Apple iPhone Xs (Left) vs. Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Right).
  • We tested the iPhone Xs and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which both were launched around the same time last year. 
  • For R3,000 less the Huawei Mate 20 Pro proved to be a victor, not only with its sharp Leica camera (closely challenged by the iPhone's on certain functionalities) but on price, performance, technology and ease-of-use.

The Apple iPhone Xs and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro came to market around the same time late last year - both to considerable fanfare. 

We tried the two pricey devices, and were surprised by how much more we like Huawei's new phone - especially its price, which is a cool R3,000 cheaper.

Here is how the iPhone Xs compares to the Mate 20 Pro

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General specifications: Apple iPhone Xs vs. Huawei Mate 20 Pro. (Table: Business Insider SA)

Box contents and starting up

(Photo: Timothy Rangongo/Business Insider SA)

Apple's iPhone Xs comes with a standard adapter but, unlike the Mate 20 Pro, without the fast-charging capability. You can fast-charge the iPhone, but you will have to spend extra money for a quick-charging adapter similar to Huawei's.

The EarPods are wired and annoyingly have the proprietary Apple Lightning connector, instead of the good old 3.5 mm audio jack still widely in use a courageous move on Apple's part.

What does this means for us? Having to spend yet another buck to buy Apple's lighting to 3.5 mm headphone jack adaptor for R199 (if you still want to plug in those headphones you so heavily invested in). And then last but very least, a lightning-to- USB 2.0 cable.


The Mate 20 Pro comes with a charging adapter, a USB type-C (24-pin USB connector system) cable that allows faster charging, type-C earphones with the EarPods' design, and generously, because the earphones have a type-C pin Huawei throws in a type-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter and a protective case for free.

iPhone Xs startup process. (Photo: Timothy Rangongo/Business Insider SA)

Setting up a new iPhone proved to be a tedious and frustrating process. Over 30 minutes was spent trying to log in with a valid Apple ID that it kept rejecting multiple times and when it finally accepted it, proceeded to load for a lengthy time "activating the iPhone".

Part and parcel of setting up the devices involves inputting user biometrics.

The Xs doesn't come with fingerprint scanning as Apple did away with the iconic round home button, which served as a fingerprint scanner in later models. The Xs only features facial recognition for unlocking the device (besides entering one's PIN).

Setting up the Mate 20 Pro, as with most Android phones, took no more than 10 minutes and that included setting up both fingerprint and facial recognition scanning. Huawei moved the fingerprint reader from the back to the screen which although takes some time getting used to, is not as convenient as simply placing the tip of the index finger to a rear scanner while holding the phone with one hand.

Camera quality

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera (left) vs Apple iPhone Xs camera (right).

Let's face it, the reason some people fork out huge sums of money on a phone is for great photos – especially in the age of the selfie and Instagram.

The two phones were both impressive, but Huawei - assisted by its partnership with iconic German camera-maker, Leica - was the clear winner. 

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Camera specifications: Apple iPhone Xs vs. Huawei Mate 20 Pro. (Table: Business Insider SA)


We took photos of the Johannesburg skyline from 6 km away (one fully zoomed out and one fully zoomed in), first with the iPhone Xs.

Next up, with the Huawei Mate Pro 20  from the same position zooming into the same skyline.

Africa's tallest building, the Carlton Centre can be perfectly made out on the right side of the zoomed in photo with less pixelation in the Mate 20 Pro's photo  from 6 km away.

Zooming (at an object indoors)

Again, standing in one spot with the iPhone Xs.

And then on the Mate Pro 20 from the same spot.

Video recording and zooming

Maximum zoom in on the iPhone Xs (1080p HD)

Maxmimum zoom in on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (4K UHD)

Slow-motion function

The iPhone redeemed itself here with the slow-motion functionality that comes with its camera settings. The Xs slow-mo function also comes with sound that also gets slowed up.

Surprisingly, the Mate 20 Pro's slow-mo functionality proved to be slow, both on quality and motion without sound.

Digital assistance

We tried to delegate a simple task like playing a specific song and from a streaming service of our choice to the virtual assistants but Apple's close-ended system appears to apply to third-party apps too.

We downloaded Spotify on both handsets and when we asked the digital assistants to play Toto's "Africa" for us on Spotify. Siri demanded that it was played via Apple Music.

Google Assistant (Android) on the Mate 20 Pro cut straight to the chase.

The iPhone Xs retails for R21,999 at its local premium reseller (iStore) while the Mate 20 Pro goes for R18,999. 


The new Huawei Mate 20 Pro is alternatively available on contract at both Vodacom and MTN for R799 per month, R699 per month at Telkom and R1,300 per month at Cell C for 24 months, Huawei South Africa told Business Insider SA at its launch.


Apple's premium resellers in SA, the iStore alternatively also offers the Xs (64GB) for R689 per month, while MTN (350MB and 50 minutes), Vodacom (350MB and 50 minutes), Telkom (1GB) and Cell C (1GB and 120 minutes) all offer it at R999 per month for 24 months.

Given the price difference, and 

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