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Huawei P20 Pro review: The best smartphone when it comes to 5x zoom and low light photos

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Price: Rs 64,999
Rating: ****
Premium smartphones these days have to don many hats. Buyers expect them to have the best of everything: imaging, screen, performance, design, battery life et al. One of the biggest challenges is to manage size/weight limits while giving consumers what they ask for. Specifically, on the imaging front, it seems like placing three cameras is the way to go. The P20 Pro uses its camera hardware in an interesting way, by combining a powerful processor, AI software, large & high resolution sensors, wide aperture and optical image stabilization.
But first, about the phone itself. As you’ve noticed, there is a notch on the screen. Love it or hate it, the notch is here to stay. However, this is a flagship phone and it has a high resolution amoled screen. Huawei includes a way to turn off the notch in the settings, giving you a more uniform screen experience. Either way, the notch is turned off in videos and info like network, signal strength, battery, clock, notifications etc remain in the area on either side of the notch. This is every bit the flagship when it comes to design and materials. We’re fans of the polished aluminium frame and the eye catching back panel. It’s tough to keep it free from fingerprints but it does look dazzling nonetheless.
It’s a pity that the Twilight colour is not coming to India though — people who want something that stands out have to make do with the blue. Obviously, the camera is the highlight here, so let’s talk about that in some detail. There’s a 40MP f1.8 main camera with optical image stabilization and focal length of 27mm. Then there’s an 8MP f2.4 camera with a focal length of 80mm (effectively 3x the main camera). And finally there’s a 20MP f1.6 monochrome camera. To start, you get 3x optical zoom because of the first two cameras. But you can also get very effective 5x zoom without loss of detail thanks to the extra resolution offered by the 40MP sensor. No one is going to actually need 40MP images, so Huawei uses smart software and a technique called pixel binning to give you a 10MP image with higher detail, better light sensitivity and lower noise.
Effectively, light information from four pixels is combined into one to give you the absolute best possible photos and the result is stunning! The P20 Pro is hands down the best smartphone when it comes to 5x zoomed and low light photos.
The P20 Pro uses its camera hardware in an interesting way, by combining a powerful processor, AI software, large & high resolution sensors, wide aperture and optical image stabilization. (Image: huawei.com)As for performance, you won’t be disappointed with the Kirin 970 either. There’s always more that you need on tap, loads of RAM and storage. The fingerprint and face unlock are among the fastest we’ve seen. And Huawei’s EMUI offers a lot of customization and options.
Despite how capable this phone really is, Rs 65k is a very hard sell. Galaxy S9 Plus & iPhone 8 Plus are more coveted. OnePlus 6 is about to launch at a sub Rs 40k price as we write this. So we don’t think Huawei is really aiming for big numbers with the P20 Pro. No — for numbers, they have P20 Lite and Honor 10. This phone is more a proof of concept, a decisive statement that three cameras can do more than two.

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