(Pocket-lint) - Through 2018 Huawei showed us why it is the biggest threat to Samsung and Apple's flagship dominance. With the P20 and then Mate 20, it showed what it was capable of. The phones were powerful, beautiful and had market-leading cameras. But now it's Samsung's turn.
Galaxy S10+ vs Mate 20 Pro prices
Starting where it matters - cash - the Galaxy S10+ starts at £899 and the top-of-the-range model will cost £1399.
Just like the big Samsung flagship, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro also has a starting price of £899, although it's a little older and so can now be found cheaper.
So these two handsets are playing in exactly the same space when it comes to price position.
- Galaxy S10+: 157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8mm, 175g
- Mate 20 Pro: 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6 mm, 189g
- Both IP68 rated against dust/water
It's fair to say that no previous Huawei phone has looked quite as much like a Galaxy S as the Mate 20 Pro. It features similar curves at the edges of its display, with a thin metal edge separating that from the curved glass on the back. Clearly then, there are some similarities in overall look and feel between these two phones.
Both feature the same degree of water and dust resistance, but some noticeable differences in the approach to ports and buttons. On the bottom edge, you'll find Samsung has decided to stick with the 3.5mm jack for wired headphones, along with a Type-C port and speaker grille. Huawei has no obvious speaker grille, instead opting for a SIM tray at the bottom edge.
Both companies may have adopted triple camera systems (more on that later), but Huawei's square protrusion is about as different as can be from Samsung's long, rectangular one.
As is the trend for modern flagships, both phones are available in a number of different colours and finishes. Samsung's Prism Green is a particular highlight, as is the stealthy black Mate 20 Pro.
Apart from that, in the hand, you might not tell much difference between them. Huawei's is a little heavier, and the narrowness does make it feel a bit smaller, but it's not a big difference.
- Galaxy S10+: 6.4-inch curved, Dynamic AMOLED, Quad HD+, 19:9
- Mate 20 Pro: 6.39-inch curved, OLED, Quad HD+, 19.5:9
- S10+ small dual hole-punch; Mate 20 Pro has large notch
Samsung has - so far - managed to skilfully avoid putting a notch into its flagship phone. For the Galaxy S10+, it opted to put a dual front-facing camera into a small, pill-shaped hole-punch cutout instead. That means you get one, slim, undisturbed bezel at the top.
As for Huawei, it couldn't be much more different. It has quite a hefty notch on the front, which houses more than just a single camera. It's got the secure face unlocking hardware, similar to that used on the iPhone. That means it's a more secure way to unlock the phone than Samsung's camera-based one.
Both also have in-display fingerprint sensors, meaning there's no physical "button" for this anywhere on the device. Samsung uses an Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, which means it's probably going to be quicker, more accurate and less prone to being hindered by water droplets on the screen or wet fingers. Huawei's camera-based module uses an image to match up prints, and can't detect depth at all.
On to the actual displays themselves, and there's not much difference in panel type or resolution. Both phones have a 6.4-inch WQHD+ OLED-based display. Both support HDR content, although Samsung's is the first to support HDR10+ and also has an impressive peak brightness of 1,200 nits.
- Galaxy S10+: Triple rear, dual front
- Mate 20 Pro: Triple rear, single front
- Both have regular wide, ultra wide and telephoto cameras
- Both use AI for scene detection/adjustments
Despite their different housings, the camera setups on the two phones are similar. They're made up of three cameras, with one ultra-wide, one regular (wide) and a telephoto camera. It's in exact specifications that they differ.
Samsung's three cameras are made up of a primary 12-megapixel dual pixel camera which not only has OIS, but also the dual mechanical aperture feature that first introduced itself in the Galaxy S9, switching from f/2.4 to f/1.5 whenever light levels drop.
The ultrawide f/2.2 camera features a 16-megapixel sensor, and the third telephoto f/2.4 camera offers an optical 2x zoom and has a 12-megapixel sensor and OIS.
Huawei pushed out all the stops in its quest for pixels, offering a 40-megapixel primary f/1.8 camera. Its secondary ultra-wide camera is an f/2.2 aperture 20-megapixel, while the third telephoto offers 8-megapixels and an aperture of f/2.4.
Both sets of rear cameras are supported by AI to automatically detect scenes. Where Samsung differs is that it can also show you how to improve your framing once it's detected objects in your scene.
As for the front cameras, Huawei's is a single 24-megapixel snapper, while Samsung has a dual system. The main 10-megapixel dual pixel camera is supported by an 8-megapixel one that's primary purpose is depth information, for adding blur to self portraits.
Hardware and software
- Snapdragon/Exynos 8nm 8-core vs. Kirin 980 7nm 8-core
- Galaxy S10+: 8/12GB RAM, 128GB/512GB/1TB,
- Mate 20 Pro: 6GB/8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB
- Galaxy S10+: 4100mAh battery, fast wireless charging
- Mate 20 Pro: 4200mAh battery, SuperCharge wired + wireless charging
- Samsung One UI vs Huawei EMUI 9 - both based on Android 9 Pie
It's hard to judge performance until we get the S10+ for testing, but both systems are powerful. Samsung's new 8-nanometer processors boast eight cores and are supported by either 8GB or 12GB RAM, depending on whether you go for the regular or more powerful Ceramic edition models.
Similarly, Huawei's 7nm Kirin 980 processors are very powerful and supported by either 6GB or 8GB RAM, depending on whether you choose the 128GB storage or 256 storage models.
It's in the storage battle that Samsung wins out. If you're willing to spend the money, its Ceramic Edition S10+ is equipped with 1TB of internal storage. Even its regular models don't skimp, with a minimum of 128GB and a second tier 512GB model, and all of them supporting up to 512GB of microSD external storage.
It's similar in the battery space too, with Huawei's 4,200mAh battery beating out the 4,100mAh in the Samsung. What's more, its 40W SuperCharge is impressively quick at topping it up again over a cable. Samsung's wired charging isn't close to that, but both feature fast wireless charging, and the ability to reverse wireless charge other devices.
As always, the two manufacturers have their own custom skins running on top of Android. In this instance, it's Android Pie with either Samsung's redesigned One UI on top, or Huawei's EMUI 9.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ vs Huawei Mate 20 Pro conclusions
In truth, there's little of significance to separate the Galaxy S10+ and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Both have similar camera setups, the same resolution screen, similar power and performance specs and the latest public version of Android and prices.
In many ways, the S10+ was about catching up with the Huawei flagships. In others, it has surpassed them. Samsung's the first to offer HDR10+ compatibility on a phone screen, and the first major player to adopt the notch-less hole-punch screen. What's more, ultrasonic fingerprint scanning is more reliable than optical.
With that said, you'll likely to find the Mate 20 Pro cheaper than its original price, and the narrower build might be to your liking.
The long and short of it is that you're going to be happy with which ever of these you end up buying. They're both fantastic phones.