The Huawei Mate 20 Pro runs Android 9 Pie under its thoroughly custom EMUI launcher, v9.0 in this instance. The Android purists are guaranteed not to like this combo, but Huawei has been known for its custom launcher for years and nobody should have expected vanilla Android anyway.
Huawei has cleaned up the general interface and the settings panel has been simplified by hiding rarely used settings under advanced in more categories. Huawei's built-in apps are also seeing updated navigation menus along the bottom of the screen to make them easier to reach.
EMUI 9.0 also brings GPU Turbo 2.0, works for quicker app starts, and there is a new Password vault. The Mate 20 Pro also supports app locking with face authorization.
EMUI 9 has a better Huawei Share - it can now do two more things wirelessly: share files with a PC and print documents. There is also a travel assistant by HiVision and in-house developed Digital balance app that tell you how much time you are spending on your phone and give you the option to limit yourself (the screen will go monochrome after the time is up).
But in spite of all the novelties and newer Android version, the EMUI looks just as before and anyone familiar should feel right at home.
The Mate 20 Pro has Huawei's second-generation under-display fingerprint scanner, but you'd be forgiven for not remembering the first one on the Mate RS Porsche Design. The reader is very easy to set up, although it requires a bit more pressure than regular readers. The accuracy is superb, while the recognition is quite fast, and the thing is pretty usable. It's not as fast as the latest conventional sensors, but about as quick as the first-generation Touch ID on the iPhones.
The Mate 20 Pro also supports 3D facial scanning for secure unlock. It's the real deal, though, not a camera-only solution as the Face Unlock on P20 and Mate 20. Huawei uses structured light like the iPhone X does and projects dots that help it read your face in three dimensions with "millimeter-level" accuracy. The Mate 20 Pro has everything needed for this 3D Face Unlock in its notch - IR camera and IR flood illuminator. You can set up only one face, though.
So, you can either embrace the notch, or you can opt to mask it with a black status bar that extends all the way down to the bottom edge of the notch.
But the notch is not the only thing that's iPhone-reminiscent. Huawei has pretty much borrowed iPhone's gesture navigation, too - swipe up for Home, swipe up and stop midway for Tasks, or swipe from the left or right edge of the screen for Back. Well, the iPhone does Back only from the left edge, so that's an upgrade, right?
Out of the box, there is no app drawer on the EMUI 9 - it's a single tier interface like on the iPhone. However, if you miss Android's usual layout, you can enable it back in the Display settings.
EMUI has Magazine lock screen, as usual, which rotates through a bunch of wallpapers (covers), so you see a different one every time you fire up the display.
Huawei's EMUI offers plenty of customization and features, smart rotation, and lift to wake. Themes are supported, too, and there is a lot to choose from.
The notification shade is pretty much a standard affair, with the usual Huawei take on the graphics. There's a brightness slider and a row of toggles, and you pull down again for more toggles. Multitasking is pretty standard as well. Tap-holding the Recents key will let you activate the split screen mode. You could have a video playing on top of the two windows if for some reason you find that useful.
From the Phone Manager app, you can access shortcuts to storage cleanup, battery settings, blocked numbers, Virus scan powered by Avast, and mobile data usage.
Huawei's own Music app is here and offers a way to listen to stored MP3s. Huawei's Health app is also pre-installed. It offers Google Fit syncing and step counting. There's a file manager app and a note-taking app. There is an abundance of replacements for these in the Play Store, however.
There is an improved AI-powered gallery with EMUI 9. In addition to the automatic sorting with highlights, you will also get an automatic but editable Spotlight Reel.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro has an IR blaster on its top side. Thanks to its Smart Remote app companion app, you can control all of your appliances with your Mate.