Huawei P20 Review: Performance

By 11:32 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


Performance

Huawei and its HiSilicon silicon branch, in particular, seem to currently be a few months behind the curve on chipset development. It's a release cycle issue, more than anything else, since news of the Kirin 980 and its most likely ambassador - the Mate 20, is already surfacing. In the meantime, however, the Huawei P20 is stuck with the Kirin 970. Don't acquire us wrong, while slightly dated, it still has plenty of power to go around. So, we can't really complain about the chipset choice.


That's if you don't count how abnormally hot the P20 got during our benchimprint run. So hot, in fact, that it was actually uncomfortable to the touch, especially around the top frame of the unit.

The situation actually got so poor that we were forced to whip out our special peltier-based cooling setup and re-run the benchmarks with active cooling applied to the back of the unit. Examining the performance numbers in more detail reveals that the four 2.4 Giga Hertz (GHz) Cortex-A73 and other four 1.8 Giga Hertz (GHz) Cortex-A53 units inside the Kirin 970 actually favoured quite well, even with the intensive heat.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X

    10215

  • Apple iPhone 8

    10214

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    8883

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    8487

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    8349

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    6759

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    6739

  • Huawei P20

    6722

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    6679

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    6656

  • HTC U11+

    6654

  • Huawei Mate 10

    6625

  • Nokia 8

    6568

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    6428

  • LG V30

    6365

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    3535

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X

    4256

  • Apple iPhone 8

    4234

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    3771

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    2446

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    2199

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    1991

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    1974

  • HTC U11+

    1939

  • Nokia 8

    1925

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    1915

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    1907

  • LG V30

    1901

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    1900

  • Huawei P20

    1897

  • Huawei Mate 10

    1882

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    904

GeekBench reports scores quite similar to those of a Huawei Mate 10 and easily comparable to the previous generation of competing chips, like the Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895. So, about what we expected.

AnTuTu scores seem mostly unaffected by the heat overall, although we are still seeing consistently lower numbers than the Mate 10. It is also worth noting that we ran AnTuTu 5 as well and saw noticeably bigger difference.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    265326

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    264044

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    246660

  • Huawei Mate 10

    214037

  • Nokia 8

    210323

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    209884

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    207072

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    207016

  • Huawei P20

    206906

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    203119

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    199022

  • LG V30

    182374

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    67636

Other compound benchmarks, like BaseMark Operating System (OS) 2.0 are less kind to a smouldering Huawei P20 and clearly showcase the adverse effects on performance.

Baseimprint Operating System (OS) 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X

    4708

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    4196

  • Apple iPhone 8

    3934

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    3681

  • Nokia 8

    3503

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    3487

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    3458

  • Huawei Mate 10

    3415

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    3379

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    3376

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    3354

  • Huawei P20

    3338

  • HTC U11+

    3257

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    3252

  • LG V30

    2705

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    1398

The Central Processing Units (CPU) might be fine, but the Mali-G72 MP12 GPU, not so much.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8

    85

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    83

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    82

  • Apple iPhone X

    81

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    74

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    66

  • Huawei Mate 10

    65

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    65

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    61

  • LG V30

    60

  • Nokia 8

    57

  • HTC U11+

    56

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    56

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    50

  • Huawei P20

    47

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8

    60

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    59

  • Apple iPhone X

    59

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    56

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    55

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    51

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    50

  • Huawei P20

    46

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    45

  • Huawei Mate 10

    43

  • HTC U11+

    36

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    36

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    36

  • LG V30

    35

  • Nokia 8

    33

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    8.3

The incompatibility in frame rate is clearly there in both off-classy screen and on-classy screen scenarios. The GPU clearly thermal-throttles, which can also be observed by monitoring the GPU core frequencies during tests.

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    35

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    35

  • Nokia 8

    32

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    28

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    26

  • HTC U11+

    25

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    25

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    25

  • LG V30

    24

  • Huawei P20

    23

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    23

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    23

  • Huawei Mate 10

    21

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    2.8

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    33

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    24

  • Huawei P20

    23

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    23

  • Huawei P20 Pro

    21

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    20

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    14

  • Huawei Mate 10

    13

  • LG V30

    13

  • HTC U11+

    13

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    13

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    13

  • Nokia 8

    12

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    2.8

Higher version OpenGL GFXBench tests report smaller, or even entirely non-existent scores, regardless of temperature state. The GPU's is clearly hitting some unrelated limitation that causes the fps cap.

But, believe us when we say, the adverse effects are still there. Take Baseimprint ES 3.1, for instance. Not only does it hold into consideration a total rendered frame count, but it is also a very lengthy test to run, leaving the Mali-G72 MP12 plenty of time to acquire all toasty.

Baseimprint ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone X

    1854

  • Apple iPhone 8

    1690

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    1481

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    1189

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    1177

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    1174

  • Huawei Mate 10

    1142

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    874

  • LG V30

    860

  • Nokia 8

    855

  • HTC U11+

    851

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    829

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    699

  • Huawei P20

    538

Baseimprint X paints the exact same picture.

Baseimprint X

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

    44058

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon)

    44013

  • Samsung Galaxy S8

    42370

  • Samsung Galaxy S9+

    42134

  • Huawei Mate 10

    40809

  • Google Pixel 2 XL

    39143

  • HTC U11+

    38315

  • OnePlus 5T (Oreo)

    38248

  • Huawei P20 (cooled)

    37659

  • Nokia 8

    37593

  • LG V30

    36704

  • Huawei P20

    26842

  • Huawei Honor 7X

    8616

All that being said, in real world terms, you are quite unlikely to notice any slow-downs, even in the most demanding game titles. Modern engines are simply too fine at adjusting to deliver the best possible experience. Playing games for extended periods of time didn't result in the colossal heat build-up which we observed while benchmarking.


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