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Huawei P20 Camera Review: How does it compare with the P20 Pro?

The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro share a lot of the same smartphone DNA. Yet when it comes to the camera tech, there are many differences. At least, in terms of the hardware. We’ve been testing both of these shooters together to see how the P20 camera compares with the Pro’s tri-lens tech,. Here’s our in-depth review, with side-by-side shots.

Huawei P20 vs Huawei P20 Pro camera comparison: Hardware

So, the standard Huawei P20 serves up your typical dual lens camera there on its shiny back end. You get a 12-megapixel RGB lens with f/1.8 aperture, which captures colour information. That’s backed up by a 20-megapixel monochrome lens with f/1.6 aperture, which captures black and white images. These work in combination to snap crisp and detailed shots, complete with proper depth sensing.

Now, the P20 Pro model also rocks a 20-megapixel monochrome lens with identical aperture, but that colour lens has been given a serious upgrade. The Pro boasts a rather barmy 40-megapixel RGB shooter, again f/1.8, to capture even more detail.

And that’s not even the nuttiest bit. The Pro also sports a third camera lens, this time a telephoto effort which affords you an up-close view of a distant subject.

Check out our full Huawei P20 Pro camera review to see our in-depth thoughts.

So, with that kind of hardware on board, you might expect the Pro to produce much better photo and video results than the standard P20. Well, that’s not necessarily the case.

Huawei P20 vs Huawei P20 Pro camera comparison: Photo quality

Huawei’s super-intelligent auto mode is packed into both the P20 and P20 Pro’s camera app. This can recognise pretty much any scene that you’re trying to shoot, be it a sweeping mountain range or a fluffy wee cat. The camera settings are then automatically adjusted to craft the best-looking image possible.

Shooting with both the P20 and the Pro model side-by-side, we struggled to see much difference with everyday photos. Detail levels are still pleasingly strong using the P20, so our images looked just as crisp when viewed back on a laptop screen. Peer close and you’ll see that the Pro photos are a little sharper, with finer details on show, but it’s honestly not a significant difference.

Likewise, colours are given a pleasing boost by Huawei’s software on either phone, for a vibrant finish – unless you override that camera assistant.

Likewise, tricky contrast is handled more or less evenly by both of these handsets. You’ll get a respectable level of detail in darker areas, while lighter sections only suffer from occasional oversaturation. And night snaps come out well on the P20 as well as the Pro model, with only a little loss in colour and very little grain to speak of. Both blowers rock camera sensors with large pixels as well as identical apertures, so that’s no real surprise.

Check out some of our sample comparisons below. In each case, the P20 sample is on the left and the P20 Pro sample is on the right.

Perfect portrait

Dive into the Portrait mode to capture a human subject and once again the results are seriously impressive. We thought that the Pro’s third camera lens might give it an advantage over the standard P20, for perfectly capturing finer silhouette details. But the Huawei P20’s dual lens setup actually proves just as effective, producing stunning results with zero effort.

Huawei P20 Camera Review

However, the Pro’s third lens does offer it a serious advantage when it comes to zoom photography. That 5x hybrid zoom means you can snap a lot of information, even from a distance. Meanwhile the P20 maxes out at a 2x hybrid zoom, so you won’t get anywhere near as close. If you’re going to shoot a lot of touristy stuff like monuments and wildlife, the Pro is the only way to go.

Without zoom:

Huawei P20 Camera Review

With maximum hybrid zoom:

Huawei P20 Camera Review Huawei P20 Camera Review

Huawei P20 vs Huawei P20 Pro camera comparison: Video quality

Both of Huawei’s devices can shoot Full HD video at up to 60 frames-per-second, or Ultra HD 4K footage at 30 frames-per-second.

Whether you’re shooting with the P20 or P20 Pro, you can expect good-looking results. Our test clips were crisp and boasted the same lush colours as our sample photos, for a really eye-pleasing finish. Huawei’s digital image stabilisation makes for seriously smooth motion when you’re walking and shooting at the same time, at least at Full HD resolution. Boost to 4K and you’ll want to be as still as possible, to avoid some serious tremors. Here the P20 Pro did a slightly better job, with less jarring shakes as you move around – although it’s still far from smooth.

In both cases, you can also shoot Super Slow Motion video at 960 frames-per-second. Sadly this tops out at 720p resolution, rather than Full HD like Sony’s Xperia XZ2.

You can see how the P20 and P20 Pro stack up for shooting home movies in our comparison video below.

Huawei P20 vs Huawei P20 Pro camera comparison: Selfies

Anyone who wants to snap their mug on the move will be happy enough with either the P20 or the P20 Pro. They both sport a 24-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture lens. You get the same set of features too, including that Portrait mode and the usual Beautification nonsense.

In strong light, you can expect a crisp and colourful pic. However, dim conditions result in quite soft photos, so you’re best off using the screen flash feature to light your beautiful visage.