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Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Both phones are lookers, with Huawei winning out for especially snazzy aesthetics.

by David Phelan

What are the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T?

What are the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T?

Two of the most innovative and striking phones to emerge in the last months of 2018, with strong designs and genuinely ground-breaking features. Both come from Shenzhen, China, one from the giant Huawei, one from the plucky, much smaller OnePlus which is related to, but not owned by, Oppo.

Technology upgrades include a 7nm processor in the Huawei - more compact than the 10nm processors found on all other phones apart from the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR. Also included is an eye-catching new security feature: a fingerprint sensor actually buried in the display instead of near it, a feature common to both these phones.

And then there's charging. While the OnePlus 6T charges very fast, it lacks wireless charging, even though like the Mate 20 Pro, it has a glass back as well as front. The Huawei has wireless charging, and what's more has a two-direction charging feature. In other words, not only can you charge your Mate 20 Pro by placing it on a wireless charging pad, you can also use the Mate 20 Pro as a wireless charging pad to give some of your battery power to another wireless-capable handset, not just another Huawei. Genius.

Both are cheaper than some rival flagship phones, especially the OnePlus 6T which costs £499. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is pricier at £899, but is more advanced technologically. Both are cheaper than the Apple iPhone XS (from £999) but more expensive than the other new iPhone, the iPhone XR (from £749).

Design

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Design

Huawei used to make phones which looked good but, the more you studied them, revealed less than optimum build quality, elements of design which weren't well thought-through or came in uninspiring colours. That's all changed, and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is one of the most beautiful phones yet made, by any manufacturer. Build quality is superb, with smooth edges between the glass back and front and the metal chassis edges. The display slopes down at the edges, like on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Nokia 8 Sirocco.

But the real design standout comes when you flip the phone over to look at the back. Where the previous Huawei flagship, the P20 Pro, had three camera lenses in a row, here, they are gathered together in a square, with the fourth of the rounded corners occupied by a flash. Huawei calls it iconic. I think that's an overused word but it's certainly true to say this design is attractive and like nothing else out there. Note, also, how the curves on the corners of the square match perfectly the rounded corners of the phone itself. The edges between front and back are rounded, too, making for a large phone that's a perfectly comfy fit in the hand.

Huawei has really pushed the boat out when it comes to colours on this phone, too. Two of them, Twilight and Emerald Green, are particularly appealing. They shimmer as you turn them in the light, changing colour with a pleasing effect. The other colour is black, handy if you prefer a quieter look to your handset.
Black is the colour of the OnePlus 6T as well, coming in two versions, Mirror Black and Midnight Black, shiny and matte respectively. There's a third colour just revealed, Thunder Purple, plus a special tie-in with automotive manufacturer McLaren on its way. All look good, though the mirror black is my favourite, even if it does attract fingerprints.
Both phones are lookers, with Huawei winning out for especially snazzy aesthetics
Both phones have a notch in the top of the display where the camera sits. In the Huawei's case, it's a wide gap across the top of the display, not dissimilar to the iPhone XS, while the OnePlus opts for a tiny notch, like a drip from a tap or a teardrop, perhaps.

Build quality is also strong on this phone. The edges are not quite so perfectly smooth, I'd say, so you won't really want to roll it through your hands like a worry stone, but it's still an elegant, handsome phone.
As an aside, both phones come with screen protectors in place when you buy them, which is a nice touch. And because they've been applied professionally, there's nary a bubble in sight.

The rear of the phone is more conventional to look at: an expanse of black (or purple) interrupted only by the OnePlus logo and cameras which sit in a row down the centre of the phone. The logo, by the way, and the words "Designed by OnePlus" which loiter down towards the base of the phone, are very slightly, subtly in relief, so your fingers can feel them.

The two cameras are in a marginally raised section, with the flash, flush, beneath.

Waterproofing is a big thing with smartphones these days, though only the Huawei has it in this pair, with IP68 promising protection to a depth of 2 metres for 30 minutes. In other words, don't drop the OnePlus in the bath! In fact, the company says the phone is water-resistant but it doesn't have an IP rating. OnePlus says this requires certification which increases the price of the phone.

Both phones are lookers, with Huawei winning out for especially snazzy aesthetics.

Oh, one other thing. Despite making quite a thing about continuing to include a 3.5mm headphone jack in the OnePlus 6, the 6T ditches it. Which brings it in line with the Mate 20 Pro, and most other flagship handsets, apart from Samsung.

Display

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Display

The screens on these two phones are almost identical, around 6.4in. In fact, the Huawei is 6.39in and the OnePlus is 6.41in. Side by side, it's hard to tell the difference. Screen resolution, however, is different on these two OLED screens. The OnePlus 6T has a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, that's 402 pixels per inch (ppi). The Huawei screen is 1440 x 3120, which is 538ppi. So, the Huawei is way better, right?

Well, on paper, yes, but in practice again there's very little difference noticeable between them. Both are sharp and detailed, and the OnePlus has a series of especially vibrant wallpapers which make it eye-searingly bright (but in a good way).

The only time the Huawei really looks superior is when there's HDR content on view. The Mate 20 Pro is compliant with HDR10 but the OnePlus isn't. Even so, both screens are great to look at.

In both cases, you can disguise the notch so that it almost vanishes. This is done by software, of course, and works by shading the bits of display sitting left and right of the notch black, so the display appears to have a straight top edge with just information like time, signal strength and so on appearing in the upper area.

This visual change was created because it was imagined that nobody would like the shape the notch created, though in fact now these cut-outs are commonplace on phones, everyone seems to have embraced the irregular shape and not minded. Still, it's nice to have the option.

Fingerprint display

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Fingerprint display

This is one of the main, and undeniably cool, benefits of these new phones. Where phones used to place the fingerprint sensor directly next to the screen, or on the back, or even, in the case of Sony, in the power button, these phones break ground by putting it right in the display. You actually press the screen to unlock the phone.

The advantages are several: fingerprint sensors on the back of the phone are awkward if you just want to unlock the screen without picking the phone up. It's true that if you only want to see the time, then the arrival of always-on displays has reduced the need to unlock the phone in many cases. The Huawei has this capability but not the OnePlus.

Another advantage is that when the sensor is on the phone's rear, it's very easy to smudge the camera with your finger as you fumble for it.

So, the arrival of a sensor mounted underneath the display is especially convenient.
In fairly unscientific tests, the OnePlus seemed very marginally faster
With both phones, I found setting up the fingerprint took care and a little time to get it right. I also found, in the case of the OnePlus that when I registered my thumb in an entirely vertical orientation that I had underestimated the angle from which, in real life, I would actually be approaching the handset. I registered it again from a slightly more of a diagonal and responsiveness improved massively.

Both sensors worked well. It's certainly true that these sensors are not as fast as, say, the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 8, but they still only take a fraction of a second. The sensor on the Huwaei sits about a third of the way up the screen while the OnePlus sensor is around an inch up from the bottom which is arguably more useful.

In fairly unscientific tests, the OnePlus seemed very marginally faster than the Huawei, but again, there's not much in it.

Both show a fun animation as you're logging in. OnePlus has three versions to choose from, of which one, called Cosmos, is especially cute.

Camera

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Camera

The winner here is the Huawei. No surprise as the P20 Pro was already a brilliant cameraphone and the capabilities have been refined here. The P20 Pro included a 40MP sensor, a 20MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP one with a focal length three times the others, creating an effective 3x optical zoom.

This time, there’s the identical 40MP wide-angle camera with f/1.8 aperture, as before. Then there’s a 20MP sensor, bottom right of the square, but where previously this was monochrome, to grab as much light as quickly as possible for sharp pictures in low light, here, it's colour. And this time the focal length is different: it's an ultra-wide lens with an f/2.2 aperture. Huawei says this is because sensors are now so good, so fast, that the light-grabbing purpose of the monochrome sensor is no longer necessary.

The third sensor, bottom right, is the 8MP telephoto lens, like on the P20 Pro.
It’s a clever set-up and it means that the phone has effectively three different ways to shoot with no digital zoom. If the wide-angle lens is your 1x zoom, then the telephoto lens is 3x while the ultra-wide is 0.6x. Or, to look at it another way, the telephoto gives 5x optical zoom compared to the ultra-wide.
The results were strong on the OnePlus, but exceptional on the Huawei
The OnePlus camera is the same as on the OnePlus 6 released earlier in the year, that is, a pair of lenses. One is 16MP, the other 20MP. The algorithms and software have been enhanced to respond better to faces or text or food, for instance.

But this is no match for the advanced Artificial Intelligence on the Huawei. This claims to be able to spot whether you're photographing your cat or dog and can enhance the eyes or the fluffiness of the fur respectively.

Let's also remember that the Huawei cameras are made in conjunction with Leica. This is arguably the most important relationship any phone manufacturer has with a camera company, apart from the long-standing tie-in between Nokia and Zeiss.

Overall, the results were strong on the OnePlus, apart from a slightly muddy finish in low light where detail was limited, but exceptional on the Huawei. If photography is important to you, this phone, alongside the Huawei P20 Pro, Google Pixel 3 and Apple iPhone XS are about the best on the market.

Performance and software

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Performance and software

Software on an Android phone is all the same, give or take a few icons and different bloatware, right?
Not really. The software here is very different from vanilla Android. Huawei has its EMUI software and OnePlus uses OxygenOS which looks more like stock Android but has subtle customisations that make it more usable. So, for instance, if you want to pull down the notification screen, you have to swipe from the very top of the display on the Huawei (or the iPhone, come to that). As phones get taller screens, this has become harder to do one-handed. With OxygenOS, you can swipe down from pretty much anywhere onscreen, you know, from where your thumb can actually reach. A detail, but a useful one.

The EMUI software has improved massively in recent years but it's still not to everyone's taste. Although the AI smarts used in the Huawei camera are also employed to recognise patterns of behaviour in order to improve performance, the design is still not quite as good as that which, say, HTC or Sony offer. In many situations it's more than elegant enough. Note that there's no app tray as there is on most Android phones, OnePlus included.

That may not be a deal-breaker. After all, there has never been one on Apple iPhones, either.
Hard to find any circumstances in which these phones are anything less than lightning-fast
The processor on the Mate 20 Pro is built by Huawei, called the HiSilicon Kirin 980 and it's very fast indeed. Not least because of that 7nm architecture. Still, the OnePlus uses the Android industry's favoured fast sensor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, which is no slouch itself.

In fact, it's hard to find any circumstances in which these phones are anything less than lightning-fast. Of course, that may not be the case when the handsets are getting to the end of their lives, though Huawei has a "Born fast, stay fast" mantra which aims to keep everything running nippily for the life of the phone and the company's latest evidence is that the built-in power management and optimisation features are working well.

Battery

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs OnePlus 6T Smartphone Comparison Review

Battery

The OnePlus, as mentioned above, lacks wireless charging. This is a shame as it's such a useful feature. But OnePlus has always maintained that a fast charge is more important than a wireless one and promises to give you a day's use from half an hour's charge. That's impressive, but Huawei isn't giving up easily, managing a charge from zero to 70 per cent in the same time.

In reality, both gave me a full day's use with plenty of juice to spare. You can get some way through the second day, too, but you will need some charge to carry you through so, as ever, nightly charges are de rigueur. But in terms of peace of mind, you can have confidence that these phones won't run out of energy.
Wireless charging is slower but works well on the Huawei. And the facility to share your charge with another wireless-chargeable phone is just fantastic. Turn on the feature (it's only live for three minutes and then turns off if you're not using it) and press the Mate 20 Pro against the back of, say, an iPhone XR and the Apple phone buzzes in acknowledgement that it's charging. It feels slightly magical and it's a feature I'd like to see every manufacturer try and master.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T smartphones are both brilliant.

The Huawei is the more accomplished, has a bigger battery, better cameras, smarter processor, cooler look and extra features. But don't think that means it trounces the OnePlus. For many, the OnePlus is more than good enough. And here's the killer difference: the price. The Huawei is 80 per cent more than the OnePlus. Is it that much better?

Probably not, though I'd still recommend the Huawei if you want the best photographs, the slickest design and the most innovative features.

For the individual reviews, pros & cons and scores, go to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro Review and the OnePlus 6T Review.
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.

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