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(Pocket-lint) - For 2018, Huawei has unveiled two mighty impressive top-tier flagship phones: the Huawei P20 and Huawei P20 Pro. These new handsets not only replace the P10 and P10 Plus from 2017, they're a total - and highfly successful - reimagining.

With a pair of devices to choose from, the Pro being the higher-spec and pricier handset of the two, you'll have to decide which one suits you best. The P20 Pro has a triple camera compared to the P20's dual camera, for example, which might be enough to twist your arm into buying the more advanced model.

We've cut through the specs, reviewed both phones in full, and crunched the numbers to help you decide which phone you should buy. Clue: both are great handsets.

Best Huawei P20 deals


Huawei P20 vs P20 Pro: Design

  • Both: Metal and glass design
  • Both: Front-facing fingerprint scanner (gesture control possible)
  • P20 Pro gets more colours, including the excellent Twilight
  • P20 Pro: IP67 waterproofing; P20: IP53
  • P20 Pro: 7.8mm thick; P20: 7.65mm thick

To look at, the Huawei P20 and the P20 Pro have a very similar design. Well, front-on they do - as on the flip the difference between two or three cameras is very apparent. 

The Pro is ever so slightly larger, owed to a larger screen (more info on that below), while a more capacious battery also makes it the thicker handset of the two.

Both handsets have a FullView display, incorporating a notch at the top like the iPhone X. That means very little bezel on these phones, but both still have a fingerprint scanner on the front too.

The rear of both phones is glass, held together with a metal core, giving lovely curved edges. iPhone X comparisons will be inevitable in terms of design, except we think the pair might look even better thanks to smaller bezel and a wider range of colours. And it's the Twilight colour of the P20 Pro that everyone will be talking about - because its pink-to-turquoise gradient looks ace.

The other standout spec difference between the P20 and P20 Pro is the IP rating, which determines how water- and dust-proof the devices are: the P20 gets an IP53 rating while the P20 Pro offer IP67.

Huawei P20 vs P20 Pro: Display

  • P20 Pro: 6.1-inch, 2240 x 1080, 18.7:9 aspect ratio, OLED with notch
  • P20: 5.8-inch, 2240 x 1080, 18.7:9 aspect ratio, LCD with notch

The Huawei P20 models both switch aspect ratio compared to earlier P-series phones, following the modern trend to offer a widescreen (18.7:9, which is almost spot on 2:1 when rounded-up), or what Huawei calls a "FullView display". The Pro is marginally larger, at 6.1-inches, while the P20 is a little smaller at 5.8-inches.

The biggest talking point, however, will be the notch at the top of the display, which houses the speaker and front camera. On either phone the notch can be "removed" via software if you don't like it, or set per app as to whether a full-screen display is possible or not.

The notch is marginally better hidden in the Pro, thanks to its OLED screen type, which makes for richer blacks than the P20's LCD. But, having used both phones for some time, we didn't hate on the notch as much as we thought.

That OLED panel also means a slight colour difference between the two devices. The P20 Pro is a little warmer and richer - as is often the case for OLED displays - but we still think the LCD panel in the P20 is a great example of how good such displays can be. Besides, both can be tuned within the settings to change the colour to your preference.

Both displays also offer the same resolution of 2240 x 1080 pixels. So Huawei is sticking to Full HD+ for its devices, rather than moving up to Quad HD+. But we think this is the right decision: both panels look sharp, delivering as much resolution as you'll need at this scale, while ensuring battery longevity.

Huawei P20 vs P20 Pro: Hardware and software

  • P20 Pro: HiSilicon Kirin 970, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, 4000mAh
  • P20: HiSilicon Kirin 970, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage, 3400mAh
  • Both: EMUI 8.1 re-skin over Google Android Oreo 8.1 operating system

The hardware that these new Huawei phones runs on is the Kirin 970 - as found in the Mate 10 Pro. This is a platform that has a leaning toward artificial intelligence (AI), while delivering power to rival other flagship devices.

There's a difference in RAM between the two P20 handsets, however, with the P20 getting 4GB and the P20 Pro seeing a boost to 6GB.

On the storage front, both these phones will come with 128GB of storage as standard, but will take a hit by losing the microSD expansion. Which seems like an odd decision: both phones are dual SIM, but the second slot cannot be adapted for an mSD card.

In terms of battery capacity, the larger P20 Pro gets a larger capacity, its 4000mAh matching what you'll find in the bigger-still Mate 10. It lasts for an age per charge, which is excellent news. The P20, meanwhile, has a 3320mAh cell, which is larger than average for its size - but still lasts for a really long time per charge, just not quite as long as the Pro.

Oddly, despite their glass backs, neither P20 or P20 Pro offer wireless charging. However, both offer fast-charging via the USB Type-C connection for quick top-ups.

Software is Huawei's EMUI (Emotion UI) in its latest 8.1 guise. In earlier versions this has made many run in fear, due to the excess notifications and pre-installed apps. Not so now, with the latest software offering great battery optimisation, lots of detailed control, and not being too interrupting. It's not quite as clean as stock Android - like you'll find in the Google Pixel 2, for example - but it's the best software place that Huawei has been in to date.

Huawei P20 vs P20 Pro: Camera

  • P20 Pro: Leica 40MP RGB sensor, 20MP monochrome sensor, 8MP 3x optical zoom camera
  • P20: Leica 12MP RGB sensor f/1.8 and 20MP monochrome sensor f/1.6, 1.55µm pixels

Much of the talk of these phones - and the biggest difference - surrounds the cameras. Having used the P20 Pro for some time, we feel it's the best camera in a phone to date. The P20 is also good, but a little step behind its Pro cousin.

The Huawei 20 gets a dual Leica camera system that's similar to previous Huawei camera. It has an RGB sensor combined with a monochome sensor aiming to give you better quality images by offering more data. It's supported by laser autofocus and a colour temperature sensor to give you accurate white balance across your photos.

The Huawei P20 Pro also has a pairing of Leica cameras - but steps the RGB sensor up to 40-megapixels, with a larger 1/1.7in sensor - paired alongside a third Leica camera, used for 3x zoom. The 40-megapixel sensor does a couple of additional things: firstly, it offers Pixel Fusion technology so that it can capture more light (giving you the equivalent of 2.0µm pixels); it also typically shoots at 10-megapixels, rather than full resolution, for the optimum output; it can also be used cropto give a hybrid zoom at a level of or 5x.

Both devices share a range of great features: there's like 960fps super slow-motion capture and a 24-megapixel front-facing camera; there's Portrait mode for blurred background pro-looking shots; there's automatic scene recognition, powered by that AI engine, which often does a great job in enhancing photos (or can be switched off on a shot-by-shot basis or entirely, should you prefer to maintain all control); and there's a fully manual Pro mode too.

Huawei P20 vs P20 Pro: Price and conclusions 

Prices for the SIM-free devices has been confirmed by Carphone Warehouse: it's £599 for the Huawei P20, while the Huawei P20 Pro price is £799

That £799 price for the P20 Pro brings it in cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S9+, which is £899 for the 64GB version. And we think it's worth it: the Huawei has the edge when it comes to the camera, although the Samsung is exceptional in low-light conditions too.

Both P20 and P20 Pro offer similar day-to-day performance. The extra spend in the Pro gives you that better camera, longer battery life, a slightly more vibrant display, and (if you choose it) delicious Twilight colour finish too.

Whichever you choose, Huawei has two of 2018's best phones on its hands with the P20 and P20 Pro. But if you want best of the best then the Pro model is well worth it.

Best Huawei P20 Pro deals


Writing by Chris Hall and Mike Lowe. Originally published on 21 March 2018.