Huawei P20 Pro: Long Term Camera Review & Shootout

by Samrat Amatya
Huawei P20 Pro Camera Review

Huawei broke the market when it launched its latest flagship, the Huawei P20 Pro back in March of 2018. It had a unique design, powerful internals, and an industry-defining rear triple camera set up. And they were no ordinary ones either! Boasting a combination of 40MP, 20MP, and 8MP, the cameras were groundbreaking. Packing years of experience and Leica partnership into one package, the P20 Pro became successful in being the best camera phone in the market.

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Huawei P20 Pro Camera Review

But how good is the camera on the Huawei P20 Pro? Is it a suitable candidate in the compact smartphone space of Nepal? Well, after using the P20 Pro almost a month, here are all my findings on the groundbreaking flagship of Huawei.

Before we get took geeky with the Huawei P20 Pro, here is the rundown of the phone’s camera. The P20 Pro packs a triple camera set up at the back combining an f/1.8 40MP RGB sensor, an f/1.6 20MP monochrome sensor, and an f/2.4 8MP telephoto lens. The length of each lens is 27mm, 27mm, and 80mm respectively. All of the three lenses support OIS and Laser Autofocus. On top of having OIS, Huawei claims the phone has AIS (AI Image Stabilization) which appears to combine traditional optical image stabilization with electronic stabilization system and clever processing to deliver sharp results.

Huawei P20 Pro Camera Review

That 40MP sensor measures 1/1.7in in size, which up until a few years ago was the standard for enthusiast compact cameras. While this isn’t the largest sensor that’s we’ve seen inside a smartphone to date, Huawei is keen to point out that where this sits in relation to current competition – on top. And, even with 40MP on board, Huawei claims that this sensor boasts the largest pixels on any current smartphone. The phone also comes with a f/2.0 24MP front camera for all your social media ready selfies. The sensor come in at 26mm which is markedly wide for those group photos.

The cameras on the P20 Pro also comes with a slew of modes and features. Some of the most noticeable ones are portrait mode, night mode, aperture mode, and the pro mode. All the basics like the slow-mo, time-lapse, light painting and panorama mode are also all here. Something unique on the list of modes is the monochrome mode which utilizes the whopping 20MP B/W sensor. The phone also comes with a slew of enhancement mode like normal, vivid, and smooth color options. These modes enhance the image color as per the requirement of the scene.

Huawei P20 Pro Camera Review

With all these, the Huawei P20 Pro already looks like an amazing camera offering. And the real world performance depicts just that! I am absolutely amazed by the quality of the picture it produces. In well-lit scenarios, the P20 Pro delivers an excellent image quality. Exposure is usually spot-on and the dynamic range is one of the widest I have measured on any smartphone, making it an ideal companion to shoot in difficult high-contrast situations. Images are sharp across the board, with pleasant textures and a lot of details. Noise is also very well under control, too, with virtually no grain visible in areas of plain color.

The Autofocus system on the P20 Pro works flawlessly with bull’s eye accuracy. Huawei makes uses use of the usual PDAF and Laser AF with the exception of a new kind of autofocus dubbed the 4D predictive focus. This new focus helps the camera calculate moving objects and focuses on them to capture details. This combined with OIS and EIS makes getting a blurry picture quite difficult on the P20 Pro. The color rendered by the phone was quite pleasant with a true to life vibe. The photos, however, had an occasional orange or pink color casts which were quite noticeable.

Photo Mode
Portrait Mode

Talking about the bokeh of the phone, the blur effect, and the cutouts are spot on. Unlike the Nova 3e, the bokeh cutouts were finer with DSLR like output. This made taking those portraits shots a pleasant experience. The same, however, can’t be said for the front camera of the phone. Unlike its rear counterpart, the selfie shooter has to work with a single lens. This made calculating the depth a bit more difficult for the self-portraiture. The cutouts were flimsy and had a lot of artifacts. That said, the actual picture quality of the selfie camera is pretty good. It was able to take came great selfie with a natural aura. Although I wouldn’t mind a bit of saturation bump! The color tone too could have been a bit warmer but that’s just my personal preference.

The low-light performance of the Huawei P20 Pro is just phenomenal! It is the best low-light performer among all the competing smartphones. Thanks to its large 1/1.73″ sensor in its main camera, the P20 Pro delivers a class-leading low level of noise. In addition to having low noise, the pictures from the P20 Pro has a perfect balance between white balance and color rendering. It also doesn’t blow out too much of the highlights and increase high exposure like other smartphones. The P20 Pro, without a doubt, is the most capable smartphone camera in low-light. Truly Impressed!

Something else to talk about the P20 Pro’s camera is its zooming capabilities. By default, the 8MP telephoto lens can zoom up to 5X with an 80mm length. The phone, however, lets you zoom up to 10X digitally. Although the digital zoom can get a bit disconcerting, the 5X optical zoom is amazing. This will help you take some tricky shoots from a far away distance.

2X Zoom
5X Zoom

The videography portion of the camera is also as good as its photographic counterpart. The auto-focus was spot on with true to life colors and brightness. The onboard OIS and EIS worked in harmony to make the footages stable. The noise level on the videos too were low, compared to other smartphones, even under low light situations. I also love the inclusion of 4K recording capabilities which is slowly becoming a norm.

Conclusion: Huawei P20 Pro Camera Review

The Huawei P20 Pro is an amazing smartphone with the best cameras on any smartphone to date. Huawei has brought innovation to the camera department both in terms of numbers and quality. The triple camera set up is revolutionary and its picture quality is phenomenal. I am thoroughly impressed by it!

By the pictures, you can already tell that I took the phone out to my friends birthday party. Snapping pictures on the go without having to worry about the settings was quite an experience. Although you can fiddle with the settings to get the shot you want, the camera’s auto mode is just as good to get those perfect social media worthy shoots. A true innovation on Huawei’s part.

That said, I do have some suggestions to Huawei to improve upon in the next generation of its flagship. Although the B/W sensor is nice and all I do wish for a wide angle lens instead of it. This is just a personal suggestion as I think a wide angle lens would be more useful to me than a B/W sensor. Another area Huawei need to work on is the software! Although the settings can be tweaked, the default sharpening preset is a bit too much for me. The true to life colors are nice and all, but I do love a bit of punch in my photos.

That said, these all are personal favorites rather than things that need change. It doesn’t take away from the fact that the Huawei P20 Pro is an amazing camera phone. Everything about it is spot on and I loved my time using the phone. And with that, I can confidently say that the Huawei P20 Pro is the best camera phone on the market right now.

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