Huawei P20 Pro vs Google Pixel 2 XL: Can the P20 Pro dethrone Android royalty?

Huawei has finally unveiled its latest and greatest flagship smartphone, the Huawei P20 Pro. The phone boasts some very interesting features, including a beautiful new design, edge-to-edge display, and three camera sensors.

But how does the P20 Pro compare with other recent flagship phones? The Google Pixel 2 XL has been a huge hit since its release in October, largely because of its excellent camera and stylish design. Which of the two devices is the one to go for? We put them head to head to find out.

Specs

Huawei P20 Pro Google Pixel 2 XL
Size 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm (6.1 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches) 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9mm (6.22 x 3.02 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 180 grams (6.34oz) 175 grams (6.17oz)
Screen Size 6.1-inch AMOLED display 6.0-inch P-OLED display
Screen Resolution 2,240 x 1,080 pixels (408ppi) 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (538ppi)
Operating System Emotion UI 8.1 (over Android 8.1 Oreo) Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage Space 128GB 64GB/128GB
MicroSD Card Slot No No
Tap To Pay Services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Kirin 970 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 6GB 4GB
Camera Triple lens 40MP, 20MP, & 8MP rear, 24MP front 12.2MP rear, 8MP front
Video 2,160p at 30 frames per second, 1,080p at 30fps, 720p at 960fps 2,160p at 30 frames per second, 1,080p at 120fps, 720p at 240fps
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance IP67 IP67
Battery 4,000mAh 3,520mAh
App Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
Colors Black, Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold Just Black, Black & White
Price 899 euros (around $1,100) $850
Buy From Huawei Google, Amazon
Review Score Hands-on review 4.5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

huawei p20 pro 22
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both of these phones are flagship devices, and as such they offer a high level of performance. The Huawei P20 Pro is equipped with Huawei’s Kirin 970 processor, which is the company’s own latest and greatest chip. The Google Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, offers the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor — which is Qualcomm’s 2017 flagship chip. It’s a little hard to compare these chips considering they’re made by different manufacturers, but the gist of things is that they perform very similarly. Benchmark results from the Huawei Mate 10 Pro — which offers similar specs to the P20 Pro with the same processor — and the Google Pixel 2 XL, show that you should expect almost identical performance. The P20 Pro has 6GB of RAM, while the Pixel 2 XL makes do with 4GB of RAM, though only major multitaskers will feel the difference.

When it comes to storage, the P20 Pro offers 128GB, while the Google Pixel 2 XL comes in with either 64GB or 128GB of storage. Neither has a MicroSD card slot.

Then there’s battery life, and despite the fact that the Huawei P20 Pro offers a slightly larger display, it also offers a much lower display resolution — meaning the larger, 4,000mAh battery will probably be much more effective than the Google Pixel 2 XL’s 3,520mAh battery. We think it’s the clear winner here.

While you could argue that the performance between these two phones is very similar, the battery life and extra RAM in the Huawei P20 Pro earns it the win.

Winner: Huawei P20 Pro

Design and durability

Google Pixel 2 XL in hand ok google
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both the Huawei P20 Pro and Google Pixel 2 XL feature beautiful designs that are very “2018.” The P20 Pro features a “notch,” a design choice popularized by Apple with the iPhone X, and the notch includes the front-facing camera and earpiece for phone calls. It also offers a nice big, edge-to-edge display, along with a curvy glass back and metal frame that should help keep the phone generally well-protected. The fingerprint sensor can be found on the front beneath the screen. It also boasts IP67 water-resistance.

The Google Pixel 2 XL is a little different in terms of its design. Its display is nice and big, but there’s thankfully no notch. The phone also features a largely metal back with a glass shade at the top, and a fingerprint sensor. It too offers IP67 water-resistance.

We think the design of the Huawei P20 Pro is a little more modern, apart from the fingerprint sensor placement, however the Google Pixel 2 XL is a good-looking phone that we’ve enjoyed using. This one comes down to personal preference.

Winner: Tie

Display

huawei p20 pro 18
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When it comes to display, there’s a slight trade-off. The Huawei P20 Pro’s AMOLED display is slightly larger, coming in at 6.1-inches compared to the Google Pixel 2 XL’s 6-inches. Still, we think the tiny size difference is irrelevent considering the difference in display resolution. While the Huawei P20 Pro’s display offers a resolution of 2,240 x 1,080 pixels, with a pixel-density of 408 pixels-per-inch, the Google Pixel 2 XL seriously steps things up with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels, which equates to a pixel density of 538ppi. That will be really helpful for things like mobile VR. Because of that, the Pixel 2 XL is the clear winner.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Camera

Google Pixel 2 Camera
Tinh tế Photo/Flickr

Huawei has done a lot of work on the camera tech for its new phones. In fact, the Huawei P20 Pro boasts a hefty three camera sensors — which should help create some pretty awesome shots. It offers a massive 40-megapixel primary sensor, which is joined by an 8-megapixel telephoto lens. Then, you’ll find a 20-megapixel monochrome lens, which will be used when taking photos to create sharper images that look better in low light.

None of that means it’s much better than the single sensor on the Google Pixel 2 XL, which is our current pick of the best camera phones. The Pixel 2 XL may only offer one 12.2-megapixel sensor, but Google has been working hard on machine learning and artificial intelligence to create dual-sensor effects and produce excellent images.

While it looks better on paper, we’ll have to wait and see exactly how well the Huawei P20 Pro’s three lenses perform. Until then, this one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

huawei p20 pro 20
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both the Huawei P20 Pro and Google Pixel 2 XL feature Android 8.0 Oreo, but they offer slightly different implementations of it. While Google sticks with stock Android for the Google Pixel 2 XL, Huawei has instead opted for its Emotion UI 8.1. Emotion UI seems to be pretty fluid and easy to use, though die-hard stock Android fans won’t like the tweaks that are there.

Google’s stock Android can be considered “Android as Google intended.” It’s fluid, a little more minimal, and relatively easy to use.

There’s another advantage to using stock Android — updates are immediate. You won’t have to wait for Huawei and/or carriers to push out their versions of Android updates. Instead, they’ll become available on your phone as soon as Google releases them. That means you have the latest security updates and new features as soon as they roll out. Because of that, we’re giving Google the win here.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Special features

huawei p20 pro 33
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 2 XL offers all the latest and greatest A.I. features — like Google Lens, an object-recognition system that might come in handy. Of course, the Huawei P20 Pro has some A.I. features of its own — it’ll offer Huawei’s Neural Processing Unit, or NPU, to handle A.I. tasks like smart image processing and translation. We expect to see more phones with dedicated chips for artificial intelligence in the near future.

Still, both of these phones have some cool special features — so this one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Price

Huawei seems to be taking a page out of Apple’s book for the P20 Pro. The phone is being released at 899 euros (around $1,100), which is a lot of cash for a smartphone. The Google Pixel 2 XL, on the other hand, sits in at $850. That’s still a lot of money, to be sure, but it’s a significant amount cheaper than the Huawei device.

The Huawei P20 Pro also won’t be released in the U.S. through carriers, so if you want one you’ll need to buy it outright. Google offers monthly financing for the Pixel 2 XL or you can buy it at Verizon.

Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Overall winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Despite being a little older, the better all-around phone is the Google Pixel 2 XL. It features similar processing power, an excellent camera, quick software updates, and more.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Huawei P20 Pro isn’t worth buying — it looks to be a great device. If you like the big edge-to-edge display and the prospect of a triple lens camera, then it may be the phone to go for.

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