Huawei Technologies Co. overtook Apple Inc. in August to become the second-biggest seller of smartphones globally, with just Samsung Electronics Co. left to beat. And it revealed the Mate 20 Pro—a flagship device to rival the iPhone Xs Max and Galaxy Note 9.All three devices share similarly large screens, powerful processors and sleek designs; and each represents a different country’s technological prowess on the world stage: the iPhone for the US, the Galaxy Note for South Korea, and the Mate for China.
So how do these powerful new devices square up?
SCREEN AND DESIGN
All use a variation of an OLED display in their high-end models, which deliver sharp images, vibrant colors and deep blacks. The Mate 20 Pro, Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone Xs Max offer comparable screen sizes of about 6.5 inches and weigh within a few grams of each other.
But of the three, only the Note 9 avoids using a “notch” at the top of the screen. Both the iPhone Xs Max and Mate 20 Pro feature a small cut-out that houses a front-facing camera and other sensors, whereas Samsung’s display is an uninterrupted rectangle.
CAMERAS AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Apple and Samsung’s models both include two camera lenses to the rear—one wide-angle, one telephoto—which capture pictures at a resolution of 12 megapixels. The setup lets users snap pictures from greater distances, or create a blurred background effect, known as bokeh, which historically was a quality confined to professional cameras.
Huawei went one step further: Mate 20 Pro has three rear-facing cameras, co-developed with Leica Camera AG: a master lens with 40-mega-pixel resolution, an ultra-wide one with 20 megapixels, and a telephoto option shooting at 8 megapixels.
FEATURES AND AI
Because there are so many variables, measuring and comparing the raw horsepower and speed of a phone is difficult, and often pointless. But Apple, Huawei and Samsung’s flagships all contain some of the most cutting-edge silicon available to mobile products, with specifications and capacity that mirror—or exceed—those of many laptops. It’s fair to assume all three will run any app you load onto it.
Samsung appeals to hardcore productivity fans with its use of a stylus, and the ability, via a cable, for the Note 9 to be connected to a computer monitor to run desktop applications as would be expected on a laptop. It also runs on Google’s Android, which is more flexible than Apple’s iOS.
VERDICT AND AVAILABILITY
With a starting price of 1,049 euros ($1,216) in Europe, Huawei has presented a phone at the top end of the current flagship market pricing spectrum. On the continent it’s cheaper than the rival iPhone, but more costly than the Note 9.
It’s packed with every cutting-edge technology the Chinese company could throw at it, and on paper at least will appeal to hardcore gadget lovers for good reason. But familiarity (and marketing savvy) will no doubt work in Samsung and Apple’s favor, as both companies know better than to deviate from their tried-and-tested formulas.