Huawei Mate Xs receives update: EMUI10.1, July 2020 security patch

Huawei’s Mate Xs has finally received the promised EMUI10.1 update, together with various other general improvements to the OS.

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Initially, the Mate Xs was expected to receive EMUI10.1 at the same time as other devices, such as the P30 Pro or the Mate 30 series, at the end of June of this year, 2020, although the update ended up being delayed until this month, August. We’ve now received the update, although it is quite disappointing to not have received it at the end of June or beginning of July, as initially planned, or not having received June’s security patch in between, as the device came out a few months ago and it already missed a patch. Regardless, we now have EMUI10.1, which includes the promised features, together with a fair share of surprises, as well as July’s 2020 security patch.

We’ve already covered some of the features of EMUI10.1 in our P30 Pro article, showcasing the new animations and some of the new layouts, such as for sharing images or recording the screen. Those details can be found in said article, which we’ve linked at the end of this article.

If we now start looking at some of the biggest changes, EMUI10.1 brings a separate page in the settings to enable or disable auto-updates for Huawei HiAI, as well as the possibility of joining the improvement program or leave this one. Another change is the addition of the “Smart Charge” battery feature, which aims to preserve battery life by adapting to the user’s charging routine.

The patch notes mention the addition of a “three-dimensional clock style” for the Always on display feature. We are not sure what Huawei is referring to, although it looks like some new clock styles have been added to the AOD. Here, it is important to note that, while it is possible to download more clock styles from the Themes app on other devices from the manufacturer, such as the P30 Pro or the P40 Pro, on the Mate Xs, we are limited to the few pre-installed styles, with the Themes app not offering any third-party AODs.

The biggest surprise is the changes seen on HiVision. Previously, this tool only included two of the features, being the QR scanner and the Shopping. Now, the full HiVision features are present, including the translator, calory counter and object identifier. It is surprising that it took this long for Huawei to release the full set of HiVision features on the Mate Xs, while both the Mate 30 and P40 series enjoyed all five options. While we did try various methods to get these extra features earlier, we were unable to install them via the APK extracted from a Mate 30 Pro, meaning these features are somehow locked down by the manufacturer, or a specific version is needed, with all models not having the same one.

For the camera, EMUI10.1 brings an overhaul of the settings menu, which we’ve already covered in our P40 Pro review. This overhaul simplifies said menu, making it easier to use, although it does take away some of the customization that was previously available. Quite a few users have actually complained about the removal of the high resolution mode, which allowed users to take pictures in, in this case, 40MP, instead of relying on the default pixel binning option, which produces 10MP files. While we partially agree with these complaints, the 40MP camera (or equivalent on other models, such as 50MP on the P40 Pro) can be accessed via the new “High-Res” mode located in the “More” section of the camera.

One of the biggest changes brought by EMUI10.1 is, arguably, Huawei’s new voice-assistant, Celia. Interestingly enough, in all of Huawei’s marketing materials and official communications, the manufacturer kept referring to the Mate 30 and P40 series, never mentioning that the Mate Xs would be getting the voice-assistant this soon, so we were quite surprised when we found out that it was both mentioned in the patch notes and available in the settings. Of course, Celia is only available in a very specific set of regions, currently limited to the UK, Spain, France, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and South Africa. This can be easily circumvented, by going to the Phone Settings > System & updates > Language & input > Language and region > Region > [Select one of the previously mentioned regions].

We have already written an entire review about Celia, showing detailed examples of what Huawei’s voice assistant can do, as well as how to configure it. Those interested in more information about Celia can check out said article, linked at the end of this one. However, it would appear Celia now manages to understand our English accent, which it did not previously. Other than that, the assistant behaves the same way it did when we tested it two months ago. Using the “Wake with Power button” on the Mate Xs is rather awkward, as the power button is already used to unlock the device, with its fingerprint reader. Eventually, one figures out the trick, holding the power button for a bit longer than the 1 second the assistant claims is needed, with Celia popping up and being ready to answer our question once this one asked.

Lastly, this update also brought some general system optimizations, as seen on the P30 Pro, with the device being a lot more reactive/faster than before. For instance, applications open and close quicker, and accessing various setting windows is a lot faster, improving the overall user experience of EMUI10.1. We are unsure whether this update reset the battery optimization that took place over the past three months of regular use, as it happened on the P30 Pro, with this one seeing its battery life cut in half for a few days, until, eventually, the “AI” caught back up and started re-learning our usage pattern. By now, the battery life has pretty much returned to how it was before the update. We haven’t noticed any changes about this on the Mate Xs, although the device has an awful battery life to start with, barely reaching 7 hours of screen on time (SOT), while with the P30 Pro we easily reach 12 to 16 hours of SOT.

This new update changes the version from TAH-N29m to TAH-N29m and is 4.21 GB in size.

The patch notes read as following:

This update introduces EMUI 10.1, designed to deliver a fine-tuned user experience with a higher performance and more secure system. This system, which is based on distributed technologies, enables you to seamlessly interact across devices and enjoy a diverse range of features, including mobile office, in different scenarios. Install this update to facilitate a more intelligent lifestyle.

  • Quality user interface
    • [Always On Display] Adds a three-dimensional clock style option to Always On Display.
  • Convenient Multi-Device Collaboration
    • [Call answering] Allows you to pick up voice and video calls on your phone from your Huawei laptop.
    • [File editing] Allows you to directly read and edit files on your phone from your Huawei laptop and share your phone’s network.
  • Full security
    • [Privacy compliance certification] Obtained the ISO/IEC 27701 certification.
  • More handy features
    • [AI Voice] Adds AI Voice. Say “Hey, Celia” or press and hold the Power button for a second to wake up the voice assistant and make a request or ask a question. Note: AI Voice is currently available in certain countries and regions. For details, see:
    • [System performance] Optimises the deterministic latency engine to provide you with a smoother system user experience.

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