System Performance

System performance of the P20 and P20 Pro should not be something where we’re expecting any surprises. We’ve covered the Kirin 970 in detail in a standalone article earlier this year, and because the chip doesn’t offer any on-paper improvements of last year’s Kirin 960 in the P10 – the improvements in system performance should come solely based on software upgrades such as in the upgrade from Android 7.0 to 8.1 respectively 8.0 to 8.1 when comparing against the results of the Mate 10 with the same chipset.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

Starting off with PCMark’s web browsing test, we see the P20’s perform excellently and achieving alongside the most recent S845 devices top scores. The web browsing test of PCMark is very sensitive to performance latency, meaning how fast the CPU and scheduler ramp up to higher performance states. The P20’s use a customised variant of EAS, however still rely on an interactive CPU frequency governor.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing subtest seems to have reached a performance plateau in terms of reported scores in that we’re not really seeing much deviation anymore across devices nowadays – giving diminishing returns of actual performance with increased scores and why all devices are so tight together.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing subtest is among one of the most representative tests in regards to overall user experience of a phone. Here the P20’s fare extremely well again and top the charts. Only Xiaomi’s most recent Mi MIX 2S with very aggressive scheduler configurables is able to take a lead in front of the P20’s.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The photo editing subtest also is a very performance latency sensitive test – the workloads comprise very short but still heavy bursts. Here scheduler and DVFS means everything and the P20’s again are at the top of the ranks only outpaced by S845 phones.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

The data manipulation workload is more characterised by longer single-thread workloads that seem to be memory latency sensitive. The P20 here seems to show a slight regression – again this agrees with the synthetic benchmarks that we’ve run in the Kirin 970 article as it seems the memory controller on the K970 is less aggressive than on the K960.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Overall, the P20’s performance in PCMark is as expected- slightly above last year’s P10 more recent Mate 10’s. Both phones are among the fastest today and only more aggressive implementations of the Snapdragon 845 will outpace them in terms of snappiness.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

In web tests, the P20s again fare relatively unsurprisingly, taking a small lead over the Mate 10 in Speedometer 2.0 while still showcasing the same regression compared to last year’s P10 in WebXPRT3.

System performance of the P20s wasn’t really something I had any kind of expectations – and they ended up exactly where I thought they would. HiSilicon’s choice of sticking with Cortex A73’s in 2018 makes both sense, but also gives them a disadvantage in some markets.

At the beginning of the year I had thought we’d see the Kirin 970 have to worry about large performance deltas to the Exynos 9810 – however that worry quickly dissipated as we saw the fiasco that was the Exynos Galaxy S9. The Snapdragon 845 however still maintains a very noticeable performance lead and that’s where the P20s don’t look that good against. This would still be fine if Huawei would price the P20s more competitively – however that’s not the case, and in particular with the price premium of the P20 Pro we are not checking off all the boxes for a flagship device coming in at that price bracket.

Unfortunately Huawei’s is in a bit of a bind here as their SoC release schedule is out of sync with the technology release schedule, and that’s why the P20s will have to make due in other areas to compensate for the “average” performance of the Kirin 970. Again, I want to make note that both devices are still extremely smooth and subjectively still very fast devices – it’s just that by now we have competitions that are a generational leap ahead and that needs to be taken into account.

Software UI - EMUI 8.1 GPU Performance
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  • Vishnu NS - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Andrei - I have the Mate 9 and I get regular monthly security updates. I just got my June 2018 update yesterday. Cheers! Love the review, strongly eyeing the Mate 10 Pro at $549 on Amazon currently. Also awaiting the Pixel 3 XL release later this year before making a new purchase.

    Regards,
    Vish
    Reply
  • chocolatine - Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - link

    My P10+ (in France) has the may 2018 security patches (and Android 8). Using the HiSuite software updater while your phone is plugged in your computer works much better than using the system update menu of the phone Reply
  • amouses - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    The Mate10 is supported by Project Treble. And so swifter updates are possible. But so such assurance has been given for any P20 variant. I've repeatedly asked Huawei via official and unofficial forums. You will also notice that Huawei was absent from the Android P Beta programme. Not a good sign. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Thanks Andrei! While some other commentators here seem to have had luck getting updates for their Huawei phones, my experience mirrors yours - spotty or no updates. Would love to hear that they are fully committed to timely updates and longer-term support for their phones. Reply
  • sonicmerlin - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    Don't these come with Project Treble? Shouldn't that make updating far easier? Reply
  • mmrezaie - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    It doesn't on my Motorola! It is still on Android 8.0 and security update from Feb. I think I have got only three updates since it got introduced as one of the first Project Terrible phones. Pun intended. Reply
  • Round - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    I'm sure Huawei will release updates as soon as they get an approved version from the communist government or the PLA, that has improved tracking apps built in at the OS level. You can trust these guys, along with their friends at ZTE, another stalwart of honesty and integrity. Reply
  • Lodix - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Nice review.

    I noticed the Xiaomi Mi Mix2s has the same problems in terms of GPU throttling as the S9+. Do you know what is causing this behaviour?
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    It's just the behaviour of S845 devices it seems - the MIX 2S review will be a separate piece after this. Reply
  • ZolaIII - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Probably the step into right direction. Xiaomi uses CAF defaults this day's & yes they are very aggressive.
    To answer the question;
    The A75's are about 50% larger more power hungry compared to the A73's both SoC's are made on the 10 nm Samsung FinFET while later one (S845) is made on more optimised one which is let's say capable of saving around 20% power compared to the early one. The S845 is also clocked hire and all do it's only 12~13% those eat additional 25~30% more power. The all FinFET structures leak insanely when the around 2.1~2.2GHz limit is crossed so more than that should be used for short bursts and only when really needed. In the end we have 1.5~1.6x CPU power consumption while sustainable power limit remains the same 2.5~2.7W. This is enough to diminish the A630 efficiency/performance/proces advantages of around 30% combined. Their is no hotpluging in user space whatsoever on any newer Snapdragon SoC's/builds (since removing the Core_ctl a year ago) which can help a lot regarding sustainable GPU performance. At the end it's at least easy to play with Kirin regarding limiting the CPU frequency scheduling as it uses good old interactive governor & I am certain it will be very beneficial regarding GPU through.

    Best regards.
    Reply

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