Update: After Google suspended Huawei's future access to Android Play Store and security updates, there are serious question marks over the future of Huawei and Honor phones.
While Google and Huawei have promised to support phones currently on the market, it's not clear how long they'll receive Android updates or access to the Google Play Store, which would severely curtail their usefulness compared to the competition.
When it comes to smartphones, is bigger necessarily better? Huawei certainly hopes so with its new Mate 20 series device. The Mate 20 X is a super-sized smartphone with a niche appeal skewed towards gamers and productivity enthusiasts that love larger screens.
Originally intended for Chinese markets, the Mate 20 X has made its way to the Middle East and the UK. It probably won’t be revered as much as the cutting-edge Mate 20 Pro, given the fact it sheds key features from its higher-tier sibling such as 3D face recognition, an in-screen fingerprint scanner and wireless charging. Disappointed? Not so fast - there’s still a lot on offer here.
The obvious selling point of the Mate 20 X is its enormously 7.2-inch screen, which makes Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and Apple's iPhone XS Max look small. The phone also features a massive battery and a cooling system capable of handling a good bout of gaming on the highest graphics settings without overheating. As for the camera, it's the same excellent set up found in the Mate 20 Pro.
There’s no doubt this is a premium phone that can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Samsung Galaxy Note 9 but its excessive size is an acquired taste and will be the deciding factor for most buyers.
Huawei Mate 20 X release date and price
You’ll be able to pick up the Mate 20 X in midnight blue color for £799 in the UK, or AED 2,499 in the UAE starting mid-January. That’s just AED 100 more than the Mate 20 and quite a few hundred AED less than the Mate 20 Pro.
It comes in just the one configuration of 128GB internal storage and 6G RAM. Considering how several top-tier phones are easily breaking the AED 3,000 price mark these days, the Mate 20 X represents incredible value.
Dimensions: 174.6 x 85.4 x 8.2mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 7.2-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2244
CPU: Kirin 980
Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP
Front camera: 24MP
The Mate 20 X looks a lot like its smaller sibling, the Huawei Mate 20, except it’s much bigger in size and looks more plush. It has a similar teardrop notch on its sizable 7.2-inch screen and thin bezels, giving it an approximately 88% screen-to-body ratio.
Overall, the Mate 20 X crams in a lot of tech in a sleek and premium looking package. It’s wider and slightly heftier than most phablets out there and most people will find it impractical for casual use. But despite being large, it has a decent in-hand feel thanks to the smooth curved edges on the back and its slim 8.3mm profile.
There are ridged laser-cut diagonals on the rear that are meant to give the phone some texture for grip and stave off fingerprints, but they don’t really do a good job of achieving either.
The rear also sports a unique square camera bump that houses a triple lens camera setup. The fingerprint scanner is just below and a stretch to reach but that’s a common theme with this phone.
The Mate 20 X is not super slippery but the hefty weight of 232 grams and the all metal frame with a slick glossy finish doesn’t help. The IP rating is just IP53 meaning it won’t survive a dunk in the water and you’ll definitely want to put a case on it preferably one with a ring for a drop-free grip.
Like the Mate 20 Pro, the red accent around the textured power button is a great little detail and makes the phone look even more refined. Just above the power buttons are a pair of tactile and sturdy volume rockers.
There are understated speaker grilles on the bottom and top which will likely get muffled when you hold the phone in landscape orientation but thankfully the phone also includes a headphone jack. On the left side, you’ll find a new hybrid SIM and Nano Memory tray which houses Huawei’s proprietary memory cards doing away with traditional microSD cards.
The Mate 20 X’s huge 7.2-inch screen is the most compelling reason to buy this phone. With thin bezels and small notch, the front is almost all screen and just stellar for watching videos and playing games.
The OLED panel has an FHD+ resolution of 2244x1080p giving it a respectable pixel density of 381ppi. It doesn’t pack the visual punch of a 2K display found in higher-end flagships such as the Mate 20 Pro but it can hold its own against most in this price bracket. Plus, FHD+ resolution is less of a strain on the battery which can be lowered to HD+ to conserve more juice.
The screen on the Mate 20 X doesn’t quite match the brightness and color gamut of Samsung and Apple flagships but it’s clear, vibrant and great to view content on. It is also amply bright and has good color depth that pops at any viewing angle.
Colors on the display are almost too dramatic out of the box but they can be adjusted in the extensive Display settings that allow you to switch between Vivid and Natural color modes as well as modify color temperatures or enable the eye comfort mode that reduces harsh blue light emitted from the phone.
The teardrop notch is less obtrusive on the Mate 20 X compared to most phones we saw last year and doesn’t really get in the way. It houses the phone’s earpiece and selfie camera and can be hidden from the settings menu.
Another thing we like about the screen is it’s wide 18.7:9 aspect ratio that helps content fill out most of the screen without having obnoxious borders on either side that taller phones seem to have.
(Reviewers’ Note: As a fan of big phones, the Mate 20 X represents the right amount of “big” to me where I had hoped Samsung’s Galaxy Note series would head towards. There’s a fair case for elongated builds that make the phone easier to hold, but I reckon anyone who’s invested in phones with large screens would trade off the opportunity to have more screen space for better ergonomics.)