Hands on: Huawei Mate 20 X review

Huawei's super-sized gaming-phone

What is a hands on review?
TODO alt text

Early Verdict

The Huawei Mate 20 X is a great smartphone for those looking to game or binge Netflix on the move, but for many it will simply be too big.

For

  • Excellent camera setup
  • Plenty of power
  • Big screen great for games

Against

  • Huge in the hand
  • Low level water resistance

The Huawei Mate 20 X was a bit of a surprise announcement at the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro launch, but this handset has its sights firmly set on gaming and productivity audiences.

With specs that are skewed towards enhancing the gaming experience, the Mate 20 X is much more of a niche device than the other two handsets it arrived alongside.

It's not only got the likes of the Razer Phone 2 in its sight though, with Huawei also looking to go up against the Nintendo Switch with the Mate 20 X.

Huawei Mate 20 X release date and price

The Huawei Mate 20 X price is €899 (around $1,040, £790, AU$1,460), placing it in between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

The Huawei Mate 20 X release date is set for October 26, which means there's not long to wait before you'll be able to get your hands on this smartphone.

Huawei Mate 20 X

Design and display

The Huawei Mate 20 X packs in a huge 7.2-inch OLED, HDR display, giving you plenty of space to survey the battleground on PUBG or Fortnite.

It has a Full HD+ (2244 x 1080) resolution with a 87.83% screen to body ration, making it bigger, and boasting a higher resolution, than the Nintendo Switch.

It sports the same 'dewdrop' notch as the Mate 20, ensuring only a very small portion of the screen is disturbed by the intrusion which houses the front-facing camera.

The additional screen size means the Mate 20 X is able to display more information, whether that's more items in your inbox or more text on screen at a time, reducing the amount you have to scroll.

The big display means the Huawei Mate 20 X is huge. This isn't a phone you'll be using one-handed, and it doesn't feel like a device that will be particularly practical day-to-day.

The power/lock and volume keys on the right of the handset are a little high on the side, meaning those with smaller palms may struggle to comfortably reach them. On the top edge there is a headphone jack - something that Huawei did away with on the more premium Mate 20 Pro.

You'll also find speakers on the top and bottom of the Mate 20 X, providing powerful stereo sound.

While there's no getting away from the size of the Huawei Mate 20 X, it was lighter to hold than we were expecting - which is good news if you're planning a long gaming campaign.

Round the back the glass finish on the handset is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, which may get a little annoying considering the fingerprint scanner is also located on the rear of the device.

Due to the sheer size of the Mate 20 X, you'll find yourself reaching for the fingerprint scanner, increasing the chance of planting a greasy fingerprint elsewhere on the rear.

The Huawei Mate 20 X is IP53 rated, which means its water and dust resistant level is no where near as high as many top-end phones today. In short, don't go dropping this phone in the bath as it'll likely not survive. It'll still be okay in the rain though.

You'll be able to pick up the Huawei Mate 20 X in Midnight Blue and Phantom Silver.

Huawei Mate 20 X

Camera and battery

The Huawei Mate 20 X packs in a huge 5,000mAh battery which, Huawei claims, can offer up to three hours more gaming time versus its competitors. 

It goes further too saying the Mate 20 X can provide up to 23 hours video playback, which it claims is nine hours more than iPhone XS Max. You'll have to wait for our in-depth Huawei Mate 20 X review to find out if it lives up to these claims.

Round the back the Huawei Mate 20 X packs the same triple camera setup as the Mate 20 Pro with 40MP, 20MP and 8MP sensors making up the photography offering here.

Read more about these cameras in our hands on: Huawei Mate 20 Pro review.

Huawei Mate 20 X

Performance and interface

There's plenty of power under the hood of the Mate 20 X, with Huawei's new Kirin 980 chipset paired with 6GB of RAM. It means it will be able to run any game you load up, with smooth gameplay and little lag.

Moving around the various menus and apps on the Mate 20 X, we found it to be a fluid experience with no sign of slowdown.

Huawei has also taken steps to improve the gaming experience further with its SuperCool cooling system. It features a vapor chamber and graphene film cooling technology offering - Huawei claims - up to 20 times better cooling versus copper.

It means that during extended periods of gameplay, the Huawei Mate 20 X shouldn't get too hot. Controlling the heat helps improve battery life, as well as making the handset more comfortable to hold.

You can take gaming on the Mate 20 X to the next level if you opt to purchase the additional clip-on controller. This accessory adds a joystick and D-Pad to the handset, providing a greater level of precision to your gameplay.

The latest version of Google's software - Android 9 Pie - can be found at the heart of the Huawei Mate 20 X, but it's been coated in the firm's EMUI interface.

This alters the look of Android, making it appear a little less slick, but it also provides additional features giving you a greater level of customization and control.

Huawei Mate 20 X

Early Verdict

The Huawei Mate 20 X is a great smartphone for those looking to game or binge Netflix on the move, with a huge amount of screen real estate to make the most of your content - but for many it will simply be too big.

It's a niche product which won't garner the same attention as the far more mainstream Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, but for those looking for a huge battery and display there's not really another smartphone that can challenge the Mate 20 X.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.