Software/UI and System Performance

Software and User Interface

Where Huawei P20 Pro brings most of the hardware – not the camera indeed, from Mate 10, The software comes with Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box and EMUI 8.1 skin on top.

Huawei shifted its UI version from 5 to 8 with the launch of Mate 10, probably to align with the cycle of Android versions. P20 Pro is not much different with that software but it has some new things to tell.

The top most is the physical notch that, if you feel wonderful with it, you can have it all the way through your usage. Otherwise, if you feel awkward or if you want to keep it different from Apple’s, this notch on P20 Pro can be disguised with the black status bar. You can also customize it to stay on with some apps and off with others. When you go for the black status bar option, Huawei keeps the rounded corners above the remaining working area of the display that’s smart too.

Huawei P20 Pro Review with Box

Software based Notch Handler

It’s good that this software based top bezel aligns with the notch’s bottom edge and more importantly it matches the physical chin bezel below the screen. Even better is that the software bezel on top keeps all the information that would show up alongside the notch as statuses and other notification icons.

Lock, Unlock and Home Screen

First of all, the lock screen comes first after you have setup your phone, with the same Magazine style by default as always. You can change the categories to load wallpapers from, in this specific style. Just in case if you didn’t know, this style loads a new wallpaper every time you press power button to wake up the phone. Some quick options are also present on the lock screen.

The home screen can be configured as always to have different layout of icons. Folders and context menu is there that you can initiate by tap and holding an icon – you can still drag the icon that way by ignoring the menu and continue with dragging.

App Drawer

Default home screen style is just old without the app drawer but you can turn it on by going through Settings > Display > Home screen style > Drawer. Huawei must move this option to the home screen customize settings, it will be more quick and easy that way.

Variety of Navigation Styles

In addition to common on-screen navigation buttons, and the fingerprint scanner swipe gestures for navigation, Mate 10 provides another navigation control – Navigation Dock. When enabled, a dock is appeared floating on the screen which you can simply tap, tap & hold, hold & stretch and drag to respectively navigate to back, home, recent tasks view or move the dock itself.


In addition to various security and privacy features like App Lock, user profiles, Huawei has added a new PrivateSpace which I guess is more useful than user profiles. Unlike user profiles you don’t need to choose the user first to switch to. Instead, you can just turn it on with your main profile and set a different PIN code to unlock into this space right from your own main profile’s lock screen. In fact you can set a different finger to go into this space without any other input on the lock screen. It’s a perfect option to apply on a case when you need to give out your phone temporarily to anyone for a while, you can put your finger (that you have set for PrivateSpace) on the scanner and it will be unlocked into that space. You can even share that PIN code with them as it’s totally a separate space and won’t show anything from your main profile.

Not purposely, but this PrivateSpace can be used for twin apps. Whereas the built-in App Twin feature only supports a few aps, you can use literally any app as a twin of it in PrivateSpace.

Dark Interface Colors

Another thing that was quite usable for me, the “Darken interface colors” to use all black on the background with white text. I think this option should have been in the display instead of battery section. Huawei has not mentioned as what black it is – a black color or the turned-off pixels, as we are dealing with an AMOLED display here. If latter is the case, then sure it would conserve battery at much higher capacity. Well, if that is the case, this option is rightly there in battery section.

Huawei p20 Pro Dark Colors Interface

The option itself says about saving power, but it also suggests to adjust colors to darker hue to do that.

The phone manager is still there and it’s an important part of Huawei smartphones, I appreciate that as most of the things it would handle from management of memory to the privacy features.

Huawei P20 Pro Phone Manager

Phone manager app include everything from permissions, mobile data control, memory cleaner and management, Avast virus scanner is built-in, app locker and then a shortcut to battery options.

System Performance

Huawei P20 Pro is packed with its latest Kirin 970 system on chip with primary four cores of Cortex-A73 clocked at 2.4GHz and other four cores of Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.8GHz. It’s the same configuration as came first with the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro late last year. With 12-core GPU Mali-G72 MP12, the P20 Pro is packed by 6GB of RAM to run the system smoothly.

Well, the system indeed runs as smooth as supposed with the hardware it has packed in. We never felt a minor jitter or anything like that while using the P20 Pro – whether it’s long scrolling like Facebook, or playing games like PUBG Mobile. Some software bugs were noticed though such as the Google feed didn’t appear on left-most home screen but has nothing to with hardware, means some software based issues get resolved over time via OTA. In fact some further optimization is also delivered via software updates.

With all that happiness that you have a nice flagship phone running smoothly in every task for you, P20 Pro loses at numbers when benchmarked and compared with other flagship phones. Here are a few of top test titles.

AnTuTu v7 Benchmark for Huawei P20 Pro

You can clearly see that P20 Pro with Kirin 970 is just in line with the Snapdragon 835 powered devices. The Galaxy S9+ with the Exynos 9810 (equivalent Snapdragon 845) is way ahead.

Huawei P20 Pro AnTuTu v7 Benchmark Scores

Geekbench Benchmark for Huawei P20 Pro

The Geekbench test also noted the P20 Pro’s performance around Pixel 2XL’s SP 835 while the S9+ is little less than the double of the P20 Pro’s score. It was the single-core test, while the multi-core test is not that great as well. P20 Pro could only beat the devices from last year.

Huawei P20 Pro - Geekbench single-core scores

This year’s S9+ is way ahead of P20 Pro while we don’t have Sony’s to test but only Xperia XZ2 with SP854 could stand beside Apple’s iPhone X’s scores by now.

Huawei P20 Pro - Geekbench multi-core scores

GFX Manhattan Benchmark for Huawei P20 Pro

On the graphics side, P20 Pro might show some strength in on-screen Manhattan test by GFX OpenGL and led by a 10-point margin in frame-rate compared to S9+. That’s due to the higher resolution of S9+ that it has to render more pixels than P20 Pro.

Huawei P20 Pro - GFX Manhattan onscreen

You can see here that P20 Pro again didn’t perform up to what S9+ could. In fact S9+ was also ahead of Apple’s iPhone X.

Huawei P20 Pro - GFX Manhattan offscreen


Even though P20 Pro is a good performer but when comparing, numbers do the trick to make one fall down or go up. I think it’s Huawei’s release plans of new chipsets which usually occur later the year with a new Mate-series smartphone which in turn stand up with the competition. But using that same chipset with P-series smartphone next year – as Huawei did in recent past, is the main reason that keeps its most popular smartphone series below the competition due to them having latest tech.

Huawei needs to replan its chipset lifecycle and try to catch up with Qualcomm – the pioneer in chip making. Samsung has done that, Huawei should too if they don’t want to stay behind in benchmark testing.

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