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Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Speedboat camera torture test


Huawei talks a big game when it comes to its new Huawei Mate 20 Pro's camera, but how well does it stand up when you really push it?

Huawei launched the Huawei Mate 20 Pro in London this week, and as part of the launch, I had the opportunity to take a river cruise with its new flagship handset.

Now, most of the time when you cruise the Thames, it's slowly, so you can take in the sights while learning the rich and complex history of London and the central role that the river has played in its evolution.

But not in this case. Huawei booked me and a group of other attending journalists on a jet boat ride down the Thames, in rainy and choppy weather. The theme of the event was "damp", or possibly "thrown around at high speed and caution be damned". Maybe both.

Taking that attitude of throwing caution to the wind, it seemed like a good idea to pull out a $1,599 smartphone and start taking pictures. After all, if Huawei's camera AI is as good as they say, it should be able to handle a few bumps and splashes, right?

Technically, being IP68 rated, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro might even survive being dropped into the Thames. Strictly speaking that should be clean lab water, not the murky brown fluid that runs through the Thames. Also, logically speaking, I wouldn't want to try to work out where in the murk any smartphone would happen to be.

So how did it hold up? Surprisingly well, all things considered:

The weather leads to interesting cloud effects. I'm certain London isn't meant to seem this foreboding, but some buildings were clearly designed to look like evil villain lairs. Considering this was freehand while bouncing in full auto mode, the Mate 20 Pro is holding up well.

It feels risky to be doing this, to be honest, but the level of detail in the water considering how we're bouncing around is pretty impressive.

Pro shooters will push the Huawei Mate 20 Pro harder (albeit probably not under these conditions) but if you're the point-and-shoot type, its assistive AI can do a very nice job of picking out good highlights while retaining overall detail in your shots.

Not pictured: Me almost dropping the Mate 20 Pro after this bounce. Almost.

Zoom is a little trickier to balance properly, so it's feasible I might have got better results shooting at the full 40MP and cropping afterwards.

Video in these circumstances is a tough test, but the Huawei Mate 20 Pro mostly does OK, although zoom is problematic. It also gave me the chance to check out its AI Cinema mode, where humans are highlighted. Again, it flickers sometimes on clothes, but there's fun to be had with this effect.

I've cropped out the sound, partly because the boat was playing copyrighted music, but mostly because the only other thing you'd be able to hear is a rather predictable wind tunnel effect as the air goes blasting past.

My verdict? I think the Huawei Mate 20 Pro came through the whole thing a little better (and certainly a touch less wet) than I did:

Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera test

For more coverage of the Huawei Mate 20 launch, check out our dedicated Huawei launch news hub here.

Alex Kidman travelled to London as a guest of Huawei

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