REVIEW: Huawei Mate 20 X


REVIEW: Huawei Mate 20 X
See how big the Huawei Mate 20 X is in a hand?

Dubai - It sure is one huge device - with a bit of downsizing in certain areas. Will that matter?

By Alvin R. Cabral

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Published: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 10:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 25 Jan 2019, 4:43 PM

Not to steal the spotlight from Honor's big launch today in Paris with the Honor View 20 (you may know by now that Honor is Huawei's more affordable sub-brand, right?), but there's another device on their turf they want you to know about.
And you also know that Huawei made a lot of headlines with its mega launch of the Mate 20 Series last October. And that wasn't the end of it. Oh, no.
It's because there's another device from that family Huawei wants you to notice. And, well, you will notice it - you can't miss it because it's literally huge.
The Huawei Mate 20 X is here (that's an 'eks', okay?), and it is really what we've mentioned earlier - a big device that screams 7.2 inches of display. 
Now since we really don't have a predecessor to the Mate 20 X, we'll just go ahead and stack it up against its co-star for this cycle of Huawei, the monster of a smartphone that is the Mate 20 Pro:

Both the Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 X share a lot of aspects, even if they're not to the letter (or to the spec), as seen above, which we'll dive into bit by bit as we go on.
But a real enticing offering: both have the same powerful and intelligent Kirin 980 chip, so the Mate 20 X is real fast in the performance category. 
As we've said, the Mate 20 X is a seriously big device, but thanks to today's fad of slimming down smartphones (or phablet - your call) with niftier aspect ratios, it may not be a big deal.
The Mate 20 X surpasses the 6.8-inch Lenovo Phab Plus back in 2016. Funny how, back then, I described the latter as making already big phones "look like a grape". Well, just look how the Mate 20 X dwarfs the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max:

And by the way, I wasn't even able to remove the iPhone's case so it looks 'a bit' bigger
And to drive home the point of maximising the display, Huawei decided to opt for a cyclops (or teardrop - again, your call) notch on the Mate 20 X. The usual suspects are in their usual places: power and volume buttons on the right, card tray to the left, 3.5mm audio jack on top and USB-C and speakers below: 

Big. Definitely big 
Here, in case you want to really see more of how it actually fits in a hand: 

Told ya
Reminder: the Mate 20 X supports Huawei's own Nano Memory Card (NM Card), which we discussed in the Mate 20 Pro review and will require you to shell out more cash compared to regular microSDs.
That said, the device has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You should probably keep that latter figure in mind until the NM Cards actually become more widely available (and affordable).
You may have also noticed that the fingerprint scanner is on the rear, not in-screen just like the Mate 20 Pro. A bit of tech downsizing here, huh?
It also once again has a nice glossy finish, but it's sure to invite your fingerprints and smudges - you'll readily know if someone could've messed around with it, especially if you've wiped it clean.
Its imposing size is a bit polarising: sure, it will be really big for those with small hands, but thanks its 18.7:9 aspect ratio, it keeps things slim and reasonable in your hand. Imagine if this were done some years ago when bezels were thick; could've easily qualified as a tablet, not a phone.
If you think that 4200mAh power source on the Mate 20 Pro - and all that it offered - was bonkers, get ready: the Mate 20 X sports a ridiculous 5000mAh battery.
It isn't, however, close to the Mate 20 Pro's performance. The Mate 20 X, in our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, lost 10 per cent of battery life, compared to the former's very impressive 6 per cent. The maximum I ever got during my entire run was for a day-and-a-half.
It's a sensible decision to upsize the battery: remember, displays always drink up the most juice in a smartphone, so that battery has its hands (and cathodes and anodes and lithium and ion, etc) full with such a big gizmo.
Another thing that doesn't come with this one: reverse wireless charging. As if it needed some more tug-of-war for its battery with its large screen. And since we're into that topic, here's one more downer: the Mate 20 X doesn't support wireless charging, too.

Triple treat's back
Looks like a triple-lens camera system will now be the standard for Huawei. Now, we have to bring up its price right now to get a point across: the Mate 20 X is selling for a very reasonable Dh2,499 (compared to the Mate 20 Pro's also reasonable Dh3,299). With that, it's sure to have some downsizing in the camera department, right?
The Mate 20 X's Leica-powered snapper still comes with what's on the Mate 20 Pro: a 40MP wide-angle lens, 20MP ultra-wide-angle lens and 8MP telephoto - all with the same aperture numbers (if you're surprised to read this, you probably ignored the table above).
And the pictures speak for themselves. I'm doing away with day shots because that's how confident I am in the results (trust me). We'll just show you some snaps inside a room, where light isn't as bright as the naked sun: 

Yes, I still bread a leftover gingerbread house from Christmas
The first shot was taken with a light on the ceiling, the second is in almost complete darkness (some teeny-weeny light coming out from the room) and the third used a flash. The plastic cover on the gingerbread house in particular shows that a shot can get smudged a bit (at closer look) in dark situations, especially when there's light reflecting on an object.
Here's another sample, using the same situations above, but this time using uneven lighting: 

Who put that there?
The dark shot here is much better compared to the one before it, and the only smudges you may find are those in the range of those green lights.
And... fine. Here are some day shots: 

Laundry day!
I chose this scene to show you how the camera can focus on subjects. In the first one, you may have noticed that I focused on the towel, leaving a little blur effect on the building in the background. Vice-versa, of course, when I set my sights on the building in the second snap.
In either case, both result in clear, crisp shots (I told you so).
Now for a zoom test:

Dubai keeps on buildin'
I used the maximum 10x zoom to zero in on that construction machinery, and you'll notice that everything in the frame still holds up well, with no noticeable grain or distortion.
As always, keep in mind that the more you zoom and - most especially - the darker your situation gets, the more time it'll take for the camera to stabilise its focus before finally snapping.
You'd also expect the same thing for its front camera, which also stays the same at 24MP - not to mention the exact same interface on both snappers. From our review of the Mate 20 Pro:

If you don't believe me, then here's what's in store for you on the Mate 20 X:

My models were unavailable for this round
And here's a bokeh shot using the front camera: 

Bear with me please
And don't forget: artificial intelligence is splattered all over the Mate 20 X, especially in its camera, so you'll still get all those scene recognition stuff and enhancement effects.
The rest of it
With a phone this big, there should be some accessories for it. As a matter of fact, there's one that stands out: the M Pen.

'Stylus wars'?
The M Pen is synonymous with Huawei's MediaPad tablets, and if you're familiar with them, you know what it can do: doodling around, taking notes and navigating with it are some of the things you can do with it.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a sample of it, so I'll leave it at that. Huawei guarantees, though, that experience won't be an issue; the M Pen has 4,096 pressure points, making sure it can go tip-to-tip - er - toe-to-toe with the likes of the Apple Pencil and Surface Pen. It is, obviously, a sold-separately accessory, so you'll have to cough up additional cash for it.
And don't forget about gaming: the Mate 20 X promises sleek gaming even in titles where graphics are intense, thanks to its GPU Turbo 2.0 tech. You can also project the device's content wirelessly, which is basically its 'PC mode'.
And so...
At the risk of repeating myself over and over, Huawei has done it again. The Mate 20 X is perfect for watching video and gaming, and it retains a lot of the goodies found in its more heralded family member. It is too big for some of us, but the proposition is that it's basically a toned-down tablet that is handy enough to carry around.
What bugs me really is the NM Card, which is not yet widely available and fetches a premium cost for its segment. You can be sure, though, that as time passes by and more manufacturers jump into the bandwagon, prices will go down and it will pretty much embed itself into our digital lives.
The Mate 20 X is for those who love big screens (like me), powerful specs (all of us) and bargain-hunters (I want to say 'all of us' here again, but, let's face it: there are those happy to pay up for more top-tier devices). With all that said, the question begs: how big can you actually go with a smartphone?
GOODIES - Huge display, great camera, fast performance, good battery
GOOFIES - Low IP rating, no wireless charging, will be too big for some

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