Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs LG V40: which wide-angle camera is best?

Huawei P20 Pro vs LG V40 cameras

If you’re after a mobile photography powerhouse, the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro and LG V40 ThinQ both offer compelling triple-camera setups designed to give serious photographers that added flexibility. Both offer wide-angle shooting options, something that’s become one of the most popular camera features packed into high-end smartphones.

LG has been experimenting with wide-angle lenses for a few generations now, so it has plenty of experience here. The Mate 20 series is Huawei’s first entry into the field. Let’s break down how they stack up.

Wide Angle Camera Specs Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40
Resolution 20 megapixels 16 megapixels
Aperture f/2.2 f/1.9
Pixel Size 1.0µm 1.0µm
Sensor Size 1/2.7″ 1/3.1″
Auto Focus PDAF & Laser NA
Equivalent Focal Length 16mm 16mm

On paper, there’s very little in it. Both offer an equivalent focal length, have 1.0um pixel sizes, and there’s not much detail difference between 16 and 20 megapixel images either. The LG V40 has a slightly wider aperture, hinting at a lead in low light performance. However, the Mate 20 Pro includes autofocus technology, which should make it more flexible for both near and distant shots. Let’s dive into some samples.

Also read: Google Pixel 3 camera shootout

Fitting more into the frame

The whole point of a wide-angle lens is to fit more into the picture than your regular camera. So how much more can you squeeze in versus both of these phones’ main sensors?

Both the V40 and Mate 20 Pro’s main cameras offer an equivalent focal length of 27mm, widening to 16mm when switching over to the wide-angle lens. As such, both cameras widen out their field of view by a virtually identical amount and should offer virtually identical frames.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro main camera (27mm) Huawei Mate 20 Pro wide-angle camera (16mm) Huawei Mate 20 Pro main camera (27mm)

Huawei Mate 20 Pro wide-angle camera (16mm)

LG V40 main camera (27mm) LG V40 wide-angle camera (16mm) LG V40 main camera (27mm)

LG V40 wide-angle camera (16mm)

The LG V40 offers a field of view of about 107 degrees. Although the Mate 20 Pro shares the same 16mm equivalent focal, it has a slightly larger sensor and therefore a slightly wider field of view. We can see this slight extra width in our example shots above and the ones below. It’s not a huge difference — maybe a few degrees — but the Mate 20 Pro does fit a tiny bit more in the frame.

Wide-angle lenses offer a “step back” from the regular sensors. Both cameras perform their duty well enough in that regard. Colors are bright and vivid, though more so with the V40, and exposure is pretty good in most scenarios too. It’s only when we begin pixel peeping that major differences appear.

Lens quality is hugely important

While both cameras look pretty good on paper, we still need to find out the quality of both lenses. This is particularly important with wide-angle lenses, as light capture without distortion and image curvature around the edges are more important here. The less-than-ideal lighting conditions of the rainy day are a pretty good way to see how the cameras perform in the real world. Here are a couple of full frame examples.

LG V40 Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

LG V40 Wide-Angle Full Frame Huawei Mate 20 Pro Wide-Angle Full Frame LG V40 Wide-Angle Full Frame

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Wide-Angle Full Frame

At full frame, there isn’t too much to tell between them. There are some exposure and color balance differences, but nothing you probably couldn’t even out in post. However, cropping into the details reveals some major differences in image quality. Let’s start with the center focal point of the picture.

LG V40 100 percent crop Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop LG V40 100 percent crop

Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop

Editor’s Pick

While the Mate 20 Pro may be a tad aggressive on the sharpening, it captures a lot more detail on both the brickwork and trees than the V40. This isn’t a megapixel issue, as these are 100 percent crops and the difference between the 20 and 16 megapixel images should be negligible. The V40’s lens setup just doesn’t allow for enough light and detail capture, which results in much lower resolution looking images than its sensor suggests. We can also see aggressive use of denoise across the V40’s image, which rubs out a lot of the detail too.

Overall, the V40 appears smudged by comparison and is almost out of focus on the background trees. This focusing issue has been a consistent problem in my experience with the camera, owing to the lack of autofocus. The focus and detail situation is even worse at the camera’s edges.

LG V40 100 percent crop Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop LG V40 100 percent crop

Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop

Here, the V40’s lack of focus is far more obvious. There’s no detail capture on the nearby wall or ivy, and it’s a similar situation when examining the distant bushes too. Few users will crop in on these wide-angle shots (you’d be better off using the main sensor), but serious photographers probably won’t be impressed when they come to print out these pictures.

While the lack of focus isn’t such an issue on a small smartphone screen or social media post, the loss of detail and poor focusing is much more apparent on larger displays and high-quality printouts.

Both lenses also suffer from some chromatic aberration (purple tint on high-contrast areas) towards the edges of their lenses. This is not unexpected for smartphone lenses, but the LG V40 still comes off worse in this regard too.

Few are ever likely to crop or blow up wide-angle shots, but when you do the results are night and day.

Super macro and low light

While not the main reason many will want a wide-angle camera, the Mate 20 Pro has an extra ability to focus in as close as 2.5cm in super-macro mode. So if you want to take some super close up pictures and capture fine details, the Pro’s wide-angle camera can actually be more useful than its main 40MP shooter.

The LG V40 doesn’t offer any autofocusing technology for its wide-angle camera, and the Mate 20 Pro offers both PDAF and laser options. The result is that the Mate 20 Pro can focus on super close up objects, while the V40 can’t.

LG V40 Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

This certainly isn’t a major use case for most people who will be shooting with a wide-angle lens. However, the Mate 20 Pro’s support for super macro shooting certainly makes it the more flexible shooter for the more serious photographer.

Low light is more likely to be a common use case for these cameras.

LG V40 Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Related

While the Huawei Mate 20 Pro might be a winner in terms of daylight clarity, the LG V40 is by far the better wide-angle camera in low light. Huawei doesn’t apply any of its usual low light trickery to the wide-angle camera, and as a result, the pictures come out very dark, lacking in color, and blurred from the combination of long exposure time and denoise algorithm.

The LG V40 take a little longer snap its pictures, hinting at some HDR magic to help boost the exposure. Although the result is still rather noisy, the V40 managed to capture much more color in low light. Even with HDR on, I couldn’t get the Mate 20 Pro anywhere near as good as the LG V40 in every low light situation I tried.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the better performer, but only just

The LG V40’s wide-angle camera is great for typical smartphone snaps. You’re unlikely to notice the focus or detail issues when viewing pictures on a smartphone screen or compressing them down for social media. The camera does its job, providing extra width for pictures just when you need it. It’s not the main camera after all.

The LG V40’s lack of autofocus lets the camera down when we go pixel peeping

Compared to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the LG V40’s wide-angle camera clearly isn’t as consistent or as flexible in most instances. The Mate 20 Pro isn’t perfect — the company’s heavy use of sharpening won’t be to everyone’s tastes — but it captures more detail and has better focusing capabilities. However, it is noticeably worse in low-light situations. If you’re regularly capturing wide-angle shots in the evenings you might want the V40.

Overall, the Mate 20 Pro is the better wide-angle camera in daylight, which is when most people will be capturing their wide-angle snaps. This might seem like a very harsh comparison, but we’re talking about $1000 smartphones boasting some of the best cameras in the business. The LG V40 cuts corners with its lack of wide-angle autofocus that might end up being a bugbear for those looking to get the most out of their camera.

Next: Best of Android 2018: The best Android smartphone cameras

LG V40 vs LG V30: Worth the upgrade?

LG V40 vs LG V30 front

The LG V40 ThinQ has been a little overshadowed by the other high profile smartphone releases of the past couple of months, but the successor to the LG V30 remains a compelling option, especially for audio enthusiasts.

The biggest change to the V series formula is in the camera department. The V40 sports a triple sensor combo on the back and dual front cameras for selfies. The new hardware pushes the phone’s price up closer to the dreaded $1,000 mark, but is that justified?

Similar design, better specs

The LG V40 closely follows many aspects of the V30’s design. It has similarly thin bezels and curved screen edges, a central rear fingerprint scanner placement, and a centered rear camera housing. It’s also taller, ever so slightly thicker, and now has a notch. I’m honestly not a fan of LG’s extra “second screen” options to tint the notification bar — it draws far too much attention. Embracing the notch as is or blacking the screen out to hide it it works well enough.

Related

The taller P-OLED display has a slightly increased resolution, from 2,880 x 1,440 in the old 6-inch display to 3,120 x 1,440 in the new 6.4-inch model, but the pixel density is unchanged. Neither of the V40 or V30’s panels are the brightest around, but colors pop nicely and blacks are as deep as we’ve come to expect from OLED screens. Whites on the V30 are a little more yellow and the viewing angle is shallower, before you can start to see a blue tint. The V40 appears to have the better panel, but really not by much.

The V40 makes a few subtle design changes that make it feel more like a premium handset.

Despite the very similar look between the two phones, I prefer the feel of the LG V40. The V30 has always felt a little strange to hold, but the added thickness and height make the V40 feel more substantial. Subtle tweaks like the black border around the cameras, the new matte finish on the glass back, and moving the headphone jack to a more convenient place at the bottom are nice too. It’s a shame the fingerprint scanner no longer functions as the power button — now the power button is on the right side of the phone, likely because of concerns over thickness.

Another notable change is the introduction of the dedicated Google Assistant button, which first appeared with the LG G7 ThinQ. I’m not a massive Assistant user, so the dedicated button is an imposition I could live without. However, those embracing the smart assistant lifestyle might find it convenient.

Battery life is similarly unchanged, which is perhaps not so good. Both phones pack 3,300mAh batteries, which feels on the small side compared to other phones. Getting through four to five hours of screen-on time isn’t a problem for general use. Gaming obviously diminishes this though, and neither phone is really suited to super heavy use. Both phones ship with Quick Charge 3.0 chargers to quickly top up, though the V40 also supports Quick Charge 4.0 accessories if you have any.

LG V40 vs LG V30 back of phones

No major extras added this generation

On the performance side, there’s the newer Snapdragon 845 processing package inside the V40 versus the older Snapdragon 835 inside the V30. The newer model also comes with 6GB of LDPP4X RAM and up to 128GB of storage.

The LG V40 offers extra performance when gaming and running other really intensive apps, but day-to-day usage doesn’t feel any different with either phone. Apps open up just as fast, multi-tasking doesn’t present any major slowdowns, and you can browse the web and send messages as fast as your fingers can move on both phones. The V40 has the better specs, but there’s not enough of a jump to justify an upgrade after just one year.

  LG V40 ThinQ LG V30
Display 6.4-inch QuadHD+ P-OLED FullVision
3,120 x 1,440 resolution
538 ppi
19.5:9 aspect ratio
6.0-inch QuadHD+ P-OLED FullVision
2,880 x 1,440 resolution
538 ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
18:9 aspect ratio
Processor Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform
GPU Adreno 630 Adreno 540
RAM 6GB LPDDR4x 4GB LPDDR4x
Storage 64 or 128GB
UFS 2.1
MicroSD expansion up to 2TB
V30: 64GB
V30+: 128GB
MicroSD expansion up to 2TB
Cameras Rear
Main camera: 12MP sensor, ƒ/1.5 aperture, 78° field-of-view, 1.4µm pixel size, OIS, Dual PD Autofocus
Super wide: 16MP sensor, ƒ/1.9 aperture, Crystal Clear Lens, 107° field-of-view
Telephoto zoom: 12MP sensor, ƒ/2.4 aperture with 45° field of view

Front
Standard: 8MP sensor, ƒ/1.9 aperture, 1.12µm pixel size, 80° field of view
Wide: 5MP sensor, ƒ/2.2, 1µm pixel size, 90° field of view

Rear cameras
– Main: 16 MP Standard Angle sensor with ƒ/1.6 aperture, laser detection autofocus, OIS, EIS
– Secondary: 13 MP Wide Angle sensor with ƒ/1.9 aperture

Front camera
– 5 MP Wide Angle sensor with ƒ/2.2 aperture

Audio Boombox Speaker
DTS:X 3D Surround Sound
Hi-Fi Quad DAC
3.5mm headphone jack
Hi-Fi Quad DAC
3.5 mm headphone jack
Battery 3,300mAh
Non-removable
Wireless charging
Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 (Quick Charge 3 adapter in box)
USB Type-C port
3,300 mAh
Non-removable
Wireless charging
Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
USB Type-C port
IP rating / other certifications IP68 water and dust resistance
MIL-STD 810G
IP68 water and dust resistance
MIL-STD 810G
Network LTE-A 4 Band CA LTE-A 4 Band CA
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac
Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
NFC
Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac
Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
NFC
SIM Nano SIM Nano SIM
Software Android 8.1 Oreo
LG UX 6.0+
Android 7.1.2 Nougat
LG UX 6.0+
Colors New Aurora Black, New Platinum Gray, New Moroccan Blue, Carmine Red Aurora Black, Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, Lavender Violet
Dimensions and weight 158.7 x 75.8 x 7.7mm
168.9g
151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm
158 g

Scrolling down the specs table, there really isn’t a lot to tell the two phones apart. Both support wireless charging and have an IP68 water and dust rating and an MIL-STD 810G protection rating, as well as a high-quality DAC for the music junkies out there. The V40 makes a modest break away with a Boombox Speaker, but that’s about it. The only major difference is the camera, which we’ll look at more closely in a minute.

Software is also very similar between the two, following the LG V30’s update to Android Oreo. The V40 touts a few extra additions to its Smart Bulletin page, including frequently used apps, quick camera settings, location-based task recommendations, and the “pocket adviser.” The settings menu also makes better use of the V40’s extra height, with each option slimmed down to fit more on the screen.

I’m not a massive fan of LG’s overly colorful icons and busy settings menu, or the lack of an app drawer by default. However, the UI is functional and fast enough on both handsets. Sadly, the V40 doesn’t ship with Android Pie, which would have been a bigger differentiator.

LG V40 vs LG V30 close up of camera lenses

Five cameras – the key difference

The LG V40 offers three main cameras on the rear, starting with a 12MP main camera with f/1.5 aperture lens and OIS. The V40’s main camera has a lower resolution than the V30, down from 16 megapixels, but it has larger 1.4-micron pixels and a slightly wider aperture, which should make for better low-light shots. Let’s test that first:

LG V30 LG V40 LG V30

LG V40

LG V30 LG V40 LG V30

LG V40

Low light image quality is quite poor on both models, even when using the Low Light mode. There’s a lot of noise and not much in the way of color capture. The LG V40 holds up slightly better, with a fraction less noise and smudging in very dark shadows, but it’s not a major overhaul. Exposure more generally has been one of my biggest problems with the LG V30 and it hasn’t improved notably with the V40, as you can see in the overcast example above.

Related: Do AI cameras matter? LG V40 vs Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs Google Pixel 3 edition

Moving onto the extra cameras, the V40’s super wide angle camera has seen a megapixel bump compared to the V30’s camera, but the field of view is also slightly smaller (from 120 degrees to 107 degrees).  The LG V40’s third camera is a brand-new 12MP 2x telephoto shooter, which should make your zoomed-in shots look better than digital zoom with the V30’s camera (at least during the day).

LG V30 wide angle LG V40 wide angle LG V30 wide angle

LG V40 wide angle

LG V30 digital zoom 100 percent crop LG V40 2x optical zoom 100 percent crop LG V30 digital zoom 100 percent crop

LG V40 2x optical zoom 100 percent crop

The V40’s wide-angle lens is indeed slightly narrower than the V30’s, but it’s not a massive difference. The small loss in width is worth it, as the V40 offers up notably more detail and suffers from less lens distortion around the edges. It’s certainly an improvement. The 2x telephoto lens is also better than the oversharpened digital zoom of the V30, but it’s perhaps not as big a difference as you might expect. Unfortunately, the telephoto camera takes a major dive in quality in low light.

On the front, the LG V40 has an 8MP f/1.9 standard shooter and a 5MP wide-angle camera. The V30 just has just one 5MP wide-angle shooter. The extra width comes in handy sometimes, but the image quality definitely isn’t as good as the rear cameras. Even so, this second front-facing lens might be a selling point for selfie lovers.

The triple rear camera setup is better, but not by a huge margin.

Overall, the LG V40 is the more flexible shooter, thanks to the telephoto lens and wide-angle selfie option. However, it’s overall camera quality isn’t really where we’d want it to be for a flagship smartphone. Images sometimes lack detail and can be noisy if lighting conditions aren’t perfect. The camera also still suffers from exposure issues compared to other models. The LG V40 is better than the V30, but it’s not the overhaul a move to a triple camera setup might have you believe.

LG V40 and LG V30 pictures of headphone jack in black and white

A worthy contender, at a discount

As we said in our review, the LG V40 offers up a seriously wide variety of great features, but it’s let down by battery life, and an inconsistent camera performance. This leaves it in much the same situation as the LG V30. There are some iterative improvements to the camera and overall design, but they’re not worth the expensive upgrade cost. No Android Pie yet also makes it hard to recommend an upgrade.

In the U.S., the excellent Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is now substantially cheaper than the V40, making its $949.99 retail price seem a tad high. In global markets, the V40 will likely end up costing as much or more than the regular Huawei Mate 20, which doesn’t seem like a particularly good deal. If the phone sees one of LG’s typical price drops after a few months, it could be a solid purchase. That said, it’s almost certainly not worth upgrading to now if you already own an LG V30.

More LG V40 content

There are a lot of big phones out there, but which is right for you?

Let’s face it: big phones are here to stay. Samsung first made people want them with the original Galaxy Note, and we have not looked back since. Even companies like Apple, which stuck to smaller smartphones for years, eventually followed the trend with the iPhone 6 Plus in 2014.

There are now more options than ever when looking for a smartphone with a big displays — it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is especially true right now, as the fall has brought a ton of new phones, many packing large screens.

Whether you are undecided or simply want a second opinion, here is our list of the best big phones available right now. 


Best all-around: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the best big phones you can buy

Want a big 6.3-inch AMOLED display and equally-large 4,000mAh battery? They’re here. Looking for at least 6GB of RAM and at least 128GB of expandable storage? Look no further. Hate notches? There isn’t one in sight. The Note 9 even comes with the series’ characteristic S Pen, which now adds tons of extra functionality via Bluetooth. The phone has no peer when it comes to its sheer number of features.

Why you should buy

  • The bright and large display is the best on the market,
  • If you can think of a software feature, it probably has it.
  • The S Pen brings features that no other phone has.

Why you might want to pass

  • The phone starts at $1,000.
  • Bixby continues to not be particularly good and its button cannot be officially remapped.
  • Based on precedent, software updates will be slow to arrive.

Learn more about the Galaxy Note 9


Best Galaxy Note 9 alternative: LG V40 ThinQ

LG V40 ThinQ in hand showing home screen

The story of the LG V40 ThinQ starts and ends with its five cameras — three around back and two up front — something no other phone’s done. Even though we were not very kind to the V40 ThinQ, the phone has potential options not seen in other phones.

Why you should buy

  • The phone can take regular, wide-angle, and telephoto shots.
  • The 32-bit Quad DAC pumps out great audio through the headphone jack.
  • The Google Assistant button is actually useful.

Why you might want to pass

  • The images do not live up to the hype.
  • The features do not justify its almost-$1,000 price tag.
  • Based on precedent, software updates will be extremely slow.

Learn more about the LG V40 ThinQ


Best big phone with stock Android: Google Pixel 3 XL

Pixel 3 XL - best big phone for stock fans

It might not have the bells and whistles of the Galaxy Note 9 and V40 ThinQ, but the Pixel 3 XL focuses on speed, ease of use, and being helpful. We didn’t call the Pixel 3 XL the Android iPhone for “the clicks” or lulz, but because it is the Android phone designed to appeal to everyone else. Its value is more than just specs on paper.

Why you should buy

  • The software is extremely fluid and gets updates directly from Google.
  • The single rear camera delivers an excellent and consistent photo-taking experience.
  • The learning curve is one of the smallest we have seen from an Android phone.

Why you might want to pass

  • You do not want to spend $899 on a smartphone.
  • Most of its headlining software features will trickle down to existing Pixels.
  • There is a lack of widespread availability.

Learn more about the Google Pixel 3 XL


Best big phone on the cheap: Honor 8X

It’s not as flashy as the Galaxy Note 9 or as fluid as the Pixel 3 XL, but the Honor 8X one of the best mid-tier smartphones and one of the best affordable big phones you can buy. This is a supersized phablet that comes in at under 300 euros (~$345), yet it delivers snappy performance and a stunning design. Look no further than the Honor 8X if you want a smartphone to make your wallet happy.

Why should you buy

  • The 3,750mAh battery has no problem surviving two days of use.
  • The premium design, performance, and storage options are a cut above your typical mid-tier smartphone.
  • You can buy four Honor 8Xs for the price of one Galaxy Note 9.

Why you might want to pass

  • The camera performance is hit or miss.
  • Dated hardware choices, such as a Micro-USB port and single bottom-firing speaker.
  • There is no IP rating.

Learn more about the Honor 8X


Best non-Android: iPhone XS Max

In any discussion of big phones, the iPhone XS Max is the elephant in the room. Notch haters will gravitate to the top, but everyone else will focus on the smooth performance, fantastic display, and great cameras. It may be cliche, but the iPhone XS Max is what happens when hardware and software meet in the middle as equals. Also, you really don’t have many other options for non-Android these days, with Windows Mobile pretty much dead.

Why you should buy

  • The A12 Bionic and iOS 12 optimizations deliver excellent performance.
  • The display rivals the Galaxy Note 9.
  • The phone slots in nicely with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem.

Why you might want to pass

  • The phone starts at $1,099.
  • The software does not make proper use of the large display.
  • Reports of phones not charging and antenna problems.

Learn more about the iPhone XS Max


We will continually update this list as manufacturers release more phones. You should also look out for the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 X, though we haven’t had enough time to fully review them. Perhaps one or both will make the list soon!

If you feel like we left something out or believe we nailed it, let us know in the comments below!

LG V40 ThinQ isn’t out yet, but it’s just received a second camera update

LG V40 ThinQ camera closeup

  • The LG V40 ThinQ has received a second camera-focused update this week.
  • The update brings better HDR performance, and improved auto-focus in Triple Shot mode.
  • LG’s previous update brought better low-light image quality, and improved white balance/brightness.

The LG V40 ThinQ is the second flagship to hit the market with a triple-camera setup, enabling wildly different perspectives. Photo quality was a little disappointing, as we found out in our LG V40 ThinQ review, but the Korean company seems committed to improving matters.

LG has delivered a second camera-focused update for the smartphone, Droid-Life reports, weighing in at 391MB. This new update improves HDR performance, delivers better sharpness and color in outdoor conditions, and improves the “black phenomenon of video recording.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means, either.

The update doesn’t stop there, as it also improves auto-focus when using the Triple Shot mode. This was an issue raised by several reviewers, so we’re glad to see LG paying attention to this feature.

Droid-Life

 

News of a new LG V40 update comes a few days after the company issued its first camera-focused update. The first update improved low-light image quality, low-light HDR snaps, and AI Camera quality. The OTA update also delivered improved auto-focus performance and better white balance/brightness in outdoor conditions.

Editor’s Pick

We’re glad to see LG deliver updates before the phone’s release, but hopefully the company keeps this commitment after the phone hits shelves. After all, a prompt serving of Android Pie is in order, as the device launched with Android 8.1.

You’re still getting a feature-packed phone anyway, including an 8MP standard and 5MP wide-angle front camera setup, wireless charging, IP68 water/dust resistance, a headphone jack, and quad-DAC hardware.

What do you make of the LG V40? Would you buy it over other flagships? Let us know in the comments!