Huawei Mate 20 Review: Kirin 980 Works Wonders

On October 26, Huawei held a grand new product launch conference in Shanghai. Besides various smart home products and the smart AI speaker, it also announced four new high-end smartphones in face of the Huawei Mate 20, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Huawei Mate 20 RS Porsche Design, and the Huawei Mate 20 X.

Huawei Mate 20

Among the four models of Huawei Mate 20 series, the original model inherits the full range of Huawei Mate 10’s facades. It takes into account technological innovation and traditional accumulation. But these are only words. We need to take a closer look at each of those models. As for now, we are going to dig into the details of the Mate 20.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20 Appearance

We are testing the 6+128GB variant of the Huawei Mate 20’s Aurora Blue.

Huawei Mate 20

The packaging of the Huawei Mate 20 continues the Mate series’ classic gift box style, which still comes with the printed Leica logo on the cover.

The Huawei Mate 20 sports a high-definition drop screen with a 6.53-inch LCD material and a resolution of 2244×1080. The pixel density is 381ppi. The screen has reached an astonishing 88.07% screen ratio, which is standard for a drop full-screen design.

In the forehead, we can see the front-facing camera in the pearl-shaped non-display area, while other components are placed in a hidden design. The speaker is directly squeezed into the narrow space of the upper frame.

Huawei Mate 20

The chin is very narrow, and the width is very close to the upper border that almost disappears. In the previous generation, there was a space to put down the text logo of ‘HUAWEI’. But the chin of the Huawei Mate 20 had been narrow enough to put nothing down.

Huawei Mate 20

The Huawei Mate 20 continues the glass body design of the Mate 10 series. At the same time, it uses the metal middle frame + 3D glass back plate design. Due to the gradient color effect, different colors will appear under different angles of light. The lens, logo, and the fingerprint reader on the back of the fuselage continue to align with the central axis of the Mate series.

Huawei Mate 20

In general, compared to the previous models of the Mate series, this generation of Mate has a stronger sense of order, while the soft and rounded sense of exquisiteness has become more apparent. At the same time, the business ‘atmosphere’ has not retreated. The back 3D curved glass and the smooth border are excessive. The rounded R angle makes the Huawei Mate 20 pretty nice.

Huawei Mate 20

It is worth noting that the camera arrangement on the back of the fuselage has peaked in traditional cognition. This very conspicuous three-camera + flash module from the legendary sports car Porsche 919 Hybrid’s headlights has its own style and taste. Actually, there is no similarity with the iPhone-like models.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20

The color of the metal frame and the glass cover are all in one go. Even the chromatic aberration is not perceived. At this angle, we can also feel the roundness and softness of the multi-curved body of the Huawei Mate 20.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20

At the top of the fuselage, there are the noise-reducing microphones and the infrared sensor. It is worth noting that the Huawei Mate 20 still retains the 3.5mm headphone jack that is rare in today’s flagship models. But agree it provides a great convenience for daily use.

Huawei Mate 20

On the bottom of the fuselage, there is the Type-C interface and the speaker.

Huawei Mate 20

The Huawei Mate 20 supports dual-card dual-4G dual-VoLTE connectivity. There is no support for the SD card expansion. But the Huawei Mate 20 series supports the world’s first Nano Memory Card. This new storage format is 45% smaller than traditional microSD cards.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20 Performance

The Kirin 980 is Huawei’s first 7nm self-developed mobile chip. The Huawei Mate 20 series has fortunately obtained its first launch.

Huawei Mate 20

The Kirin 980 first launched a new 7nm commercial TSMC process, integrating up to 6.9 billion transistors, and has a stronger performance breakthrough on the basis of lower power consumption.

Huawei Mate 20

The CPU uses the first commercial ARM Cortex-A76 high-end architecture, which combines four A76 and four A55 cores. Two of the four A76 cores have a maximum frequency of 2.6GHz and are responsible for providing extreme performance, while the other two are clocked at up to 1.92GHz. The other four A55 cores run at up to 1.8GHz. They are designed for low-load applications and are more energy efficient.

In the graphics part, the GPU is the first commercial ARM Mali-G76 with ten cores and a frequency of 720MHz. The graphics performance of the Kirin 980 G76MP10 is significantly higher than the previous generation, with a 46% increase. Plus, it supports the exclusive optimization of GPU Turbo to enhance performance in the game.

In terms of memory, the Kirin 980 supports four 16-bit channels of LPDDR4X, and the frequency is increased to 2133MHz, which is the highest at present, with a bandwidth of 34.1GB/s.

There is a new base in baseband, with support for LTE Cat.21/18, download speed up to 1.4Gbps, supporting 4×4 MIMO, three 20Hz carrier aggregation, 256-QAM, and download rate up to 200Mbps, supporting 2×2 MIMO, which is the first in the world.

In terms of AI, the Kirin 980 comes with a dual-core NPU unit, which is more powerful than previous generations, and supports AI scenes such as face recognition, object recognition, object detection, image segmentation, and intelligent translation, and has a deeper network with higher precision.

We can see that in the Honor of Kings, it runs on full frames with no pressure on the CPU. Basically, there are 61 frames.

Huawei Mate 20

This is the real-time performance of PUBG. As you know, it has quite high requirements for smartphone hardware. But the Huawei Mate 20 doesn’t feel any inconvenience when playing this game.

Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20 Camera

The Huawei Mate 20 adopts a 16 super-wide angle + 12MP wide angle (main camera) + 8MP telephoto triple-camera, in which the telephoto lens supports 2x optical zoom, while the main camera CMOS uses Huawei P20’s IMX380.

Daytime samples

It can be seen that the blur effect under the macro shooting mode is excellent. The coke is clear and sharp, and the blur is obvious. It is worth noting that the Huawei Mate 20’s training tendency is obviously more neutral, but it still keeps eyeballs.

Huawei Mate 20Huawei Mate 20

The samples of the buildings under the dark sky restore the gray atmosphere and the details of the dark parts of the building are preserved.

Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20

As shown, we opened the ‘Super Wide Angle’.

Huawei Mate 20

It can be seen that after the ‘Super Wide Angle’ mode is turned on, the Huawei Mate 20 can display a very wide scene in a narrow space. It also has a strong sense of distance and a sharp image with a strong three-dimensional effect.

Huawei Mate 20

The backlit light stone buildings show excellent tolerance.

Huawei Mate 20

The Super Macro mode provides detailed photos.

Night Samples

It faithfully restored the disrupted night sky under the dim light and along the river embankment. The telephoto lens captured the dark details of the reflection and weeping willow without obvious noise and severe smearing.

Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20

Even in the nighttime environment, the macro performance is still not abnormal. The performance of the white and the blur effect are excellent, and even the whole picture has no noise.

Huawei Mate 20

‘Night Mode’ is off

Huawei Mate 20

‘Night Mode’ is on

Huawei Mate 20

The features of the handheld night scene are finally fully matured on the Huawei Mate 20. Similar to GPU Turbo, the night scene mode is the exclusive algorithm developed by Huawei. We can call it ‘super HDR’. It is based on HDR and uses complex algorithms to synthesize multi-frame short exposure images and long exposure images. Thus, it’s optimized to achieve the above-mentioned shocking and natural effects.


Unexpectedly, the front-facing 24MP single lens also supports the brilliant light effect, correctly identifying the outline of the persons we take photos of.

Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20

Huawei Mate 20 Battery

The Huawei Mate 20 is equipped with a 4000mAh large-capacity battery. But we guess, it’s more important Huawei new software of EMUI 9.0, which can save a lot of power.

To test its endurance, first, we played a video online. The brightness was 70%, the volume was 50%, and the remaining power was 54%. After 60 minutes, the power dropped to 45%. Thus, the power consumption is 9%. So we can calculate that this handset can continuously play videos for 11 hours.

For the game test, we chose the PUBG. The remaining power was 98%. After 30 minutes of playing the mentioned game, it dropped to 91%. The power consumption is 7%. So there is every reason to think it can continuously play games for 7 hours.

Huawei Mate 20

The phone comes with a standard 4.5V/5A (compatible 5V/4.5A) charger. It takes 97 minutes to fully charge the phone, which is extremely fast.

Huawei Mate 20 Experience

EMUI 9.0

The Huawei Mate 20 series run on the first official version of the EMUI 9.0 based on Android 9.0 deep customization.

EMUI 9.0 has achieved overall improvement and harmony in terms of UX and UI. It retains the ‘3D touch’ or ‘shortcut’ function that has been extended since the v. 8.0, providing very simple and efficient interaction.

The UX interface of EMUI 9.0 uses elements of forests and landscapes. This naturally introduced element has a pleasant immersion.

Huawei Mate 20

In addition to the globally unified design, EMUI 9.0 on the Huawei Mate 20 also provides a new gesture navigation –

(1) Slide inward from the left/right edge of the screen to return to the previous level.

(2) Swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen to return to the desktop.

(3) Slide up and pause from the bottom edge of the screen to enter the most recent tasks.

(4) Slide from the left/right side of the bottom of the screen to call out the voice assistant and smart recognition.

This interaction is more simple and convenient.


As we said earlier, the Huawei Mate 20 uses the Kirin 980 with a dual-core NPU unit, which is more powerful than the previous generation. Its power is a glimpse of the AI wisdom chess system. We have previously reported in detail that the AI Wisdom Chess System consists of three parts: Huawei Mate 20 series phone (equipped with the Kirin 980 artificial intelligence chip dual-core NPU to provide AI computing power) + AI Go APP (based on NPU developed Go AI APP to provide chess logic) + robotic arm (responsible for visual collaborative intelligent control).

Wherever the AI wisdom chess system goes, the robotic arm can be accurately placed between the chessboards. In the future, it can even compete with the world champions.

Huawei Mate 20

Of course, the Kirin 980 can not only support the AI smart chess game system but also can be used for face recognition, object recognition, object detection, image segmentation, intelligent translation, and other AI usage scenarios. Say, when photographing the text, it will automatically switch to text mode, when photographing the flower, it will automatically switch to the flower mode, or when photographing the green plant, it will automatically switch to the green leaf mode.

Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20 Huawei Mate 20

By analogy, the corresponding mode is also automatically switched when shooting objects such as the sky, cars, and portraits. As we can see in the above pictures, AI can now capture and adjust the best focus position by itself, completely freeing your hands.

The Huawei Mate 20 also brings the ‘AI portrait retention’ feature. When recording a video, the lens can accurately identify the person and retain the color of the skin and clothing. The color of other objects becomes black and white. This color contrast is often used in movie special effects to highlight the character’s ‘aura’.

Huawei Mate 20

The function of color retention requires the smartphone to monitor the position of the portrait in real time, and dynamically pull out the background and portrait while retaining the color of the clothing, rendering the background black and white. Thus, it puts a very high AI calculation on the phone.

Obviously, such an excellent performance is inseparable from the Kirin 980’s dual NPU computing power and the better algorithm that increases the recognition speed of the previous generation by up to 120%.

Wrap Up

So what we can say about the Huawei Mate 20 – it is a comprehensive and balanced Android flagship in configuration selection, software optimization, and innovation. Undoubtedly, in the same price segment, the Huawei Mate 20 has a destructive product force.


Argam Artashyan

Back in 2010, he was dismissed from his position as a lecturer at the university. This made him get another job at his friend’s digital marketing company as a blog writer. After a few years, when he was thinking the article writing is his mission, Google pushed the Panda update and affected the company and websites he was working at. (Un)fortunately and surprisingly, he got an offer to head a large knitting factory. In 2016, he got his Ph.D. and resumed teaching at the University … and writing tech-related articles following his passion.

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