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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  • Belldandy - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    Just an interesting note: I have the Canadian version of the P20 Pro, single sim card.
    running version: CLT-L04
    I got scores of Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited graphics: 3114 Physics: 2821
    But T-Rex was 123fps
    Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen was 39 fps

    So maybe it has been fixed on my phone like the Mate 10 pro
  • arayoflight - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Are you planning to review the OnePlus 6 as well?
  • greenbat - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Great article. I was wondering about the AI benchmark. It would be intersting to see whether the android 8.1 on the p20 give better results compared to the android 8.0 Mate 10. Any change to test that?

    And the next firmware upgrade of the mate 10 gives night shot without tripod, just like p20
  • amouses - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    The Huawei P20 Pro is an awesome phone, especially for people whose usage includes predominantly photography. But as a Huawei fanboy or maybe ex fanboy beware. Huawei have a habit of providing poor Software upgrades (security) and OS upgrades for phones. And so my official requests to them about Android P support for a phone ironically named P20 have gone unanswered to date. So Huawei, do you commit to upgrading your flagship phone, say by Dec 31st 2018? or will users as per your previous flagship products be saddled with excellent hardware and totally out of date Android Software. Your call.
  • Trixanity - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Second paragraph in the conclusion "Huawei tried to take some design queues from Apple’s iPhone X" should be design cues I'd wager :)

    Are there any plans to revisit the GPU benchmarks later? Huawei's alleged black magic (which they call GPU Turbo that supposedly has significant improvements to performance and power efficiency) seemingly coming out of thin air will be released to a wide range of models including the P20 in July. Would really like to see not only benchmarks but a dissection of what it is and how it works if possible.
  • South_DL - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    These continental Chinese phones are nothing but a mix of plagiarism from both Apple and Samsung, how in earth such a thing can be legal in the US?
  • Retycint - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Because you can't trademark things like a notch or a glass back, that's why. And these phones are much more than just "iPhone/Samsung clones", unless you're telling me you didn't even read the review and skipped straight to the comments section to complain?
  • prisonerX - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    You can't copyright, patent or restrict an idea, only a specific instance, expression or design.

    Your notion of "plagiarism" is how people have been designing things forever, and it benefits consumers. Why someone would be worried about where ideas come from rather than whether they're good or bad, I'll never know.
  • levizx - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    You are plagiarizing, because 1+1=2, and you can't use it EVER.
  • sonny73n - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    You’re such a shallow minded. Go on gsmarena and check the last 4 iPhone generations (6,6s,7 and 8) and Meizu see who stole design from whom. And the bezel-less design of iPhone X is also a steal from another Chinese phone.

    By the way, your beloved Apple trademarked “slide to unlock” and “tap center of status bar to scroll up back to top”. LOL

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