“The Mate 20 Pro is the most powerful from the brand but can it take on the Pixel 3 XL and Galaxy Note9?”

Huawei’s new Mate 20 Pro can only be described as a powerhouse. The phone not just impresses with its top-notch processor and a 4,200mAh battery, but also with its triple-camera setup on the back among other things. This new flagship from the Chinese company takes aim directly at the Samsung Galaxy Note9 (review), which has similar features but prides itself on its S Pen abilities. But with three shooters onboard, the Mate 20 Pro also looks to steer photography enthusiasts away from the new Google Pixel 3 XL (review). So if you are wondering how the Huawei Mate 20 Pro stacks up against the Note9 and Pixel 3 XL, then read on. 

Design and display


The first thing that immediately stands about the Huawei device is the unique camera cluster on its rear surface. The Mate 20 Pro houses three cameras and an adaptive dual-tone flash module. The phone’s body is made of glass and bears a ridged finish that helps you better grip the device. You’ll notice that there’s no fingerprint sensor on its back. That’s because an in-display scanner has made its way onto the handset. Samsung’s Galaxy Note9 however, maintains its rear-facing fingerprint scanner that’s accompanied by a dual-camera setup. The smartphone comes with the brand’s trademarked Infinity Display up front, and a glass panel at the back. The Pixel 3 XL also sports a fingerprint reader on the back, but this one reduces the number of rear cameras furthermore to just one. Something that’s interesting about the Google phone’s rear surface is that it’s made from a single slab of glass, yet features a two-tone pattern with a unique frosting process. 

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Reverse wireless charging is hitherto unheard of feature that has made its way into the Mate 20 Pro. This allows the phone to wirelessly charge other devices on its own. One thing common for all three handsets is IP68 dust- and water resistance. While Note9 holds an extra Bixby button on its side, the other two phones do not take that route. Another thing unique to the Samsung phone is the S Pen stylus, which has Bluetooth now, allowing you to perform tasks like remotely clicking photos, playing / pausing music and more. The Galaxy Note9 is the only phone among the three to retain a headphone socket, with the other two having ditched it, unfortunately.

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Thanks to the in-display fingerprint scanner, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is able to render a gorgeous front surface with minimal bezels on all sides. It does have a notch at the top, which hides a 3D face unlock module. The phone’s display is a 6.39-inch AMOLED panel with a resolution of 3,120 x 1,440 pixels. The Note9 on the other hand, goes for a notch-less approach with its 6.4-inch screen bearing a resolution of 2,960 x 1,440. The Pixel 3 XL stands out among the three due to the massive notch above its 6.3-inch QHD+ OLED panel.

Hardware and software

The Mate 20 Pro is powered by the all-new Kirin 980 chipset built on a 7nm architecture. It features a 2.6GHz octa-core processor and a Mali-G76 MP10 GPU. Just like Apple’s A12 Bionic chip, the Kirin 980 also boasts of 6.9 billion transistors and dedicated neural processing units to assist with AI tasks. The Huawei phone comes with 6GB or 8GB of RAM, which is paired with 128GB or 256GB of expandable storage, respectively. The Note9 ships with a 2.7GHz octa-core Exynos 9810 processor that’s mated to 6GB or 8GB of RAM. Depending upon the variant, Samsung’s offering offers 128GB or 256GB of built-in memory. As for the Pixel 3 XL, its operations are handled by the combination of a Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of RAM. 64GB and 128GB are the storage options available, but there’s no microSD card slot to take advantage of.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera specs

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro runs an Android Pie-based EMUI v9.0. This feature-rich software comes with several tweaks that enhance overall performance. The company claims that the phone is able to launch apps 400 milliseconds faster than the Note9. Speaking about the Samsung device, its software doesn’t get any major new additions, apart from the new S Pen abilities and other small traits. The Pixel 3 XL, of course, runs the stock version of Android 9.0 Pie. Features like Now Playing and Active Edge carry over from the Pixel 2, while all major software additions are dedicated to the phone’s camera, which brings us to… 

Camera and battery


The Mate 20 Pro reserves its main 40MP camera for regular photography, but its 20MP secondary shooter is aimed at delivering ultra-wide photographs. And the tertiary 8MP camera on its back allows optical zoom. Huawei’s Master AI 2.0 image processing brings with it various new advancements, while scene recognition and other AI features are also present in the software. The phone’s front camera is a 24MP unit. The Galaxy Note9 grabs dual 12MP cameras, with the primary one offering the dual-aperture ability. This allows it to switch from f/1.5 to f/2.4 depending on the lighting conditions. A portrait mode, 2x optical zoom and 960fps slow-motion video support are three of the phone’s other highlights. For selfies, the phone features an 8MP shooter. 

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The Pixel 3 XL’s 12.2MP camera excels with its HDR+ capabilities. Its Super Res Zoom function can create high-resolution zoomed-in images using AI. Another feature offered by the camera is Top Shot, which clicks multiple images in a single tap, allowing you to choose the best one to keep. Portrait shots are also possible on this device. As for selfies, they are taken care of by the dual 8MP cameras at the front, that delivers a wider field of view for groupfies.

When it comes to the battery, the Mate 20 Pro is the undisputed leader among the three, as it possesses a 4,200mAh pack at its core, which supports reverse wireless charging as well as fast wireless charging. The Samsung Galaxy Note9 holds a 4m000mAh battery, which is again quite admirable. The Pixel 3 XL on the other hand, offers a 3,430mAh cell. Both these phones support fast and wireless charging as well.

Closing thoughts 

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 3 Xl vs Samsung Galaxy Note9 - featured

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro excels in every department and is the phone to beat this season. That said, the Samsung Galaxy Note9 is also a very strong handset. And even though the Pixel 3 XL might not be as feature-rich as the other two, its camera abilities and clean software give it a competitive advantage. So it all comes down to what you value the most, if its just specs, then Huawei’s offering might appease you, and if its features like S Pen, 3.5mm audio socket, then Samsung’s smartphone is the one to go for. The Google device will find its takers among those who want to get pictures across every situation and want to get the latest Android updates.