Setting up the Huawei P20 Pro felt like a nightmare. Most of the apps we installed had problems. Some crashed. Some never managed to display a notification when the phone was locked. Apps that used Google maps never displayed any map. The PIM applications from Huawei lost the account-info several times a day, so each time we wanted to check our calendar or mail, there was nothing, and the whole thing needed to sync again.
Most of it had to do with the version of Google Play services that Huawei installed on the phone, and the aggressive battery management. After about 3 days of fiddling with settings, googling for solutions, and trying all kind of fixes, we finally had a working phone.
We had to replace all of the Huawei apps to have a working PIM solution. Even the clock app we had to replace. And in the end we also replaced the launcher with Nova launcher because the Huawei launcher misses basic things like swipe down for the notification panel, or swipe up for apps. And it is just plain ugly. And even Nova crashes on this device when you do a simple thing like adding the Huawei weather widget.
Exactly the opposite experience from setting up the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, where everything went smooth from the first moment you turn it on. A dream versus a nightmare.
So you would think, we did not really like this device, and sent it right back. Nope. It replaced our Note 8 as daily driver, because there are some things this Huawei does really good. Read on for that.
Battery life is about 30% better than the Note 8. That alone makes it worth the switch.
Unlocking the device is a dream. This was our main frustration with the Note 8. The face unlock of the Huawei is so fast, you have no chance anymore to see the lock screen. Even in the dark. We had to actually activate an option that requires us to perform an extra swipe to unlock, just as the iPhone X has. Because sometimes you just want to glance at the lock-screen to see if there is anything important. Without that option, you go right to the home screen within a fraction of a second after picking up the phone. It is that fast. And we love the super fast fingerprint sensor on the front as a backup. We even use it to navigate the phone. No need for the 3 traditional Android navigation buttons anymore.
Huawei also gets that phones should only have buttons on 1 side of the device. Samsung and many others put buttons on both sides, resulting in many accidental presses.
The notch? We are not even going to talk about that. You don’t even notice it.
The display is bright enough to be readable in direct sunlight. Not as bright as the Note 8, but very close. We like the colors on the Huawei better. And we like going back to a flat screen also. Never would have thought that, because the curved screen on the Note 8 looked so nice.
We missed the feature to set notification sounds for apps that do not have an option for this. We have a lot of apps like that, and everything sounds the same if you do not have that option.
A lot has been said about the camera. We are into photography and work with a lot of photographers. So the camera is important for us. And yes: this camera is better than any other camera on a smartphone. But only if you are into photography. If you want pictures that look as realistic as possible, then the Samsung S9 is probably a better choice. The P20 Pro camera makes a better version of reality. That is what you usually want. That is why most people spent so much time applying filters to pictures, or editing pictures in Photoshop. To get a picture that looks nice. Not to have a picture that is a 100% copy of reality. That is what the P20 Pro delivers. You will need to get to know the settings, and learn how to use them for the best result. If you do, the results can be breathtaking. This camera produces art.
Call quality and speaker sound quality are very good. Better than most.
So in the end the Note 8 was trouble-free to set up, but gave us little frustrations every day during use. Nothing serious, but enough to irritate. The Huawei gave us a big headache to start, but now gives us a phone that is almost free of any frustration on a daily base. That is why we made the switch.
So, is this phone for you? Yes if you are passionate about photography. Yes if you want outstanding battery life. Yes if you want the most easy to unlock phone. But absolutely not if you are not a technical person who hates going into settings and does not know how to fix problems on phones and computers. Because you will have to do a lot of troubleshooting and fix things, and replace things. But if you do, you end up with what is possibly the best phone at this time.