Six months after its launch, the Huawei P20 Pro still beats Apple’s latest iPhone XS Max on all counts!

September 23, 2018

With the recent launch of the new iPhone Xs Max, it was only logical to compare it with the Huawei P20 Pro, one of Huawei’s leading flagship devices that has been making headlines since it was launched in March. We set out to compare the three main features to see if Huawei P20 Pro continues to reign in the smartphone industry.

When buying a phone, the three key factors that drive the decision-making process are the camera, the phone’s design and its performance. Let’s compare each of these features to see which is a better phone to have and to hold!

Power packed performance

Huawei P20 Pro is equipped with world’s first Leica Triple Camera, that helps produce images that are comparable to images taken by some of the best DSLR cameras in the market. It has yet to be challenged by any of the competition’s flagship – and that’s not about to change here.

The triple camera lens has a 40MP RGB sensor, 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens, which is far superior in terms of specs and capability when compared to Apple’s iPhone Xs Max’s dual 12MP rear cameras and a 7MP “TrueDepth” front facing camera.

The camera hardware on the iPhone Xs Max is almost identical to that on the iPhone X, sorely lacking innovation in a flagship launch.

In simple terms, a user can expect higher resolution images with the Huawei P20 Pro that promise utmost clarity, optimum colour with every detail captured. In addition, both the rear and front camera on the Huawei P20 Pro can produce images with a higher resolution.

The Huawei P20 Pro also supports 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom and 10x digital zoom while the iPhone Xs Max only supports 2x and 10x digital zoom. This means that when you zoom in with the camera on a scene or object, the Huawei P20 Pro, will retain more detail in the image and it can optically zoom in farther than the iPhone Xs Max.

In fact, the Huawei P20 Pro is the only smartphone on the market to feature 5x hybrid zoom, which allows the phone to utilize the different focal lengths of its lenses to create superior photo quality. Its front camera aperture of f/2.4 allows wide angle capture of every detail in the scene. In fact, this feature has only just been added to the iPhone, whereas Huawei has been offering this since the launch of Huawei P9 in 2016.

If the hardware capability hasn’t swung it for you, let’s look at how Artificial intelligence (AI) supports users to achieve outstanding pictures. Huawei has been leading the AI agenda since last year with the launch of its chipset Kirin 970 that was the first ever chipset with built-in AI.

At IFA 2018, Huawei unveiled the Kirin 980 system on a chip. Three years in development, the Kirin 980 represents a new era of On-Device AI, combining best-in-class performance, efficiency, connectivity features, and Dual NPU AI processing power. The world’s first mobile SoC chipset that integrates dual NPUs, the chipset greatly optimizes AI tasks such as object recognition, real-time video processing, and precise real-time object segmentation. Uniquely to Huawei, the Kirin 980 is the brand’s second generation chipset that offers NPU, as against Apple’s early steps into the space.

While both Huawei’s NPU and Apple’s Neural Engine work to improve camera output quality, the iPhone Xs Max only focuses on improving how human subjects look. Huawei takes this a step further by offering AI scene recognition, which recognizes over 500 scenarios in 19 different categories, such as blue skies, beaches, plants, animals, night shots, stage performances, flowers and more. Users just have to open the camera app and point, and the Huawei P20 Pro automatically adjusts to the best camera settings for capturing that scenario.

Huawei P20 Pro also offers unmatchable low light and night photography capability, which is equipped with state-of-the-art AI Image Stabilization. Phone users are be able to capture incredible blur-free, handheld shots in low-light using Night Mode, without the need for a tripod.

Perhaps the one aspect most focused about the iPhone XS is the new A12 Bionic chip, a 7nm chip with 6.9 billion transistors. Interestingly, its rather old news, as Huawei’s Kirin 980, the world’s first commerical 7nm SoC with 6.9 billion transistors was unveiled at IFA 2018 almost a month back. With a modified Cortex-A76 and A55 cores, a new Mali-G76 GPU, and a dual Neural Processing Unit (NPU), the Kirin 980 ensures 20% more power and 40% more battery efficiency over 10nm processors.

Continuing on the photography front, the Kirin 980 sports an upgraded image signal processor (ISP), which offers better support for multi-camera setups and a new HDR technology that allows for contrast manipulation in photos to highlight certain objects. Real-time multiple people gesture recognition in videos is a key aspect of the Kirin 980 that has lots of potential applications for the future. Again, this is an area where the iPhone XS Max again lags, as it offers only single person tracking.

 Power packed performance

A phone’s performance is defined by its battery life. The Huawei P20 Pro’s 4000mAh battery provides one and a half to two whole days of battery life. If users forget to plug in their device at night they’ll still have sufficient battery life to support their daily activities. While, Apple claims that the iPhone Xs Max can charge to 50 percent in half an hour, the Huawei P20 Pro takes this even further with Huawei SuperCharge that charges the battery from zero to 58 percent in the same time.

While Apple has not disclosed the size of the iPhone Xs Max’s battery, they said it will last an hour and a half longer than the iPhone X which has a 2716mAh battery. Consumers rely on their devices and want a mobile phone that will last a whole day, meaning they don’t need to keep close tabs on their battery life and stay close to a charger at all times. The HUAWEI P20 Pro eliminates this burden, even for the heaviest smartphone users.

With the Kirin 980, Huawei continues its focus on optimized power consumption as the chip is up to 20% faster while requiring 40% less power. Collectively, this grants the Kirin 980 a 75% performance improvement and 58% greater power efficiency overall compared to the 970.

The Kirin 980 uses a new triple cluster design with a flex-scheduling core architecture, across its two big A76 cores, two middle A76 cores and four little Cortex A55 cores. This more nuanced approach allows the Kirin 980 to more efficiently scale performance based on better AI load prediction.

Dual Sim usage made easier!

The Huawei P20 Pro supports dual SIM, dual VoLTE that require zero setup other than inserting the SIMs. The iPhone XS Max will also feature dual VoLTE; however, this will only be available with a future update on the device.

Like the Huawei P20 Pro, the iPhone XS Max can hold two SIMs, but one of these is an eSIM—an integrated SIM card which requires users to activate a wireless service plan. This poses two challenges to consumers: first, not every carrier supports eSIM. Consumers have to subscribe to the services of a carrier that supports this technology to reap the benefits of eSIM. And in the case where a current dual SIM user is subscribed to carriers that do not support the new SIM technology, he or she will have to either subscribe to a new service plan from a third carrier, or terminate an existing contract—both entail a significant cost.

True to its customer centric approach, Huawei offers, no such complications and supports easy dual sim usage on Huawei P20 Pro.

Stunning colours

How a phone looks and feels is one of the key features that a user considers before making the final decision to buy a phone. Phones today are an extension of our personality and style statement.

Huawei P20 Pro helps users up their style quotient by offering a variety of colour options including the unique gradient tones that are inspired by nature, the Twilight colour. The Huawei P20 Pro also comes in Black and Midnight Blue. The innovations Huawei made in the design showcase Huawei’s commitment to delivering a complete, premium user experience—inside and out. In comparison, the Apple iPhone Xs Max continues to come in the standard mono-tone colours of Gold, Silver and Space Gray, with no change since its predecessor.


Over the past few months since its launch, Huawei P20 Pro has by far exceeded expectations of any user. Whether considering the cutting-edge design, superior camera capability or powerful performance, the Huawei P20 Pro has a lot more to offer than Apple’s latest offering. While the rest of the phone is solid too, it’s the camera that steals the show and the new iPhone Xs Max just can’t compete. Moreover, the iPhone XS Max’s whopping starting price of AED 4,169 may seem unreasonable to many, as it is every consumer’s desire to get more at the best price possible.

The Huawei P20 Pro, priced at AED 2,599, offers optimum value for money to any and all users, proving to be the most efficient and competitively priced smartphone in the market currently. Hence, the Huawei P20 Pro continues to reign as a phone of desire, at least just until, the next flagship launch by Huawei.


by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: