Huawei P20 Pro Review: Display


P20 Pro is a masterpiece of Huawei's R&D achievements this year. It is equipped with a Kirin 970 processor, starting at 4988 Yuan for the 6GB/64GB configuration. The main camera in the P20 Pro's rear tri-camera is a 1/1.7-inch, up to 40-megapixel resolution large-sized image sensor. However, for mobile phone users, whether the photos are good-looking or not, the color performance of the screen is crucial, and it also determines the manufacturers' perception and aesthetics of color.

The P20 Pro screen uses a 6.1-inch flexible AMOLED panel from Samsung. It uses mainstream round edges and notch design, but it still retains the fingerprint scanner below the screen and cannot be counted as a full-screen design. The P20 Pro has a resolution of 2240x1080. Since the AMOLED uses a Pentile pixel arrangement, the actual pixel density is lower than 408PPI. Generally speaking, Huawei is only willing to use OLED screens on the Mate Pro series and the hi-end mobile phones such as the Mate RS, which also shows the confidence of the manufacturers in the P20 Pro [a higher price, of course]. Although there are "burn-in" and glitches under certain low-light conditions, the advantages of OLED's wide color gamut and high-speed response have already been fully demonstrated on mobile phones. Compared with TFT panels, latency can be reduced in entertainment applications such as games and video.

On the system side, the P20 Pro runs an EMUI based on Android 8.1 and supports HDR10 video playback. The color settings provide default and standard options, as well as the traditional "color temperature" adjustment function of Huawei's mobile phones. P20 Pro screen objective index test is completed by SpectraCal Calman. If there is no special explanation, the screen indicators are the test scores in the standard dynamic range display mode.

Display Mode Vivid Vivid [Warm] Costumed Color Temperature Basic
Brightness cd/m2 422-597
Grayscale (Gamma 2.2) 2.22 2.25 2.24 2.28
Average Color Temperature K 7117 6257 6591 6230
Average Luminance Error 4.37 3.15 1.29 2.12
Comparision P20 Pro Galaxy S9+ Samsung Galaxy S9 vivo X21 iPhone X Huawei Mate 10
Brightness cd/m2 422-597 387-681 344-659 394 530-649 402-630
Grayscale (Gamma 2.2) 2.28 2.06 2.16 2.22 2.22 1.99
Average Color Temperature K 6230 6176 6467 6591 6638 6667
Average Luminance Error 2.12 2.58 2.32 2.2 1.53 2.26
Display Mode Vivid Costumed Color Temperature Basic
Color Gamut(sRGB) 141.45% 141.45% 103.77%
Average Color Error 4.64 3.33 1.71
Largest Color Error 7.46 7.47 3.5
Comparision P20 Pro Galaxy S9+ Samsung Galaxy S9 vivo X21 iPhone X Huawei Mate 10
Color Gamut(sRGB) 103.77% 99.09% 103.27% 100.5% 102.48% 92.48%
Average Color Error 1.71 2.47 1.4 1.15 1.85 2.66
3.5 3.25 2.9 2.09 2.09 3.45 4.62
  • Max Screen Brightness (cd/m2 or nits): The maximum brightness one screen could reach, without considering glass quality, algorithm or dynamic adjusting. Over 500 cd/m2 can be used under strong light, below 400 cd/m2 will be to use.
    Gamma 2.2: Gamma value is the key factor in contrast display. Our eyes do not perceive light the way cameras do. Under sRGB, if the gamma value is 2.2, the tonal range is just what human eyes receive. Lower than 2.2, the contrast will go down, otherwise, it will go up. Except the gamma value, we have to see form the picture if the red, green and blue curve overlap, if not, different color contrast will be different. The value between 2.1 to 2.3 is qualified for display, while if the value is below 2 or over 2.4, the contrast will be lower or higher than standard.
    Average Color of White: The average color temperature in degrees, D65 with 6500 K is the standard color of White for most Consumer Content and needed for accurate color reproduction of all images. Higher than 6500K will tend to be cold, otherwise will be warm.
    Color difference: A measurement used to indicate how much a color deviates from standard. The higher the E, the more inaccurate the color. This is because the human eye is only capable of detecting color difference at certain thresholds. It is hard to detect if average E is below 5, less than average 3 E and less than 5 E is excellent, the smaller the E is, the better the color is. Between 5 to 10 E is detectable, over 10E is significantly detectable.
    Color Gamut(sRGB): The specific range of colors that one device is able to display. Our test is based on sRGB. If wide-gamut device is tested, Adobe RGB or NTSC gamut will be noted for reference. Display with over 90% will be enough for everyday use, higher than a certain percentage will not affect using experience significantly. However, photo playback requires precisely range, 10bit video requires wider gamut.
    Restricted by our devices, we will not test the viewing angle. On average, more than 30 would bring over 50% brightness loss.

The P20 Pro's screen color performance gave us some small surprises. In the vivid mode, the NTSC color gamut is approached. The screen color temperature is higher than the 6500K standard, and the color temperature can be adjusted to the standard by the custom color temperature, but the color accuracy is not improved. In Basic Mode, P20 Pro perform well in colors, reaching the standard sRGB level, in addition to the low color temperature, making the overall tone was warmer, the grayscale and color performance were all at a relatively good level. The screen Gamma was slightly higher than 2.2, still at normal level. The Basic mode of the P20 Pro is also the most stable color performance of the Huawei mobile phones we have ever tested. Unfortunately, the standard mode color temperature cannot be adjusted to a standard close to 6500K [the adjusted Gamma curve will be more unstable and the gray scale error will be larger]. With an average of 400 nits or more and a peak value close to 600 nits, the brightness is also in full compliance with HDR10 or Dolby Vision HDR video playback standards. The P20 Pro system provides a HDR10 video DEMO for users to experience.

In daily use, the brightness performance of P20 Pro does not seem to be stable enough. It is also difficult to activate peak 600-nit-lumianace luminosity under strong outdoor light, and the reflection of screen glass is more obvious than that of vivo X21. In general, the performance of the P20 Pro screen is clearly superior to Mate10 in terms of color, visibility, and screen delay, which fully demonstrates the advantages of OLEDs. Basic mode also has better usability and color reference, but considering the price of 5,000 yuan is close to the top AMOLED panel phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S9, the P20 Pro still has a gap in brightness and screen permeability. Also note that the P20 Pro is not P20! The P20 screen of the same series is JDI's TFT IPS panel, so the P20 Pro's review cannot be used for P20 purchase and use reference.

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