Huawei’s new flagship P20 range launches on 6th April 2018. Huawei were kind enough to provide us a pre-launch model of the P20 and we took it for a quick test drive.
 
Huawei P20 out of box


The box of the new P20 tells you straightaway what the key feature of this new handset is: the Leica Dual Camera. But let’s check out some other features of this handset first.

The front of the P20 has a large 5.8-inch Fullview screen, fingerprint sensor, selfie camera and earpiece. On the back you’ll find that dual Leica camera and its flash. A single USB-C port at the bottom of the phone handles charging and headphones.
 
P20 handset bottom
P20 rear
P20 dual camera P20 selfie camera

Despite the large screen, the P20 feels very comfortable to hold thanks to the slim and curved design. The back of the phone is also grippier than you might expect considering how nice and shiny it is. Power and volume controls on the right side are easily reached.
 
P20 in hand

Switching on the phone is when you’ll probably first notice that the P20 has a ‘notch’ in the display to fit its selfie camera and speaker. This lets the screen fill as much of the front surface as possible while still leaving space for the fingerprint sensor. The screen itself is a bright, sharp and colourful LCD screen with excellent touch response.
 
P20 screen


Setup is quick and easy, taking you through things like networks, and face/fingerprint ID registration in a few swipes and taps.

Powered by Huawei’s own Kirin 970 octa-core processor, the P20 packs 4GB of RAM. Performance is as snappy as you’d expect. Everything feels slick and responsive, with apps and folders opening in a flash.

Huawei provide a custom version of Android that’ll feel familiar to both iOS users and those who’ve used other brands of Android. There’s plenty of customisation available. You can enable the standard Android app drawer if preferred and hide the notch at the top of the screen. You can also set up the fingerprint sensor to act as a Home button or recognise certain gestures.

Swipe down from the top of the home screen and you’ll find a vast array of options to explore, from Screen Recording to an Eye Comfort mode. It really feels like Huawei have thought of pretty much everything.
 
P20 setting panel


Nowhere is that more evident than in the P20’s cameras. Developed in partnership with Leica, the main camera features their Summilux lenses on a twin 12MP/20MP colour/monochrome system. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, these work together to take perfectly balanced and focused photos in a wide variety of situations and environments.

The AI is capable of automatically recognising certain types of subjects. The screenshot below shows the phone recognising the plant as “Greenery”. The camera then automatically adjusts to take the best possible photo.
 
P20 AI camera


Other subjects the phone can recognise include ‘Food,’ ‘Flowers,’ ‘Stage’, ‘Close-up,’ ‘Dog’ and ‘Cat’. Faces are also recognised, automatically setting the P20’s camera into a blurred-background portrait mode. The 24MP selfie camera offers similar portrait effects as well, which pretty much covers everything you’d ever want to Instagram.

Nobody was willing to model for this review, so we enlisted the help of Oscar to show off some of these features. Here he is in a standard photo (click to view full size in a new tab/window):
 
P20 Oscar Regular Shot


Next, Oscar gave us this lovely portrait with blurred background (click to view full size in a new tab/window):
 
P20 Oscar Portrait


And finally, he was ready for his (extreme) close-up. Getting this close automatically triggered the P20’s Close Up mode (click to view full size in a new tab/window):
 
P20 Oscar Closeup


The P20’s camera AI automatically recognised this fruit bowl as ‘Food’ and adjusted itself accordingly (click to view full size in a new tab or window):
 
P20 Fruit Bowl Photo


This screenshot shows the camera AI in action, correctly identifying that the subject of the photo was a dog:
 
P20 camera recognises dog


The recent Irish weather hasn’t really been lending itself to nice photos, but here’s a shot of Santry from the balcony of HQ nonetheless (click to view full size):
 
P20 photo of Santry


Now let’s crop in on that little dot in the middle of the sky:
 
P20 close up of bird


The P20 can also handle panoramas with ease (click to view full size):
 
P20 panorama


Lastly, we tried out a night shot. This was lit by cloud-covered moonlight and the lights of neighbouring houses. The P20’s sensors soaked up an incredible amount of light and colour, some of which wasn’t even visible to the naked eye (click to view full size):
 
P20 Night Shot


The Huawei P20 is available from April 6th 2018. Prices start from FREE on Bill Pay plans and you can save up to €100 off the price of the phone if you switch to Vodafone from another network. Prepay prices start at €559.99.

The P20 Lite is also available from April 6th 2018. Prices start from FREE on Bill Pay plans and you can save up to €100 off the price of the phone if you switch to Vodafone from another network. Prepay prices start at €299.99.