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Huawei Mate 20X 5G review: Is this the 5G phone you’ve been looking for?

Our Rating :

A huge smartphone with a 7.2in display and 5G – impractical and also very expensive


  • Fast 5G connectivity
  • Big screen is great for watching movies and gaming
  • Top quality triple camera


  • Too big for most
  • Far too pricey
  • 5G coverage is patchy

The 5G revolution is slowly gaining momentum but it’s still early days. Only a handful of phones have launched so far, most of the hardware and the contracts are very expensive, and coverage – even in the places that do have 5G – is very patchy. At the moment 5G has a niche appeal, so what better phone to add 5G to than the phone with the most niche appeal of all – the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G?

This is Huawei’s biggest-ever phone, a monster handset with a screen that measures 7.2in across the diagonal. I genuinely have trouble squeezing this handset into my trouser pockets and it even stretches the internal mesh pockets in my rucksack to their limits.

READ NEXT: What is 5G? Everything you need to know about the next-gen mobile network

Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: What you need to know

The 5G version of the Huawei Mate 20 X is largely identical to the phone that was first announced in autumn 2018. It has the same size display (huge), with the same 1080p resolution. And it’s still just as unreasonably greedy on pocket space. This is a phone that measures a honking 85mm wide and 175mm tall and weighs about as much as a baby elephant.

I admit that might be exaggerating a teeny bit but you get the point. The Mate 20 X 5G is one big phone. The only difference between it and the original, non-5g model (apart from the fact that it has 5G), is that the battery is smaller. That’s disappointing.

The other thing you really need to know about the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G is that, like other Huawei phones, it’s still under the cloud of the US trade ban. Technically, it’s still able to use Google’s core apps and run Android 9 Pie, since it was announced before the row kicked off. The situation is still fluid, however, and that means there is a certain amount of risk involved in buying the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G.

Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: Price and competition

Currently, you can buy the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G either on EE or Vodafone and other networks that haven’t yet gone live have confirmed they’ll be carrying the phone, too. Most 5G phones can’t be picked up SIM-free at the moment and the Mate 20 X 5G is no different.

On Vodafone, the cheapest contract will set you back £68 per month with a £29 upfront fee, totalling £1,661 over 24 months. On EE, it’ll cost you £10 upfront and then £79 per month for a total cost of £1,906.

That’s pretty expensive, even in the context of the current crop of 5G phones. Even the stellar Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G is better value – you can get a contract that will cost you as little as £1,376 over the two years of your contract – and, arguably, it’s the better all-round phone, too.

Best deals

Upfront cost

Monthly cost

Total cost (over 2yrs)

Huawei Mate 20 X 5G – Vodafone




Huawei Mate 20 X 5G – EE




Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G – Vodafone




Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: 5G performance and battery life

Given that this is basically the same phone as the normal Mate 20 X just with a smaller battery and 5G, I’m going to move the sections where I normally write about design, performance and display quality to the bottom of this review. Your executive summary, however, is that the 5G model looks, feels and performs exactly the same as its 4G counterpart.

So let’s focus on the differences first and they are quite interesting. That’s because the Mate 20 X 5G is the first 5G phone we’ve tested that employs Huawei’s Balong 5000 5G modem. In the Mate 20 X 5G it’s coupled with the company’s Kirin 980 processor – that’s the same chip Huawei has been using in its flagship phones since October 2018.

According to Huawei’s press materials, the Balong 5000 is able to support maximum downloads of up to 4.6Gbits/sec over Sub-6 5G and up to 6.5Gbits/sec over mmWave connections, in addition to 4G. In the UK, though, it’s the former you need to worry about as the current 5G networks aren’t of the faster, mmWave, type.

Regardless, if our experience is anything to go by, early adopters of 5G aren’t going to get anywhere near these sorts of speeds. I tested the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G with a Vodafone unlimited 5G SIM, running a number of tests across both 4G and 5G in various locations across London. I found that speed was hugely variable and coverage was patchy.

The fastest download speed I experienced was 251Mbits/sec download on the Embankment next to Westminster Pier and speeds varied between this and 16.1Mbits/sec at Bloomsbury Way, just south of the British Museum. Perhaps more significantly, the 5G speeds I saw weren’t much faster than the 4G+ speeds I recorded when I turned off 5G. In fact, the 5G download speeds I experienced were only faster than 4G+ by 16.3% on average.

The good news is that, of the three 5G phones we’ve tested so far, the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G has so far proved the fastest. There isn’t all that much in it, though, with the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 5G both getting within 10% of the Mate 20 X 5G’s average speed.

There is some bad news, unfortunately, and that concerns battery life. With the extra components required for 5G connectivity, Huawei has had to shrink the battery from 5,000mAh to 4,200mAh and, sure enough, that results in significantly shorter battery life. Our video rundown test reflected this reduction in size almost perfectly with the Mate 20 X 5G lasting 16hrs 5mins before running out of puff.

That’s five hours, to the minute, short of the time the non-5G phone achieved (21hrs 5mins) and considerably shorter than all its 5G rivals, too. It’s also worth noting that with most flagship phones achieving 20-hour plus times in this test, this time is well short of what we’d consider a par result. 

Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: Display, cameras and performance

As I’ve already mentioned above, the rest of the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G’s performance is pretty much identical to the non-5G model.

In terms of the display, that means you’re getting a large 7.2in Full HD screen that mostly fills the front of the phone, with the exception of a small, teardrop-style notch at the top edge. Brightness is decent at 407cd/m2 and, since it uses AMOLED technology, contrast is effectively perfect. Colour reproduction is excellent, too: select the Normal colour mode and you get 96.5% sRGB coverage; choose Vivid and the screen delivers 99.8% of the DCI-P3 gamut.

As for the cameras, you get the same triple rear camera arrangement as on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. It’s Leica-branded and gives you an f/2.2 20-megapixel ultra-wide camera, an  f/1.8 40-megapixel wide-angle camera and an f/2.4 8-megapixel 3x telephoto zoom camera. It’s worth reiterating that although it produces excellent image quality in most situations, the main 40-megapixel camera doesn’t have optical image stabilisation and neither can it shoot 4K at 60fps.

If you want to see how good this camera is, check out the camera samples in my original Huawei Mate 20 review.

Lastly, to performance, which again matches the non-5G Mate 20 X phone score for score. In the context of Huawei’s handsets, it’s as fast as any released since October 2018 but, looking at the rest of the smartphone market, it’s slower than phones equipped with the Snapdragon 855 and the iPhone XR, Xs and Xs Max.

Huawei Mate 20 X 5G review: Verdict

The Huawei Mate 20 X 5G is a perfectly good phone. It’s a bit too big, but otherwise it’s quick, nicely designed, has fantastic cameras and a good-quality display.

Ultimately, though, as with all 5G phones right now, the Mate 20 X 5G is simply too expensive and the 5G service currently too patchy to justify the extra spend. That, coupled with the shortened battery life and the uncertainty over the future of Huawei’s ability to continue to supply Google software means it’s a phone we can’t currently recommend.  

If you’re still straining at the leash for some 5G action, however, I’d advise choosing the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G instead. It works out significantly cheaper, plus it’s a much more enticing phone overall.

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