Running on EMUI 9.0 based on Android 9 OS, the Mate 20 X features the company’s latest Kirin 980 octa-core processor, made up of eight cores in total: two Cortex A76 cores, alongside two Cortex-A76 Based 1.92 GHz, and four Cortex-A55 1.8 GHz. Tasks are allocated to the respective cores accordingly. For example, gaming apps will see all eight cores working hard, while social media apps bring in the middle cores for assistance, and the little cores deal with music and video streaming. Huawei has also implemented a degree of artificial intelligence to this process, which it calls A.I. Loading Prediction where the system understands where and when processing power is needed, and makes allocations to the output accordingly ahead of time, allowing the processor readiness to provide the best experience, particularly when running gaming apps.
Like its predecessor, the Kirin 970 that introduced NPU, a processing unit which handles A.I. processing on the device. The Kirin 980 has two NPUs, allowing the processor to be faster, and more efficient when handling A.I. processes.
The smartphone has an internal storage of 128GB or 256GB (availability subjected to markets) and features a SIM slot tray where one can slot in Huawei’s proprietary NM card in place of a second nano-SIM for up to 256GB additional storage capacity (the highest capacity available at the time of this review).
Supporting 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the wireless capabilities of the Mate 20 X make it a capable device for real-time wireless audio streaming which is trending today. The Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) while Bluetooth 5.0 is implemented with support for A2DP, as well as SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA codec. What this means is that no matter which codec your wireless earphones supports, it will be compatible with the Mate 20 X.
With music streaming gaining popularity, the use of smartphones as a source device for audio is on an upward trend. The Mate 20 X also sports the “Super-Bass Stereo Speaker System” which feature full-size speakers at the top (not at the earpiece) and bottom left of the smartphone, allowing the smartphone to function as a portable speaker.
The Mate 20 X also features a bi-directional USB Type-C port that can be used to charge the device and transmit data, supporting USB 3.1 Gen 1 which allows file transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps. Note that the bundled USB cable supported up to USB 2.0.
The Mate 20 X supports audio playback of up to 24-bit/192kHz on the smartphone itself, formats supported include WAV, FLAC, MP3, MP4, OGG, 3GP, AMR, AAC and MIDI. 32-bit/384kHz audio playback, as well as DSD playback supporting up to DSD128 is possible on the Mate 20 X with the addition of the Huawei CM21 DAC Headphone Amplifier which will be reviewed separately.