I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month
It's hard to pin-point the single most under-rated phone of the year, but if you got a bunch of phone reviewers together, chances are that you would hear the name Huawei Mate 20 more than once.

And nope, we are not talking about the popular Mate 20 Pro, which is a well-appreciated device – the kind of Mate 20 that we want to focus on is the regular model, the one with a giant LCD screen, a triple rear camera and an impressively big battery. Yep, such a phone does exists and you might have missed it in the endless flow of news.


This is the exact phone I picked up to replace the OnePlus 6T I had been using prior in hopes for a better gesture navigation implementation, hopefully a better camera and for a chance to experience the phone with arguably the best battery life around. In month or so that I have been using the Mate 20, I can already see some things that I love, and a few shortcomings that become obvious only after you use the phone a longer while. So here is my experience with the most underrated phone of the year.

Getting used to the big size


The one thing that I was most worried about with the Mate 20 is whether I would get used to a phone with a gigantic, 6.5-inch screen in the first place. And in some ways I did get used to such a big phone easier than I thought I would, yet not completely. First, the Mate 20 fits surprisingly comfortably in the hand or in a pocket thanks to the slightly curved back, but mostly because it somehow feels thinner than it is on paper.


In many ways, this phone felt much more comfortable to use than say an iPhone 8 Plus, but at the end of the day, there is no going around the physical size. Unlike other devices, I noticed that the Mate 20 did not fit in many of my jackets, and I was constantly worried that it might fall off a pocket.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.04 x 0.33 inches

158.2 x 77.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

OnePlus 6T

OnePlus 6T

Dimensions

6.2 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches

157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm

Weight

6.53 oz (185 g)

Apple iPhone XS Max

Apple iPhone XS Max

Dimensions

6.2 x 3.05 x 0.3 inches

157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm

Weight

7.34 oz (208 g)

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Dimensions

6.24 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.04 x 0.33 inches

158.2 x 77.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

OnePlus 6T

OnePlus 6T

Dimensions

6.2 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches

157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm

Weight

6.53 oz (185 g)

Apple iPhone XS Max

Apple iPhone XS Max

Dimensions

6.2 x 3.05 x 0.3 inches

157.5 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm

Weight

7.34 oz (208 g)

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Dimensions

6.24 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

158.4 x 78.1 x 7.5 mm

Weight

7.13 oz (202 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page




An LCD screen, even a good one, no longer cuts it for me


Probably the biggest difference between the premium Mate 20 Pro and this here Mate 20 is the screen and more specifically, the screen technology. While the Mate 20 Pro features an OLED screen, the Mate 20 sports an LCD screen.

These days, most of the premium phones use OLED screens and while OLED screens do differ between each other, they all share one thing in common: colors generally appear much more vibrant, much more lively than on LCD screens. With perfect blacks, you get great contrast on OLED screens, and much better viewing angles. And while the Mate 20 has a very good looking LCD display, it's not as impressive as an OLED screen.

I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

This is one of the big reasons why I am switching away from the Mate 20 after my 1-month stint with it. If you are particularly picky about not just good screens, but great screens, you should be enjoying an OLED screen.

Screen rotation is still a problem in 2019


Another surprisingly common issue with many phones that I use is screen rotation. Properly working automatic screen rotation should not be something we are discussing in 2019, but alas, it is, and the Mate 20 is yet another phone that does not get it right. The screen will automatically rotate way too often and at the exact wrong time, so I constantly find myself turning automatic screen rotation off completely. This is not a good solution because sometimes I do want my screen to rotate automatically, so this remains a big frustration for me with the Mate 20.

Thanks for the bloatware and useless apps, Huawei!


I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

One other thing that I found frustrating in the first few days with the Mate 20 is that I had to uninstall bloatware apps and move a bunch of first-party Huawei apps out of the way.

This is not something that is hard to do, but spending time to delete bloatware apps and to deal with useless first-party apps is just not a good user experience. By now it's probably clear to most companies that users would simply prefer a clean experience from the start, rather than one that aggressively pushes apps and services that not all that many people will use. 

Face recognition and fingerprint scanner


I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

In the first few days of using the Mate 20, I was hoping that I could just use the face recognition to unlock the phone without having to use the fingerprint scanner at all. Boy, was I overly optimistic.

The face recognition on the Mate 20 only works in great light and at certain distances. Put simply: it does NOT work reliably in real-life. And it is definitely not good enough to be the main security method that you use to unlock your phone. It rarely works at night and often will not detect my face when I wear a hoodie or some sort of a hat. It would even sometimes fail to recognize my face in good light with no hat or anything else to distract it.


After those first few days of trying it out, I promptly disabled face recognition and switched to using the fingerprint scanner. Let me be a bit subjective here: I don't like fingerprint scanners on the back of a phone, I often just want to check my notifications or take a look at something on my phone without picking it up, and this is impossible with a fingerprint scanner on the back. I had to deal with that, though, and apart from this slightly inconvenient location of the fingerprint scanner, the Mate 20 did not disappoint: it was extremely fast and very accurate.

Camera


I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

The Mate 20 features a triple camera system on the back, a regular camera, a telephoto one for portraits and cleaner zoom, as well as a third, ultra-wide angle camera.

This setup gives it great versatility, as you can both zoom and go wide.

The Mate 20 takes some very crisp photos at night

The Mate 20 takes some very crisp photos at night


I find the whole experience with the camera a bit hit and miss. It's mostly a great experience and I have some truly memorable shots capture with the Mate 20, but sometimes, even when I was shooting during the day and in good light, I god some not very consistent results.

What I do love, however, is the night-time performance: it's easy to take great-looking shots at night and this is something that you don't get on every phone out there.

Battery life


I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

The Mate 20 has a 4,000mAh battery and holds one of the highest battery life records of any phone we have ever tested.

Can you see why I was excited to use it? No more nightly charging! Hooray to 2-day battery life. Well... not so fast. As good as battery life on this phone is, it only got me through 2 full days of the charger sometimes. And when I pushed the phone more, it would last a very long day, but not much more.

Speaking of on-screen battery life, that would be between 7 and 8 hours, which is definitely very good, but not quite as ground-breaking as I'd hoped.

Call Quality and Sound Quality


Both call quality and sound quality on this phone are great: I got VoLTE on my carrier and I could definitely appreciate the crisper call quality, while sound via the loudspeaker was loud and good for sharing a new tune with a friend, or watching a YouTube video.

Final Words


I used the most underrated phone of the year for a month

Let me finish this off by saying that the Mate 20 has been a very, very reliable phone for me. Yes, it has its kinks and its slight issues and annoyances, but at its core, this phone is solid and reliable. Its battery life is not quite insane, but it will last you more than 99% of the phones out there right now.

The camera is a bit unpredictable: it can either impress with some very nice photo at night, or completely disappoint you even when light is plentiful and the conditions for taking a picture are great.


Considering its very attractive $600 price, practically on par with phones like the OnePlus 6T, the Mate 20 is a serious contender in the affordable flagship space. Too bad it's not sold in the United States and not many people seem to know about it.

So let's sum it all up: I would say that the Mate 20 is not only underrated, it's criminally underrated! It has its flaws and I will be switching away from it, but mostly because of the LCD screen: it's a good LCD screen, but I am really picky about screens and I appreciate the more vivid, more striking look on an OLED display. For all else, this phone gets an easy recommendation on my part.

Would you get one yourself?


Related phones

Mate 20
  • Display 6.5" 1080 x 2244 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 24 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin, Octa-core, 2600 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB + Nano Memory (NM)
  • Battery 4000 mAh

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23 Comments

1. Leo_MC

Posts: 6120; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I understand the fascination with OLEDs - I also enjoy the vibrant colors - but I would like to see an article where you test the live-like colors on different recent flagships, both using OLED and LCD displays (put the phone next to the site - a painting, a building, a flower, a persona, a color sampler etc - and compare how accurate are the colors on the display). I think this is going to be an interesting test.

21. Settings

Posts: 2942; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Nope. They won't gonna break the OLED fans' hearts.

2. cncrim

Posts: 1534; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

I think the most underrated smartphone is LG, if she offering similar feature like Samsung Pay I switch by tomorrow. On different note, i would love Samsung and LG can match Google Pixel Photography.

4. maddy996

Posts: 122; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

Agree, G7 Thinq is still the most underrated smartphone of 2018

6. OneLove123

Posts: 656; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

LG V40 is amazing!

8. meanestgenius

Posts: 21156; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed. I'm currently using an LG V35 ThinQ as my daily driver, and it's an amazing smartphone. So underrated.

9. lyndon420

Posts: 6376; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

How's the battery and wireless charging working for you on your V35? After a few months with my V30 I got a right facing arrow blinking in the battery icon (when not plugged in) and wireless charging stopped working.

10. meanestgenius

Posts: 21156; Member since: May 28, 2014

Wireless charging works like a charm, and battery life has been amazing on the V35. Definitely lasts throughout the day.

11. DFranch

Posts: 490; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

That sucks. I regularly get 2 days on a single charge (V30). I've used It every day since I got it in October 2017 a few weeks after it launched. I almost exclusively use wireless charging and would be ticked if it stopped working. No noticeable degradation in battery life yet.

15. lyndon420

Posts: 6376; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Yeah it was definitely a good working phone for the first few months, and wireless charging worked. Battery life hasn't been affected yet despite the blinking arrow thing. Haven't tried doing a factory reset yet, but if that doesn't work I'll be taking it back to my carrier for repair or replacement.

18. ShadowUnleashed

Posts: 86; Member since: Feb 08, 2018

I've seen that LG has LG Pay, which seems to work just like Samsung Pay. But I think it only works in Korea.

3. Xperia14

Posts: 1195; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

I'd rather get the V40 myself, because of its OLED screen, build quality and IP68.

5. Vogue1985

Posts: 316; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Mate 20 Pro most underated? This was the shaker of 2018,WOW everything. Far from underestimated with all the media coverage, praise and advertisements. The LG V40 and G7 are the most under estimated/rated flagships

7. AngelicusMaximus

Posts: 599; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

Did you even read the article? He specifically that he was not referring to the Pro which is not underrated at all.

20. jjface

Posts: 191; Member since: Jun 07, 2017

That is why the mate 20 is so underrated - it just gets confused with the pro.

12. redmd

Posts: 1872; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

LG G7 and V40 are the most underrated smartphones today. In some areas, the G7 costs under the price of your revered one plus 6T.

17. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1126; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Both of these devices have average batteries at best, hence they don't make the cut. Compared to other devices that were released with +3500mAh batteries in 2018.

13. Whitedot

Posts: 657; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

It's underrated in your world mr reviewer but the rest. How many apples have you ate this morning Victor?

14. LEEDAQ

Posts: 140; Member since: Aug 07, 2018

i won't use thief company's product

16. Eclipse

Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 11, 2019

I assume you don't have Facebook account

19. cmdacos

Posts: 3761; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Can you be more specific? Are you talking about Samsung, apple, Xiaomi, Huawei? Thief company is too generic nowadays.

22. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 202; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

Mate 20 X is the most underrated phone of the 2018 if you count that as a phone, not a tablet. One of the best stereo speakers on a flagship phone, excellent camera & battery & performance, a headphone jack, IR blaster, reliable fingerprint scanner unlike Mate 20 Pro, and bright HDR compatible sAMOLED display.. It literally has everything you need but nobody reviews it or even mentions it due to the poor availability of the global variant! Such a shame that PA hasn't reviewed this beast yet.

24. kevin007in

Posts: 324; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

If I could afford one I would have bought this one without thinking at all. currently using P20 pro and absolutely no complaints at all.

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