Huawei’s much-revered P20 Pro is finally in India and we were very excited to spend some time with the phone during the launch event today. This is Huawei’s biggest flagship launch in India and revitalizes the company’s efforts in the premium segment of the market, which is dominated by Samsung and Apple.

With the P20 Pro, Huawei has made its mission to deliver the best in smartphone photography, and it has also packed in features like artificial intelligence to improve not just photography but the overall user experience. Here’s our initial impressions after a brief hands-on time with the Huawei P20 Pro at the jam-packed launch event.

Intelligent Design

The Huawei P20 is a superbly-crafted device and boasts shiny glass on the back and a metal trim along the edges. The metal as well the glass are seamlessly bound together and while moving your fingers over the two surfaces, you will barely notice the transition.

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

The USP of this phone is its three-camera setup which is placed on the back of the device. The setup comprises a 40-megapixel RGB sensor along with an 8-megapixel 3X telephoto lens for optical zoom and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor for better contrast.

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

On the front is the 6.1-inch FullHD+ screen which comes with the notch. The notch is evidently smaller than the one on iPhone X and other Android contemporaries to allow more space for notification icons, but honestly, the notification bar sometimes appears poorly optimized in its current state. 

The Huawei P20 Pro has stereo speakers on either side of the screen to ensure a richer audio experience. Lastly, there is no headphone jack on the smartphone but to make up for it, Huawei has added support for wireless Hi-Fi audio for smooth transmission over Bluetooth. Huawei claims it to be the best audio available in any smartphone.

Display

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

The immersive OLED display on the Huawei P20 Pro is super bright and rich in terms of color reproduction. The company touts that it comes with a 105 percent NTSC color gamut along with a stunning contrast ratio of 1:1,000,000. Although based on numbers, hardly anyone would be convinced that a Full HD display does justice to the price, but the superb quality of Huawei P20 Pro is sufficient to give a tough competition to other phones in the range.

We can’t wait to bring this device to our lab and test it against current champs such as the Galaxy S9+ and other flagship phones.

Cameras

Billed by Huawei as the highest DxOMark-rated smartphone camera, the Huawei P20 Pro features one of the finest and most highly equipped cameras. The megapixel count of the primary camera sensor on the back is enough to turn many heads. While we would be in a better position to judge the camera only after sufficient testing, from initial impression, the camera was undeniably sharp and fast to focus, and shoot.

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

All the lenses are Leica-branded, so there is no doubt on the quality. Another appealing element apart from the 40-megapixel RGB sensor is the 3X telephoto lens which is great to shoot far off objects. Since we were indoors for the launch event, we didn’t have a chance to play well or gauge the performance of the camera in all scenarios. But our impromptu shots also left us impressed, and itching to test this out in more depth.

The 24-megapixel selfie camera was a delight to test. It features a 3D portrait mode similar to the iPhone X and performs really well, especially for the black-and-white portraits. One peeve, however, was that while taking selfies the beauty mode is constantly on and even when tuned down to zero, it flattens the texture of the face, giving you a somewhat fake-looking selfie and that might not be to everyone’s liking. That’s something many other users have also complained about.

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

Lastly, Huawei claims that AI support by the neural processing unit on Kirin 970 SoC substantially increases the performance of the camera. It can detect scenes and objects for which we also tested with flowers and food. The company claims that the AI can detect up to 500 different scenes and objects and suggest values of pro-mode parameters to improve the phone based on lighting and other conditions. It also powers the AIS or AI based image stabilization.

Hardware

The Huawei P20 Pro is powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 970 processor which also powers the Mate 10 Pro. The processor features neural processing capabilities with a dedicated chipset which Huawei claims to improve the performance by nearly 60 percent. The chipset is paired with 6GB of RAM which is sufficient given the NPU also accelerates response time. The P20 Pro comes with 128GB of internal storage.

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

The phone – true to its hardware capabilities – felt ultra-smooth in terms of performance. Though this could also be because of fewer installed app and we will be in a better position to comment on the performance after testing the device for longer.

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

The smartphone is also IP67 dust and water resistance and features a 4,000mAh battery that can be charged be juiced up more than 50 percent in less than 30 minutes. Further, using a USB-C to HDMI cable, the smartphone can be converted into a Samsung DeX-like desktop and both the PC and the Huawei P20 Pro can be used simultaneously.

Software

Huawei P20 Pro in India: Hands-On Review

The P20 Pro runs on EMUI 8.1 which is based on Android 8.1. Despite the heavy firmware customization, we did not notice any lag while opening pre-installed apps. Of course, we can only judge the performance of the phone after loading it up with enough apps and games to put it through its paces.

Huawei did not talk about the possibility of an update but we expect that the P20 pro would at least receive an update to Android P if not the next major update. It would be quite disappointing though if only one Android version bump comes to a phone that’s priced at Rs 64,999 or the equivalent of $1000.

Pricing and Availability

The Huawei P20 Pro will be sold exclusively via Amazon India and will be available starting May 3, 2018. Users can currently sign up for “Notify Me” on Amazon to get notified when the product is about to go on sale.

The P20 Pro is priced at ₹64,999 and competes against Samsung Galaxy S9+ and iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, as well as the Google Pixel 2 XL. It is meant to attract looking to buy a device in the premium segment that comes with superb multimedia capabilities, and camera performance but does not compromise in terms of taking on heavy apps and games.

Of course the real test is yet to come, so stay tuned to Beebom.com for our in-depth review which will be coming soon.