The Huawei Mate 20 Pro destroys the Samsung Note 9 and iPhone Xs Max

Huawei recently launched its new Mate 20 Pro smartphone in South Africa, disrupting the high-end smartphone market by offering cutting-edge technology at a competitive price.

The device is positioned to compete with luxury flagships from Samsung and Apple, namely the Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone Xs Max.

Each of these devices offers unique features, such as Samsung’s S Pen and Apple’s software, but Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro packs a selection of new technologies which makes the smartphone an extremely powerful option.

MyBroadband received a Mate 20 Pro smartphone from Huawei for review, and we put the device through its paces by testing the range of new features on offer.

From its in-screen fingerprint sensor to AI-powered camera functionality, the Mate 20 Pro is a serious contender in the South African high-end smartphone market.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro rear


When comparing Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Apple’s iPhone Xs Max, it is important to note that the Galaxy Note 9 is the only device of the three which still uses a 10nm processor.

Both Huawei and Apple’s smartphones are powered by 7nm chipsets, which offer big performance improvements over the older 10nm technology.

Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset is unique in particular, in that it offers a dual NPU (neural processing unit), which is a chip designed specifically for AI workloads.

This AI-powered processor allows for the range of cutting-edge camera features delivered by the Mate 20 Pro, in addition to enabling offline AI computing instead of cloud-based artificial intelligence.

The camera system on the Mate 20 Pro is also impressive, boasting a triple-lens layout with wide-angle, ultra-wide angle, and telephoto lenses built into the rear of the smartphone’s chassis.

The Mate 20 Pro is expected to trump all other manufacturers in DxOMark scores, and we were impressed with the device’s photo quality compared to the other devices we have tested.

While Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 boasts a large 4,000mAh battery, Huawei has gone a step further by packing a 4,200mAh battery into its newest device.

The Mate 20 Pro also includes 3D facial recognition similar to the iPhone Xs Max, but once again improves on this design by placing a fingerprint sensor underneath its OLED display – allowing users to select which form of biometric authentication they would like to use.

More importantly, there was no discernable difference between the speed of the Mate 20 Pro’s in-screen fingerprint sensor and the physical sensor on the Galaxy Note 9.

Mate 20 Pro vs Note 9


We have compared the specifications of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and Apple iPhone Xs Max below.

Specifications Mate 20 Pro iPhone Xs Max Galaxy Note 9
OS EMUI 9.0 (Android 9.0) iOS 12 Android 8.0
Display 6.4-inch 3,120 x 1,440 OLED 6.5-inch 2,688 x 1,242 OLED 6.4-inch 2,960 x 1,440 AMOLED
Processor HiSilicon Kirin 980 A12 Bionic Exynos 9810
Storage 128GB, Huawei nanoSD up to 512GB 64GB/256GB/512GB 128GB/512GB, microSD up to 512GB
Rear camera 40MP + 20MP + 8MP 12MP + 12MP 12MP + 12MP
Front camera 24MP 7MP 8MP
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Lightning 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C
Cellular LTE Cat. 21 LTE Cat. 18 LTE Cat. 18
Durability IP68 IP68 IP68
Battery 4,200mAh 3,174mAh 4,000mAh
Price R18,999 R23,999 R18,999

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs iPhone Xs Max

Cutting-edge features

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro boasts some impressive specifications, but the smartphone’s software features are where it really outpaces the competition.

The Mate 20 Pro includes a number of unique features, including reverse wireless charging, AI-powered food recognition with calorie calculation, and various AI-powered photo and video effects.

We tested out these features and found that while they have some minor issues, they work in almost every scenario – with the reverse wireless charging and camera effects proving particularly impressive.

Reverse wireless charging allows you to wirelessly charge any Qi-compatible device by simply enabling the option on the Mate 20 Pro and placing your device on the back of the smartphone.

This works almost instantly with Huawei devices, and it takes around 5-6 seconds for devices from other manufacturers to start charging using the Mate 20 Pro’s battery.

The Mate 20 Pro’s AI colour feature is able to dynamically detect and highlight people and desaturate the background, all while recording live video.

When it comes to estimating the calorie content of various foods, the Mate 20 Pro excels at estimating the weight and nutritional value of simple products, with more complex foods expanding the room for error.

When tested a banana, and the Mate 20 Pro estimated its weight within a 5% margin of error – and provided a calorie estimate in line with the correct average.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Identify

Pricing and value

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro is also priced attractively compared to its competitors, especially when you look at the pricing of the iPhone Xs and Xs Max.

Below is the South African pricing for the Mate 20 Pro, Galaxy Note 9, and iPhone Xs Max.

Model Price
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 128GB R18,999
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 128GB R18,999
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 512GB R23,999
iPhone Xs Max 64GB R23,999
iPhone Xs Max 256GB R26,999
iPhone Xs Max 512GB R31,999

As a smartphone user who is not locked into Apple’s ecosystem and prefers not to use a stylus, the Mate 20 Pro provides more enticing features than those of its competitors.

While you may not use the calorie counter or camera effects on a daily basis, the reverse wireless charging function could prove useful in a number of situations.

Additionally, other features delivered by the Mate 20 Pro such as the fastest charging on the market and the implementation of Huawei’s GPU Turbo technology make it a great flagship choice.

Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband last month, Huawei South Africa CTO Akhram Mohammed said purchasing the device over its competitors was a no-brainer due to its competitive price and impressive features.

Now read: Huawei Mate 20 Pro – Best contract prices in South Africa

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro destroys the Samsung Note 9 and iPhone Xs Max