Huawei P20 Pro vs. Apple iPhone X: A battle of flagship smartphones

Boasting the first triple-lens camera in a smartphone, alongside cutting-edge specs, the Huawei P20 Pro has been attracting a lot of attention. It’s an impressive Android smartphone from a Chinese manufacturer that has shown a flair for high-end devices. Can it compete with Apple’s stylish flagship? Which is better: The P20 Pro or the iPhone X? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Specs

Huawei P20 Pro Apple iPhone X
Size 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm (6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches) 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 174 grams (6.14 ounces) 174 grams (6.14 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch OLED display 5.8-inch Super Retina AMOLED display
Screen resolution 2240 x 1080 pixels (408 pixels-per-inch) 2436 x 1125 pixels (458 ppi)
Operating system Emotion UI 8.1 (over Android 8.1 Oreo) iOS 11
Storage space 128GB 64GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Kirin 970 A11 Bionic
RAM 6GB 3GB
Camera Triple-lens 40MP, 20MP, and 8MP rear, 24MP front Dual 12MP rear, 7MP FaceTime HD front
Video 2160p at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 30 fps, 720p at 960 fps 2160p at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetoothversion Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 5
Ports USB-C Lightning
Fingerprint sensor Yes No
Water resistance IP67 IP67
Battery 4,000mAh 2,716mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Apple App Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint
Colors Black, Blue, Pink Gold, Twilight Space Gray, Silver
Price 899 euros (around $1,100) $1,000
Where to buy it Huawei AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Apple
Review score Hands-on review 4.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

iphone x alternative options

The P20 Pro has Huawei’s Kirin 970 processor inside. It also boasts a Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which deals with artificial intelligence (A.I.) tasks so the processor can get on with whatever it’s doing. This is backed up by 6GB of RAM. Apple’s iPhone X has its A11 Bionic chip inside, backed by just 3GB of RAM. In most benchmarks, and in real -world use, the iPhone X is faster. You can argue about how much RAM a smartphone needs, but Android and iOS handle memory management differently, so directly comparing them here doesn’t tell us anything.

The Huawei P20 Pro offers 128GB of storage, and there’s no MicroSD card slot for expansion. The iPhone X comes in 64GB or 256GB varieties, and once again, there’s no room for a MicroSD card.

Dipping into battery life, the P20 Pro has a 4,000mAh battery, while the battery in the iPhone X is only rated at 2,716mAh. We need to spend some time testing the P20 Pro to be sure, but we’ll be surprised if it doesn’t have more stamina than the iPhone X. Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging support for the P20 Pro, though it does offer Huawei’s SuperCharge fast charging via a cable. The iPhone X does support wireless charging and it can charge quickly, but you’ll need to buy a charger and cable capable of fast charging, whereas you get one in the box with your P20 Pro.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Design and durability

huawei p20 pro 30
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We love the curved glass design of the P20 Pro, particularly the twilight finish, with its mix of green, blue, and purple. Huawei has chosen to put the fingerprint sensors on the front, in the old traditional spot beneath the screen, but the thing you immediately notice about the front is the notch. We’re not sold on the notch trend right now — it’s not the only viable design, especially if you have space for a fingerprint sensor at the bottom. It will inevitably invite comparison, but the notch in the P20 Pro is much smaller than the iPhone X’s notch.

In the iPhone X the screen extends all the way to the bottom and is only broken by the notch at the top, which houses the Face ID cameras. There’s no fingerprint sensor at all. The back is also finished in glass, though the colors are less adventurous than the P20 Pro. The camera modules are pretty similar. Interestingly, both phones weigh exactly the same, but the iPhone X is significantly smaller in hand.

There’s nothing to divide these phones on the durability front, as they both score an IP67 rating. That means they can be submerged in up to a meter of water for up to half an hour.

Overall we prefer the look of the iPhone X, particularly from the front, but the P20 Pro is definitely the sort of phone that will draw admiring glances.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Display

huawei p20 pro 21
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Huawei P20 Pro boasts a 6.1-inch OLED screen with a 2 240 x 1080 pixel screen resolution. The Apple iPhone X has a 5.8-inch AMOLED with a resolution of 2436 x 1125 pixels. They’re both great screens, employing essentially the same tech. Apple’s iPhone X screen is sharper at 458 pixels per inch (ppi), compared to 408ppi in the P20 Pro, but the P20 Pro has a slightly larger screen. We’re giving a narrow win to the iPhone X here.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Camera

Apple iPhone X Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Smartphone cameras have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. Huawei is trying to take things to the next level with the P20 Pro by packing in three lenses: There’s a 40-megapixel main lens, an 8-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 20-megapixel monochrome lens. This is a seriously versatile shooter that should have no trouble in low-light conditions, be capable of stunning portraits with blurred backgrounds, and capture an incredible level of detail. We just need more time with it to see what it can do. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL, our current top picks for best smartphone camera, prove that more camera lenses aren’t necessarily the path to better camera performance, but we do expect the P20 Pro to deliver something special.

By contrast, the iPhone X combines two 12-megapixel lenses. We know it gets good results, particularly in the optical zoom and bokeh department. As cameras continue to improve, it’s getting harder to objectively pick the best, but the iPhone X stands up well in direct comparisons with phones like the Galaxy S9 Plus and Pixel 2 XL. Only time will tell if it can stand up to the P20 Pro.

The P20 Pro has a front-facing camera rated at 24-megapixels, while the iPhone X makes do with a 7-megapixel selfie camera.

Winner: Huawei P20 Pro

Software and updates

huawei p20 pro 22
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find the latest Android 8.1 Oreo on the P20 Pro, with Huawei’s EMUI 8.1 user interface on top. Stock Android fans and minimalists might not like it, but there are a few handy extras in there. Unfortunately, the presence of EMUI means that Android updates will not roll out to the P20 Pro as soon as they’re released. The schedule for updates will depend on Huawei. Apple’s iPhone X runs iOS 11, which is slick and accessible. It will continue to be updated to the latest version as soon as it rolls out. We’re not getting into Android vs iOS, but because it will benefit from the latest security and feature updates immediately, we’re giving the iPhone the win.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Special features

Apple iPhone X Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The standout feature of the P20 Pro is clearly that triple-lens camera, but we’ve already covered that. The iPhone X has Face ID and animojis to take full advantage of that front-facing camera array. Both work extremely well. There is a face unlock option on the P20 Pro that uses 2D mapping to authenticate users in only half a second, but it’s not as secure as the iPhone X’s Face ID, so you can’t use it for payments. Neither phone offers any other unique special features that the other doesn’t possess, so we’re calling this round a tie.

Winner: Tie

Price

There was definitely a bit of uproar about the price of Apple’s iPhone X when it first landed. There’s no doubt that $1,000 is a lot to spend on a phone. The Huawei P20 Pro, however, costs 900 euros (around $1,100).

The phones are available globally now, but sadly the P20 Pro will not be released through carriers in the U.S. after they were pressured to drop Huawei phones by Republican politicians with security concerns about the Chinese manufacturer. The iPhone X is available from all the major carriers.

Winner: Apple iPhone X

Overall winner: Apple iPhone X

The Huawei P20 Pro is definitely something special. It has that impressive triple-lens camera and a bigger battery, but we prefer the design, display, and performance of the iPhone X. Truth be told, these are both excellent phones — they should be at these prices. If you’re used to Android and the camera is your main focus, then the P20 Pro is the better choice for you, but everyone else should probably pick the iPhone X.

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