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HUAWEI P40 Pro, Oneplus 8 Pro, and Galaxy S20 Plus – Quick spec recap
HUAWEI P40 Pro, Oneplus 8 Pro, and Galaxy S20 Plus – Colors and white balance
Our first samples highlight some major trends right off the bat. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus opts for the punchiest tones by far, with over-saturation noticeable in many shots, particularly with blue skies. I find Samsung’s approach to colors far too heavy-handed, particularly in outdoor photos. Highlight clipping is also a semi-common problem, particularly in HDR environments with clouds or other strong highlights. OnePlus also clips in some scenes, while HUAWEI plays it much more conservative with its approach to dynamic range. The 8 Pro’s colors and white balance tend to be very good overall, falling somewhere between Samsung’s punch and HUAWEI’s conservatism.
Oversaturation and highlight clipping are consistent issues for the Galaxy S20 Plus
As a result, the HUAWEI P40 Pro’s images sometimes appear a little washed out by comparison. The phone shoots for a cooler white balance with a brighter exposure that’s a little more true-to-life and easier to edit. That said, quite a few of the pictures I took with the HUAWEI P40 Pro overexposed the image. The P40 Pro is bang on when it’s right, but the handset can also get things very wrong. I also noticed an occasional red-tint problem with the HUAWEI P40 Pro in very bright outdoor environments. HUAWEI tells us that has been addressed for the consumer software version.Cropping in on detail
All three handsets boast high-resolution sensors for high levels of detail, but we’ve seen plenty of examples where heavy bouts of processing are used to compensate for noisy image sensors. None of these phones suffer from obvious detail deficiencies at full frame. To get into the finer details, the images in this section are 100% crops.
Contrary to popular belief, HUAWEI applies the least amount of processing to images from its main sensor. The camera produces high levels of detail with minimal evidence of over-sharpening, thanks to the combination of BM3D noise reduction and a large image sensor. The Galaxy S20 Plus is reasonably soft on edges too, at least as far as nearby foreground subjects are concerned. However, Samsung’s processing chain looks a lot messier with complex textures, such as trees and foliage, and the highlights in our sample images.
OnePlus clearly relies on a sharpening filter to enhance details, resulting in more harsh, high-contrast edges. It’s certainly not an ugly look compared to many phones we’ve seen and is hard to notice unless you really analyze the pixels. Foreground and subject details are left looking with an artificial pop compared to the other two. However, the phone’s consistency regarding exposure and color balance ensures that images always look crisp.
All three of these handsets provide the option to capture very high-resolution images in good lighting. The Galaxy S20 Plus offers 64MP shots. You’ll get 50MP out of the HUAWEI P40 Pro, and 48MP from the OnePlus 8 Pro. Here are some crops from these modes.
There are definitely pros and cons to shooting in this mode. All three phones hand in exceptional details, providing that you have a subject within a few meters. The plant image above shows that all three are quite light on the processing, with sharp crisp details. Although again, OnePlus is a fraction more eager with the sharpening pass. Sadly, HUAWEI’s color balance on the subject isn’t great in this instance. Samsung’s first 64MP sample is truly exceptional, part in thanks to the good lighting.
You won’t be left wanting for detail from any of these three handsets.
All three cameras perform notably worse when shooting further into the distance with complex textures in the background. The leaves, ivy, and brickwork in the second image all have a painted look. That said, the effect is most pronounced from the HUAWEI P40 Pro and OnePlus 8 Pro. Again, HUAWEI’s camera is a tad overexposed. Samsung’s 64MP result holds up best in this scenario, although it’s far from perfect.
Overall, Samsung’s 64MP mode comes out on top when shooting in Hi-Res. It extracts a ton of detail and suffers from fewer artifacts than its competitors. However, when it comes to shooting with out-of-the-box settings, it’s a much closer contest that the HUAWEI P40 Pro nudges for its minimal processing and better color balance. The OnePlus 8 Pro also looks very good, but its reliance on sharpening reveals crops to be a little less realistic.Zooming in
There’s a bit of controversy over what counts as a proper zoom these days, with both OnePlus and Samsung opting for slightly different hybrid 3x technology over true optical zoom. These two could struggle with longer ranges, due to the limits of software processing. Even so, optical zoom isn’t infallible. HUAWEI’s last-gen P30 Pro was caught out at intermediate zoom lengths, as it relies on hybrid zoom for 2x, 3x, and 4x zoom. Let’s find out which technology works best.
We’re showcasing 100% crops here to examine smaller details, as that’s really the whole point of a zoom lens. Note that the OnePlus shots appear more zoomed in due to its lower 8MP capture resolution, compared to 12-megapixel outputs from the HUAWEI P40 Pro and Galaxy S20 Plus.
None of these phones offer a truly comprehensive zoom package.
Overall, the zoom situation is a bit weird. At full frame, all three cameras look passable all the way up to 5x. You have to pixel-peep to see which actually gives you the most detail. Samsung is decent enough up to 3x, but there’s no apparent sweet spot to zoom quality despite its 3x telephoto tagline. The OnePlus 8 Pro is terrible at 2x, but is very usable between 3x and 5x. Meanwhile, HUAWEI is so-so up to 3x, looks better at 4x, and clearly benefits from its periscope camera at 5x. The lesson here is that software zoom still sucks and intermittent zoom levels are so often left behind in terms of quality, reducing the flexibility of even the best cameras.Fitting it all in with wide-angles
Moving on to wide-angle cameras, where the aim is to squeeze as much into the scene as possible. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus offers the widest field of view out of the three, and the HUAWEI P40 Pro the smallest. Impressively, the S20 Plus handles edge distortion really well, despite its wider lens. The OnePlus 8 Pro is the most distorted at the edges.
At full frame, all three produce quite good-looking results. Again though, Samsung’s enthusiastic color processing makes its images pop more than the competition. The OnePlus 8 Pro and HUAWEI P40 Pro are much closer in appearance. For some reason though, HUAWEI switches to a 16:9 aspect ratio for these shots, possibly to enhance the wide-angled appearance.
While we tend not to examine more minor details with wide-angle shots (otherwise, you’d zoom in), it’s worth paying attention to the crops below, in case you ever want to blow these pictures up. Unfortunately, the Galaxy S20 Plus leans even more heavily on post-processing than usual. This results in the dreaded painted look effect, due to heavy use of denoise and sharpening. It’s a bad look no matter how you slice it.
The Galaxy S20 Plus offers the widest field of view but heaviest processing.
The OnePlus 8 Pro has a different problem. The camera appears to struggle with distant focus, meaning longer-range details are completely out of focus and images often lack detail. The camera is also a little heavy on post-processing, but it’s not quite as bad as Samsung. For the cleanest wide images, HUAWEI is the clear preference with minimal signs of processing. Its images are cleaner, sharper, and come out with far more detail.
Wide-angle cameras exist to fit more into our pictures, but those pictures need to remain distortion-free and boasting decent levels of detail to be usable. With that in mind, none of these cameras offer a truly great wide-angle experience. HUAWEI offers the detail but lacks the width of its competitors. The Galaxy S20 Plus and OnePlus 8 Pro fit more in, but lack the detail and quality that you would expect from a top-tier camera. I can’t call a clear winner (or loser) here.Solving the low-light problem
Low light is still mobile photography’s biggest weakness, but these three phones pack in larger image sensors in a bid to solve this issue. However, the HUAWEI P40 Pro and OnePlus 8 Pro have the biggest sensors and should perform the best. Let’s see if that’s true.
The HUAWEI P40 Pro is definitely worse with night mode enabled. The software processing used to combine exposures is far too aggressive, and noise actually increases in this sample. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is improved shooting with night mode enabled, finally presenting a reasonably clean image. Although it still lacks color and the denoise over-smoothens the image. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 8 Pro looks by far the best when shooting with Nightscape.
The detail available in each picture is worth looking at a little closer. The Samsung and OnePlus cameras definitely struggle for sharpness and definition compared to HUAWEI, with lots of noise present across the building brickwork that masks the fine details. The P40 Pro captures a surprisingly good amount of detail given the lack of light, although the HDR effect is unrealistic. Worse though, the sky is incredibly noisy and looks like it was shot with an overly dialed-up ISO.
Huawei’s P40 Pro captures the most detail in low light. OnePlus’ Nightscape mode works really well too.
Switching the various night modes on sees improvements to the detail capture and noise for the OnePlus and Samsung handsets. Although it doesn’t fix up the OnePlus 8 Pro’s color balance issue and Samsung still has by far the noisiest image. HUAWEI’s Night mode smooths out the sky issue and helps grab even more brickwork detail, but again leaves the overall image looking a tad over-processed.
On balance, HUAWEI nudges it as the best for a quick night snap and clearly captures the most detail in outdoor low-light environments. Although the brightness and HDR effects leave the P40 Pro’s shots looking somewhat unrealistic. Indoor and with less distance to the subject, the OnePlus 8 Pro hands in an excellent performance, particularly when Nightscape is used. Samsung’s older and smaller IMX555 sensor really doesn’t keep up with the competition.Dedicated hardware helps with bokeh
While HUAWEI and Samsung pack in dedicated time-of-flight sensors to assist with bokeh, OnePlus does not. You might assume that this means the OnePlus 8 Pro struggles more with edge detection, but it actually comes very close to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus in most shots. None of the cameras suffer from glaring detection issues, but you can definitely spot problems when cropping in.
Bokeh blur quality is outstanding across all three handsets, with good transitions from foreground to background that mostly avoid hardware edges. Color cross-overs can trick even the best bokeh algorithms, but HUAWEI’s phone is a little more resistant than the others. The OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 Plus miss edges more often than the HUAWEI P40 Pro, often confusing similar colors and background details for foreground edges. However, there’s surprisingly little between the two, with the 8 Pro occasionally detecting an edge the S20 Plus missed and vice versa. It’s a very solid result for the 8 Pro, especially since it doesn’t feature dedicated hardware for this purpose.
Despite the lack of dedicated hardware, the OnePlus 8 Pro is competitive with bokeh quality
The HUAWEI P40 Pro is perhaps just about the best in shots with reasonably crisp edges, but pulls miles ahead with complex hair edges. My untamed quarantine mane has plenty of strays to try and capture, and the HUAWEI P40 Pro gets pretty much all of them in the foreground. Sadly the white balance and skin tones aren’t quite right in this portrait. The OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 still do a reasonable job at grabbing outliers. However, they can’t preserve individual strands and struggle to apply bokeh in-between gaps accurately. But that’s pretty typical of most smartphone bokeh modes.
Overall, the HUAWEI P40 Pro is the most consistent with bokeh edge detection. Although it’s certainly not infallible on complex textures and scenes, and all three cameras are prone to tripping up.HUAWEI P40 Pro, Oneplus 8 Pro, and Galaxy S20 Plus – And the winner is…
Picking a definitive winner is particularly tough, as each of our three handsets has its set of strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, the HUAWEI P40 Pro continues to set the bar for image quality from its main sensor. It produces the most realistic daylight pics, the most detailed low-light shots, and the most accurate bokeh. However, some features, like zoom and night shooting, feel like they’ve stood still or even gone backward. At the same time, others have closed the gap, particularly in the zoom department. The OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus look every bit as good at full frame in most scenarios. You really have to pixel-peep to make out the smaller differences in detail, and even those don’t always go in HUAWEI’s favor.
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Solid cameras sell smartphones and iPhones have built a reputation for snapping great pictures — a reputation bolstered by its top-of-the-line 2023 device, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Meanwhile, OnePlus has partnered with Hasselblad for this generation’s flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 9 Pro, to boost its own credentials and take on the best in the business.
These two handsets are on the more reserved end of the flagship camera spectrum. You won’t find any crazy periscope zoom cameras or gimmick lenses here. Both aim to perfect the tried and tested main, wide, and telephoto zoom formula. The aim of the game is great-looking pictures, first and foremost.
But which does it best? Let’s dive right on into our OnePlus 9 Pro vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max camera shootout. Oh, and feel free to check out the full-res image samples here.
OnePlus 9 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max camera specs
With large main sensors onboard, both smartphones take very good pictures in daylight. Few will have any complaints here, which is what we’ve come to expect from flagship-tier smartphones in the past couple of years. Although that isn’t to say that there aren’t noticeable differences between these two cameras. For starters, the shorter focal length means you’ll get a slightly wider field of view from the OnePlus 9 Pro’s main camera.
Despite its reputation for high-quality imaging, Apple applies a slight yellow tint to its photos. This is particularly noticeable on green grass and with indoor lighting, resulting in a more oversaturated look that’s not as nice as OnePlus’ realistic approach to colors. Otherwise, the iPhone continues to set a high bar for color accuracy and general imaging performance.
Both phones do a decent job when it comes to exposure and white balance. However, the iPhone 12 Pro Max regularly slightly underexposes compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro. You can see in the shadows of most of the images above where the iPhone has much darker shadows. It’s almost like a fake high-contrast HDR effect, but it detracts from the camera’s realism.
Detail and noise have historically let OnePlus down, but there are again noticeable improvements this generation. Despite the sensor resolution differences, the two phones capture 12MP images. So differences in detail will come down to how well the sensors capture light and how the software processes this detail.
Photography terms explained: ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and more
There’s a much more noticeable difference between the OnePlus 9 Pro and Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max when it comes to more difficult HDR scenes. To cut to the chase, HDR is a major weakness for the iPhone while OnePlus has one of the more powerful implementations in the business.
The examples above showcase a typical compromise with the iPhone when shooting against a strong backlight. You either end up with an underexposed foreground or overexposed background highlights and a loss of detail. The OnePlus 9 Pro is by far the superior phone here and can capture much more from its HDR images.
HDR isn’t just about shadows and highlights, though. The iPhone’s comparatively poor HDR implementation also leaves colors looking washed out, as the above example showcases perfectly. The phone warmer tint doesn’t help here either.
There’s no arguing here, OnePlus provides a far superior HDR implementation
OnePlus’ HDR implementation isn’t completely free from clipping, but it does a mostly excellent job of making the most tricky lighting conditions. There’s really no contest between the two, so chalk this up as a major win for OnePlus over Apple.
Turning down the lights reveals yet more key differences between the two smartphones. Although the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max both support night mode shooting options, the results are quite different.
Before we get to Night modes though, let’s look at some lower light samples. Both hand it reasonable results with decent levels of detail, white balance, and colors. In the first example, Apple’s phone pumps up the exposure and saturation. However, turning the lights down lower in the second image below sees the iPhone 12 Pro Max struggle with exposure and colors much more noticeable than the OnePlus.
Turning to a very low light shot reveals the length that the OnePlus 9 Pro will go to to obtain decent exposure. There’s a high amount of grain, partly from a very high ISO figure, but Bender is far better illuminated than the iPhone with more noticeable detail. That said, the highlight clipping isn’t great and Apple’s handset definitely has a cleaner appearance and is the more realistic, giving the lighting conditions.
Overall, both phones are a mixed bag in low light. Apple definitely underperforms without Night mode, with colors becoming washed out in lower lighting. However, OnePlus’ Nightscape shots often end up very noisy compared to better lowlight phones like the Pixel 5 and Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Related: 6 tips for improving smartphone low light photographyZooming in on details
The first example really showcases the strengths and weaknesses of OnePlus’ latest zoom arrangement. At 2x and 3x, the 9 Pro looks good at full-frame but showcases noticeable processing artifacts on closer inspection. It looks like the shots are taken straight from the main image sensor, pre-binning.
The OnePlus 9 Pro boasts vastly improved detail over the iPhone 12 Pro Max at longer zoom levels. However, the level of chromatic aberration is pretty unacceptable for such typical daylight conditions. It’s an indicator of another poor quality lens. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has no such issues, but this first batch of zoom images all lean far too heavily on denoise and sharpening to look good.
Despite shooting in almost perfect outdoor conditions, both phones also struggle with this zoomed-in landscape shot. Apple’s handset lacks virtually any detail in the distant tree textures even when zooming in at 2x and 3x. The 5x and 7x shots are basically unusable.
It’s the same story as before for the OnePlus 9 Pro. It retains superior details to the iPhone at all zoom levels, which becomes more noticeable at longer ranges. However, once the telephoto camera kicks in beyond 3.3x, light capture and colors take a nosedive. The underexposed purple hue is very poor but sadly a common theme for OnePlus latest zoom camera. Again the 5x and 7x shots are throwaways.
Neither offers particularly compelling zoom capabilities for flagship-tier phones
In summary, neither smartphone offers particularly compelling zoom capabilities for flagship-tier handsets. The OnePlus 9 Pro nudges ahead in terms of detail at longer zoom levels, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max fairs better with color balance consistency.
With the OnePlus 9 Pro boasting a 14mm wide-angle lens and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro a 13mm focal length, the two offer a major step back from their main sensors. Apple’s version is technically a fraction wide than OnePlus’ and provides a bigger step back from its main sensor. But in reality, you end up with an essentially identical field of view between the two.
Both phones take on a slightly more yellow hue in the image above. Although the iPhone 12 Pro Max does a better job matching the color profile between its main and wide-angle lenses. Wide-angle pictures come out much warmer on the OnePlus 9 Pro versus its main sensor.
If you love a good selfie, you’ll be pleased to note that the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max offer a selection of filter and bokeh blur options with their front-facing camera. The two offer wide field of view capabilities to fit more in. However, Apple defaults to a slightly narrower lens by default, as you can see below.
Apple’s bokeh blur certainly looks good but its edge detection leaves a lot to be desired. The hair example above is perhaps the best example of the subtle but important differences between the OnePlus 9 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max when it comes to accuracy.
These two take solid selfies and portraits. I’ll give Apple the nudge on detail, but OnePlus offers superior edge detection and tone accuracy.Which phone takes the better pictures?
If it weren’t for the purple tint, the OnePlus 9 Pro would come out ahead for color accuracy, despite the lack of consistency across lenses. The phone scores a clearer win when it comes to bokeh accuracy and, more importantly, HDR environments. The latter really is the bread and butter of modern smartphone photography. OnePlus’ latest camera setup is far from flawless, though. Zoom quality is a hot mess, and even general images can look a little oversharp.
Check out more camera shootouts:
OnePlus 9 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera shootout
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple clearly scores a couple of its own wins, capturing better selfie textures and more natural-looking details. But the phone’s tendency to apply warm and yellow hues undoes much of the good work on color accuracy. Both the iPhone and OnePlus are also subpar in the zoom and low light departments. That said, these are two top-tier camera phones that can happily hang with the very best.
We answer your questions by explaining what each model offers and helping you decide if one of them is right for you.
Best in Show – See our MWC 2023 Award Winners!MateBook 13 vs 14 vs X Pro: Price & Availability
The MateBook 13, at least one version of it, was shown off at CES 2023 and goes on sale at the end of February. You can read our review here.
The model we’re comparing here, though, is the one that will be available in the UK and Europe and is slightly different because it includes Huawei Share 3.0, a handy feature which we’ll explain below. Huawei says it will be on sale by the end of February.
The 14 is brand new, and the X Pro is an updated version of the 2023 model, reviewed here. These two will be available in April.
UK pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but Huawei has now confirmed the following models and prices:MateBook 13
€999: i5 + 8GB + 256GB + Intel 620
€1099: i5 + 8GB + 256GB + MX150
€1199: i7 + 8GB + 512GB + Intel 620
€1399: i7 + 8GB + 512GB + MX150 + touchscreenMateBook 14
€1199: i5 + 8GB + 512GB + MX250
€1499: i7 + 16GB + 512GB + MX250 + touchscreenMateBook X Pro 2023
€1599: i5 + 8GB + 512GB + MX250 + touchscreen
€1999: i7 + 16GB + 1TB + MX250 + touchscreenMateBook 13 vs 14 vs X Pro: Specifications
The easiest way to see how these three compare is to watch the video at the top of this page, but we’ve also put together this helpful table of the key specs as well.
* Touchscreens on top-of-range models only.MateBook 13
The 13 in the name relates to the screen: it’s a 13in touchscreen with a resolution of 2160×1440. That’s just about enough, we think, for the size to avoid criticism and it’s certainly great quality.
Bezels are a bit thicker than on the MateBook X Pro, but the 88 percent screen-to-body ratio is more than respectable. Plus, it allows the webcam to go at the top where it belongs, rather than in the keyboard where you end up with unflattering views on Skype.
Specs are a little cut down to meet the price point: you can’t have more than 8GB of RAM and you can’t have the faster Nvidia MX250 graphics chip that you’ll find in higher models of the 14 and X Pro.
To clarify, the base model has the Core i5, Intel graphics and 256GB of storage, but there’s a step-up option with the MX150, a Core i7 and 512GB of storage.
Oddly, Huawei decided not to put a traditional USB port on the MateBook 13 which we think is a mistake: you’ll have to use an adaptor if you want to attach a USB flash drive.
The aluminium body and keyboard layout is similar to the other models, and it both looks and feels good. It’s also the lightest of the bunch – because it’s the smallest – and Huawei says you’ll still get 10 hours of battery life despite the 42Wh cell.
Huawei Share 3.0 is built-in, which means there’s an NFC chip which works with Huawei phones that are running EMUI 9.1 or later. Tap your phone on the chip and it launches the app which lets you transfer photos and other files via a direct Wi-Fi connection.
Among other features, Share 3.0 also gives you universal copy and paste, so you can copy some text on your phone and then paste it on your MateBook.MateBook 14
For many people this will be the pick of the bunch. It has most of the features of the X Pro, but will cost less.
It has – you guessed it – a 14in screen, but it shares the lower resolution of the 13in model, so has a pixel density of 185ppi. However, it’s still a great touchscreen with 100% sRGB coverage (so colours are vibrant) and wide viewing angles.
There are two standard USB ports, convenient for attaching a wired mouse or external hard drive, as well as the modern USB-C. Usefully for some, there’s a full-size HDMI port which neither of the other two models possess.
You have a choice, again, of a Core i5 or Core i7 and if you opt for the latter you get 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and the MX250 GPU. Performance, then, is just as good as the MateBook X Pro. The 14’s battery capacity is the same, too, so you’re only really sacrificing the higher resolution screen and a few other luxuries.
As with the other models, it has NFC for Huawei Share 3.0.MateBook X Pro
Externally, the 2023 X Pro is identical to the 2023 model. Upgrades are internal with 8th-gen Intel chips and the MX250 graphics chip rather than the MX150.
If you own the 2023 version, it isn’t going to be worth upgrading unless that 10-15 percent performance jump is really important.
But, for the other 99 percent of people who don’t already have the pleasure of owning one, the MateBook X Pro is a superb laptop which has gorgeous looks and great performance. It’s only slightly smaller and thinner than the MateBook 14, but the slimmer screen bezels and higher resolution display elevate it to premium status – and a premium price.
Fortunately, there’s still a USB-A port along with the pair of USB-Cs, and as this is the updated 2023 model, you also get Huawei Share 3.0. The Thunderbolt 3 port now runs at ‘full speed’ which means it’s twice as fast as the 2023 model and can now support 4K displays.
We’ll bring you reviews of all three shortly, but you can read our full review of the 2024 MateBook X Pro for more details about this model.
When designing the Galaxy S6 Edge and the HUAWEI P8, both manufacturers have sought to redefine the design of a smartphone. The Galaxy S6 Edge shows that curved displays can be used in a truly tasteful way – even if they’re not the most functional when using a small dropped edge – while with the P8, HUAWEI are showing that you can deliver excellent performance in a super thin body.
Previous Samsung flagships have usually been on the thicker side but the Galaxy S6 Edge seeks to change this, sporting a body that is just 7mm thick. Given that the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 were 8.1 mm and 7.9 mm thick respectively, Samsung has done extremely well to shave over a 1mm off the profile of last year’s flagship. In comparison, HUAWEI have done even better by packing a fully featured specs list into a body that is one of the slimmest on the market at 6.4mm.
The Galaxy S6 is one of the nicest looking handsets ever made
The back is another area where the Galaxy S6 Edge is in stark contrast to any other Samsung handset ever made. Instead of the plastic we’ve come to expect from Samsung, the back of the Galaxy S6 Edge is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and the result is one of the nicest looking handsets ever made, even if it is a fingerprint-magnet. In comparison, the HUAWEI P8 picks up from the Ascend P7 in that it offers an aluminium rear but on the P8, the colouring on the rear is now much more pronounced, which produces a handset that looks much more premium.
An area where both Samsung and HUAWEI agree is in the processor department, as each company has opted for their in-house processor over a chip from Qualcomm. Both 64-bit processors feature eight Cortex-A53 cores arranged in a big.LITTLE formation with the Galaxy S6 Edge using four cores at 2.1GHz and four at 1.5GHz while the HUAWEI P8 has four cores clocked at 2GHz and also has four clocked at 1.5GHz. The Galaxy S6 Edge uses Samsung’s Exynos 7420 processor while the P8 uses HUAWEI’s own-brand HiSilicon Kirin 930 processor.
On paper there’s very little difference in the performance as both handsets come with 3GB RAM and a range of storage options (but the P8 is the only one with expandable storage). However, the key to a super fast performance is in software optimisation and both manufacturers have made an attempt to optimise their software to provide the best possible experience.
Huawei’s EMUI v3.1 on the P8 offers a refined experience designed to be smooth, despite the heavy interface, but the biggest improvement (over past flagships) comes from Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on the Galaxy S6 Edge. Prior to the Galaxy S6 Edge, each Samsung flagship traditionally had more and more software features – otherwise known as bloatware – than the previous year (up to and including the Galaxy S5) but with their latest flagships, Samsung has made a complete u-turn.
Huawei’s flagship comes with a recommended price tag of €499 before taxes and subsidies – the premium version costs €100 more in two alternative colours with 64GB storage instead of 16GB – which equates to around $529 (£350). In comparison, the Galaxy S6 Edge starts at $849 for the 32GB, which equates to around €785 (£567).
With a price tag that is approximately 57 percent higher than the HUAWEI P8, the Galaxy S6 Edge won’t appeal to all users mainly due to the price barrier. In comparison, HUAWEI is able to price the HUAWEI P8 aggressively to gain market traction and with the new HUAWEI VIP same-day replacement support service, may have a key after-market service to tempt customers.
We can’t say definitively which tablet is better before we’ve had a chance to properly benchmark and test out the newcomer. The lower price is certainly tempting, and while there are rumblings – and grumblings – about the smaller amount of RAM, there’s a good reason why Apple doesn’t disclose such figures: they’re irrelevant to the average buyer. As long as it performs well for real-world tasks, it’s sure to be another winner.
The iPad Pro is a fantastic tablet, and Apple has just made it even better by shrinking it down to the 9.7in form factor, adding new features and lowering the price. Arguably, it’s a better tablet and here in our iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9 comparison we’ll highlight the differences and explain what’s new. See also: iPad Pro 9.7 in-depth review.iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro comparison: Price
The cheapest 9.7in iPad Pro costs Best new tablets coming in 2024.
The iPad Air 2 is now cheaper, so if you do want a 9.7in iPad but don’t need the Pro’s features, then the 16GB version is only £349 from Apple and the 64GB version costs £429. See also: iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Air 2iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro comparison: Specifications
Here’s a summary of the key features:
9.7-inch iPad Pro
12.9-inch iPad Pro
32, 128, 256GB
32, 128, 256GB
32, 128, 256GB
A9X + M9
A9X + M9
12MP (4K video, Live Photos)
8Mp (1080p video)
5Mp (720p video)
1.2Mp (720p video)
Silver, Gold, Space Grey, Rose Gold
Silver, Gold, Space Grey
Weight (Wi-Fi only)
While the two tablets may seem very similar apart from screen size and resolution, the figures only tell half the story. For a start, early benchmarks have shown that the A9X processor in the new model is underclocked and that it has only half the RAM: 2GB versus 4GB in the 12.9in model.
The 9.7in model has a cleverer screen which Apple calls True Tone. It uses light sensors to adapt not only brightness, but also colour tone to your environment. While the 12.9in model now benefits from Night Shift in iOS 9.3, the new iPad Pro should give you true colours no matter what time of day or night or the kind of lighting you’re working under.
The new display is also brighter and less reflective than the iPad Air 2, but we’ll have to wait and see how it compares in quality until we can see the two iPad Pros side by side, when we’ll also be able to see how their colour gamuts compare.
One feature which the 9.7in display doesn’t have (which you might have anticipated) is 3D Touch. However, it is compatible with the pressure-sensitive Apple Pencil.
The other main difference is that the cameras have been upgraded to the models you get in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus – including the True Tone flash and sapphire crystal lens cover. We had expected the original iPad Pro to get the better cameras, but it seems more sensible on a smaller tablet as not too many people will be disappointed they can’t shoot 4K video on their 12.9in iPad.
Upgraded cameras also come with upgraded features. Here’s what the new Pro has that you won’t find on the larger version:
Photography: Live photos, auto HDR, autofocus with Focus Pixels, 63Mp panoramas.
Video modes: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and 120fps, 720p at 240fps, ‘cinematic’ video stabilisation.
In virtually every other respect, the two tablets have the same internals: the quad-speaker system, dual mics, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2. The one minor difference is in the cellular models where the 9.7in iPad Pro gets LTE-Advanced which supports a few extra bands compared to the 12.9 model that lacks LTE-A. Also, the new model has an embedded Apple SIM.
Bear in mind that, as ever, only the cellular models in both sizes have GPS. Wi-Fi models do not.iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro comparison: Design
Apart from the physically smaller dimensions, the 9.7in iPad Pro shares its design with the larger model. Buttons, ports and speakers are all in the same places. There’s no mute / lock rotation switch on either model.
The only change is that the 9.7in version comes in Rose Gold, which isn’t an option with the 12.9in model.iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro comparison: Which is best?
It’s easy to point out the new features and conclude that – given the lower prices – the smaller, newer iPad Pro is clearly better.
It also offers a bigger canvas for drawing with the Pencil and has a larger keyboard, too. There is a new Smart Keyboard – it costs £129 rather than £139 for the 12.9in version – but has the same layout. That’s no bad thing, and we need to properly test it out to see if – shrunk down to fit on a 9.7in iPad – the keyboard is as usable.
But the flip side of the coin is that the 9.7in iPad Pro is lighter and more portable. And if you don’t need a keyboard, it’s a super-powerful tablet you can take everywhere with you.Specs Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch: Specs
Apple A9X processor with M9 coprocessor
32GB/128/256GB onboard storage
iOS 9 (able to use all iOS 9 tablet features, including Split View)
LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 2048 x 1536 pixels, 9.7 inches (diagonal), 264 ppi pixel density
Touch ID fingerprint sensor
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band with MIMO
12Mp (rear-facing) with True Tone flash
5Mp (front-facing) with Retina flash
437g (WiFi-only model) or 444g (Wi-Fi plus cellular)
Whatever your palate, HUAWEI has a P20 color for you.
There are four or five colors depending on which model you choose, with the regular P20 coming in a champagne gold color that’s not available with the Pro. For the P20 Pro, HUAWEI offers black, a majestic midnight blue, and pink gold. The twilight color offers a new kind of color gradient — it actually shimmers in the light. The pink gold version also has a gradient, but its range is much more muted. Whatever your palate, HUAWEI probably has a P20 color for you.
Beneath the screen is HUAWEI’s fingerprint sensor, which is flat, wide, and allows you to unlock your phone while it’s laying face up on a table. I’m normally a bigger fan of HUAWEI’s rear-mounted fingerprint sensors thanks to their added support for summoning the notification shade, but the P20 Pro’s scanner is still fast and reliable and supports gesture controls for navigation.
The HUAWEI P20 Pro offers a 6.1-inch AMOLED display with a rather awkward 18.7:9 aspect ratio. That extra 0.7 is due to the notch. Let’s get this out of the way: I’ve used the iPhone X for months and after a while, the notch just doesn’t matter. More phones are adopting the notch design, and you’ll have to get used to it eventually. If you really hate it, you can also turn it off on the P20 Pro, rounding the corners and turning off the extra pixels for a more standard-looking experience.
The P20 Pro’s got a great panel, offering the vibrant blacks and deep colors all AMOLED panels do. The biggest issue for me is the resolution. Like with the Mate 10 Pro, HUAWEI opted for a Full HD+ panel. HUAWEI CBG CEO Richard Yu has told us several times the company chooses Full HD+ over Quad HD+ due to battery life concerns, but there’s likely another reason.
Considering how the Mate 10 Pro also had a Full HD+ display, it seems HUAWEI saves a few features for its luxury flagship. On top of the better fingerprint sensor position, the Mate RS has a Quad HD+ AMOLED panel.
We put the HUAWEI P20 Pro through its paces in our testing lab and it’s bright — very bright. Its top brightness of 600 nits under bright lights bests the Galaxy S9 by 26 percent, which achieves just 475 nits. Most surprising, the LCD display on the P20 is actually 23 percent brighter than its Pro counterpart, albeit with a cooler display. The HUAWEI P20 Pro achieves a color temperature of 7,212 Kelvin. The P20 is 9 percent cooler at 7,841 Kelvin. After testing Samsung’s latest flagships, we found HUAWEI’s displays are set to be about 200K warmer than the Galaxy S9s.
Samsung is known for having the best displays, but the AMOLED panel on the P20 Pro is up there as one of the best on a smartphone. It’s a pleasure to use and ticks all the right boxes. The eye comfort mode works really well. Despite only being a Full HD+ display, it’s fantastic for anything you throw at it. As always, there’s a bevy of color-tuning options in the settings if you don’t like the look out of the box.
The P20 Pro is packed full of the hardware we’ve come to expect from a flagship HUAWEI device. It’s powered by HiSilicon’s Kirin 970 chipset and, like the Mate 10 Pro, has a lot of AI features thanks to the built-in NPU. It’s backed by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, alongside the Mali-G72 MP12 which handles most tasks well. The GPU isn’t quite on par with the Adreno 630 in the Snapdragon 845 on the Galaxy S9, but it held its own in our HUAWEI P20 Pro review testing. The regular P20 drops the RAM to 4GB, which doesn’t have too much effect on performance, at least according to the benchmark scores.
The P20 Pro beats the best flagships of 2023, including the Mate 10 Pro and OnePlus 5T, but the Galaxy S9 produces results from another world. A large part of this is likely to be the Snapdragon 845 CPU, as the Galaxy S9 results are on par with our initial testing on Qualcomm’s latest processor. The P20 Pro’s benchmark performance is great right now, but it’ll likely be bested many times in the coming months. A lot of devices are going to launch with the Snapdragon 845, so we’ll have to wait until HUAWEI’s next Mate device to see how good its 2023 performance can get.
These benchmarks show how good the performance of the Snapdragon 845 is. Like our initial benchmark scores, the Snapdragon 845 sets a new standard for AnTuTu performance. The Kirin 970 inside the P20 Pro is significantly better than the same processor inside the Mate 10 Pro (which scored 178466), but as a generation older, the Kirin 970 can’t keep up with the Snapdragon 845.
These two benchmarks show that while there is a gap between the performance scores of the Snapdragon 845 and the Kirin 970, it’s a smaller difference than it has been in previous years. In particular, the Mali G72 GPU inside the Kirin 970 is close to the performance of Qualcomm’s Adreno 630 GPU, and this is reflected in actual usage of both devices.
In day-to-day usage, the P20 Pro never misses a beat. The phone is fast regardless of what you throw at it. 6GB of RAM usually results in about 2.5GB to 3.5GB of free RAM at any given time. I’ve yet to see the phone stutter at all, even with a lot of apps running in the background. HUAWEI claims the AI allows it to remain fast over a longer period compared to other flagships, but we’ll need a longer time with the P20 Pro to confirm if this is true.
They say big numbers help sell phones. If that’s the case, HUAWEI has plenty of these to lean on in the P20 Pro’s camera. There’s the world’s first triple camera, a 40MP main sensor, 3X Optical Zoom, 5X Hybrid Zoom, 4D Predictive Focus, 102,400 maximum ISO, 2μm pixel size, 4-in-1 Hybrid Focus system, 960 frames per second slow-motion recording, and more. The camera also has HUAWEI’s new AI-assisted stabilization (AIS), which lets the P20 Pro take long-exposure shots without a tripod.
The three cameras combine to make an incredible trio that produce great shots in all conditions.
Each camera serves a different purpose. The main 40MP sensor captures rich color, the 20MP secondary monochrome sensor captures additional details, and the third 8MP telephoto lens is used for zoom and additional focal length. They make for an incredible trio which produces great shots in all conditions. Kris goes into more depth on the make-up of the camera in the video review, and Adam has rounded up all the facts on HUAWEI’s triple camera in our walkthrough below.
The 40MP main sensor will be a draw for many users. I remember working retail when the Nokia 1020 was launched. I experienced first-hand how many customers came into the store asking for the phone with the 40MP camera. The P20 Pro’s camera will likely have the same effect for HUAWEI, at least outside the U.S. where it will appear on store shelves, but without the turn-off of Windows phone OS.
By default, the camera shoots images at 10MP, which is where the 2μm pixel size kicks in. The main camera actually has 1μm pixels, but by default, the P20 uses a process called pixel binning to combine the light information from four 1μm pixels into a larger 2μm super pixel.
See the full-res photos
Once you understand which scenes the phone is good at tweaking, the results can be fantastic. The AI can automatically detect food, dogs, and cats (with separate modes for each of these pets), and it can boost colors to provide a more vibrant image. Similarly, the greenery mode really makes grass pop out of an image and the blue sky mode makes even dreary skies look nicer. It’s not the most accurate look, but it’s amazing on social media, which appears to be HUAWEI’s goal.
Personally, I liked it when it automatically switched to portrait and night mode, but Kris found it a nuisance as there are already dedicated modes for these. I also like it when it switches to greenery, food, or dog scenes. The results are usually much better for social media.
The HUAWEI P20 Pro also captures 960 frames per second slow-motion video recording like other recent flagships. It’s a fun feature to use and it’s relatively easy to get the timing right — I struggled a little at first, as it happens almost instantly when you press the capture button — but it’s not as fun as the Galaxy S9 Plus. Samsung’s flagship brings an automatic slow-motion mode, so you don’t need to perfectly time the shutter, which makes taking slow-motion video a lot more fun.
Before the HUAWEI P20 Pro was announced, the rumors had me excited. Since the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1020, I and many others have been waiting for a replacement. Back then I wouldn’t have pegged HUAWEI as the company that would offer it, but the P20 Pro has the camera we’ve all been waiting for.
The HUAWEI P20 Pro is the flagship smartphone camera we’ve all been waiting for… It features all the hardware you could want in a camera and takes stunning photos.
It features all the hardware you could want and gives you the tools to take visually stunning photos. The AI features get in the way a bit, but once you learn how to make it work for you, the results are amazing. The 5X hybrid zoom is a highlight, but the night mode has me wanting to go out and take pictures just to see what it produces.
Read Next: Afternoon with the HUAWEI P20 Pro triple camera
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