Huawei’s entry into the U.S. market with the Mate 10 Pro earlier this year would have made a bigger splash than it did, if not for potential partners AT&T and Verizon reportedly backing away from offering the phone due to government pressure.
Still, Huawei got its name out there in North America, and has been on a tear as of late, producing a string of captivating handsets while pioneering a handful of breakthroughs in mobile camera technology. The Mate 10 Pro was the first smartphone with AI scene recognition, while the triple-lens P20 Pro delivered a long-exposure Night Mode that beat out the iPhone X and Pixel 2 XL when we tested it earlier this year.
That makes the upcoming Mate 20 one of our most highly-anticipated phones of the coming months. With Huawei's launch event slated for this week, we have a pretty good idea about what to expect from the Mate 20, flagship Mate 20 Pro and midrange Mate 20 Lite. Here's a closer look at all the rumors building up to this week's Mate 20 debut.
Latest Updates (Oct. 15)
- A leaked image of the Mate 20 Pro shows off a new color — a twilight shade with a gradient finish — and three camera lenses on the back of the phone. Triple rear cameras have been a widely anticipated feature for Huawei's high-end Mate, especially after the P20 Pro shipped with them earlier this year.
- The Mate 20 Pro is expected to have a 4,200 mAh battery while also supporting a fast-charge feature that gets the phone's battery to 70 percent after 30 minutes.
When will the Mate 20 launch?
We've known for a month-and-a-half when Huawei's new phones were coming. At the IFA 2018 conference in Berlin — the same stage where Huawei unveiled its next-generation Kirin 980 processor — the company announced the Mate 20 will be unveiled in London on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The event starts at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT, and Huawei is offering a live stream.
It's unclear when the phones will be available, though expect Huawei to give us a pretty good idea on Oct. 16. U.S. customers may be in for a wait, though: Huawei eventually sold the Mate 10 Pro in the U.S., releasing the phone in early 2018 after launching it elsewhere last year. For reference, the Mate 10 Pro cost $799 upon its release.
What will the Mate 20 look like?
Most of the ealry leaks and rumors surrounding the Mate 20 came from XDA Developers, which was able to view photos of the rumored device. While the website hasn’t shared these photos, it has created renders based on them, and that’s what you see below. XDA cautions that the illustrations are not based on schematics, so the proportions of some elements or the overall size of the device might be incorrect.
From the front, it appears we’re looking at a handset that draws many stylistic similarities to the Essential Phone, based on its teardrop-shaped notch that houses just the camera and nothing else. The earpiece is constrained to a very thin grille above the lens, that blends into what little bezel there is.
At the bottom, the device looks to sport a chin that’s thicker than the other three sides. That’s not unlike other Android phones we’ve seen this year, though it would be exciting to see Huawei achieve a more consistent look, as Apple has with the iPhone X.
Around the back, things get a little more interesting. Huawei has apparently bundled the triple-camera system with the flash and boxed the entire array in a square. It’s a neat look and unlike anything on the market now. XDA says there will be a fingerprint sensor below those lenses, but neglected to show it because the site is unsure of its design. Additionally, the bottom edge will house a 3.5-mm headphone jack. Earlier Huawei phones have retained the jack, so it’s good to see the company continue that trend here.
A post at PhoneArena confirms many of the details from earlier leaks, based on what look to be screens for the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. The Mate 20 has a flat screen with thin bezels and a small, waterdrop-shaped notch. The notch is larger on the Mate 20 Pro, reportedly because that phone will offer face scanning similar to the iPhone X's Face ID feature.
The Mate 20 Pro does have a bigger notch, leaked images indicate, embracing the iPhone XS Max aesthetic. This will enable facial identification, which is why the Pro lacks a fingerprint sensor on the back. The Mate 20 Pro will share the Mate 20's triple-lens camera array in an unusual boxed arrangement.
The latest leak, which comes from the usually dependable Evan Blass, confirms a lot of what we've seen so far, while giving us a glimpse of a new twilight color with a gradient finish. It also hints at an embedded fingerprint sensor on the phone's display, which would be quite an accomplishment. The Vivo Nex S has such a feature, and the upcoming OnePlus 6T will add it, so Huawei would find itself in rare company.
How powerful will the Mate 20 be?
We know one thing for certain about the Mate 20's specs. It's going to be powered by a new Kirin 980 chipset. This will be a 7 nanometer processor, which Huawei says means better performance and greater efficiency over 10 nanometer chipsets, like the Snapdragon 845. The 980 also doubles up on the neural processor introduced with the Kirin 970 last year, and Huawei's using a new image signal processor that should improve photos shot in low light.
We're eager to see whether the Kirin 980 matches the bold numbers Huawei touted during the chip's debut at IFA in August. A few years back, Huawei’s Kirin 960 actually topped Apple’s best efforts at the time. The 960 outpaced the A9 processor employed by the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. While we don’t expect to see a similar situation shake out this time around — Apple’s A11 Bionic still far and away smokes the Snapdragon 845 and Kirin 970 — we’re curious as to how the 980 will measure up to the mobile processors in other flagship phones. For what its worth, Huawei does claim the Kirin 980 will deliver better graphics performance than the 845, and is faster at recognizing images than the A11 Bionic.
A prototype Mate 20 Pro reportedly made its way to Geekbench on Oct. 1 and was discovered by Dutch site Telefoonabonnement, touting a multi-core score of 10,318. If true, that number smokes the OnePlus 6, at 9,098, but falls short of the iPhone XS Max's 11,515. It's still an impressive showing nevertheless, indicating the Kirin 980 outpaces the Snapdragon 845 — though you shouldn't take it at face value for the time being.
First off, we can't verify the legitimacy of that result. Like all leaks, it could have been faked. Furthermore, even if it wasn't, Huawei has cheated on benchmarks in the past, as our colleagues at Anandtech explain. Previously, some of the company's phones were programmed to run at a higher clock speed and employ less thermal throttling while specific testing apps were running. That very well could have been the case here.
What are the Mate 20's other specs and features?
The Mate 20 Pro has been tipped by Mobielkopen to feature a higher resolution screen than any of Huawei's previous phones, moving up to QHD+ from FHD+. This translates to a resolution of 3120x1440, up from 2160x1080 — putting the Mate 20 Pro in the same league as Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Note 9 devices in terms of pixel density. Most handsets, especially those with OLED displays, have continued to use FHD+ panels, so this is another manner in which Huawei may be able to differentiate its upcoming flagship. Meanwhile, the standard Mate 20 is expected to sport a lower resolution LCD panel.
Other new features have been teased, based on the appearance of some promotional materials on SlashLeaks in late September. According to these documents, both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro will support 3D facial recognition and feature in-display fingerprint sensors and stereo speakers. Other specs for the two models include:
- Mate 20: 6.53-inch IPS LCD Full HD+ display; Kirin 980 processor; 4GB of RAM, 24 megapixel front camera; a 4,000,mAh battery; IP53 dust- and water-resistance rating;a 3.5mm headphone jack
- Mate 20 Pro: OLED QHD display; Kirin 980 processor; 6GB of RAM; a 4,200 mAh battery; IP 67 dust- and water-resistance rating; no headphone jack.
A subsequent leak of promotional slides discovered by Israeli tech blog Girafa found even more features slated for the Mate 20. The new phone will support an object-identification feature called HiVision that sounds like Huawei's take on Google Lens. Like Samsung's Note 9, you'll be able to plug your Mate 20 Pro into an external monitor, turning your phone into a portable PC. The Mate 20 Pro adds a new storage option, Nano SD, alongside microSD. In the leaked promotional materials, Huawei also claims a face unlocking feature that's faster than Face ID on the iPhone.
How many versions will Huawei release?
Huawei has already announced a less expensive version of the Mate 20, called the Mate 20 Lite. This is a less powerful, less expensive version of the phone we expect to see in October, with a more conventional design as well. The notch is wider and more evocative of the iPhone X’s, while the device sports dual cameras on both the front and back, rather than the triple-lens setup we expect from the pricier Mate 20 offerings.
The Mate 20 Lite carries a 6.3-inch screen, but LCD, not AMOLED. Instead of the Mate 20’s Kirin 980, Huawei has implemented the lower-end Kirin 710, along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. The handset will cost £380 when it comes out in October, though Huawei says it will not bring this particular model to the U.S.
As for the Mate 20 Pro, that’s the variant we currently know the least about. However, a photo sourced from Weibo via PhoneArena shows a unit out in the wild, situated on a desk connected to something outside the frame. There appears to be a case concealing most of the phone, though the square camera housing indicates the Pro variant may just end up resembling a larger version of the Mate 20, similar to how the P20 Pro was merely a bigger P20 with an extra camera lens on the back.
The Mate 20 may have popped up again during the IFA trade show at the end of August. Spanish blog Tekenófilo posted a photo of someone carrying around what could be Huawei's future phone. The device has the triple lens setup slated for this fall's Mate 20.