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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.

Display

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.

Performance

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.

Hardware

Camera

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.

Nirave

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

Specs

You're reading Huawei P20 Pro Review: The Galaxy S9 Killer

How Huawei Created The Best Phone Camera In The P20 Pro

The Huawei P20 Pro is finally here (and coming to India soon) and it’s the first-ever smartphone to feature a triple camera system on the rear. The Chinese giant has placed much attention on how their camera system, backed by artificial intelligence in image processing and scene recognition, is breaking boundaries for mobile photography enthusiasts.

At least, that’s what the whopping 109 DxOMark score (if you care about scores) and the initial hands-on experiences with the P20 Pro have revealed. So, let’s see what makes the cameras tick and how it compares to the competitors:

Hardware Specs

Starting off with the basics, the Huawei P20 Pro has three cameras on the back. Developed by Huawei’s long-time camera partner Leica, P20 Pro is packing a 40-megapixel primary RGB sensor, a secondary 20-megapixel mono sensor and a third 8-megapixel telephoto sensor to round up the party.

To make it latest smartphone to stand out in this cluttered ecosystem, Huawei has taken a major stride in photography technology. The high-resolution 40MP lens will allow you to capture immensely detailed pictures, with a wider color gamut.

Pairing it with the 20MP monochrome (captures black and white images) sensor, the Huawei P20 Pro will have more data for enhanced depth estimation to produce bokeh effects and help catch more detail with low levels of noise for producing sharper photos.

Coming to the third and final camera, Huawei is using an 8MP telephoto lens with a 3x zoom capability. While most popular phones, such as the iPhone X or any other dual-camera phone give you a 2x zoom factor, Huawei is taking things a step forward with its photo technology. This lens also features OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation).

This allows you to zoom in on your subject and produce outstanding results when you want to capture details from a distance

Camera Samples & Comparison

So now that the specs are out there, let’s see how the tri-cameras fare in real-world performance. And going by the initial hands-on reviews of the camera, the P20 Pro appears to be completely living up to its hype.

As you can see in the daylight photo of the groceries attached below, the cameras on the P20 Pro are working in tandem to produce vibrant and life-like colors. The sharpness or even the exposure isn’t overpowering, and the rich colours make me want to bag these groceries and cook myself a meal right now. Yes, the trio of P20 Pro cameras are that good.

Android Authority‘s Nirave Gondhia, as well as a few other reputed tech journalists, faced a similar hiccup with the portrait (or bokeh) mode on the P20 Pro. Check out Gondhia’s bokeh shot right here:

Talking about low-light or night conditions, P20 Pro tackles the situation like a champ. The trio of cameras all work together to  You can see the clarity in the pyramid’s structure, the noise-free sky and the better exposure on the P20 Pro. Speaking of the same, The Verge‘s Vlad Savov says,

I can say with certainty that the P20 Pro’s night mode is a groundbreaking innovation that produces some of the best night shots ever taken with a phone.

As you can see for yourself, Huawei was right in talking up the camera throughout the launch event. The P20 Pro has us gushing, and we haven’t even used it yet. We’ll be sure to present you with a more detailed camera review, as well as comparison, when the device lands in India — which should be very soon.

Galaxy Note 9 Vs Galaxy S9: Beyond The Screen Size

Galaxy Note 9 vs Galaxy S9: beyond the screen size

Samsung is reportedly planning to launch the Galaxy Note 9 this year a bit earlier than its 2023 predecessor. The primary reason, the reports claim, was to offset the rather disappointing but not terrible sales of the Galaxy S9. But if people felt that Samsung didn’t give consumers enough reasons to upgrade to a Galaxy S9, then the Galaxy Note 9 might give them yet another reason to skip this year’s S series. Because, in a nutshell, the Galaxy Note 9 might be a better Galaxy S9 than the Galaxy S9 itself.

There has traditionally been a few features that separated the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note series but it could all be boiled down to just two: screen size and the S Pen. These days, however, one of those has become pretty moot. And no, it’s not the S Pen.

Thanks to bezel-less screens, screen sizes have become less reliable metrics of actual phone size. And if the Galaxy Note 9 is to be practically the same as last year’s Galaxy Note 8, as most leaks seem to imply, it will have very little difference against the Galaxy S9+ in terms of size.

In fact, there might very well be very little difference even internally. If the launch rumors are correct, Samsung won’t have enough time to iterate over its smartphone specs and design to give the Galaxy Note 9 a huge lead. There might be no new Exynos chip and definitely no new Snapdragon. Samsung is terribly slow to change its RAM configurations, so we’ll still be looking at 6 GB of memory. Battery is also going to be a pain point, since Samsung won’t try to take big risks there given the 2024 fiasco.

The biggest change, at least from the Galaxy Note 8 perspective, will be the cameras. Yes, the Galaxy Note 8 is actually Samsung’s first dual camera flagships, which the Galaxy S9+ followed. What was missing from last year, however, was the variable aperture and, not so insignificantly, the vertical layout with the fingerprint sensor in the middle. And then there’s AR Emojis which, if Samsung was really serious about it, should even work on the Galaxy Note 8.

Presuming in-display fingerprint scanning still won’t make it this year, the only thing that will really differentiate the Galaxy Note 9 from the Galaxy S9+ will be the S Pen, something that, admittedly, not all users will find use for. But if the price difference between a Galaxy S9+ and a Galaxy Note 9 is just as small, there might be fewer reasons to opt for a slightly cheaper one when you can get S Pen functionality that you might just end up enjoying.

Of course, all of these hinge on what we’ve heard so far about the Galaxy Note 9 which, all things considering, might end up on the same boat as the Galaxy S9 and S9+. If you’re coming from last year’s models, this is probably the year to skip. But if you were eying a Galaxy S9+ anyway, might as well wait two months for the Galaxy Note 9 to see if the price is right.

Camera Shootout: Oneplus 8 Pro Vs Galaxy S20 Plus Vs Huawei P40 Pro

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.

Common Galaxy S9 Problems And Their Solutions

The flagship device of 2023 from Samsung may be less than a month old, but it is already being built up to be on the most popular Android devices of the year. Samsung may have fixed the broken elements of the Galaxy S8 with the new smartphone, but the Galaxy S9 (and the Galaxy S9 Plus, for that matter)is not a perfect Android flagship device just yet.

Not less than a week since the phone was made available for sale across the globe, users are reporting issues left and right. While some of these are more hardware-intensive than software, the only sure-shot way to fix the common Galaxy S9 and S9+ errors is to wait for a software update from Samsung or take matters into your own hands. Speaking of which, the root is available for the S9 handsets now.

We’ve sifted through the Samsung community forums to find the most painstaking and annoying issues that Galaxy S9 and S9+ users are facing. Here’s our take on how you can resolve the most common problems with the flagship devices yourself right now.

Galaxy S9 face unlock (Intelligent Scan) issue

Samsung may not have taken on iPhone X’s TrueDepth Camera yet, but the front-facing camera with the combination of the iris scanner can still do wonders. However, users have reported that the combination of facial recognition technology and iris scanner is not functioning with 100% accuracy as one would expect.

Samsung has already got a software update out for the Galaxy S9 and S9+ which is directed towards fixing the face unlock feature of the front camera. However, you can follow these steps to improve accuracy with the Intelligent Scan feature on the Galaxy S9.

Make sure that you aren’t wearing accessories like a hat or your glasses when setting up Intelligent Scan on your Galaxy S9.

In order to get more accurate results, make sure that your eyes are open wide for the iris scanner to register properly, and the lighting conditions are bright.

Galaxy S9 connectivity issues

Connectivity issues are one of the earliest problems to pop up on a brand new device, and the Galaxy S9 is no exception. The issue has been reported by users, but it seems to be more of a device-specific error rather than a widespread issue like the Intelligent Scan feature problem. Either way, there are a bunch of steps you can take to fix most of the common Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity issues that most Android devices face.

Bluetooth issues

If you have successfully paired with a Bluetooth device and are facing playback issues, turn both the devices off. Now turn them back on and delete the Bluetooth profile for the device from your Galaxy S9 by heading over to Settings – Bluetooth. You can then pair again with the Bluetooth accessory to see if the issue is fixed.

Cache files from your older Bluetooth devices can sometimes cause an issue as well. Head over to Settings – Apps and press the three-dot button to select Show system apps. Scroll down to find Bluetooth and use the Clear Cache button to erase all of your pairing histories and start afresh.

If you’re unable to stream audio over Bluetooth, then we’d suggest checking the Bluetooth device manual to make sure which Bluetooth audio codec is supported by the device. Once you’ve figured that out, simply follow these steps:

Unlock the developer options on your Galaxy S9.

Go back to the Settings menu and scroll to the bottom and select Developer options.

Scroll to the Networking section and then tap on Bluetooth audio codec and select the audio codec which is supported by the device.

If you aren’t able to figure out which audio codec is supported by the Bluetooth device, then simply select All codecs. 

Wi-Fi issues

If you are having trouble with a previously connected Wi-Fi network, simply forget it and add the network again. To do so, head over to Settings – Connections – Wi-Fi and push the Forget button on the network that you’re facing issues with.

The issue could also be with your wireless router, so attempt a simple unplug, and then replug the router after 10 seconds for a quick soft reset.

If you have used Samsung Smart Switch to move your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings from the old device to your new Galaxy S9, it can most likely be the culprit behind your connectivity issues. We suggest that you hit the Network Reset button and add all of your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth profiles manually to keep connectivity issues at bay. To do so, simply head over to Settings – General Management – Reset – Reset Network Settings and you’re all done.

Mobile data/LTE issues

Several users have been experiencing issues with LTE connectivity after updating their device with the Android 9 Pie update. The problem does not seem to be fixed with a quick reboot or re-inserting of the SIM card; however, there’s still one thing you could do to help solve the problem.

Some users have reported that resetting the network settings does solve the LTE connectivity issue hence here’s how to reset your Network Settings on the Galaxy S9.

Settings – General Management – Reset – Reset Network Settings – Reset.

Galaxy S9 Samsung Pay issue

Now that the world is going cashless, features like Samsung Pay are the backbone financial service for a lot of mobile users. However, the cashless payment feature seems to be completely out of order on the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ as the app constantly crashes and asks the users to update the app when it is on the latest version.

Unfortunately, all attempts to fix the app itself have failed, but Samsung has acknowledged the issue. A software update is already out to resolve the Samsung Pay app issue on the Galaxy S9, and you can fix it manually too. Simply head over to the Galaxy App Store and you should be able to see an update available for the Samsung Pay app. Users have reported that trying to update Samsung Pay from the app itself causing the app to crash, so you need to go to the Galaxy App Store to do it.

Galaxy S9 Edge Lighting issue

With the release of Galaxy S8, Samsung introduced a new way of making the best out of the curved display with Edge Lighting. The feature has been ported to the Galaxy S9 as well and the people love it, but it does not come without issues either. Several users have reported that Edge Lighting either doesn’t seem to work at all, or only works with specific apps.

From your home screen, head over to Settings – Display – Edge Screen – Edge Lighting.

Enable the feature by setting it to “Always” to make sure that Edge Lighting is displayed for all notifications.

In the Edge Lighting menu, navigate to the Manage notifications tab to see which apps and services is this feature enabled.

You can choose to add all of the apps or specific ones to make sure that Edge Lighting notifications only show up for your favorite apps.

Galaxy S9 missing apps drawer

Following in the footsteps of other Android OEMs, Samsung decided to do away with the apps drawer button on the home screen to give you more real estate for app icons. All you need to do is swipe from the bottom to the top to bring out the apps drawer, but for those who like things old-school, there’s an easy way to go back.

Press and hold anywhere on the home screen to bring up the layout editor page on the screen.

Tap on the gear-shaped icon to access the layout setting and find the Apps Button Open it to view the show apps button option and enable it.

You will now have the old and familiar apps drawer icon on the home screen of your Galaxy S9. Samsung has also included the Home screen only option in the layout settings for you to change the layout of your Galaxy S9 to something similar to that of the iPhone, getting rid of the app drawer and bringing all of your apps to the home screen.

Galaxy S9 fingerprint scanner issue

Samsung hit all the right chords with customers when it decided to move the fingerprint scanner placement to somewhere more naturally reachable on the Galaxy S9. Now that you’d expect people to not be complaining about it, there are some software-related issues that continue to bother users.

The issue with the fingerprint scanner has already been acknowledged by Samsung, and the issue seems to be with the new fingerprint gestures that the Galaxy S9 has introduced. When setting up your fingerprint, Samsung notifies you to swipe your finger rather than tap your finger on the sensor to make the process of fingerprint recognition faster.

Head back to the Settings app and navigate to Lock screen & Security and remove all of the fingerprints that you have registered on your Galaxy S9.

Add your fingerprint again, slowly and carefully this time without using the swiping motion to make sure that your fingerprint is added from all angles.

Additionally, head over to Settings – Advanced features – Finger sensor gestures and make sure to disable it.

Reboot your Galaxy S9 and try to use the fingerprint scanner now to unlock your device. Once Samsung issues an update to fix fingerprint gestures feature, you can enable and start using it again.

Notification badge icon problem

Many Galaxy S9 users are reporting the problem with notification badge on the home screen, where it shows the count of notifications for an app on its icon. On the Oreo OS, Google introduced the Notification dots, where just a dot would appear on the icon, and you can touch and hold the icon to check out the notifications of the app right there on the home screen. Samsung allows you to have one fo the both, as you can choose whether to have a dot in the app’s icon or traditional count. But if you are seeing none, then that is a problem.

To solve this, check out detailed article on how to fix notification badge problem on Samsung Galaxy phones.

New Voicemails notification missing

What’s the point of having an active Voicemail if your Galaxy S9 doesn’t notify you about them? Several reports have emerged that the voicemail app doesn’t seem to notify about the pending voicemails, but here’s how you can fix it.

Head over to the Phone app to access the Dialer and press and hold “1” key or the “Voicemail” icon. Make sure that the Voicemail is set up properly.

To enable notification badge for the voicemails, head over to Settings – Notifications – Advanced and select the Voicemail app from the list. Ensure that “App icon badges” is turned on and underneath the Categories section, select General Notifications and Voicemails and toggle on for both of them and set the Importance to High.

Persistent phantom notifications problem

While some users are annoyed by the Galaxy S9 not notifying them when a new message or voicemail is available, others are going nuts over random notification sounds that seem to go off regardless of what you’re doing on the phone.

Head over to Settings – Notifications and turn off notifications for all of the apps that you don’t want to be notified by.

Third-party apps can sometimes send out ghost notification sounds and still not show up on the display screen, so you can turn on Safe Mode to see if a third-party app is an issue. Turn off the Galaxy S9 and turn it on by holding down the Power and Volume Down buttons until the Samsung logo appears, at which point you can let go of the Power button. If the ghost notifications are no more, then it is most likely a third-party app that is giving you grief.

An Accessibility feature called Notification Reminder could also be causing this issue, so head over to Settings – Accessibility – Notification Reminder and turn it off.

If you can’t pinpoint when the issue started arising, then resetting the app notification preferences is your best bet. Go to Settings – Notifications – Advanced and press the three-dot menu button to select Reset Preferences.

Finally, if none of the solutions work, performing a factory reset is a dependable way of setting your Galaxy S9’s notification issues straight.

Alarm volume resets to low setting

For those of us who have a hard time getting up in the morning, relying on our smartphone to wake us up is a serious use. But for some users, the Galaxy S9 alarm tone seems to reset itself to medium or low even when the ringer is set all the up to high.

Make sure that the Alarm sound is set to high from the Clock app itself. After adding an alarm, tap on Alarm sound and after choosing your desired tone, make sure that you drag the slider to the maximum.

Cache files can sometimes cause an issue with the Clock app as well. Head over to Settings – Apps and press the three-dot button to select Show system apps. Scroll down to find Clock and use the Clear Cache and Clear Data button to start afresh.

If you can’t seem to clear the Clock app cache and data, wipe cache partition of the entire device.

Calls rejected automatically

Most Android devices these days come with a built-in “call reject” feature that allows you to send out a text message with a single swipe when you aren’t able to answer a call. On the Galaxy S9 however, some users have experienced that the call is automatically rejected when pulled out of the pocket, and the callers get a quick reply message saying “Sorry Can’t talk right now. Call back later”. If you have a paid messaging plan, this could end up costing you money.

The issue seems to be related to Edge Lighting, and unfortunately, the only solution to it right now is turning off the Edge Lighting feature partially. you can do this by heading over to Settings – Edge Screen – Edge Lighting and enable it for only “When screen is on“.

Galaxy S9 Camera issue

The dual-aperture camera setup on the Galaxy S9 is one of the unique features it has over the other flagships, and it certainly has caught the eye of many. However, some users have been experiencing issues while using the Camera app to focus on certain objects. Users complain that the view becomes blurry and the auto-focus does not kick in to rectify the problem.

Turn the device around and try cleaning the lens cover of the rear camera with a dry and clean cloth.

Cache files can sometimes cause an issue with the Camera app as well. Head over to Settings – Apps and press the three-dot button to select Show system apps. Scroll down to find Camera and use the Clear Cache button to start afresh.

Since multiple users have faced the Camera focus problem, it could very likely be hardware related. We recommend you reach out to Samsung or the retailer and get the Galaxy S9 replaced as it is still within the warranty period.

Additionally, multiple reports have surfaced indicating that the Galaxy S9 rear camera lens is cracking spontaneously. Samsung is yet to address the issue officially and while it would be hard to convince the service reps that it wasn’t caused as a result of physical force, if you do face the issue, report it to Samsung customer service right away.

Galaxy S9 Music playback issues

While music playback has been an issue widely related to the Android 8.0 Oreo version, it seems to be even more persistent among Galaxy S9 users as a whole. The forums are packed with users facing issues when trying to listen to music through third-party apps such as Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora and many others. Music playback seems to stop by itself after playing for around 20-30 minutes, even if the app is playing in the background.

Some reports suggest that the issue is related to Bluetooth headphones playback. Samsung is aware of the issue and is expected to roll out a fix, most likely with the Android 8.1 Oreo update.

Third-party apps are competing to use similar resources on a single device, which could cause the playback to cut off. Try removing similar third-party apps and see if it fixes the issue.

If you cannot root out the app that might be causing the issue, try clearing the cache of all apps at once by using the Wipe cache partition option from the recovery menu.

Galaxy S9 Ads problem

How to stop random Pop-up Ads on your Galaxy S9 and other Samsung devices

Galaxy S9 Chromecast issues

One of the trending issues with the Galaxy S9 seems to be its inability to connect to certain devices. In the case of Google Chromecast, users are unable to find their Chromecast device with the Google Home app on the Galaxy S9.

It seems that an OTA update from Samsung has fixed the issues for the majority of users. Make sure you are updated to the latest software version and then checking again.

The issue could be caused due to the network conflict, which can be easily corrected by resetting the network settings. Head over to Settings – General Management – Reset – Reset Network Settings and you’re all done.

Galaxy S9 charging issue

Some Galaxy S9 users are facing a weird issue while trying to charge their device since the USB Type-C cable seems to only charge the device with one side while when plugged in the other way around the device does not charge.

Since the included Type-C charger should be able to charge the device when plugged in either way, we’d suggest trying out the following to fix the issue:

Possible solution:

Make sure the charging port of the device is clean. To do this try using a compressed air can to blow out any debris from the device’s charging port.

Be sure to use the power brick and cable that came with the device or use a certified USB Type-C cable when charging the device.

In case you still aren’t able to fix the issue, then we’d suggest visiting the nearest Samsung service center to have the issue looked at since the issue could be due to hardware problems or a damaged USB Type-C port.

Several users have been reporting that after installing the Android Pie Beta update on their Galaxy S9, they aren’t able to use Google Pay to make payments.

Possible solutions:

Given that the users have installed the Beta update, currently, the device isn’t Google Play certified due to the software being in Beta testing.

Simply install the Stable version of the Pie update which is now available on the Galaxy S9.

After updating the device to the stable build of Android Pie, try using Google Pay once again.

Galaxy S9 Plus camera focusing problem

Fortunately, this isn’t a common issue and has only been reported by one Galaxy S9 Plus user. The user claims that the camera isn’t focusing on objects further than 2 inches away.

This seems to be rather strange and could indeed be a hardware issue; however, before you send in your device for any repairs, try these few steps below:

Possible solutions:

Reboot the device: Press and hold the Power button and then tap on Restart. 

Perform a factory reset: Before proceeding to do so, make sure to create a backup of your device to avoid any data loss.

If you followed the above steps with no success, then the problem most likely is hardware related and we’d suggest visiting the nearest Samsung service center to have the issue sorted.

Some users are reporting that the option to hide the navigation bar is missing after updating their device to One UI. This, unfortunately, isn’t a bug or glitch, rather the feature has been completely removed with One UI.

While there’s no official reason from Samsung as to why the feature has been removed, our best guess is because the company now wants more users to use the Full screen gestures to navigate and enjoy a full screen experience.

The only way to get rid of the navigation bar is to toggle it off completely and use the Full screen gestures feature with One UI.

Go to Settings.

Tap on Display and then select Navigation bar.

Tap on Full screen gestures.

Before Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 which got rid of the home key, previous Samsung devices had a double tap home key to launch the camera feature which was pretty useful; however, with the Galaxy S8 Samsung added the same feature to the power button and users could double tap the power button to launch the camera.

Unfortunately, the feature has been completely removed with the new One UI update which is pretty disappointing since there’s no reason to justify the removal of this useful feature.

Recents menu glitch

Possible solutions:

As of now, the only possible solution might be to perform a factory rest on your device. To do this, simply check out our troubleshooting guide at the bottom of this post.

You might also want to make sure you’re running the latest update for your device.

In case the issue still isn’t fixed for you, then we’d suggest waiting for a new OTA update to be released which might help solve the problem.

High amount of noise in images taken with Live focus

Some users are reporting that they are seeing way too much noise in images taken with the Live focus mode.

Possible solutions:

You might also want to double check to see if the camera lens is clean since a dirty camera lens might introduce a few distortions in the image.

Notifications not expanding on lockscreen

The issue isn’t actually an issue; however, several users are confused as to why their notifications aren’t expanding on the lockscreen.

Possible solution:

To view the entire contents of a notification, you must toggle off the Hide content option in the Lockscreen settings.

Now you would be able to see and expand the notification on the lockscreen; however, others would be able to view the notifications on your device as well without unlocking the phone.

Hotspot icon not showing in status bar

Some users aren’t able to see the Hotspot icon on the status bar on their Galaxy S9. This might be the result of the Network status notification being on silent and minimized in the Notifications setting.

This may sound a bit tricky; however, simply follow the steps below to solve the problem.

Possible solution:

With the hotspot turned on, pull down the notification panel and simply press and hold on the Hotspot active notification.

Tap on Details and then select Network status.

Now, tap on Notification style and make sure it is on Silent rather than on Silent and minimized. 

If you want a sound to play each time you enable the Hotspot, then you could also select Sound from the notification style.

Auto calling person after texting

Some users are reporting that after texting a person when the place the device in their pocket the said person is automatically called without any user input.

While this might seem a bit weird, it actually might be caused by the Direct call feature. When enabled, the Direct call feature lets users initiate a call to whichever contact is on the screen by simply holding the phone up the ear.

Possible solution:

Turn off the Direct call feature:

Once the feature has been disabled, you should no longer face the issue on your Galaxy S9.

Troubleshooting guide

Your brand spanking new Galaxy S9 will hardly give you system issues that most Android devices do after a year of use. However, if you experience random reboots, app crashes, and screen freezing issues every now and then, using the basic reset methods is always a good way to bypass most errors.

Soft Reset

Press and hold the Power and Volume Down button simultaneously for 10 seconds until the Galaxy S9 powers off. This is ideal for situations when your device screen becomes unresponsive.

Hard Reset

Turn off the Galaxy S9, and then press and hold the Volume Up and Power button simultaneously.

Release the Power button when the Samsung logo appears, but continue to hold the Volume Up

On the Android recovery screen, use the Volume Down button to navigate down to wipe data/factory reset and press the Power button to select it.

Use the Volume Down button to select Yes — delete all user data, and then press the Power button to confirm.

Wait for the reset to finish and press the Power button when prompted with the message to Reboot system now.

Wipe cache partition

Turn off the Galaxy S9, and then press and hold the Volume Up, Bixby and Power button simultaneously.

Release the Power button when the Samsung logo appears, but continue to hold the Volume Up and Bixby buttons.

On the Android recovery screen, use the Volume Down button to navigate down to wipe cache partition and press the Power button to select it.

Use the Volume Down button to select Yes — delete all user data, and then press the Power button to confirm.

Wait for the reset to finish and press the Power button when prompted with the message to Reboot system now.

Galaxy S6 Edge Vs Huawei P8

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.

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