The Huawei Mate 20 X 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 working on its custom skins 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" sub-menus in more categories. Huawei's built-in apps are getting updated navigation menus along the bottom of the screen to make them easier to reach.
The benefits of EMUI 9.0 also include GPU Turbo 2.0 support, quicker app starts, and there is a new Password vault.
You get a better Huawei Share too, which can share files with a PC and print documents wirelessly.
A travel assistant by HiVision and in-house developed Digital balance app that tells you how much time you are spending on your phone and gives you the option to limit yourself (the screen will go monochrome after the time is up) are in the package.
But in spite of all the novelties and newer Android version, the EMUI looks familiar so upgraders should feel right at home.
The Mate 20 X doesn't have an under-display fingerprint reader, nor it employs 3D face scanning tech. Just like the Mate 20, the Mate 20 X has a regular fingerprint sensor on its back, an always-on one - very fast and accurate, as usual.
Face Unlock is available, but it just uses the front camera, which means it's less secure and can potentially be fooled by a picture. So, if privacy is of utmost importance, you may want to avoid this option.
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. The Mate 20 X has one of the smallest notches around, so we'd imagine few people would choose to hide it.
Huawei has also implemented its version of the iPhone's gesture navigation - swipe up for Home, swipe up and stop midway for Task switcher, or swipe from the left or right edge of the screen for Back.
Out of the box, there is no app drawer on the EMUI 9 - it's a single tier interface akin to iOS. However, if you prefer Android's usual two-tier layout, you can enable it from the Display settings.
EMUI has Magazine lock screen, as usual, which cycles 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 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 a familiar affair too. 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 offers a way to listen to stored MP3s, while Huawei's Health app offers Google Fit syncing and step counting. There's a file manager app and a note-taking app. And if you don't like any of those - there is an abundance of alternatives in the Play Store.
There is an improved AI-powered gallery with EMUI 9. In addition to the automatic sorting with highlights, you will get an automatic but editable Spotlight Reel.
There is no FM radio on the Mate 20 X, though.
Finally, Huawei Mate 20 X features an IR blaster on its top side. Thanks to its Smart Remote companion app, you can control all of your appliances with your Mate.