The Huawei P20 Pro is one of the hottest phones in the market right now. The entire internet is raving about it, the media is raving about it and end users can’t wait to get their hands on the P20 Pro. I would say that it’s one of their most successful devices yet.
However, we have one burning question. Is it worthy enough to dethrone one of the best smartphones today? Yes, we’re talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and this article will dive a little deeper as to why you should or shouldn’t consider the P20 PRO, from the perspective of a Samsung Note 8 user.
To start off, here’s a quick run down of the specifications:
|Huawei P20 Pro
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8
|155.00 x 73.90 x 7.80
|162.50 x 74.80 x 8.60
|Battery capacity (mAh)
|Black, Midnight Blue, Pink Gold, Twilight
|Midnight Black, Orchid Gray
|Screen size (inches)
|Samsung Exynos 9 Octa 8895
|Expandable storage type
|Expandable storage up to (GB)
|40-megapixel + 20 + 8
|12-megapixel + 12
|Android 8.1 Oreo
|Samsung Experience 8.5
|Yes, v 4.20
|Yes, v 5.00
|Number of SIMs
|Wi-Fi standards supported
As you can see, on paper – the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 seems to edge the P20 Pro in just about all aspects, save for the camera field and a bigger battery. The Samsung Note 8 “ONLY” carries dual 12mp cameras versus the Huawei P20 Pro’s Trio of 40+20+8MP combination – A first in the industry. The Samsung does, however, have a higher resolution screen, a better SUPER AMOLED display, expandable storage, bluetooth 5.0, an arguably faster processor and stronger GPU, and a more mature User Interface.
Is the Triple Camera and Huge 4000Mah battery enough to call the Huawei P20 Pro the best smartphone in the market now, though? Let’s find out.
Design and Display
The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is taller and wider at 162.50×74.80mm versus the P20 Pro’s 155×73.90mm dimension. This is attributed by the larger 6.3inch screen on the Note8, whereas the P20 Pro only has a 6.1inch screen. The Note 8 does have large chins though and while the front is curved, it’s still wider than the P20 Pro. This makes the P20 Pro a little easier to handle with one hand than the also taller Galaxy Note 8. Not to forget, The P20 Pro is a full 15g lighter than the Note8.
Both devices have a wide aspect ratio of 18:9 or 18.5:9 but the Galaxy Note8 scores big points for having a higher resolution of 1440×2960 versus the Pixels Wide FHD 1080×2240. This makes the Note8’s pictures look crisp and more fine in detail. Not to say the P20 Pro’s display is bad but we wish that Huawei equipped their “best” offering with the best screen in the market.
Winner: We’d give this one to the Note 8. They’ve proven that you don’t need a notch to offer a huge display and a great one at that. While the P20 Pro is handier in one hand, the Galaxy Note 8 is not far off.
Ports, Connectivity & Function
In terms of ports, connectivity and functions – the Note8 edges past the P20 Pro. Huawei ditches the headphone jack and if you want to listen to music, you’ll either have to pair to a bluetooth headset or use the supplied type-c to 3.5mm jack. You can’t charge and listen to music at the same time on that port though, unless you buy a splitter.
Furthermore, the Note 8 is expandable by MicroSD (though it uses the 2nd sim slot) whereas the 2 slots of the P20 Pro is only for Nano Sims. It’s a tradeoff for the Note 8 but, hey, atleast the option is there.
Moving on, the bluetooth of the Note 8 is the more recent version 5.0 and it carries more sensors than the P20 Pro. 9 vs 4 by our count. (Iris scanner, Fingerprint Scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2)
The P20 does have a trick up it’s sleeve though by carrying an infrared sensor which the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 does not have.
The Huawei, however, takes points for featuring a STEREO SPEAKER.
Winner: Note 8. The note 8 just seems to offer more convience with it’s headphone jack. bluetooth 5.0 (You can use this to pair to 2 devices at one time), a plethora of sensors and most of all – a MicroSD slot. This makes the P20 Pro a very limiting phone in terms of expandability and port usability.
Well, to start it off – let’s admit that one of the reasons you came and read this blog is because you already have an idea what everyone is talking about the P20 Pro. It has 3 cameras and they’re just amazing.
We already have our biases as we type this blog and upload the photos we took but we know you want to hear us and convince you about it’s value. Is it really that much better? And is it worth all the hype?
To start with, both Cameras have Optical Image Stabilization and we love the implentation of the OIS on day shots and night shots on the P20 Pro but it’s badly implemented in video recordings higher than 1080p30fp. The OIS on the Note8’s video is far superior. The Huawei P20 PRO does have SloMo function though.
To see how they perform in real life, You can judge for yourself. Here are some camera comparisons we took of the same scenarios. [Hover over the image to see which phone took the photo]
In this first image, you can see that there are punchier colors in the Galaxy Note 8 while there are more natural colors in the P20 Pro. The Samsung cameras have always been known to oversaturate colors and some love it and some don’t.
In this next photo, the P20 Pro’s AI mode kicked in, identified the leaves and went into greenery mode and adjusted for the plant’s colors automatically. This made the picture sharper and did more justice to the otherwise boring plant. The Note 8’s shot pushed the green a little sharper but still falls much duller than the P20 Pro. It didn’t help that both shots were taken with only minimal lighting environment.
Here we see where the P20 PRO really shines much further ahead. The P20 PRO was able to light up an otherwise dark environment and provide good detail using Night mode while the Note 8 struggled to find light and took a much darker photo overall. You can see some details in the smaller alleys in the P20 Pro shot but they are quite blurred on the Note 8 shot as it was not able to find enough light to capture more detail.
Samsung only provides up to 2X Zoom via it’s secondary camera. Details are lost when zooming in especially since the environment wasn’t well lit.
Huawei has up to 5X Zoom and preserves more details than the Note 8, owing to the better aperture and the bigger pixel camera which allows for more details to be stored. Details are mostly lost on the 5X zoom though especially given the low light condition.
(We’ll try to do a Zoom comparison in bright day light as well to give you more ideas)
As you can see, theres more detail in the shots of the P20 Pro, and it outperforms the Note 8 in low light by a mile. We do prefer the front facing camera of the Note 8 because it gives a more natural feel compared to the soft touch of the P20 Pro. Not to mention, the front camera of the Note8 has autofocus while the P20 Pro’s front snapper does not. The P20 Pro’s front cam does use 24MP though versus the Note 8’s 8MP. (Photos to follow)
Winner: P20 Pro.
Performance and Battery Life
The Huawei P20 Pro comes with Huawei’s very own Kirin 970 with AI which we’ve already seen in the Mate 10 Pro. It is tuned a little bit more in the P20 Pro but it’s not a step forward in raw performance the way an SD845 is versus the SD835. It’s an AI centred chip which is fully utilized by Huawei’s plethora of AI functions, especially from the camera alone and we got really good performance from it.
Not to say that the SD835 on the Note8 is aged and unworthy, but Kirin 970 does trade blows with the SD835 quite well and without AI focused functions, we feel that Huawei made a lot of good use of their home brewed processor. So as far as performance goes, it’s a great big tie from the 2 in terms of synthetic benchmarks but the 970 pulls a little bit ahead for the usage of AI functions.
Battery life is a different story, altogether, though. After the Note 7 fiasco, we’ve seen sammy very cautious in using huge batteries in their slim devices. This resulted in us seeing only a 3300Mah on the Note 8 while the P20 Pro carries a rather massive 4000Mah. After 3 days of good use from both, we did see the Galaxy Note 8 retiring faster than the P20 Pro by atleast 2-3 hours despite both being tormented in exactly the same way. Both devices support wireless and fast charging. The P20 Pro’s fast charging tech is much faster though as it gives you 58% battery life in just half an hour.
Winner: P20 Pro. Performance was a virtual tie but the AI functions, and the better battery life and charging just puts the P20 Pro ahead.
Samsung’s TouchWiz has gone a long way. Now called the Samsung Experience Ui, it’s one of the best in the market, if not THE BEST. It’s just so much more mature and offers more useability than the EMUI found on the Huawei P20 Pro. Both are heavily modified and designed but the Galaxy’s Experience UI is just more more refined and beautiful compared to the cartoony feel of the EMUI. We would still prefer stock android, though.
Winner: Note 8. Samsung is dedicated to give the best user experience and they outdo themselves with their UI every year, providing the most efficient and easy to use UI from all heavilly skinned androids out there.
The Mate 10 had a desktop mode, and the P20 PRO uses the same called “Easy Projection”. All you got to do is hook it up via Type C to HDMI and you’re all set. The Note 8 has a similar function but you got to go through their DeX dock to enter the deX mode which makes Huawei’s implementation better. Also, in the Huawei versio, the phone acts as touchpad and you can still use the phone since it’s not limited to the dock.
Both devices have an always on display function but samsung’s implementation is more advanced. A big feature in the Huawei though is it’s AI in camera. The AI in the camera is also a big plus as it learns to adjust your photos depending on the settings making your point and shoot capabilites just so much more easy and more convenient.
The Note 8 has other things up it’s sleeve like the curved glass, edged screen and multi-color edge screen notifications which is a big plus to get your attention without having to turn on your entire screen.The Note 8 also has a stylus which the P20 Pro does not have.
Both devices support reverse charging and OTG function.
After testing the 2 phones for roughly a week, side by side – Here’s our conclusion.
“The P20 Pro feels like a superb camera with good phone function while the Note 8 is a great phone with a great camera.”
If you’re really into photography and capturing the best moments, the P20 Pro might just be the phone for you but you are missing on a lot of things. While the P20 Pro has a better camera, it’s not to say that the Note 8 has a bad camera. In fact, it’s still one of the best mobile cameras availabe in the market today after the P20 Pro and mixed with it’s refined form and function – it’s a better bang for the buck.
The P20 Pro is by no means a bad phone too. It’s just not as refined or mature as Samsung’s design language or as seamless as Samsung’s Experience UI. At this point, unless you are a huge photography addict and want a really portable device for great point and shoot’s – the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is still a much more worth personal device. It’s just so much better in more aspects than one.