Huawei now has two 5G smartphones to its name and they're both a little bit niche
Update: Huawei Mate 20 X 5G release date announced
Huawei has finally revealed the release window for its 5G ready Mate 20 X variant. Following a period of uncertainty amidst tensions between Huawei and the US government, the Mate 20 X 5G will launch in the UK on 26 July.
Confusingly, we’ve also been told that the handset will be available “in the coming weeks” and the 5G-equipped handset has shown up on Carphone Warehouse but isn’t available to purchase at the time of writing. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear more details.
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G hands-on
Huawei is not a company that does things by halves. After announcing that its first folding phone, the Mate X would be 5G enabled (when that eventually arrives) it has now shown off its second 5G handset – the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G – during an event in central London.
The announcement makes a lot of sense if OnePlus’ recent comments over the difficulty it had integrating 5G into its OnePlus 7 Pro are anything to go by. The Mate 20 X’s huge chassis would logically make it squeezing in the extra antennae required by the technology a lot easier.
In light of the fact that the US Government has ordered Google to revoke Huawei’s Android licence, we advise that you avoid purchasing a new handset at this time. Sadly, that includes the upcoming Mate 20 X 5G – handsets scheduled for launch in the next few months have a particularly unclear road ahead.
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: Specifications, price and release date
- 7.2in OLED 1,080 x 2,244, 345ppi display
- Kirin 980 processor
- 8nm Balong 5000 multi-mode 5G modem
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB storage
- Leica-branded triple rear camera: 40MP primary, 20MP ultrawide, and 8MP 3x telephoto
- Front camera: 24MP
- 4,200mAh battery
- Price: £999
- Release date: August 2019
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: Key features and first impressions
Physically, aside from the word “5G” printed on the rear of the new phone, there’s nothing different between it and the original Huawei Mate 20 X, a phone Alan described, in his review, as “about the same size as a Nintendo Switch, minus Joy-Cons. Yes, that includes the bezels. That’s really all you need to know.” Just like the original, the 5G model is just as big. It has a huge 7.2in 1,080 x 2,244 resolution display, it’s still difficult to squeeze into tight pockets and it still can’t realistically be used one-handed unless you happen to have hands the size of dinner plates.
In fact, it’s closer to a tablet in size than a regular phone. But it is otherwise a lovely looking thing. It features the same, subtly ridged glass rear panel as the original, available initially only in “emerald green”, and it feels beautifully made.
The differences with the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G all lie inside the chassis, where Huawei has extensively redesigned the circuitry and added the firm’s own 7nm Balong 5000 5G modem to complement the Kirin 980 processor that does the rest of the heavy lifting. Other manufacturers who have so far announced 5G phones are using the Snapdragon 855 chipset coupled with Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem so it will be interesting to see how the two compare.
Given it has similar core hardware to the original Mate 20 X, I’d expect performance to be largely the same. The key question with Huawei’s newest smartphone is how fast its 5G cellular connection will be and how that might impact battery life.
Alas, the answer to the latter question, particularly in the case of the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, may not be hugely positive. That’s because the biggest impact of introducing all the gubbins required of that Balong 5000 5G modem is that the Mate 20 20 X 5G has a much smaller battery than the vanilla Mate 20 X. It’s 4,200mAh in size, down from 5,000mAh in the first Mate 20 X.
Still, that is the same size as the battery in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which has stonking battery life, so I might be jumping the gun here. Other cutbacks, such as the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack and the IP53 dust and water resistance the original enjoyed, are less serious.
As for 5G cellular speed, that’s the biggest unknown here. The networks are promising speeds many times those of 4G and much better reliability in busy areas like the centre of major cities and at big events like Glastonbury and the World Cup. However, we won’t know how fast in real-world use phones like the Huawei Mate 20 X will be until we have a live 5G network to test them on.
With EE and Vodafone recently announcing they will be launching 5G in a number of major UK cities this year, however, that time could be approaching a lot sooner than you think.
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: Early Verdict
Is now the time for you to start thinking about your next phone having 5G, though? It’s still very early days for 5G phones in our opinion: by introducing 5G into a niche handset such as the Mate 20 X, Huawei seems to think so too, and it is pricing the phone accordingly. Early indications are that the phone will cost £999 when it is released in June.
Nonetheless, it’s good to see the momentum surrounding 5G picking up so rapidly and it will also be interesting to see how the radical redesign of the cellular systems in these phones affects 4G reception and speeds as well as battery life. Either way, we’re absolutely desperate to get our hands on one so we can put it through its paces.