For the longest time, Samsung has been the undisputed player in the Android market. Their Galaxy series was the top choice for Android users and those looking for an alternative to the walled-garden that is iOS.
In recent years though, many other smartphone vendors have challenged Samsung and among them, one that has made some significant progress is Huawei.
The new flagship line-up that’s been recently launched is the Mate 20 series and the hero product is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
In this article, we’re going to do a close-up comparison between Samsung’s best and Huawei’s newest – the Mate20 Pro vs. the Galaxy Note9.
Like in our previous comparisons, we break them down into several categories for this round-up:
1) Design and Build
8) Battery Life
1) Design and Build
Since the Galaxy S6, Samsung has done really well in the design department. Their transition to the all-metal chassis with glass-on-glass paneling went as far back as four generations ago and has continued the until today with the same design DNA.
Samsung also popularized the curved edge design with the Galaxy Note9 inheriting the same look. Many others took inspiration from the Galaxy S and Note series. Even Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro has a lot of fine touches that reminded us of the S9 and Note9.
Huawei has made a dramatic improvement on the design and build of the Mate 20 Pro compared to previous generations. It’s got a full-metal chassis with a glass-on-glass outer shell, a curved glass front-panel and a lot of attention to detail.
Between the Note9 and the Mate20 Pro, it’s hard to distinguish a clear winner so we’re calling it a tie in the design department. Both have a beautiful design, impeccable build quality and refinements. While the Mate20 Pro has drastically improved its build and design, the Note9 has been steadily on the same design path for several generations. Huawei gets brownie points for most improved in this category.
The Mate20 Pro comes with a large 6.39″ 19.5:9 OLED with 2K+ resolution (1440 x 3120 pixels), a 538ppi pixel density, 87.6% screen-to-body ratio and HDR10 support.
The Galaxy Note9 has almost the same screen with 6.4″ Super AMOLED display at 2,960 x 1,440 pixels, a 516ppi pixel density, 83.4% screen-to-body ratio, and HDR 10 compliant.
Both use Corning’s Gorilla Glass with the Note9 using the 5th generation while the Mate20 Pro did not indicate which generation of Gorilla Glass it uses.
Both OLED displays look equally gorgeous, bright and crisp. The Mate20 Pro has a slightly higher pixel density and screen-to-body ratio but the notch somewhat ruins the experience.
The Mate20 Pro has in-display fingerprint sensor which is fancy but the Galaxy Note9 comes with an S-Pen that adds a lot of functionality to the screen, like making drawings, note-taking or sketching.
We’re calling this category a close tie between the Galaxy Note9 and the Mate20 Pro.
Huawei has made some very interesting setup when it comes to their Leica triple-camera system.
The Mate20 Pro is composed of 3 fully-functioning cameras – a 40-megapixel sensor with wide-angle lens and an f/1.8 aperture, a secondary 20-megapixel sensor with ultra-wide angle lens with f/2.2 aperture, and a 3rd 8MP sensor with telephoto lens and f/2.4 aperture.
The main camera has optical image stabilization while the two other have AI Stabilization for better accuracy and fast-focusing shots.
The Galaxy Note9 has a pretty interesting dual-camera setup with the primary 12MP sensor having dual-aperture function (f/1.5 and f/2.4). This allows it to take really good low-light shots because of the very wide opening at f/1.5. The secondary 12MP camera has a telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture.
The Note9 also has optical image stabilization and 2x zoom. The Mate20 Pro easily beats the Note9 with its impressive 10x zoom capability, a feat that’s hard to match.
Both phones are capable of recording 4K though the Mate20 Pro can only do it at 30fps while the Note9 can do it at 60fps. The Note9 can also shoot full HD at 240fps so you get a nice slow-mo footage.
In terms of quality, both phones produce really great photos and videos. The Mate20 Pro edges out the Note9 in photos but the latter makes up for it in videos. The Note9 wins in the video recording but the Mate20 Pro wins in the photo department.
Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset is among the most powerful in the market. The 7nm chip is the world’s first among Android phones although Apple technically got that crown with their A12 Bionic chip.
Samsung also uses its own chip, the Exynos 9810 Octa. This is composed of a quad-core 2.7 GHz Mongoose M3 and quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 processors.
The HiSilicon Kirin 980 is equally powerful and is made of an octa-core processor comprised of a dual-core Cortex A76 2.6GHz, dual-core Cortex A76 1.92GHz, and quad-core Cortex A55 1.8GHz.
If we look at their raw scores using performance benchmarks like Antutu, the Mate 20 Pro gets a high score of over 308,000 while the Galaxy Note9 only got around 239,000 points.
The Kirin 980 of the Mate20 Pro wins over the Samsung Exynos 9810 in this round.
Samsung is not fond of massive memory in its flagship phones but this time around, they cranked up the numbers with 6GB RAM for the base model and 8GB for the top-end variant.
With the Mate20 Pro, you also the option of 6GB for the base model and 8GB for the top variant.
Both the Mate20 Pro and the Galaxy Note9 are tied in this section.
The Galaxy Note9 comes in 2 storage options – 128GB for the base model with 512GB for the top variant.
As for the Mate 20 Pro, storage option starts at 128GB with option for a 256GB variant.
In this comparison, we’ll stick with the base models so the Mate 20 Pro’s 128GB storage is again tied with the Galaxy Note9.
Connectivity is one aspect of any smartphone that’s not often discussed nor highlighted but is very important. Connectivity features include the LTE modem, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS.
The Mate 20 Pro has a suite of connectivity options. It’s got a dual-LTE modem that’s the fastest in the world (Cat. 21 up to 1.4Gbps). It’s also got dual GPS that makes it faster to connect and much more accurate than any other smartphone, even in densely populated areas with lots of high-rise buildings.
The Galaxy Note9 has an equally complete set of connectivity options, from dual-LTE SIM, fast WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC and GPS.
8) Battery Life
When considering battery performance, we look at battery capacity, battery life, charging time and other battery-related features.
The Galaxy Note9 comes with a built-in 4,000mAh Li-ion battery while the Mate20 Pro has a slightly larger capacity at 4,200mAh.
Both have fast charging and wireless charging capability but the Mate 20 Pro is faster at 70% within 30 minutes compared to Quick Charge 2.0 on the Note9.
As for battery life, we tested the Mate20 Pro managed to last 23.5 hours of video playback on a single full charge.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Note9 lasts about 20 hours on video loop at full charge.
One very unique feature of the Mate20 Pro is the reverse wireless charging. This means you can actually wirelessly charge the Galaxy Note9 with the Mate 20 Pro.
In the OS department, the Galaxy Note9 comes pre-installed with Android 8.1 while the Mate 20 Pro has Google’s latest Android 9.0 Pie.
The Note9 will eventually get Android 9 soon but for the meantime, we’ll give the score to the Mate20 Pro for having the latest Android OS.
The Samsung Galaxy Note9 retails for Php55,990 for the 128GB variant while the Huawei Mate 20 Pro sells for Php49,990 for the 128GB variant.
The price difference between the two is quite significant and the Mate20 Pro wins this round.
Samsung has done a consistent job in producing really great flagship smartphones and the Galaxy Note9 is certainly among the best we’ve seen in the market.
It is one of the most anticipated smartphones every single year and has delivered on its promise though the effect hasn’t been as impactful as before.
However, newer and better contenders like the Mate20 Pro from Huawei has certainly caught on and quite fast, if we may add so.
The introduction of the Mate 20 series has certainly made an impact in the smartphone industry, pushing the boundaries in mobile photography, AI, battery and over-all performance.
In this comparison, the Mate20 Pro got a perfect score of 10 out of 10 in all the categories we considered while the Galaxy Note9 got half the marks.
With only about 3 months difference in release date between the two, we were expecting a really good match-up and we think we did.
The biggest advantage, in our opinion, of the Mate20 Pro versus the Galaxy Note9 is in the chipset, battery and the pricing. That’s more than enough difference to get a lot of people’s attention. Hats off to Huawei to clinching a perfect score in our comparison.