OnePlus 6T review: Fundamentally great

The OnePlus 6 is one of my favorite Android phones ever. The hardware is simple and streamlined, providing a blank slate for its incredible software. The OnePlus 6 nails the fundamentals first, before adding complexity to the system.

The OnePlus 6T is largely the same, with a few key differences. The changes the 6T makes are few and far between, but its improvements are big ones — as is its one new downside.

It’s impossible to review the OnePlus 6T without consistently comparing it to the OnePlus 6. While this review will focus on what’s new with OnePlus’ new flagship, it will also compare it to the last device, which is less than six months old.

Read our full OnePlus 6T review to find out more.

OnePlus 6T review notes: I’ve been using the OnePlus 6T on Project Fi’s network in the U.S. and Canada for 11 days. Our OnePlus 6T is running Android 9.0 Pie and OxygenOS version 9.0.4 on the October 2018 security patch. We’ll refrain from adding review scores until we can put the device through our full suite of tests.

The OnePlus 6T review unit was provided to Android Authority by OnePlus.

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OnePlus 6T review: Design

I’ll be upfront: I like the design of the OnePlus 6 a bit more than the OnePlus 6T. While there isn’t a huge differential between the two, it’s the small things that give the OnePlus 6 the edge for me. The 6T is a bit thicker, with a more defined curve to pack a bigger battery. OnePlus says users will enjoy the curve in their hand more than the flat design of the OnePlus 6. Personally, I’m not one of those people, but the 400mAh of extra battery capacity makes this design change just about worth it.

The display of the OnePlus 6T has a slightly smaller bottom bezel than the OnePlus 6, but honestly, the delta is hardly noticeable. The biggest physical change seen on the front of this device is the new teardrop-style notch.

OnePlus 6T vs OnePlus 6

While the OnePlus 6’s notch was quite small in its own right, the 6T reduces the notch even further, resulting in an obstruction hardly larger than the single front-facing camera. OnePlus managed to shift the earpiece into the frame of the device, allowing for a noticeably reduced notch. I didn’t think this would make that big of a difference, but it was definitely noticeable while watching fullscreen content.

Related: Best OnePlus 6T cases and accessories

On the bottom of the device you’ll find a USB Type-C port and two speaker grills. Sadly only one of the grills is real. I really would have loved to see stereo speakers on this device, and the fake speaker grill seems like a pretty major waste of space. I suppose we’ll have to hope for one in the OnePlus 7.

I don’t buy OnePlus’ reasoning for removing the headphone jack.

OnePlus has also removed the headphone jack, apparently to increase battery capacity and make the sound chamber bigger. I don’t really buy this reasoning. I understand we now live in a world where the headphone jack is as good as dead in mobile devices, but it’s frustrating having one less company keeping it alive.

OnePlus 6T screen outside

OnePlus 6T review: Display

The OnePlus 6T sports a 6.41-inch optic AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 and a pixel density of 402ppi. If you’re worried that 1080p isn’t good enough, don’t. You probably won’t notice the difference between 1080p and 1440p unless you’re watching content specifically tailored for that resolution, and almost all mobile content looks great in 1080p.

The phone also offers a variety of different screen calibration modes upon setup, including system default, sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive mode, and a user-defined custom calibration profile. I left it on default, but you can always toggle these modes on and off if you want to try a different setting.

The display of the OnePlus 6T is also technically brighter than the OnePlus 6, but again the delta is hardly noticeable. The screen looks good in nearly all situations, and it doesn’t have much trouble in direct sunlight. OnePlus also offers extra features like reading modes to help you use the screen more comfortably in the evening and before bed.

OnePlus 6T cameras and back

OnePlus 6T review: Performance

OnePlus’ phones are all about being fast and smooth, and the 6T delivers on this promise. OxygenOS has been one of the most lightweight versions of Android for a while now, offering a few extra features and optimizations to make OnePlus’ phones feel fast. I never saw any significant frame drops during my time with the device, and things like Gaming Mode help give an extra boost of performance when you need it.

Also read

In benchmarks, the OnePlus 6T performs admirably, even beating out the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in our testing.

We put the 6T through Geekbench 4, AnTuTu, and 3DMark benchmark tests. You can see the results below.

OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark

Geekbench 4 gave the OnePlus 6T a single-core score of 2,368. In comparison, the OnePlus 6 scored 2,454, and the Galaxy S9 scored 2,144. The OnePlus 6T achieved a multi-core score of 8,843, while the OnePlus 6 scored 8,967, and the Galaxy S9 scored 8,116.

OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark

The OnePlus 6T scored 4,697 in 3DMark, while the OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9 scored 4,680 and 4,672, respectively.

OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark
OnePlus 6T Benchmark

Finally, the OnePlus 6T scored 292,266 in AnTuTu, compared to the OnePlus 6’s 262,614 and the S9’s 266,559.

OnePlus 6T back outside

OnePlus 6T review: Hardware

OnePlus doesn’t skimp on hardware. The 6T runs the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 as the last generation, with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage to boot. It’s interesting that the company would maintain the same core specifications as the OnePlus 6, but it improved on a few other departments instead to keep the device worth buying.

You’re trading a headphone jack and some thickness for more battery, an in-screen fingerprint reader, and a smaller notch.

OnePlus bumped the battery capacity in the OnePlus 6T from 3,300 to 3,700mAh, which it says should increase battery life by about 20 percent. Technically this is only a 12 percent capacity increase, but software improvements in RAM management help boost the 6T’s total screen-on time.

I frequently got around eight hours of screen-on time, some of the best battery life I’ve ever had in a smartphone. 

OnePlus 6T Battery Life
OnePlus 6T Battery Life

This is some of the best battery life I have ever had in an Android phone,  and the OnePlus 6T doesn’t even have a monster battery like the 4,000mAh Razer Phone 2 or 4,200mAh Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Software adjustments aiding in RAM management are being pushed to the OnePlus 6 as well, so its battery live should improve too.

OnePlus 6T fingerprint reader

Probably the most highly marketed addition to the OnePlus 6T is the in-screen fingerprint reader. This optical reader shoots light up at your finger to read your print. It completely replaces the fingerprint reader on the rear of the device and works for logging into secure apps, as well as unlocking the device.

Unfortunately, this scanner is often rather slow and sometimes inaccurate, though it’s definitely much better than first-generation readers in phones like the Huawei Mate RS. The technology still seems to need another generation to mature before it is as seamless as traditional fingerprint readers. OnePlus says this should get better over time, learning your fingerprint as you use it. I haven’t found this to be the case during my 11 days with the device, but I hope the success rate gets better after a few software updates.

Related: Best Bluetooth headphones for your headphone jack-less OnePlus 6T

As mentioned before, the OnePlus 6T jettisons the headphone jack, replacing it with a fake speaker grill. This move doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but OnePlus said it needed that space for a bigger battery and larger sound chamber. OnePlus also said it had been planning this move for a while and thought now was the right time. User polls would strongly suggest against that, but it is what it is.

OnePlus 6T camera app

OnePlus 6T review: Camera

The OnePlus 6T has two cameras on the rear — one 16MP main shooter with a f/1.7 aperture and OIS, and a secondary 20MP shooter primarily used for depth sensing. The front-facing camera is 16MP.

OnePlus hasn’t actually updated the camera hardware in the OnePlus 6T, but it made some adjustments to its processing and portrait algorithms, as well as adding a new Night Mode setting. The OnePlus 6’s camera wasn’t exactly bad, but it seemed a bit desaturated and soft compared to its competitors. This remains true here, though I definitely noticed better color and sharpness in better lit scenarios.

OnePlus 6T Sample Photo

While photos are definitely flatter than other mobile cameras on the market, I personally prefer this kind of processing to overly punchy, highly saturated sensors. Sharpness is good but not overdone like many mobile cameras right now.


The 6T struggles pretty badly in dimly lit scenarios. To reduce noise, the sensor will add a lot of smoothing, which makes images pretty muddy. To get around this, OnePlus has added a new “Night” mode, which takes a long exposure to increase sharpness and dynamic range. If you were hoping this mode would magically turn night into day like Night Sight on the Pixel, you will be sorely disappointed. This mode definitely aids in sharpness a little bit, but it’s hardly noticeable.

OnePlus gloated about this feature quite a bit, mentioning how its two-second exposure was much shorter than most other night modes on the market. While this is technically true, it takes about four or five seconds to fully process, which is still pretty long.

OnePlus 6T selfie
OnePlus 6T selfie

The front-facing camera on the OnePlus 6T is a bit soft. In both standard mode and portrait mode it tends to smooth out skin. This could look good in some circumstances, but here it just looks artificial. It’s also even more desaturated than the rear camera and tends to wash faces out.

OnePlus 6T Portrait Mode
OnePlus 6T Portrait mode

Portrait mode, on the other hand, is quite good. Cutouts are generally solid, though accuracy can be hit or miss at times. In the examples above, you can see how the camera had trouble with the subject’s ears when photographed against a similarly-colored wall. Even so, I’m happy with the sharpness in this mode.

Specialized portrait modes are coming, but have not yet materialized, so we’ll have to wait and see how well they work.

OnePlus 6T night mode
OnePlus 6T night mode

Finally, we get to night mode, which OnePlus designed to help with dynamic range and sharpness in dimly-lit scenes. This definitely seems to be the case, and it is actually quite good at preserving highlights. The mode will also give you more detail where night scenes would generally be a bit smudgy, which is nice to see. This is effectively the same result as Google’s HDR+ mode which takes almost no time to process though, so I really think they should just add this processing into the default auto mode.

Check out our full gallery below to see a wide variety of samples from our review period, or you can pixel peep them in full resolution here!

OnePlus 6T screen outside

OnePlus 6T review: Software

OxygenOS is my favorite skin of Android ever. It hasn’t changed much since the OnePlus 6, but I don’t really care. The 6T launches with Android 9.0 Pie, with some updated navigation gestures to make the phone a bit easier to use, and some background optimizations.

The first improvement is something called Smart Boost, which takes advantage of the extra RAM OnePlus  crammed into the device to store key app data in memory, allowing them to open between five and 20 percent faster. Because two of the three models OnePlus offers have 8GB of RAM, there is plenty of extra memory to be had. Even the 6GB model likely handles this fine.

OxygenOS is my favorite skin of Android ever.

Smart Boost works on apps selected by OnePlus — primarily a selection of gaming apps, though more optimized apps are planned for the future. It would be nice to see some kind of system-wide or user-selected app data storage, but that probably won’t happen. Either way, it’s a clever way to utilize unused hardware.

OnePlus has also updated its Gaming Mode by allowing for transparent floating message notifications. Gaming Mode has traditionally blocked all incoming notifications and messages to allow for a distraction-free experience, but OnePlus now allows for more customization around what gets through.

Besides those changes, there isn’t a lot new here. Android Pie offers updates too numerous to explain in this review, so we suggest you head over to our dedicated Android 9.0 Pie review to see what all the fuss is about.

All of these software tweaks and improvements will be coming to the OnePlus 6 as well.

OnePlus 6T specs

  OnePlus 6T
Display 6.41-inch AMOLED
2,340 x 1,080 resolution
402ppi
19.5:9 screen ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Octa-core, 10nm, up to 2.8GHz
GPU Adreno 630
RAM 6GB/8GB LPDDR4X
Storage 128GB/256GB
UFS 2.1 2-LANE
Cameras Rear cameras
Main: 16MP, f/1.7 aperture
Secondary: 20MP, f/1.7 aperture
OIS & EIS
Video: 4K resolution video at 30/60fps

Front cameras
Main: 16MP, f/2.0 aperture
EIS: Yes
Video: 1080P video at 30fps

Audio USB 2.0 Type-C
No headphone jack
Bottom-facing speaker
Dirac HD Sound
Dirac Power Sound
Battery 3,700mAh battery
Non-removable
Fast Charge (5V 4A)
IP rating N/A
Sensors In-screen fingerprint sensor
Hall
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Proximity
Ambient light sensor
Electronic compass
Sensor hub
Network LTE: Supports 5xCA, 64QAM, 256QAM & 4×4 MIMO,
up to DL CAT16 (1Gbps)/UL CAT13 (150 Mbps) depending on carrier support

NA/EU: FDD LTE: Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/32/66/71
TDD LTE: Band 34/38/39/40/41/46
TD-SCDMA: Band 34/39
UMTS(WCDMA): Band 1/2/4/5/8/9/19
CDMA: BC0/BC1GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

CN/IN: FDD LTE: Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/1213/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/66
TDD LTE: Band 34/38/39/40/41
TD-SCDMA: Band 34/39
UMTS(WCDMA): Band 1/2/4/5/8/9/19
CDMA: BC0/BC1
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

Connectivity Wi-Fi: 2×2 MIMO, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
Bluetooth 5.0, support aptX & aptX HD
NFC
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galile
WLAN
SIM Dual nano-SIM slot (single on T-Mobile model)
Software OxygenOS based on Android 9 Pie
Colors Mirror Black, Midnight Black
In-box USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter
Screen protector (pre-applied)
Translucent phone Case
OnePlus Fast Charge Type-C cable
OnePlus Fast Charge power adapter
SIM tray ejector
Quick start guide
Safety information

OnePlus 6T podcast!

OnePlus 6T price and availability

The OnePlus 6T is available now from OnePlus.com and T-Mobile in the United States. This is actually the biggest news of the entire launch, as this is the first time a OnePlus device has been widely available in the United States through a carrier.

You can walk into any of the 5,600 T-Mobile stores throughout the United States and buy the device today, though it will only be available in the 8GB and 128GB model for $579. Keep in mind the T-Mobile variant is a different SKU, meaning you’ll likely get software updates a bit slower than if you bought the device directly from OnePlus.

Check out our dedicated article here to see the differences between the unlocked and T-Mobile models.

The pricing of the OnePlus 6 is as follows:

  • 6GB RAM /128GB Storage— $549
  • 8GB RAM /128GB Storage— $579
  • 8GB RAM/256GB Storage — $629

Global pricing and availability can be found right here.

OnePlus 6T screen on windowsill

OnePlus 6T review: Final thoughts

Starting at $549, OnePlus’ latest flagship is still one of the best deals you can get on a smartphone right now. No other manufacturer has perfected the marriage of hardware and software quite as well as OnePlus, and even Google is still having issues optimizing its vision of Android for its hardware.

It’s impossible to review the OnePlus 6T without comparing it to the OnePlus 6. The two devices are so similar, there is no way I can recommend upgrading to the OnePlus 6T if you already own a OnePlus 6. Both phones have almost the exact same specifications, save the battery and in-screen fingerprint reader. The 6 will even get all the software improvements in the 6T.

If you’re on something like a 5T or older, very few devices offer the speed and power of the OnePlus 6T for under $600. This phone is even more of a steal if you take advantage of T-Mobile’s trade-in deal to get the 8GB and 128GB model for just $279. That’s basically robbery for a device of this quality.

As usual, you won’t be disappointed with OnePlus’ new phone. It doesn’t have specialized features like an S Pen or a 40MP camera, but it nails the fundamentals to a higher degree than nearly any other device in the Android ecosystem. If you’re looking for the best value on a U.S. carrier right now, the OnePlus 6T is it.

Next: The best Android phones you can buy

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: The phone for power users

Let’s get it out of the way. You’ll probably want to buy the Mate 20 Pro. It’s sexy, it’s powerful, it’s one of the best phones you can get right now. The real question is if you should pay no less than 1,050 euros (~$1,205) for the privilege of owning it. Or should you “settle” for one of the many great alternatives and save some money in the process?

It’s not an easy question — we’ll spend this in-depth Huawei Mate 20 Pro review trying to answer it. Buckle up!

huawei mate 20 pro twilight variant

About our Huawei Mate 20 Pro review

I wrote this review after spending around ten days with a Mate 20 Pro review unit supplied by Huawei. The phone (model LYA-L29) was the Twilight dual-SIM version, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It ran EMUI 9.0 out of the box, with the October 2018 security patch and build number C432E10R1P16. I used it mostly on my home Wi-Fi network, as well as Orange Romania’s 4G+ network.

Technically, the software on the review unit was non-final, but Huawei said it’s indicative of the final release software. According to the company, features like 3D Live Object Modeling and AI Color, will roll out to the phone over the next weeks. We will update this Mate 20 Pro review when these features become available.

My colleague David Imel spent a similar amount of time with another Mate 20 Pro review unit. You can watch his video review at the top of this post.

What’s in the box

huawei mate 20 pro retail box

usb type-c headphones that are bundled with the huawei mate 20 pro twilight
the supercharge fast charger brick bundled with the huawei mate 20 pro

The Mate 20 Pro comes in a simple black box with a charger, a pair of white USB Type-C earbuds, a USB Type-C-to-3.5mm audio adapter, and a basic silicone case.

Editor’s Pick

The charger can go up to 40W and it’s very fast (more about that later). The transparent case will do fine for the first few days, but it gets very grimy so you’ll probably want to pick up something nicer. The wired earbuds look a lot like Apple’s. They are very light and they don’t insulate noise from outside, but they sound surprisingly good, with nice bass and clear highs. Definitely give them a try before you throw them in a drawer.

Design and build quality

Huawei is one of the elite few phone makers competitors tend to copy. The company has been putting out great designs for years, even while its software has struggled to keep up. That doesn’t mean Huawei shies away from copying others when it suits it. The Mate 20 Pro embodies both approaches: the front takes cues from Apple and Samsung, and the back is uniquely Huawei.

Huawei Mate 20 screen

The Mate 20 Pro’s front looks like every other flagship that launched this past few months. There’s a big notch up top — not as big as the Pixel 3 XL’s thankfully — with rounded corners and thin bezels on the sides and bottom. The edges of the screen curve down into a thin aluminum frame, much like the Galaxy S9 Plus.

The Mate 20 Pro’s triple-camera boldly positions Huawei as a design leader

The symmetrical tapered edges of the phone are also very Samsung-like. The thin power button and volume rocker are on the right-hand side. They’re nice and responsive, but placed a little too close together, and can result in accidental screenshots. On all color options, the power button is a lovely orange-reddish hue. It’s a nice accent that gives the phone more personality.

the colored power button on the side of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

The back of the Mate 20 Pro is dominated by the square camera module. Huawei calls it “Simply Iconic” and boasts about the resemblance it bears to the headlights of certain luxury cars, particularly Porsche.

back of huawei mate 20 pro twilight with water droplets on it

Editor’s Pick

I personally love it. It’s fresh and it instantly sets the phone apart from anything else out there. Others will hate it — I heard the term “kitchen stove” from a couple fellow reviewers. Regardless how you feel about it, the Mate 20’s triple camera is a big, bold statement meant to show Huawei is a design leader, not a follower. It remains to be seen if others will embrace this design, as triple cameras go mainstream.

Color options

The Mate 20 Pro is available in five versions: Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight, and Black. My favorite is Emerald Green, which is a gorgeous bluish-green hue. Emerald Green and Midnight Blue both have a textured pattern on the back, but you won’t really notice it unless you scratch the surface with your fingernail, which gives off a satisfying rattling noise. The texture helps stave off fingerprints, which are a pain on the non-textured color versions. Regardless, it’s still glass, so you’ll want a good case on it. Twilight and Pink Gold feature Huawei’s distinctive shifting paint jobs. I am not a fan personally, but if you enjoy attention, these are the versions to get. Finally, Black is just black.

Mate 20 Pro in Midnight Blue and Emerald Green held in hand

Mate 20 Pro in Midnight Blue and Emerald Green

The Mate 20 Pro is a relatively hefty phone. It weighs 189 grams and I found myself having to shift it around after holding it in one hand for more than a few minutes. The good news is it’s narrow enough to use with one hand without constantly worrying about dropping it. It also feels very nice in the hand, thanks to the thin rounded sides.

Display

The OLED screen on the Mate 20 Pro is expansive, beautiful, and bright. I had no problems using it at roughly 40 percent brightness indoors.

the front of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro showing the notch

The tall 1,440 x 3,120 format is a mixed blessing. You can use the 6.39-inch phone with one hand, but at the same time it can be hard to balance it in the palm of your hand — especially if you prefer the classic navigation bar instead of navigation gestures.

The Mate 20 Pro’s OLED screen is expansive, beautiful, and bright.

If you really care about high pixel densities, make sure you go into settings and change the resolution to QHD+. Otherwise, the phone uses the default Smart setting, which changes the resolution dynamically in order to save power. In my experience, I didn’t see any real difference between QHD+ and Full HD+, so the latter is a good compromise between power consumption and image quality.

the curved screen of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

By default, the Mate 20 Pro uses the Vivid color setting, which amps up the colors. You can switch to Normal, for a more true-to-life experience, and also customize the color temperature, from cool to warm and everything in between. There’s also a setting to automatically adjust colors based on ambient light, offering a “paper-like experience,” but I really didn’t see a difference.

Deep in the display settings you’ll find a way to “hide” the notch, basically turning the area around the notch black at all times. It’s great if you find the notch an eye-sore, but it won’t do anything about the cramped status bar, which is the biggest offense I take when it comes to notches. At least Huawei put the notch to good use. The black strip houses the front-facing camera, the earpiece (which doubles as a secondary speaker), and the emitters and sensors for the 3D face unlock system.

huawei mate 20 pro with notch set to hidden
huawei mate 20 pro with visible notch

Core specs

Just like smartphone design, smartphone specs have been converging — especially at the high end of the market. However, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro stands out for a couple of reasons.

Read: Huawei Mate 20 and 20 Pro specs: There’s a clear winner

The Mate 20 Pro runs on a Kirin 980 processor, designed by Huawei’s own HiSilicon division. That alone makes the Mate 20 Pro stand out from virtually all other 2018 Android flagships, which use Snapdragon 845 chips from Qualcomm.

huawei mate 20 pro review - core specs

Huawei’s control over the processor allowed it to focus heavily on AI. The Kirin 980 has two neural processing units (NPUs) designed for real-time photo manipulation, live translation, and other AI-reliant tasks. AI is used in multiple areas of the Mate 20 Pro, but most users will only interact with the AI imaging features. We’ll talk more about them in the camera section of our Mate 20 Pro review.

Editor’s Pick

The Kirin 980 is an octa-core chip built on the state-of-the-art 7-nanometer manufacturing process, which packs transistors closer together, resulting in better performance and smaller power consumption compared to older processes.

The Mate 20 Pro is available with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage, depending on the market. The phone comes with a new type of expandable storage called Nano Memory, instead of the popular microSD. We don’t know many details about this new type of memory card, other than it supports capacities of 256GB and write speeds of up to 90MB/second.

The problem is Nano Memory has no obvious benefits for consumers (unless it turns out it’s much cheaper than microSD) and one obvious disadvantage: you can only buy it from Huawei. While the company’s CEO told Android Authority Huawei wants to make Nano Memory an industry standard, no other company has pledged to support it so far.

huawei mate 20 pro twilight with empty hybrid tray for nano memory and SIM

Because the card is exactly the same size as a nano-SIM card, Huawei was able to use a tiny, double-sided hybrid tray for SIM and memory, saving internal space in the process.

Nano Memory is a Huawei exclusive for now

Side note: Huawei placed a microphone right by the Mate 20 Pro’s SIM tray. Make sure you don’t poke your microphone with the SIM tool, like this hapless reviewer did.

Huawei Mate 20 USB Type C port

Performance

The Mate 20 Pro runs just as smoothly as you would expect from a current high-end phone. I haven’t encountered any lag episodes worth mentioning, though David noticed a few snags on his unit, especially when switching apps. Performance during gaming and general use was blazing fast.

Blazing gaming performance and snappy general use.

Let’s talk about benchmarks for a minute. Huawei was recently caught gaming benchmark results by setting its phones to “Performance Mode” when running popular benchmarking apps. This peak performance wasn’t actually accessible in real life applications, as Huawei programmed its devices to throttle themselves in order to save power. After the news broke, the company pledged to drop this misleading practice and to make the Performance Mode accessible to all apps as part of EMUI 9.

The Mate 20 Pro lets you enable Performance Mode from the battery settings and it has a noticeable effect, but only in benchmarks.

Running AnTuTu with Performance Mode on and off results in a massive difference. Without it, the Mate 20 Pro barely manages to rank among AnTuTu’s top ten fastest phones, scoring between 240,000 and 280,000 points. With Performance Mode enabled, my Mate 20 Pro review unit hit over 304,000 points, ranking first and beating dedicated gaming phones like the Asus ROG or Xiaomi Black Shark.

huawei mate 20 pro review antutu benchmark with performance mode on and off

Left: Performance Mode off. Right: Performance Mode on.

In non-benchmarking use, I haven’t seen any real improvements in the speed or smoothness of the Mate 20 Pro with Performance Mode on. Considering this mode has a noticeable impact on battery life, most users will want to keep it off.

Other hardware features

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the first major, mainstream phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor. We’ve previously seen the feature on Vivo phones, and OnePlus is getting ready to release the OnePlus 6T with an in-display fingerprint reader at the end of the month.

Huawei’s implementation works very well, and it’s definitely a step up over the Vivo X21, which I reviewed back in May. The phone unlocks very fast, though it’s still not as fast as some conventional fingerprint readers. The only times I had issues with the reader was when touching it with the sides of my thumb — in these cases, I had to press harder for the fingerprint to register.

in-screen fingerprint reader showing on the screen of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

You probably won’t need to use the fingerprint reader much if you enable the face recognition function on the Mate 20 Pro. The phone projects an array of infrared dots on your face, forming a 3D map that is compared to the reference data collected during setup — similar to the iPhone X’s feature.

The feature is usually fast and accurate, though a little inconsistent. Sometimes, the phone unlocks almost instantly, others times it takes one or two seconds. It’s not a huge issue, but it’s a little jarring when you have to wait.

Editor’s Pick

Biometric authentication works with the App Lock and PrivateSpace features, as well. App Lock lets you lock access to specific apps until the phone detects your face or fingerprint — great for keeping kids out of sensitive apps. PrivateSpace lets you set up a completely separate workspace that opens when you use a specific fingerprint. You could use this function to hide stuff from prying eyes or simply to keep your work and personal apps separate.

face enroll screen on huawei mate 20 pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro features IP68 dust and water resistance. The phone has an IR blaster at the top, and the preloaded remote control app is pretty good. Finally, the dual-SIM tray lets you use two cellular services, but only one of the SIMs can be used for data or voice calls at a time.

Battery and (very) fast charging

Without doubt, the battery is the highlight of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. If you care about battery life primarily, this phone is worth the premium for its huge battery and fast charging alone.

The Mate 20 Pro features a 4,200mAh battery — about five percent more than the Galaxy Note 9, 22 percent more than the Pixel 3 XL, 27 percent more than the LG V40 ThinQ, and 32 percent more than the iPhone XS Max. Battery life depends on other factors besides the capacity of the battery, but it’s hard to argue with these numbers.

The Mate 20 Pro is worth the premium for its record-setting battery and extremely fast charging alone.

I routinely got more than 7.5 hours of screen-on time out of the Mate 20 Pro, with medium usage, auto-brightness on, Performance Mode off, and the dark UI theme. With heavier usage, including gaming, running benchmarks, and more YouTube streaming, I got between six and seven hours of screen-on time. Light and medium users will probably only need to charge every two or two and a half days. Even if you’re a heavy user, this phone should easily last you a full day and then some.

huawei mate 20 pro review twilight screen on time battery statistics

The Mate 20 Pro charges incredibly fast with the 40W charger included in the box. Huawei says its goes from zero to 70 percent in 30 minutes. In my testing, it was even faster, hitting 73 percent in 30 minutes. The phone charges five percent every two minutes and doesn’t get exceedingly hot in the process.

We’ve seen fast-charging phones before, but the Mate 20 Pro also has the largest battery out of any mainstream device. That it charges so fast with the bundled charger — no need to spend extra on a separate one — is especially impressive.

charging graph huawei mate 20 pro twilight

As an aside, according to Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu, the company could have put an even bigger 4,500mAh battery on the Mate 20 Pro, but opted for the 4,200mAh unit in order to make the 40W charging possible.

The Mate 20 Pro is the first phone on the market to support 15W wireless charging. I wasn’t able to test this, but Huawei claims it’s significantly faster than the iPhone XS Max and other competitors.

The icing on the cake is the reverse wireless charging. You can use the Mate 20 Pro to wirelessly charge any Qi-enabled device. Just turn the feature on in the settings, place the device you want to charge on the back of the Mate 20 Pro, and off it goes.

However, reverse wireless charging is pretty slow. With a Galaxy S9 Plus, it took a few minutes for each percent of battery life. It’s a little finicky, too. You need to align the two devices closely, and charging stops if you move them too much around. You won’t be able to just throw the two phones in a pocket and forget about them.

galaxy s9 plus reverse wireless charging from huawei mate 20 pro

You’ll need to enable reverse wireless charging from battery settings every time you use it, as it auto-disables to save power if you don’t use it for a while. Also, you won’t be able to use it when battery life is below 20 percent.

It may be tempting to dismiss reverse wireless charging as just a cool party trick, but we all know how stressful an empty battery can be. In those situations, every little bit of juice helps.

Sound

There is no 3.5mm audio jack on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It’s one of the very few legitimately important features missing from the device. The bundled USB Type-C earbuds are pretty decent, and you can also use your favorite headphones with the bundled adapter.

usb type-c earbuds shipping with the huawei mate 20 pro

The Mate 20 Pro has two speakers cleverly hidden in the USB Type-C port and the earpiece. The one in the Type-C port is the main one, and gets a bit louder. Surprisingly, it only gets muffled a little when you plug in the Type-C cable to charge the phone.

The phone gets decently loud, though not as loud as the Galaxy S9 Plus. Sound is a little tinier than the Samsung flagship as well.

Don’t miss: The best headphones with USB Type-C

Camera

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera has plenty of great features and a few strong points, but also some weaknesses.

The Mate 20 Pro features three cameras on the back: a primary 40MP one with f/1.8 aperture; a telephoto 8MP with f/2.4 aperture and OIS; and a 20MP ultra-wide with f/2.2 aperture. On the front, there’s a single 24MP camera.

the three cameras on the back of the huawei mate 20 pro twilight

It’s a highly versatile camera system that lets you shoot everything from macro details to long-distance, zoomed-in scenery. It can be great in skilled hands, but can also turn out some mediocre shots if you just shoot in auto.

It’s an impressively versatile camera that lets you shoot everything from macro details to sweeping scenery

David got some great shots out of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. He noted he usually needed to lower the exposure manually, as the phone tends to overexpose in order to extract more details out of shadows.






I, on the other hand, just point and shoot in auto mode. I occasionally struggled to get good pics in low light.



The Mate 20 Pro is not terrible in low light auto mode, but I was expecting better. My Pixel 2, with its single camera, does a better job. It’s possible that Huawei’s auto algorithms are not as good as its hardware, and image quality could improve with future updates. If that happens, we’ll revisit this Huawei Mate 20 Pro review.

Inconsistent image quality aside, the Mate 20 Pro is a powerful camera phone. I love how you can switch between the different lenses with a simple swipe.

camera screen on huawei mate 20 pro

The wide-angle camera is great when you need to get more stuff in one shot, be it more people, an entire room, or a sweeping landscape.

It’s also great for taking close-ups: In wide-angle mode, the Mate 20 Pro can focus on objects that are just a couple of centimeters away from the lens. That’s a unique feature on smartphones, as far as I know. If you enjoy macro photography, you’ll love this phone.

Macro shot of moss on a tree taken on Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Macro shot of moss on a tree

The telephoto lens’ 3X optical zoom is great for framing nice portraits or for closing in on distant details. You can zoom up to 10X in total, and it’s way better than what most phones can do.

huawei mate 20 pro zoom in sample

Left: 1X. Right: 10X.

Portrait mode is pretty great and you can couple it with the 3X optical zoom for a more powerful effect. Using aperture mode, you can play with the depth of field after you take the shot and you can also apply filters — e.g. make the background black-and-white, but keep the subject in color.

portrait taken on Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Night mode is meant for very dark conditions — you need to hold the phone as still as possible for four seconds, while the camera captures multiple frames at different ISO values and combines them into one image. It could help you get a picture in otherwise unshootable conditions.

Stage Lighting shot on Mate 20 Pro

Stage Lighting shot on Mate 20 Pro

The selfie camera is pretty good, though pics sometimes turn out too soft. You can play with some silly tools to spruce up your selfies, including an Apple-style stage lighting option.

There are many other camera features and options, like monochrome, live video filters, AR lens, light painting, time-lapse, and even an underwater mode. The camera app itself is well designed and easy to use.

You can also choose to enable Huawei’s Master AI mode from the camera settings. It attempts to recognize and apply the best settings for each scene (e.g. cat, historic building, greenery, clouds). I didn’t see a huge difference with or without it, but your mileage may vary.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera is feature-packed, powerful, and versatile. If you take the time to learn it inside out and tweak your settings for each scene, it will reward you with some great results. Let’s just hope Huawei works on the auto algorithm for low light.

Full resolution camera samples are available in this Google Drive folder.

Software

The first Huawei device I ever used, the Ascend Mate 7, had pretty bad software. It was busy, unpolished, and a little ugly. Four generations later, the software on the Mate 20 Pro is much improved. There are still some small issues and Huawei still needlessly copies Apple in some areas, but overall I really enjoy using the Mate 20 Pro.

The phone runs EMUI 9.0, based on Android Pie. Kudos to Huawei for offering Pie out of the box.

front view of huawei mate 20 pro twilight

You can choose between the conventional three-key navigation bar, a gesture-based interface, or a navigation dock. I liked the gesture-based interface the most: swipe up from the bottom to go to the home screen, swipe up and hold to go to recent apps, swipe from either edge to go back. It’s intuitive and easier to use on a tall phone than the navigation bar, though it tends to interfere with apps where you swipe from the sides to open menus, like Sync for Reddit or Slack.

You can choose between using an app drawer or just dumping everything on the homescreen. The app drawer itself looks great. The quick settings menu is pretty and functional. The settings section is generally intuitive — reorganized for EMUI 9 — though some settings are hidden in unexpected places.

huawei mate 20 pro twilight showing app drawer

You have lots of customization options, including my personal favorite, a system-wide dark mode that looks great on the OLED screen and also helps save battery.

Dark mode looks fantastic and helps save battery.

I recently started using Digital Wellbeing on my Pixel 2 to cut down on my phone usage, and I was happy to see similar functionality on the Mate 20 Pro. It’s called Digital Balance, and it actually has a few extra features, like granular usage statistics and a limit on your daily total screen time. Fun fact, I unlocked the Mate 20 Pro over 600 times in the making of this review, or every 16 minutes on average.

huawei mate 20 pro with open quick settings drawer

I noticed a number of small bugs and usability issues. Even with media volume set to zero, there’s a tiny “click” sound when loading autoplaying content in apps like Twitter or Chrome. You can’t swipe back from the app drawer. On the home screen, you can’t tap the names of apps to open them, but weirdly you can in the app drawer. The 3D emoji — an Apple feature Huawei basically cloned — are janky and sometimes fail to record your facial expressions. I also spotted a couple typos in the UI, though nothing egregious. We’ll revisit these issues once Huawei rolls out the promised update in a few days.

My Mate 20 Pro review unit came preloaded with a few Huawei utilities, as well as two third-party apps — eBay and Booking.com. In other words, bloatware isn’t too bad, though that tends to vary from market to market.

huawei mate 20 pro with a game on the screen

All in all, EMUI 9 is not flawless, but it’s clearly an improvement over previous versions. I still think the Pixel line has a better, more intuitive, and easier to use UI. That I’m even comparing them should be taken as high praise for Huawei.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro review conclusion: Is it worth the money?

The Mate 20 Pro is a powerful, feature-packed, exciting phone. It looks gorgeous, it feels great in the hand, and it runs solid software. It charges wickedly fast and can chug along for days on a single charge. Its biggest issue is the inconsistent low-light image quality, but even that is offset by the sheer versatility of its cameras.

I personally love the Mate 20 Pro and I think you will love it too. But… I didn’t have to pay for the phone I reviewed. Would I spend 1,050 euros on a Mate 20 Pro? I don’t think I would, only because I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on any phone.

Lots of people don’t mind paying a premium for true quality. If you only change your phone every two or three years, it makes sense to get something nice. If you’re like that, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is probably the best phone you can get today.

Perhaps the most desireable phone on the market right now.

Other phones may beat the Mate 20 Pro in specific areas. The Pixel 3 XL can take better pictures with less effort. The V40 has better sound. The Note 9 is just as powerful and comes with the S Pen, a headphone jack and a non-proprietary memory slot. These are all great phones for power users, just like Huawei’s flagship. But then the Mate 20 Pro has a 40MP main sensor, good wide angle and telephoto lenses, reverse wireless charging, 40W rapid charging, 3D face unlock, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and crazy battery life. Where other phones lean on one great special feature to justify their price tags, the Mate 20 Pro has a bunch of them.

Bottom line, you won’t find a more desirable phone on the market right now.

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

A note on U.S. availability

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro may be a great phone, but it’s not good enough for the U.S. government. Suspicions over Huawei’s alleged ties with the Chinese government have caused an almost complete ban on the company’s smartphones in the U.S.

Huawei confirmed it would not be selling the Mate 20 Pro in the States, forcing would-be customers to look into importing a unit from other countries. That’s definitely an option, but prices of imported phones tend to be higher than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, potentially making the Mate 20 Pro even more expensive.

If you decide to import one or pick one up directly from an overseas store, make sure to check the supported bands (you can in see them in the specs table below) against the bands used by your carrier in the area you live.

Which variant should you choose?

Editor’s Pick

If it’s an option, we suggest getting the dual-SIM model, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, in either Emerald Green or Midnight Blue (fewer fingerprints). While some markets will get the model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as an option, the 6GB/128GB variant should be good enough for most users. You might be tempted to choose the slightly cheaper Mate 20 instead – while they look similar, the Mate 20 has a poorer screen, a less impressive camera, slower charging, and comes with a lower water resistance rating.

Full specs

  Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Display 6.39-inch curved OLED
3,120 x 1,440 resolution
538 ppi
19.5:9 aspect ratio
DCI-P3
Processor Huawei Kirin 980
Octa-core CPU (2 @ 2.6GHz, 2 @ 1.92GHz, 4 @ 1.8GHz)
Dual NPU
GPU Mali-G76 720MHz
RAM 6GB/8GB
Storage 128GB/256GB
NM (nano memory) card slot
Battery 4,200mAh
40W Huawei Supercharge
Can be used as a wireless charger for other Qi-enabled devices
15W wireless charging
Cameras Rear:
Main: 40MP sensor, f/1.8 aperture
Second: 8MP 3x telephoto sensor, OIS, f/2.4 aperture
Third: 20MP ultra-wide sensor, f/2.2 aperture, 16mm focal length equivalent
Front: 24MP RGB sensor
Network LYA-L29:
Primary SIM card:
4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40
4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28 / B32
3G WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 (Japan) / B8 / B19 (Japan);
3G TD-SCDMA: B34 / B39
2G GSM: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8 (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)
Secondary SIM card:
4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40
4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28
3G WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B8 / B19
2G GSM: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8 (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)

LYA-L09:
4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40
4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28 / B32
3G WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B6 (Japan) / B8 / B19 (Japan);
3G TD-SCDMA: B34 / B39
2G GSM: B2 / B3 / B5 / B8 (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz)

Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (wave2), 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
Bluetooth 5.0, BLE, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA Audio
Type-C, USB 3.1 GEN1
Type-C earjack
PC Data Synchronisation
IR blaster
GPS (L1 + L5 dual band) / AGPS / Glonass / BeiDou / Galileo (E1 + E5a dual band) / QZSS (L1 + L5 dual band)
NFC
Biometric security In-display fingerprint sensor
Dot projector, TOF proximity sensor, flood illuminator, and an IR camera for face-unlock
Headphone jack No
Dimensions 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm
189g
IP rating IP68
Software version Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.0
Colors Pink Gold, Midnight Blue, Emerald Green, Twilight, Black

Huawei Mate 20 series: Quick overview

Something manufacturers do to sell more phones is launch “families” of phones with similar names and looks, but very different specs (and manufacturing costs). Huawei launched five Mate 20 phones, ranging from mid-range to super-premium, clearly hoping the prestige of the flagships would rub off on the cheaper models. Here’s a breakdown, for clarity:

  • Mate 20 LiteMid-range, cheaper processor, 2017 design. 399 euros (~$455)
  • Mate 20Great core specs, but lots of features missing compared to the Pro variant. 799 euros (~$925)
  • Mate 20X – Huge screen, geared towards gamers and power-users.  899 euros (~$1,045)
  • Mate 20 Pro – The top mainstream model, full of bells and whistles. 1,049 euros (~$1,215)
  • Mate 20 RS Porsche DesignLimited-edition luxury version of Mate 20 Pro, with leather back and extra storage. 1,695 euros (~$1,965)

That concludes our Huawei Mate 20 Pro review. Let us know what you think about the phone and our impressions.

Read next: Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro: Where to buy, when, and for how much

Lenovo Chromebook C330 review: Is this really only $279?

The problem with making laptops is keeping them fresh and competitive each year is more than a little difficult. The 2-in-1 design changed the landscape, but manufacturers still need to come up with new ways to entice customers into purchasing their latest products.

Google also helped change the landscape with the introduction of Chrome OS, promising fast performance for affordable prices with the platform’s lightweight design. The education sector ate them up, and now they’ve become popular alternatives to Windows- and macOS-based PCs.

Lenovo’s Chromebook C330 brings the simplicity of Chrome OS and marries it with the flexibility of a 2-in-1 design – all for under $300

With its new Chromebook C330, Lenovo combines both worlds at a highly affordable price: A Chrome OS-based 2-in-1 converts into laptop, stand, tent and tablet modes. It’s not exactly the largest Chromebook around, but it’s compact, and you can easily slip it into a book bag or briefcase.

For this Lenovo Chromebook C330 review, Lenovo provided us with the 81HY blizzard white model, which has a maximum 64GB of storage (the cheaper model has 32GB), 4GB of LPDDR3 memory clocked at 1,866MHz (four slots), an 11.6-inch screen, and a four-core MediaTek processor. It has a starting price of $279 and hits stores on October 21.

It all starts with the display

The Lenovo Chromebook C330 sports an 11.6-inch IPS LCD screen supporting 10-point touch input, deep rich colors and wide viewing angles. The 1,366 x 768 screen is unsurprising given the Chromebook’s price, but it also provides a 60Hz refresh rate, which is decent for running video at a smooth 60fps. The IPS panel lives up to its promise, with vivid, bright colors at any angle and no visual wash out when your melon changes position.

By comparison, Google’s Pixelbook released in early 2018 sports a slightly larger 12.3-inch screen and an impressive 2,400 x 1,600 resolution, packing 235ppi versus Lenovo’s Chromebook with 160ppi. The Pixelbook is the “luxury model” of Chromebook, with a starting price of $999 although Lenovo’s highly affordable C330 does an excellent job bringing a “luxury” feel to a sub-$300 device.

The big tease with Lenovo’s current design is the actual color scheme. When you open the lid, you’re presented with a mostly black screen and don’t really see the huge bezels on each side until you light up the display. The top and side bezels are around 0.75 inches wide, while the bottom black bezel measures an inch tall. The remaining portion of the lid is white and measures an additional inch to accommodate the 360-degree hinge. The well-hidden 720p webcam (0.9MP, fixed focus) resides in the top bezel.

Build quality

lenovo chromebook c330 hinge gap

Moving down into the main keyboard area, you’ll see noticeable gaps between the screen, the bulky hinge, and the base. That’s the trade-off of having a 360-degree hinge, but it makes the Chromebook usable in four positions: laptop, tent, stand and tablet modes. These gaps are likely more apparent due to the review unit’s blizzard white exterior, though in comparison there aren’t gaps like that in Google’s Pixelbook.

Lenovo Chromebook C330 ports left

The left side houses one USB Type-C port (5Gbps), one HDMI port, one USB-A port (5Gbps) and a full-size SD card slot. The right side plays host to an audio combo jack, the volume buttons and the power button. The Chromebook doesn’t include an Ethernet port for wired networking, but it has Wireless AC and Bluetooth connectivity. There aren’t any visible vents for heat dissipation.

lenovo chromebook c330 ports right

Unfortunately, the Chromebook’s two speakers are mounted on the bottom, pushing sound down and away from your ears. When it’s on a table, the audio sounds muffled and singular (non-stereo). Your best option here on an audible level is to view media in tent or stand mode so the speakers are pointing in your direction.

Overall, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is quite attractive — it’s almost cute. The edges are crisp and somewhat angled, with a slight edge around the dark display area — at least with the blizzard white model. It’s slightly thicker in the front than the back although the specifications list a measurement of 11.5 (W) x 8.5 (D) x 0.8 (H) inches. It’s not horribly thick, but not quite as thin as other models at this size. Still, it’s a decent 2.65 pounds. Given its 11.6-inch size, it should be a great lightweight solution for students.

Keyboard and trackpad

Complementing a great screen is a decent keyboard. There’s no number pad or backlighting, the latter of which is unfortunate given backlit keys are becoming more of a standard. The keys are extremely large and responsive, colored dark grey with white lettering. The keys are also highly responsive and bouncy, providing a great input experience. Media keys like brightness control, audio control, and more sit along the top.

Below the keyboard is a large trackpad with a matte white finish, blending into the cool blizzard white theme. Despite its appearance, the trackpad is smooth to the touch and highly responsive, tracking our finger better than the trackpad I use on the latest MacBook Air. The trackpad measures just over four inches wide and provides a nice “click” tactile feedback when pressed.

Processor performance

Lenovo Chromebook C330

Powering the Lenovo is a MediaTek MT8173c four-core processor, featuring two “big” cores running at 2.11GHz and two “little” cores running at 1.7GHz. This chip has slightly higher speeds than the vanilla MT8173 model for tablets, hence the added “c” for Chromebooks in the label. Using Geekbench, the chip scored a 1457 in the single-core test and a 2984 score in the multi-core test.

MediaTek’s chip falls just behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 used in the Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone. In the Chromebook space, Lenovo’s C330 out-performs the Rockchip RK3399 used in the Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA and falls behind the Intel Pentium N4200 processor installed in the Acer Chromebook 15 released in late 2017.

It is not a powerhouse, but it doesn’t need to be.

Numbers aside, Lenovo’s Chromebook simply feels super zippy. The Chrome browser opened near-instantaneous, and Order and Chaos 2 took five seconds to reach the in-game connection screen. Google Sheets loaded in five seconds too — partly due to our wireless connection — while the Play Games app took around three seconds to fully load. Benchmark numbers are great when comparing Chromebook to Chromebook, but Lenovo’s model shows you don’t need a crazy beefy processor to get the job done.

Part of the overall speed relies on the integrated storage, as PCMark’s benchmark showed an average read speed of 2,339MB per second and an average write speed of a mere 64MB per second. At the time of this review, we did not have any information about the storage capacity limit of the Chromebook’s built-in SD card reader.

Graphics performance

Lenovo Chromebook C330 stand mode

The Chromebook’s graphics are integrated into MediaTek’s processor — there’s no discrete GPU here. Given this model supports Google Play and Android apps, we can see the device’s potential using a variety of benchmarks including 3DMark, AnTuTu, PCMark for Android and GFXBench GL.

First, let’s start with GFXBench GL Benchmark. In the Aztec Ruins High Tier benchmark at 720p, the Chromebook averaged a mere 6.4fps, falling behind devices like Nvidia’s Shield tablet and the Samsung Galaxy S7 phone in performance. The Manhattan benchmark produced the highest frame rate, with an average of 24fps at 720p, yet it wasn’t enough to come even close to the results seen with the HP Chromebook 11 G5, the Asus Chromebook C202SA or the Acer Chromebook 11 (N3060).

Using the 3DMark Sling Shot benchmark, Lenovo’s Chromebook surpassed the Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA, but fell behind the Acer Chromebook 15. In the second Ice Storm test, Lenovo’s Chromebook surpassed both.

A gaming machine it’s not, but considering it runs Chrome OS – we aren’t really surprised

Moving on to AnTuTu, Lenovo’s Chromebook produced an average framerate of a mere 4.55 frames per second. It only managed an average of 4.61 frames per second in the second Coastline test.

Keep in mind that Lenovo’s Chromebook has a maximum 1,366 x 768 resolution running at 60Hz. If you’re playing a 1080p video in full-screen mode, you typically won’t see any issues regarding choppiness. The opening cinematic for Titan Quest performed really well in full-screen mode, but the game itself wouldn’t play correctly in this mode. In fact, it would only run correctly in a window one-quarter the size of the Chromebook’s screen. The framerate was decent but not the smooth 60FPS the display’s refresh rate supports.

We can likely blame Titan Quest’s issues on a lack of optimization. We didn’t see any similar problems with Gameloft’s MMORPG Order and Chaos 2, as the game ran without major issues in full-screen mode using the default settings. Typical grind-based gameplay produced decent framerates although we saw tons of choppiness when large special effects consumed the screen. The framerate noticeably dropped and felt sluggish/jerky when we installed the optional HD graphics.

If you don’t plan to game on Lenovo’s Chromebook, you’ll have no worries about graphics. It’s capable of decent gameplay, but don’t expect stellar performance. Lenovo’s Chromebook appears best suited for games with simpler visuals, like the web-based Legends series by Spacetime Studios.

Battery performance

Lenovo Chromebook C330 tablet mode

Lenovo’s Chromebook features a three-cell 1,000mAh battery promising up to 10 hours of typical use (although Chrome OS reports 13 hours). Because battery testing and reporting is typically measured using a specific screen brightness level, we instead ran tests 100 percent and 50 percent brightness.

For the first test, PCMark performed a variety of methods to drain the battery. At a screen brightness of 100 percent, the battery lasted seven hours and 20 minutes. With the screen set at a 50 percent brightness level, the battery endured for nine hours and nine minutes.

The battery can easily last a whole work day, and then some.

We got similar battery performance in our web browsing test, where we put the Chromebook in a continuous webpage-loading loop until the battery depleted. Here the battery lasted nine hours and 10 minutes with the screen set a 50 percent brightness and seven hours and 51 minutes with the screen brightness set at 100 percent.

Another method of testing the battery is to use the built-in CROSH command in Chrome OS. You can set the duration up to 600 seconds and Chrome OS will report the battery drainage percentage in that timeframe. With the display set to 100 percent brightness, the battery drained 1.34 percent in 10 minutes, so in 10 hours 80.4 percent of its charge would be depleted. With the brightness level set at 50 percent, the battery only drained 1.02 percent in 10 minutes.

Finally, we looped the 1080p version of Aquaman’s recent extended movie trailer at the 50-percent brightness mark and saw the battery last 11 hours and 36 minutes. At the 100 percent brightness level, we drained the battery in nine hours and 53 minutes.

Software and apps

Lenovo Chromebook C330

Lenovo’s Chromebook really shows how lightweight Google’s operating system is. It comes with the standard taskbar along the bottom with a battery meter, Wi-Fi icon, system clock and so on. The launcher button on the far left pulls up a search bar with five recently-used apps that expands into an Android-like app drawer. If you’re not familiar with Chrome OS, it’s designed to run web-based apps so there’s nothing to install, requiring very little overall storage.

This Chromebook supports Google Play and Android-based apps, which you do need to download and install. The 32GB and 64GB storage options help here, but if you’re downloading large Android apps, you may find yourself utilizing the SD card reader. Not all Android apps will run perfectly on Chrome OS as we experienced with Titan Quest, but that may or may not have anything to do with Google’s current Android support in Chrome OS.

Finally, given the roots of Chrome OS, you won’t find any unnecessary bloatware installed on this device. In fact, if you’re moving from an older Chromebook, Google takes the Android approach and stores your software configuration in the cloud, so setup won’t take much work. When you sign in, all your apps will even re-download.

A decent Chromebook at a great price

Lenovo Chromebook C330

$279 is crazy cheap for a 2-in-1 device, but Lenovo’s Chromebook C330 doesn’t feel like a cheap device. Its solid, lightweight build oozes craftsmanship and style. The blizzard white color scheme is definitely attractive, though the white exterior highlights its biggest visual design flaws: The wide gaps between the screen, the hinge, and the base.

On a feature level, you have plenty of connectivity options for the office, home, or school. While there’s no stylus support or an included peripheral, the tablet mode and 10-point touch input offer something many Chromebooks simply lack. Despite its size and lightweight, this Chromebook doesn’t feel small.

It performs well in general, though we’ve seen better. It’s zippy enough to get the job done. Running Android applications — especially games — through Google Play can be a hit or miss. If you’re streaming or playing a 1080p video locally from the machine, you shouldn’t experience any major issues.

If you’re looking for a sub-13-inch 2-in-1 device not tied to Microsoft or Apple for less than $300, you can’t beat this Chromebook. It’s great if you want more than a tablet to surf the internet, work, stream videos, or simply be creative. Lenovo’s Chromebook C330 should serve as a great computing solution for students too.

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