The Pixel 3 is more expensive than the P20 but gets you wireless charging, a better display (just) and a superior camera. If you want stock, clean Android 9 Pie it’s also the one to go for.
The P20 has Oreo but should get upgraded to Pie. It has a very good cameras, a more eye-catching colourful glass design than the Pixel 3 and is cheaper by some distance.
Both phones are roughly the same dimensions but are quite different to hold. The Pixel 3 is smoother and more pebble-like, with glossy edges and a glass back that is mostly etched for a soft feel.
The P20 is still premium though with a glass back available in several eye-catching colours like Twilight that changes from blue to purple. It has a metal rim and dual camera compared to the Pixel 3’s one, though the Pixel actually has two selfie cameras.
Despite this, the Pixel has a curved screen with no notch whereas the P20 has a notch at the top of the display to allow it to reach to the top edges. Your buying decision might well rest on which screen design you prefer.
Both phones have slim font bezels but because of the design the P20 has a larger 5.8in display compared to the Pixel 3’s 5.5in. Despite this you won’t get a lot of extra content on the P20 as the size difference is small.
Both have a camera bump though the P20’s is slightly more pronounced, while the fingerprint sensor on that phone is on the front at the bottom. The Pixel’s sensor is on the back of the phone.
Neither phone has a headphone jack, but both come with a dongle in the box as well as USB-C wired headphones.
Pixel 3 vs Huawei P20: Specs differences
Here’s a table comparing the specs of both phones:
Android 9.0 Pie
Android 8.1 Oreo
Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink
Twilight, Midnight Blue, Black, Pink
5.5in 2160 x 1080 18:9 P-OLED, 443ppi
5.8in 2240 x 1080 LCD, 429ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
HiSilicon Kirin 970
12Mp, f/1.8 with OIS (colour) + 20Mp, f/1.6 (monochrome)
8Mp f/1.8 + 8Mp f/2.2
4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30/60/120fps, 720p at 240fps
4K at 30fps, 720p slo-mo @960fps
145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9 mm
149.1 x 70.8 x 7.7 mm
As well as the screen sizes, the screens themselves are also different. The Pixel 3 has an OLED display compared to the P20’s. OLED screens have slightly better colour reproduction and deeper blacks when calibrated correctly – and the Pixel 3’s is and looks excellent.
But the P20’s LCD is one of the best on the market and for most people (including us!) it’s enough, and excellent. It’s one of the reasons the P20 is cheaper but you don’t sacrifice all that much.
The Pixel 3’s Snapdragon 845 processor is faster than the Kirin 970. While the latter is no slouch, the 845 is a more capable chip on paper. In the Geekbench 4 multi-core CPU benchmark, the Pixel 3 scores 8202 to the P20’s 6676.
We reckon the Pixel 3’s camera is the best on the market. With just one lens it consistently gives the best results in most shooting conditions. The P20 is still excellent though, and has a second camera that allows for depth effect shots and monochrome.
The Pixel has dual front facing cameras that let you take wide angle selfies, which is something the P20 can’t do.
Pixel 3 vs Huawei P20: Software
Buying a Pixel 3 will get you Android 9 Pie and three years of guaranteed security updates. This is not something that is certain if you plump for the P20, and it will depend on your region and mobile operator as to when you receive security or software updates.
The P20 ships with Android Oreo 8.1 with Huawei’s EMUI skin. It changes Android quite a lot, and doesn’t look all that much like Google’s plainer version of Android you’ll find on the Pixel 3.
Android on the Pixel will give you the best integration of all Google’s services, and as a result runs incredibly smooth. The P20 still runs all Google apps fine, but Huawei puts its own apps on there in the hope you’ll use them.
If you want the pure Google Android experience, the Pixel 3 is for you – but at a premium. But that extra spend gets you the best camera on a phone.
The P20 is still an excellent purchase and costs quite a bit less than the Pixel 3.
Henry is Tech Advisor’s Phones Editor, ensuring he and the team covers and reviews every smartphone worth knowing about for readers and viewers all over the world. He spends a lot of time moving between different handsets and shouting at WhatsApp to support multiple devices at once.