Huawei’s Mate 20 X 5G Is Big, 5G-Ready, and Has Fewer US Bits

Huawei’s Mate 20 X 5G Is Big, 5G-Ready, and Has Fewer US Bits

Now that Huawei has climbed out of the remarkably complicated hole the U.S. put them in, they’re back to what they do best: putting out phones with strange new things inside. Inside the Mate 20 X 5G lies the first 5G modem we’ve seen on our teardown table, and it is indeed an odd one.

After everything was out of the (big, big) case, our teardown engineers couldn’t find HiSilicon’s multi-mode networking chip, the Balong 5000, anywhere. But there was an additional, suspicious Samsung RAM chip on top of … something else. So with a little heat and prying action, we dug underneath and, et voilà—the HiSilicon Hi9500 GFCV101! Which is almost certainly the Balong 5000. It seems like 5G chips may require a substantial amount of speedy memory (3 GB in this case) to prevent ridiculously fast 5G streaming data from hitting the bottleneck of typical memory and storage. You can read more about this in a short article from a Micron executive (PDF).

The laid-out parts of the Mate 20 X 5G

Also new with the Mate 20 X 5G is a seeming reduction in the number of US-tied chips. Minus three US or US-tied chips from Micron, Skyworks, and Qorvo, and one module from the Dutch NXP, the motherboard is dominated by Huawei’s in-house HiSilicon brand and other Asian manufacturers, like Toshiba and Samsung. There’s no US release date at the moment, though it should be available through European and Asian carriers and unlocked starting in late July.

Removing the back cover of the Mate 20 X 5G with a suction cup and halberd spudger.

Besides that, the Mate 20 X 5G is quite similar to the Mate 20 X and the Mate 20 Pro. Maybe a smidge more repairable, but not enough to earn an extra point on our repairability scale, where the 20 X 5G earned a 4 out of 10. The 4,200 mAh battery comes with removal instructions. Most of the ribbon cables come with human-friendly push-pin connectors. And we got the back cover off without needing to apply any heat, to find a generously long ribbon cable underneath.

For a lot more on the insides of the Mate 20 X 5G, read our full teardown.