Huawei Mate 20 Pro review

GSMArena team, 27 October 2018.

Kirin 980 powers the Mate 20 series

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro are the first smartphones to utilize HiSicon's latest Kirin 980 chip. This is the first chipset in an Android phone built on the 7nm manufacturing process and it's promising plenty of power and efficiency gains over its predecessor and other 10nm chipsets.

The Kirin 980 uses an 8-core CPU design with 2x high-performance Cortex-A76 cores running at 2.6GHz and 2x Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 1.92GHz and 4x power-efficient Cortex-A55 cores that go up to 1.8GHz. The processor makes use of ARM's DynamIQ architecture, which is the evolution of big.LITTLE and allows any subset of cores (or all together) to work simultaneously depending on the workload.

Kirin 980 SoC has a Mali-G76 MP10 (ten-core) GPU, which was announced back in May 2018, and offers tremendous performance and efficiency gains compared to its predecessor Mali-G72 in the Kirin 970. According to the press release, the GPU outperforms the previous generation by 46% and improves the power efficiency nearly twice. It can also take advantage of the new clock-boosting technology that recognizes when a demanding game is running and provides optimal gaming performance.

EMUI 9 supports GPU Turbo 2.0, which is supported by six games in total for the time being. It allows all those games to run smoothly and steady at 60 fps at full resolution. GPU Turbo 2.0 is new, but Huawei is also working with game developers to enable it in even more popular games though we won't be holding our breath.

Huawei points out that the Kirin 980 outperforms the 10nm chips by 20% and it's 40% more power efficient overall.

The 7nm manufacturing process isn't its only claim to fame. The chipset is also the first to support 2133MHz LPDDR4X memory and incorporates a dedicated dual NPU chip. Huawei calls the latter "Dual-Brain Power" and can help recognize up to 4,500 images per minute, which is around 120% faster than last year's single NPU chip on the Kirin 970 SoC.

Other notable features include 6.9 billion transistors crammed inside a 1cm² die (1.6 times more than its predecessor), 1.4Gbps Cat 21 LTE modem and blazing fast WiFi speeds of up to 1,732Mbps peak download/upload speeds.

Finally, the chipset comes with a new Image Signal Processor, which delivers a 46% increase in data throughput and better multi-camera support. It promises an improved HDR color reproduction, Multi-pass noise reduction that removes artifacts without hurting with the image details and better motion tracking.

And now it's time to run some tests.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review

Benchmarks

Quite expectedly we start off with some GeekBench torture on the CPU. The Mate 20 Pro easily comes on top of the whole Android pile, when it comes to multi-core performance. It is bested only by Apple's most current. The Kirin 980 multi-core CPU performance also enjoys 40% improvement over the Kirin 970.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    11472
  • Apple iPhone XR
    11437
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    11432
  • Apple iPhone X
    10215
  • Huawei Mate 20
    9793
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    9712
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    9026
  • OnePlus 6
    9011
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    9003
  • HTC U12+
    9001
  • Razer Phone 2
    8923
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    8883
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    8865
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    8607
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    8494
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    8349
  • Google Pixel 3
    8146
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    8088
  • Oppo Find X
    8018
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    6783
  • Huawei P20
    6722
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    6679
  • Huawei Mate 10
    6625
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    5574

Its single-core result came just short of the Mongoose cores of the Galaxy Note9. The Apple cores are lightyears ahead as usual, but that's hardly relevant for the Android market, isn't it?

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    4823
  • Apple iPhone XR
    4818
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4777
  • Apple iPhone X
    4256
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    3771
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    3642
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    3291
  • Huawei Mate 20
    3284
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    2486
  • HTC U12+
    2456
  • OnePlus 6
    2450
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    2438
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    2431
  • Razer Phone 2
    2424
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    2395
  • Google Pixel 3
    2377
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    2363
  • Oppo Find X
    2322
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    2199
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    1907
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    1902
  • Huawei P20
    1897
  • Huawei Mate 10
    1882
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    1595

So, the Kirin 980 once again introduces the fastest mobile processor intended for Android smartphones.

The Kirin 980 chipset has Mali-G76 10-core GPU in charge of graphics. The performance, while an improvement over the previous Kirin 970, was not that impressive.

In terms of sheer power the Mate 20 Pro is almost as fast as the Snapdragon 845, but almost. If we are to dig into numbers, the Adreno 630 is still 12% faster than the Mali inside the Kirin 980.

It is still a major improvement over the Kirin 970 of course and just as Huawei promised, the new GPU is over 40% faster than the old one.

And just so you know, Apple's latest GPU is of another universe, obviously.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    99
  • Apple iPhone XS
    98
  • Apple iPhone XR
    97
  • Apple iPhone X
    65
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    61
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    60
  • HTC U12+
    60
  • Oppo Find X
    60
  • OnePlus 6
    58
  • Google Pixel 3
    57
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    57
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    56
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    53
  • Huawei Mate 20
    53
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    53
  • Razer Phone 2
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    47
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    45
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    44
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    40
  • Huawei Mate 10
    38
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    38
  • Huawei P20
    36
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    14

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS
    60
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Apple iPhone XR
    60
  • Apple iPhone X
    37
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    35
  • OnePlus 6
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    35
  • Oppo Find X
    35
  • Google Pixel 3
    35
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    35
  • Razer Phone 2
    35
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    35
  • HTC U12+
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    33
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    28
  • Huawei Mate 20
    28
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    28
  • Huawei P20
    23
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    23
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    22
  • Huawei Mate 10
    21
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    7.6

There are quite a few Android flagships to run on 1080p screens and this gives them a big edge over the 1440p crop where the Mate 20 Pro falls in. While the Mate 20 Pro does pretty well, it's nothing impressive really.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    60
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    60
  • Apple iPhone XS
    60
  • Google Pixel 3
    55
  • OnePlus 6
    55
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    53
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    50
  • Oppo Find X
    50
  • Apple iPhone X
    49
  • Huawei Mate 20
    47
  • Huawei P20
    39
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    37
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    35
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    34
  • HTC U12+
    33
  • Razer Phone 2
    33
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    31
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    30
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    25
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    24
  • Huawei Mate 10
    23
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    13

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    58
  • Apple iPhone XS
    47
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    47
  • Google Pixel 3
    33
  • OnePlus 6
    33
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    33
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    31
  • Apple iPhone X
    28
  • Oppo Find X
    28
  • Huawei Mate 20
    28
  • Huawei P20
    23
  • Razer Phone 2
    22
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    21
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    21
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    20
  • HTC U12+
    20
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    19
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    18
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    14
  • Huawei Mate 10
    13
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    12
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    6.7

Still, the GPUs of Kirin chipsets were always miles behind the competition for years, so the fact that the Mate 20 Pro can now trade blows with the best out there is a win in itself.

The compound AnTuTu benchmark brought a lot of reasons for Huawei to smile as the Mate 20 Pro beats almost any other Android flagship out there.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    353210
  • Apple iPhone XS
    346379
  • Oppo Find X
    291218
  • Razer Phone 2
    285051
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    284555
  • Huawei Mate 20
    273913
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    273913
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    265314
  • OnePlus 6
    264200
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)
    264044
  • HTC U12+
    263696
  • LG G7 ThinQ
    259393
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    258244
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    248823
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    246660
  • Google Pixel 3
    233699
  • Apple iPhone X
    233100
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    217298
  • Huawei Mate 10
    214037
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    209884
  • Huawei P20
    206906
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    136583

Huawei Mate 20 Pro and its Kirin 980 are worthy of a flagship status as far as performance is concerned. The chip offers the fastest processor on the Android market, as usual, while its GPU punch is close to what the most current Adreno by Qualcomm can do.

And while the Mali-G76 MP10 isn't the fastest GPU available, it is among the fastest - something we couldn't say for any previous Kirin chipset. Then there is GPU Turbo 2, and if a game is compatible with it, it will deliver smooth and consistent 60fps performance.

The Kirin 980 is manufactured by the high-end 7nm process, but if you expected it not to heat up - you'd be wrong. The chip does release a reasonable amount of heat and the Mate 20 Pro does have a few spots that get hot under pressure. The phone won't go as hot as the previous Mates though. Some throttling may occur after running consecutive benchmark tests but only then.

Huawei has delivered an all-around great chip once again with class-leading processor and competitive graphics core. It has better thermal control and less throttling than the previous Kirin 970, too. Overall, we think Huawei has done an excellent job this year.

Reader comments

  • Dutchy

Excellent phone, never crashes.

  • Moi

I got mine at Harvey Norman for $599

  • Anonymous

Where did you f get yours? Looking to cop one myself.