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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  • Andrei Frumusanu - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    I meant to say that I emphasised it in the S9 piece by bringing it up, praising Samsung for keeping it. I'll reword it here.
  • djayjp - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    I personally found the noise vs noise reduction smear balance of the s9 much more appealing in the night shots
  • s.yu - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - link

    Me too. Huawei NR smears the most out of all the flagships (HTC's seems to smear the least, surprisingly) and the only thing in auto propping up that low light performance is that second 20MP monochrome, because the 1/1.7" 40MP main on its own is horrible, its low light performance alone is completely out of proportion with its sensor size (easily hands the win to S9 and Pixel2), even if you manually bin the 40MP's output down to 10MP its low light performance is good as useless, Phonearena already did such a comparison size-matching the output of the P20Pro 40MP and a regular Pixel2XL low light shot.
  • djayjp - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - link

    Agreed! I think the author is out to lunch on this claim of his about the Huawei's supposed dominance in night shots. It clearly looks worse.
  • nrecob - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    New Cameraphone: Huawei P20 Pro. Old phone" iPhone X.
    Enjoying my P20 Pro immensely! My regrets: not buying the "Twilight" version & buying an iPhone X in the first place.
  • banvetor - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    Why no comments or comparisons to the Google Pixel 2 in the camera pages? For me they still look the best in many cases (no pro photographer here though)
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    I didn't want to comment on every single phone and kept the phones to a minimum - personally I did not like the Pixel 2's shots - too much tendency towards unnatural HDR processing in daylight and too much noise and fuzziness in the night shots. Colour accuracy is the Pixel's forte I must admit though.
  • banvetor - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    They look good to me exactly because of their HDR! And their colour of course. Anyway, appreciate the reply! Cheers
  • Quantumz0d - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    No excuse for Huawei on their glaring 3 major flaws.

    1- Design copy of EMUI as iOS
    2 - Extended too deep as they just want to make the phone damn like an iPhone X with this Notch, camera module, the phone aesthetics, the plasticky frame look of that metal with polish like Apple again.
    3 - No Headphone jack, another inspiration from Apple.

    They want to be in serious front lines and all about their own AI powered notification system was a damn mess, I don't think it's going to be fixed anytime, Their lack of updates and price it to the north with tons of SKUs. After seeing the GSMA samples of Lumia 1020 Pureview, No camera comes close to that phone, they had Xenon flash, bigger massive sensor true lossless zoom and perfect natural colors unlike Huawei's AI crap or Samsung's oversaturated processing.

    Their recent fiasco of no bootloader unlock is another middle finger. Removing the jack driling holes like Apple. sheesh this phone doesn't even deserve any praise on the design front, and should be called out for it's cheap design, Only Huawei phone which is a true flagship was Mate 10 standard edition, no rounded drama, no notch, has a headphone jack, front scanner, 16:9 panel, SD slot. This phone doesn't have any of those or any phone from Huawei.

    Chinese phones nowadays have flooded the market with this obnoxious chin + notch BS and all phones are looking the damn same. A shame to the whole industry which Apple brought with their always fancy style over substance.

    No wonder no ones cares about audio anymore, soon LG will stop bleeding and ditch that ESS (half baked anyways needs mods to enable the HIM - High Impedance Mode as they crippled it unlike the older days SGS - Wolfson Linux driver compatible DACs) as they did with V20's removable battery and made an abomination G7 ruining the perfect balanced design, 19:9 is so impractical and useless, adding the chin (yeah I've said it by 3 times) it's just insane and stupid.

    Andrei shouldn't excuse them for adding a battery, Samsung's Note 8 has more tech inside it (ofc they played a stupid safe game of absurdly small battery) the stylus tech, Iris scanner, better construction and quality yet has a 3.5mm jack, S9+ improves on it, Note 9 rumored to have 3800+ mah (maybe it will help that failed Exynos 9810's custom kernel optimization) and have a 3.5mm jack again with SD Slot and all bells and whistles.

    Upcoming Pixel 3 XL having a notch, just ruins the Android now. Every OEM on the planet want to be like Apple. Sigh, Sorry for the long rant.
  • GREAT Expectations - Monday, June 18, 2018 - link

    Wow... It's just a phone. You sure do have strong opinions about this. Maybe use more full stops next time? Also IMHO, go get a life :)

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