Huawei Mate 20 Quick Review – One of the Best Phones You Can’t Buy

Huawei continues to impress with its diverse lineup. They make some of the best phones, laptops, watches, and other devices on the market. The Mate 20 continues that trend of excellence but with one major caveat – it is not available in the US. With that in mind, I’ll keep this review brief and to the point.

DESIGN

The Mate 20 is a beautiful phone. There is no other way to say it. It is the kind of tech that connects with the user in a way that few other devices do. It has a notch, but it is a very small and very unobtrusive one. The screen is a gorgeous, edge-to-edge 6.5 inch LCD that really pops. It weighs in at 1080×2244 and 381 PPI.

The review unit I received is the blue Twilight variant, and it is simply enchanting. It is, by far, the most impressive looking phone I’ve used. It’s an all glass and metal phone which feels and looks ultra-premium. Even the arrangement of the triple cameras around back let you know that this phone is something out of the ordinary.

PERFORMANCE

The phone runs on Huawei’s own Kirin 980 octa-core CPU with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. In real life, that means the phone is fast and fluid and very responsive. There are no bottlenecks here. The Mate 20 scores a 9940 for multi-core CPU performance and 6549 for GPU performance per Geekbench 4. Both of those scores are higher than the Pixel 3 XL which should give you some indication of how powerful the Mate 20 is.

SOFTWARE

The Mate 20 runs EMUI 9, Huawei’s phone UI that is somewhat iOS-like. It’s not my favorite phone interface as I miss the app drawer and home screen dynamic that years of using Android phones have reinforced. Instead, EMUI has scrolling pages of apps in a grid. You can add widgets, of course, and rearrange things as you want. There are some neat little add-ons like knocking twice for screenshots, built-in screen recording, and that sort of thing. EMUI is familiar but different in a way that takes some getting used to.

EMUI lets users customize things quite a bit. You can change the screen resolution, color temperature, navigation paradigm, and more. I’m glad that the Google Feed is present but I really don’t like how difficult Huawei makes it to switch launchers. There is an option to change Home apps in the settings but many third party launchers are incompatible or buggy. I do think that, given enough time, the typical Android user would become accustomed to EMUI and I think that iOS users would jump in and feel more at home.

CAMERA

This is one area where the Mate 20 shines. There’s a triple-camera setup for the rear camera – 12, 16, and 8 megapixels – for capturing standard, wide, and ultrawide photos. Low-light performance is good but not up to the standard set by the Pixel line.

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SPECS

Display6.5 inch, 1080x2244
CPUKirin 980 octa-core custom CPU
Battery4000 mAh non-removable
RAM4 or 6 GB
Internal Storage128 GB
External StorageSupports up to 256 GB microSD
ConnectivityLTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 5.0
Main Camera12, 16, 8 megapixel
Front Camera24 megapixel
Security FeatureFingerprint Reader, Rear
OSAndroid 9
EMUI 9

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Mate 20 is a beautiful phone that will meet the needs of almost any user. It isn’t officially available in the US but is ready for sale in other countries around the world. I didn’t love the EMUI software but it does display enough polish that I think most users would grow to enjoy using it. In short, if you live in an area where the Mate 20 is sold then it is worth checking out.

Robert Daniels

I'm a long-time tech and gadget enthusiast that currently uses Android, Windows 10 Mobile, and iOS devices. I'm always interested in ways to improve my family's life with new devices and services, though my beautiful wife might just say I'm addicted to playing with gadgets.