Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Huawei P30 Pro: Which is best?

An epic battle for camera zoom supremacy

Last year's Huawei P30 Pro wowed us with its amazing camera skills, delivering a strong 10x zoom that wowed us with the results. Now it's Samsung's time to take its shot.

The newly-released Galaxy S20 Ultra, the priciest and most feature-packed edition of the S20 line, packs what Samsung calls a "Space Zoom" feature that delivers 10x "Hybrid Optic Zoom" and 100x "Super Resolution Zoom." That sounds wild, right?

Did Samsung improve upon Huawei's camera mastery with the S20 Ultra, and more importantly, is it worth spending that extra cash to bring Samsung's extra-large phone home in your pocket? Here's what we think, now that we've posted our S20 Ultra review.

Design: Large and sleek

When it comes to design, we see a slight edge for Samsung. The slimmer bezels and punch-hole camera cutout design aesthetic feels fresher and more polished than Huawei's small notch, even if the backing colours are a bit less exciting.  Huawei offers flashier backing designs, though, but you may or may not dig that style.

Huawei's screen is pretty clearly curved on the right and left sides, but this time around, Samsung has made its screens essentially flat for a change. Again, that's up to preference.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Screen: Ultra crisp

At a massive 6.9in and a surely stunning QHD+ resolution, the Galaxy S20 Ultra's screen looks fantastic. Samsung has also packed in a 120Hz refresh rate, but the catch is that you can only enable it at Full HD+ resolution, so… that's a drag.

Huawei, on the other hand, sticks to Full HD+ resolution and standard 60Hz refresh rate no matter what, on a 6.47in OLED panel. It's still a bright and colourful screen, even if it's not quite as crisp as what Samsung has on offer here.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Camera: The big question

Here's the most intriguing part of this showdown. As mentioned, the P30 Pro has one of the best camera setups available today, even a year later. The quad-camera array (40MP wide, 20MP ultra-wide, 8MP periscope, and time-of-flight sensor) takes stellar snaps throughout, and it's the 10x hybrid zoom that captures shocking detail from a distance.

Meanwhile, Samsung's quad-camera setup has 108MP wide-angle, 12MP ultra-wide, 48MP telephoto, and DepthVision cameras. The Galaxy S20 Ultra takes pretty fantastic shots in the daytime, but it's not all perfect: inconsistent focus searching is an issue that needs to be fixed, plus the night mode isn't one of the best around.

As for zoom, you can get incredible results from the Galaxy S20 Ultra's 5x and 10x settings. At 30x, the shots are usable but pretty artifact-heavy, while 100x zoom shots are a gimmick. It's a neat trick, but you won't get any photos that you'd actually want to post or share.

Verdict: Draw

Performance: Newer is faster

No doubt, Samsung has the edge here. The Exynos 990 chips in the UK and Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chips used in other territories are a generation newer than the Kirin 980 chip in the P30 Pro… and maybe a generation and a half, given the release timing of each processor.

The P30 Pro is a plenty speedy phone, so the everyday difference may not be obvious or really even noticeable. This is one for the benchmark comparisons, where the Galaxy S20 Ultra has an advantage on pretty much any test thrown at it. Even though the P30 Pro is a year old, it's still extremely capable of handling games, apps, and anything else you've got.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Battery and perks: Ultra fast

The P30 Pro's 4,200mAh battery pack is a sizable one, providing upwards of two days of usage depending on how hard you push it. The Galaxy S20 Ultra goes a fair bit larger at 5,000mAh – but if you're running that 120Hz setting, it's going to bleed a lot faster than normal. Keep that in mind.

Both phones offer wireless charging, as well as reverse wireless charging for topping up a pal's phone or an accessory like earbuds.

You can get the Galaxy S20 Ultra with 128GB or 512GB of internal storage, and then augment that with microSD expandable storage. The P30 Pro, meanwhile, is sold in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB varieties, and can be expanded with Huawei's Nano Memory cards.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is the only one of these phones with 5G support, however: the P30 Pro only offers LTE coverage.

Verdict: Draw

Verdict: Money matters

If money is no concern, then the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra might be the top-spec monster of your dreams. It comes out ahead in screen quality and processing power, although not everyone is going to want to handle a near-7in handset.

But since money is a concern for the vast majority of us, we have to factor that into our decision. At £1,199, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is going to be far too much phone for the average buyer, and honestly unnecessary. Meanwhile, the Huawei P30 Pro is down significantly from its launch price of £899, selling for about £529-£549 these days from Amazon.

The P30 Pro is an excellent phone, and at that price, an excellent value. There's a lot to love about the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, too, but not enough to warrant paying double the price (or more). If you're set on the S20, go with the standard model or S20+. But if you're deciding between these two particular handsets, the Huawei P30 Pro is the much more reasonable option.

Winner: Huawei P30 Pro