Deciding between the Huawei P20 Pro and the Pixel 2 XL ~ Android Coliseum

Deciding between the Huawei P20 Pro and the Pixel 2 XL


Being one who reviews phones is a blessing and a curse... okay, that sounds way more dramatic than I meant it to be.

Really, all I was meaning to say before I went o a weird place in cliches was that because I get to play with the latest and greatest devices it can sometimes cause me to lose perspective of what's really needed.  Do we really need the upper echelon of everything?

Lately, I've had the opportunity to review the Sony Xperia XZ2, the LG G7, the Huawei P20 Pro ... which is the best?  It's a hard question to answer.  I've had several dozen people over the past months ask me which they should buy.  Not a simple question to provide a simple answer to.

Best I can always do in these cases is talk to something they may know and try to compare.

Up to a couple of weeks ago my daily driver was the Pixel 2 XL, I loved it.  I did a follow up after 2 months and then even tried going back to my previous daily, the LG G6 and tried to compare the 2 phones.

I really liked the Huawei P20 Pro, I had recommended it to about a half dozen people who picked one up and well, I thought it might be time to give it a full shot as my daily and not just the review unit.  So I dove in for a few weeks.  Here are my thoughts on that process.




Now, let's just provide some framing here... both the Pixel 2 XL and the Huawei P20 Pro are really REALLY amazing phones.  It's really tough to compare something that is so subjective.  So keep that in mind here, this is just MY experience and my opinion on comparing these 2.  So, let's not get our knickers in a twist over something I may say that doesn't line up with your world-view.

Anyways - how I thought I'd frame this is to just talk about the pros and cons I'd found on using each. And I say 'con', but really it's more of a 'something I miss that the other phone had that I got used to and isn't here' and isn't a 'con' per se.

Onwards

First up, let's talk about the Huawei... I had been on the Pixel 2 XL for a while, so what did I notice on second glance (again, I'd suggest going and reading the review I made on it.

Huawei P20 Pro

Pros


  • I prefer having the fingerprint sensor on the back where my index finger rests, but I have to admit, it gets very convenient to have it on the front for when it's charging or just resting on the table
  • It's a great camera, I mean c'mon: LEICA.  They do give you lots of options to play with, and I appreciate the bokeh effect is immediately previewable rather than take the shot and 'let's see what happens'
  • HUGE battery ... having a non-QuadHD display and a whopping 4000mAh means this lasts forever.  It's ruined me for other devices.
  • 128GB of space it's easy to not worry about isntalling Fortnite and PUBG and caching a ton of Netflix movies etc... sure there's no microSD but you probably will never want for one.
  • Not as big a deal anymore, but a dual SIM is pretty neat (i.e., if I had been able to attend IFA getting some European SIM, would have been helpful)
  • 6GB of RAM does make running several things at once occur flawlessly.  Fortnite runs... okay'ish.  PUBG is VERY fluid.


Cons


The bulk of this centres around the software 'feel'.  EMUI feels ... 'old school'.
  • An issue I had found now and again was that some items wouldn't sync until I went to them (like Google Photos or Keep etc...).  I'm wondering if it had something to do with AppLaunch interference.  AppLaunch suddenly started popping up saying that X app was running a lot in the background and I wasn't sure if the program was being killed by them or not.  Was a little confusing.
  • Whenever I got a notification that I could use a 'quick reply' in the notification shade (i.e. Messenger or Whatsapp) I would find that the navigation tray (home and multi buttons) would interfere with keyboard upon, meaning that the keboard would display 'behind' the navigation buttons.  On other devices it puts the keyboard above.  It's a weird quirk, but highly annoying as I tend to do a lot of my replies via that method.  So trying to get to apunctuation mark usually meant hitting the multi button and ruining whatever app I was in (making it look like I 'left' an app - I'd lose my place in games or whatnot).
  • Google Keep can't make a widget (now the problem was noted on Keep's Google Play listing, however, I can do it without issue on the Pixel.
  • Then there's the little odd bits like sometimes the notification 'badge' would show when there's nothing there.



Pixel 2 XL

Pros


  • Whereas the Huawei is a GREAT camera, the Pixel can be hit or miss, but when it's on, it's PHENOMENAL camera
  • The UI just has that fluid feel ... god, am I going to say this... it just works?  Especially, I prefer the share interface over the Huawei's
  • Getting the timely updates right from Google, right when it's ready is a huge asset
  • I really love being able to squeeze for Assistant.  It feels ... natural in some way, and seems to work faster than holding the home button on the Huawei
  • The feature that I missed the most on Huawei was the "Now Playing" music detection.  Knowing what song I was listening to was a huge cool factor (just wish it kept a history... I thought that was a feature being added in Pie)
  • I also missed being able to swipe the fingerprint sensor to bring down the notification shade.  I do that CONSTANTLY with the Pixel - feels like such a time saver
  • Adjusting the volume seems to allow more 'control' giving you more gradations


Cons


  • Compared to the P20, the battery feels tiny now, plus the 'rapid charging' of PD isn't as prevalent as other QC options
  • 4GB of RAM can rear its head now and again when you play a game (say Pokemon Go) then go take a photo, then going back to the game, often I'll have to have it reload.  Tends to be in between very intensive apps (heavy 3D game and heavy AI camera app)
  • The new Pie navigation takes getting used to (you can switch it back tho')
  • Getting into the settings is now an extra step away... swipe down, then swipe down again to see the cog.  

So those are my thoughts when I compare the two.  You can see that the Pixel 2 XL has less 'cons'.  In the end the main bit that I didn't mention (but I mentioned in the video... you did watch the video right?) was the fact that I have the Pixel Buds, and the Pixelbook.  Those work so well together that it's seemless.  I feel very 'Apple'ish saying that, but it's true.  

Definitely I would be very happy with just the P20 Pro.  Absolutely.  I'm just slightly happier with the Pixel 2
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