If you've just bought a shiny new Huawei Mate 20 Pro then it might seem a little different to other Android phones. That's because it runs EMUI 9.0 – that's "Emotion User Interface" – over the top of Google's Android 9.0 Pie operating system, bringing its share of pros, cons and sometimes oddities.

If you don't know where some of EMUI's special features are tucked away, or if you're having problems with certain functions, then this feature should help guide you in the right direction with EMUI 9.0 and get the best out of your Mate 20.

Any bugs?

How do I stop that clicking sound? At launch the Mate 20 Pro has an oddity with a sometimes 'clicking' sound when switching between apps, rolling over active content or when a sound would otherwise play – despite the device being muted. At present this is a bug waiting a fix. No amount of changing the sound settings will mask this issue.

Search

How to search settings? This is Android 9 Pie, so there's search within the settings. Simply swipe down the notifications shade, hit the settings cog, then type into the search bar to locate a relevant setting. Note, however, that search doesn't work for content, including apps, its strictly what's within the settings menu only.

Lock screen tips: Always-on, wallpapers

Get an Always-On display: As the Mate 20 Pro is OLED it offers a display on the homescreen even when the phone is inactive. However, this is off by default and not found in Display settings. Instead: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Home Screen & Wallpaper > Always on Display. This can be scheduled to start/end or be on all day, as desired.

Change the lock screen wallpaper / screen saver / cover: Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Home Screen & Wallpaper > Magazine Unlock. Here you can select pre-designated image banks, which are categorised, or add your own gallery. A different image will show each time you activate the phone.

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Charging-only screen saver: Outside of Magazine Unlock is a separate, personalised screen saver setup that only shows when the phone is recharging. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Display > More display settings > Screen saver. Here you can select galleries and set the duration for which a screen saver cycle runs.

Quick-launch shortcuts: From the lock screen it's possible (in a very Apple iOS-style) to swipe up to quick-launch shortcuts for five baked-in apps: Quick-access Recorder, Flashlight, Calculator, Stopwatch, QR code scanner. We don't like it being accessed from here, but some of you might.

Display personal signature/text: If you want a little personal message on the homescreen (it's default type only). swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Home screen & wallpaper > Lock screen signature. Then type in the box and hit save.

Homescreen tips: Notch, style, grid size

Notch or no notch: Yes, it's the era of the notch – the Apple iPhone XS-like blacked-out dip towards the top of the screen – with the Mate 20 Pro having a rather large one. It's active by default, to deactivate: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Display > More display settings > Notch. Then it's as simple as toggling the setting on or off. The lock screen doesn't display the notch due to the wallpapers format.

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Home Screen Style: App Drawer vs Standard layouts. If you're content with your app icons being present across your homepages, the default Standard layout will suit you fine. If you prefer an App Drawer – where all apps are contained to tidy up the home screen, as per some other stock Android phones by default – this can be activated too. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Home screen & wallpaper > Home Screen Style > choose as you please. Toggling between these saves the previous layout, thankfully.

Number of app icons: How many apps do you want to show on each screen – 4x6, 5x5, 5x6, 3x3 or 3x4? To select: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Home screen & wallpaper > Home screen settings > Home layout > then choose.

Security tips: PIN/Pattern/Fingerprint/Face Unlock

Set in-screen fingerprint unlock. One of the first phones to offer a fingerprint scanner under the screen (and no physical one on the front/rear), multiple fingerprints can be registered: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Security & privacy > Fingerprint ID. If you've set a PIN/pattern this will be required, then registration is possible. Multiple fingerprints can be added by selecting New in-screen fingerprint.

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Lock apps with fingerprint ID: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Security & privacy > App lock. This will present a list of all installed apps. Any can be selected to 'locked' which will require a verified fingerprint to open said app.

Register face recognition: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Security & privacy > Face recognition. Follow the process and you'll be up and running in under a minute. On the Mate 20 Pro this will wake the device upon pick up and can unlock the phone by verified face – even in the dark.

Multiple accounts, hide content, duplicate app logins

Hide sensitive files: It's possible to create a hidden gallery called File Safe. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Security & privacy > File safe. Follow the PIN/fingerprint association to setup the folder. From within it's possible to add files – once added, said files are not visible anywhere else on the device and only accessible from within the safe.

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Secure second login: If you want a secure second login space, setup as a different user, this is possible using PrivateSpace. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Security & privacy > PrivateSpace. Follow the PIN/fingerprint association to setup this space. Once successful the individual PIN/fingerprint will take you to the relevant space. The accounts are totally separate – email, Google Play, and so forth won't be accessible from the same account across both, they're individually setup. Useful for personal and business account use.

App Twin. If you want to run two WhatsApp/Facebook/Messenger/WeChat accounts then, unlike other dual SIM phones, EMUI 9 allows it for supported apps. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Apps > App Twin. Only supported apps – and only those you have installed – will show in this list.

Navigation, gesture and controls

Change the navigation: Gestures / Android softkeys / Navigation dock. The usual trio of Android softkeys – back, home, recent apps – is the default setup. If you would prefer Android Pie gesture control or Huawei's Navigation dock interface (a floating dock on the screen): swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > System > System navigation.

Smart Assistance: HiTouch, One-handed UI, Motion Control (with Knuckle Gesture), Voice Control, and Gloves/Mistouch modes are accessible. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Smart Assistance. 

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Motion Control: There are three options that can be independently switched on, off or adjusted for deeper customisation:

  • Flip to mute the phone when it's ringing or the alarm is sounding.
  • Pick Up to reduce ring/alarm volume by lifting the device.
  • Raise to Ear which auto-answers calls.

Knuckle gestures: Found within Motion Control, this is a Huawei EMUI special. By using a hard knuckle to write on the screen rather than a softer finger, a second layer of commands can be instructed:

  • Double-tap for screenshot (using one knuckle).
  • Draw where knuckle-drawn letters activate apps (C for Camera, M for music, and so forth - each can be customised from a fuller list of apps).
  • Split-screen gesture where a knuckle-drawn line across the screen when in an app screen will open the recent apps to the lower portion.

Screen record: Capture your screen in real-time. Activated by tapping two knuckles twice on the screen or pressing-and-holding the power button and volume up key (not volume down as this will take a static screenshot). The resulting video is saved in your Files > Videos area.

What is HiTouch? This is Huawei's contextual shopping concept. When activated, two thumbs pressed on screen will capture what's on screen – Google Lens style – identify it and then open Amazon Assistant (this app has to be installed) to go shop for the item. Problem is, it doesn't work very well at all.

Desktop mode. Yes, the Mate 20 Pro can project to a screen, like a full-on computer.

Notifications settings

Alert notifications are useful, but you won't want to necessarily receive them all the time from every app. Notifications can be individually dismissed, by swiping them away, but you can also setup an individual app's level of notifications too.

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Allow/silence/block notifications from an app: Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Notifications (or Apps). Select the relevant app from the list of all those installed, then Notifications management. Within here there are options to control:

  • Display in status bar on/off. This is where you'll see little icons appear to the very top left of your home screen. Letter icons for Mail, hash icons for Slack, and so forth.
  • Banners on/off. These are the floating mini views that some apps present, such as Mail. They're a great quick access point, but you won't want them from every single app.
  • Lock screen notifications: Show / Do not show / Show but hide contents.
  • Priority Display will show and sound app notifications during Do Not Disturb.
  • Sound on/off (silences notifications, but still allows them to display)
  • Vibration on/off
  • Badges on/off (displays a colour dot to the top corner of an app until dismissed)

Advanced app settings:

  • Power consumption alert. Some more intensive apps will produce an EMUI alert due to consumption. You may wish to switch this off for frequently used apps that you wish to keep running minus any irksome pop-up alerts. It's found under Power usage details, where applicable.
  • Display over other apps. Priority for apps to draw over others, which can be annoying when playing games or watching media.

Stop an app using data, roaming or Wi-Fi: It's possible within an app (via Notifications or Apps) to specify which data channels it can/cannot use. Data usage will display a graph of data consumption, while allowing Mobile data, Wi-Fi, Background data and Roaming data to be individually controlled on/off.

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Activate Do Not Disturb: This lets you silence your phone, without interruptions – except for specified exceptions. You can schedule DND, add additional time rules (custom, per day), event rules (from calendar), or allow alarms and priority interruptions only. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the Do Not Disturb icon (it's an eclipsed moon) in the settings shade. If this is absent, select the edit icon (it's a pencil) up top and drag DND into your active shade shortcuts.

Set ringtone, media, alarms and call volumes: These can be individually adjusted. Simply hit the volume up/down button, which will adjust the ringtone volume from loudest down to vibrate (or there's a virtual mute button). This pop-up has a settings cog to its bottom, hit this to open the other individual settings to adjust for ringtone, media and alarms separately.

Battery optimisation tips

Turn off Power consumption alert per app: This is located within individual app settings. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Apps > select the relevant app, then, where applicable Power usage details > Power consumption alert. Switching this off will stop the "!" battery alert popping up as a notification.

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Charge a Qi wireless device from the Mate 20 Pro: Yep, you can place another wireless charging phone or device back-to-back with the Mate 20 Pro to pull some power from it. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Battery >Wireless reverse charging. It will remain active for three minutes before deactivating. We just wish it was better located, like an option within the settings shade.

Battery optimisation: Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Battery. There are four battery modes:

  • Normal. The default setting, which doesn't throttle the CPU or background activity.
  • Performance. This maxes out performance potential, which will likely decrease battery life.
  • Power saving mode. Select this for a slight lift in battery life. It will limit background app activity, such as push notifications, and limit the CPU.
  • Ultra power saving mode. For when battery life is really low as you'll get more than double life from this setting. It sets the phone into a simple mode, with only basic call and SMS apps available. One for emergencies/festivals. It can also be activated from a swipe down from the top of the screen and selecting from the expanded shortcuts.

Auto Launch / Run In Background / Launch by other apps: You may wish to take full manual control of how an app launches and whether other apps can activate apps. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Battery > App Launch. Select individual or batch select apps, where auto, secondary and run-in-background settings can be disabled individually.

Darken Interface Colours: An on/off toggle within the Battery settings – its darker palette extends battery life due to less screen brightness output.

Show battery percentage remaining: This is hidden, once within the Battery settings hit the settings cog to the top right. Select Battery percentage and choose whether it does not show, shows next to battery icon, or inside battery icon.

Lower the resolution: There's a prompt to access this from within the Battery settings. See display tips, below.

Mate 20 Pro display tips

Adjust the resolution: Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Display > Screen resolution. Options are for HD+ (1560 x 720), FHD+ (2340 x 1080) or WQHD+ (3120 x 1440).

Auto-adjust resolution: Select the Smart resolution option to only deply higher resolution as and when the phone sees fit.

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Customise colour balance: Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Display > Colour & Eye Comfort.

  • Natural Tone. Automatically adjusts the colour temperature based on ambient surroundings.
  • Colour Mode & Temperature. Select from Normal and Vivid. Default, Warm, Cool or specified Custom selection via the colour wheel.
  • Eye Comfort. Filters out blue light to be easier on the eyes – designed for nighttime reading. A Schedule can be set, while Cooler-Warmer slider can be adjusted to preference.

Adjust text and icon size: Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > Display > Text and display size. Two sliders control this, with a real-time example, so you can setup the scale to your preference.

Mate 20 Pro camera features

Huawei's push into triple camera technology has evolved from P20 Pro to Mate 20 Pro. The Mate is higher resolution and does away with the monochrome sensor that was once this camera's big sell. The Pro's three rear cameras comprise:

  • First: 40MP RGB camera, f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation (OIS)
  • Second: 20MP ultra-wide, f/2.2 aperture
  • Third: 8MP 'telephoto' camera, f/2.4 aperture

Ultra wide-angle shooting: Within the camera pinch outwards and the 0.6x ultra-wide camera will kick in. Alternatively click the virtual zoom button on screen which will cycle through 1x, 3x, 5x, 10x and 0.6x.

Close-up macro: Using the wide-angle lens above, it's possible to focus up to 2.5cm from subject. The Mate 20 Pro knows when it's within close proximity to a subject, too, and will automatically set the mode into action.

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Pro mode for manual control: Unlike some earlier iterations of software, EMUI 9 simply requires selecting Pro from the modes dial. It's two to the right of Photo. This offers metering, ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, focus type and white balance control.

Capture raw files: In addition to JPEG files there's support for DNG raw files, which is only available in Pro mode. Simply hit the settings cog within the Camera app, select Resolution, then toggle RAW Format on. Raw is only available for 0.6x, 1x and 3x zoom – as it's using the native resolution from those three sensors.

Select resolution: There is the option for 40MP 4:3, 10MP 4:3, 7MP 1:1 and 6MP 18.8:9 resolutions and aspect ratios. Hit the settings cog within the Camera app and select Resolution. This will vary in certain modes, such as using the zoom, where the full resolution is unavailable.

Aperture / Portrait mode / shallow depth of field / blurred background: It might be that Apple has become synonymous with the idea of Portrait mode, which focuses on subject faces and blurs the background, but Huawei and Leica have been at the forefront of the idea for a number of years. In EMUI 9 the mode is available by swiping left on the circular mode dial, then selecting Aperture, where it's the possible to select between f/0.95 (blurry) to f/16 (as much as possible in focus).

Night mode: Shooting in low-light? This mode is excellent, like hand-held HDR (high dynamic range). It combines multiple images in real-time from a handheld frame and gives the effect of a long exposure, often to spectacular effect.

Capture a burst of images: Simply press-and-hold the screen to whirr off a rapid burst of capture, which is saved as an image stack. Useful for fast-moving or high-speed subjects. This press-and-hold can also be used to activate focus control, adjusted within the settings.

AI (Artificial Intelligence): Thanks to the Kirin 980 processor behind the scenes, the Mate 20 Pro is able to pull on a database of machine-learned images to automatically adjust the camera's settings. Whether it recognises the type or breed of dog, that you're shooting foliage, close-ups, portrait, landscape, or at night-time, the camera will present the mode it's auto-selected. You may not always wish to utilise this mode, however, so a quick tap of the "x" by what's displayed in the camera can deactivate (you won't want Greenery and Blue Sky, which are too harsh, but some others are useful).