cameras, an elegant design, artificial intelligence, and thin bezels.

But Huawei has taken some features a little further than others.

The P20 is designed to be elegant, and it is shows. It is mesmerising to look at, in a box, on a table, on a stand, or in hand. The pink, and twilight variants especially stand out.

They gleam with ever-shifting colours and hues.

In the hand, the smartphone also feels distinctive. It is not as slippery and smooth as it looks, and the different textures between the metal frame, the glass front and the back are easily distinguishable.

The 5.8in FHD+ display does not stand out, but the notch does. It houses the front camera, the receiver, and sensors, but it also takes away space from the screen.

No matter how you look at it, you are getting less, just to save a few centimetres off of the top of the phone.

Then again, this is the same problem with all phones that sports a notch.

With top-of-the-line Huawei Kirin 970 processor, 4GB of memory, and 128GB of storage, the P20 has more than enough power to handle everyday task and more.

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Although the EMUI 8.1 – Huawei's proprietary interface that runs on top of Android 8.1 – app and memory management is not as aggressive as some less experienced customised user interfaces, it could still pose a problem to some apps.

This only concerns specific apps that you would want to always be on, for example, some sports tracker and health apps.

Of all the features on the Huawei P20, its camera has to be the most outstanding.

Instead of using a triple-camera system like the P20 Pro, the standard model uses a remarkable dual-camera system that still touts the Leica brand.

Side by side, I could see noticeable improvements in photos taken with the P20 compared to Huawei's previous flagship, the Mate 10 Pro.

The AI camera mode has improved, and now the camera also features the ability to record video at 960 frames per second, also known as super slow motion.

The camera interface has also been altered and now mimics the swipe-to-change camera mode we have seen used by another phone maker.

Nevertheless, HDR mode, which makes a noticeable difference, still lacks an automatic option.

For those who are looking for a phone that could take excellent pictures, the P20 is a natural choice.

But if you are looking for a phone with a complete set of premium features including wireless charging and a headphone port, look elsewhere.

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