Huawei P20 Pro Review: Call Quality


Huawei P20 Pro uses a 1/1.7-inch CMOS image sensor with a resolution of up to 40 megapixels. Almost all discussions and controversies on this phone are centered on the quality of the camera. Although social networking is a big part of mobile phone photography, it is still a phone, not a camera that able to scroll ins and FB. For example, the last representative of the 40mp smartphone Nokia Lumia 1020 has a superior call quality [unfortunately, its build quality is not very good, our 1020 has become a brick]. Will P20 Pro go beyond the ancestors in the voice call and noise reduction performance?

Of course, today's mobile phone products cannot be compared with ones 5 years ago. The P20 Pro is equipped with the Huawei Kirin 970 processor. Although this 8-core A72+A53 processor is a product of last year, it uses a more advanced TSMC 10nm process, therefore, is not too outdated from the performance of energy consumption, the integration of the Cambrian NPU IP core can enhance some of the AI-related computing capabilities. At the same time, baseband and audio CODEC are Huawei's independently developed chip products. Kirin 970 has a built-in baseband to support Cat13 uplink and Cat18 downlink rates, supports the mainstream mobile operator network bands and 4G+, and also supports dual 4G phone card standby, but SIM2 slot does not support mobile TD-SCDMA 3G. P20 Pro supports Huawei's SkyLink service, which users can enjoy international mobile data services in more than 80 countries and regions. Because Huawei also pays more and more attention to the application of artificial intelligence on mobile phones, the noise reduction function on the introduction page is affixed with the AI label. The P20 Pro runs Android 8.1-based EMUI8.1 system. The objective test of the voice call function is completed by China Mobile 4G and China Unicom's GSM network. WeChat is a reference for VoIP application testing.

Earpiece Speaker Test

We place this cell phone indoor with normal signal, and set the call voice volume to maximum, then call 10010 [GSM], which is China Unicom customer service hotline. Then use professional sound card and microphone for recording and analysis.

Testing Item Huawei P20 Pro vivo X21 Galaxy S9 iPhone X Huawei Mate 10 iPhone 8 Plus
Output Level of Earpiece,dB -8.66 -10.08/-9.4 -8.58 -8.36 -8.86/-9.13 -8.8

The P20 Pro's earpiece cabinet is a circular rather than a common strip. The camera on the right forms a kind of symmetry, which can also reduce the top cutting area of notch. The output volume of the handset is slightly better than Mate 10, but the difference is extremely small. You can notice that the middle and high-frequency harmonics of the sound are more, and the voice effect sounds Mate 10 is brighter and clearer than Mate 10.

Loud Speaker Test

Speaker test was undertaken indoors with ambient noise level at 40dB or less, we turn up the ringtone volume to its maximum, and then use a sound level meter to measure sound level at the distance of one meter from the phone.

Testing Item Huawei P20 Pro vivo X21 Galaxy S9 iPhone X Huawei Mate 10 iPhone 8 Plus
Face Up,dB 76.8 77.7 74.3 78.5 79.6 78.4
Face Down,dB 74.9 78.2 75.4 78.6 79.7 78.2
In Camera Bag,dB 69.6 72.0 69.4 72.2 73.2 72.6

The P20 Pro also uses the earpiece as a loud speaker to provide a stereo sound. The volume is still significantly lower than Mate 10. Compared to Samsung's AKG-certified Galaxy S9/S9+, the sound is also rough and dry. The sound surround orientation of Dolby Atmos sound with Huawei's DEMO video is not bad, but it is not so good sound field optimization effect when used to listen to music watching movies.

Noise Reduction Test

We place this phone indoors with ambient noise level at 32db or less, in the middle of the room, we use a human-like structure "handholding" the phone to send voice signal, and put surround speakers in a certain distance playing 5 kinds of simulating ambient noise at 6db SNR. Then we standardize the recording from this end, and run a specific program comparing this recording with raw speech recording and noise-speech mixed recording to get noise reduction level, SNR improvement and SNRI-to-NPLR difference quantitative result.

Testing Item[Hand Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 44.9 42.7 46.3 45.4 36.2
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 29.9 28.9 34.7 32.5 22.7
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -3.2 -1.4 -4.2 -4.4 -0.7
Testing Item[VoIP] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 44.7 43.7 46.3 45.7 35.5
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 30.7 37.5 38.5 37.4 18.4
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -2.2 0.8 -2.6 -2.5 0.1
Testing Item[GSM Hand-Holding] Noisy Crowd Background Music Pink Noise Roadside Voice
Total Noise Level Reduction,dB[Higher is Better] 22.8 17.8 37.9 42.5 23.5
SNR Improvement,dB[Higher is Better] 10.9 12.2 23.4 25.4 13.8
SNRI-to-NPLR difference,dB[-4 to 3] -2.2 -1.0 -6.7 -4.6 0.8
  • Total Noise Level Reduction, TNLR: Total Noise Level Reduction illustrates the reduction of ambient noise level. The average level is above 5dB. Theoretically, higher TNLR would be better, but an over high result may be caused by severe attenuation of voice signal, or interruption caused by poor phone signal or noise reduction algorithm flaw.
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio Improvement, SNRI: capability of an NS method to enhance the speech component of a noisy speech signal from an additive background noise. SNR improves after noise reduction by comparing noise-reduced and raw voice signal. Generally, the improvement is over 4dB.
    SNRI-to-NPLR difference, DSN: the signal level difference between raw and noise-reduced. Noise reduction process would attenuate voice signal level, cell phones would gain signal to ensure the call quality. Theoretically, it would be best that signal level remain the same before and after noise reduction. A standard signal level peak is -2.5dB. If the signal was gained too high, overflow would happen, and that means frequent crackle, too low, voice signal strength would not be enough, and that means the sound would be too low, and the other end would not hear clearly.
    The result is just a test reference under similiar circumstances or conditions, third-party websites or official technical data cannot be used for comparison.

In the handheld mode, the P20 Pro maintains the same level of noise reduction performance as Mate10 during GSM, LTE, or VoIP calls, and can better handle and filter out relatively inconspicuous background noises such as music and vocal effects. Even better than Skype's cloud noise reduction. The noise reduction in the hands-free mode is more general, and the P20 Pro will lose a small amount of voice information on high-intensity noise processing such as pink noise, fetal noise, etc., but it is not serious. Properly loud enough to ensure the other side hearing clearly.

In general, the P20 Pro's call quality is close to that of Mate 10, with a slightly better hand-held performance than Mate 10 and a relatively normal hands-free performance. Putting out the volume and sound quality performance in addition to Dolby sound's own demonstration video is indeed a little interesting, the effect of daily audio and video using two-channel sound better than nothing, the sound quality performance is also quite satisfactory, P20 Pro integrated call performance and Lumia 1020 also have their own outcome, The former speaker is louder, while the latter is louder. However, considering that the price of P20 Pro has reached more than 5,000 yuan, the quality of hands-free calling should still be better.

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