As expected, Huawei is throwing its hat into the foldable smartphone ring with the Huawei Mate X.

It’s one of the most impressive looking foldables to date, with a tablet-sized screen that folds in half for use in smartphone mode, a four-camera system, a 5G modem, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.

There’s one big catch though: this thing is expensive. It’s expected to hit the streets in mid-2019 for 2299 Euros ($2600).

When the device’s OLED screen is fully unfolded, you have an 8 inch android tablet. But fold it in half and you have a smartphone with a 6.6 inch display — which doesn’t sound much smaller, but those numbers are deceptive since they measure the diagonal length of the screen.

Basically in tablet mode you have a little less than twice as much screen real estate. And because the Mate X folds so that the display wraps around the phone, you actually have two screens in phone mode — one on the front, and another on the back.

This eliminates the need for a secondary screen like the one found on the Samsung Galaxy Fold, and makes the Mate X look like something you’d actually want to use in phone mode and not just in tablet mode.

So effectively this is a phone with one screen that can be used in three modes:

  • 8 inch, 2480 x 2200 pixel tablet screen (with 8:7.1 aspect ratio)
  • 6.6 inch, 2480 x 1148 pixel 19.5:9 bezel-free front screen
  • 6.4 inch, 2480 x 892 25:9 rear screen (with cameras on the side).

The Huawei Mate X is powered by a Kirin 980 processor, features Huawei’s new Balong 5000 5G modem, dual SIM support, dual batteries with a total capacity of 4,500 mAh, and support for 55 watt fast charging.

Huawei says its compact 55W fast charger is powerful enough to also charge many recent laptops that support USB-C chargers.

The power button and fingerprint reader are on the side, which means there’s no notch in the display when you’re looking at the device from the front in tablet or phone modes — something that sets the phone apart from Samsung’s Galaxy Fold.

In tablet mode, the Mate X is just 5.4mm thick (or 0.21 inches) at its thinnest point, although there’s a boxy section on one side where the device has four cameras and other components.

When you fold the device in half for use in phone mode, the screen sits flush with the cameras, making the whole thing about 11mm (0.43 inches) thick.

Huawei says the Mate X has patented hinge technology that allows the screen to gold flat, making the device thinner than other foldables (*cough* Samsung) when its used in phone mode.

The bar with the cameras and other components gives the device a bit of a Lenovo Yoga Tab-like appearance when used in tablet mode, with a strip along one side of the tablet that’s twice as thick as the rest of the device. But on the bright side, it gives you something to grip when holding the tablet in one hand.

There’s no front-facing camera… but since the display wraps around the whole device you can use the 6.4 inch secondary screen as a viewfinder when snapping a selfie using the four cameras that normally face the back.

Aside from the really, really, high price tag, another thing to keep in mind about the Huawei Mate X is that the version Huawei is showing off at MWC is essentially an early prototype. While the company does plan to sell this phone later this year, journalists who are on-site at the show haven’t actually been able to touch it. Huawei representatives are in charge of the demos, which suggests that this thing might be ready to withstand poking and prodding from the general public just yet.

As for that 2299 Euro price tag, it would certainly make the Mate X the most expensive smartphone to date (not counting some weird “luxury” models). But that’s the price that goes along with being an early adopter — I remember a time when HDTVs were prohibitively expensive. Now you can pick up a 4K set for a couple hundred dollars.

It remains to be seen whether economies of scale will kick in the same way with foldable phones. If enough people buy devices like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, then it should help the companies making these foldables increase production and lower the cost. But if the high prices scare customers away, that may never happen.

 

 

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8 replies on “Huawei Mate X is a 6.6 inch Android phone that unfolds to become an 8 inch tablet”

  1. Added to the things I would buy if I was a millionaire business man. In 10 years we will see these at regular Joe Doe’s price running Android 4.0 (yes, 4.0 not a typo).

  2. Durability is a major concern with a relatively soft screen on the outside.
    Plus it is so big when folded that you need a bag or, given the price tag, a minion to lug it around.

  3. I think this is a better execution than Samsung’s and others.

    Although, while I’m interested in seeing and reading about these devices, I probably won’t be buying one for many many years due to price and I don’t have big enough use cases for large screened devices running a mobile OS.

    1. Agreed.

      This is the foldable phone concept I had almost a decade ago, and I’m happy to see it realised. Though I’m kind of disappointed with the Samsung Fold, that’s just not a good phone period. This looks like it is. I would’ve altered the screen size/aspect ratio slightly, but that’s about it. And sure, the processor will be slightly inferior to other 2019 choices, and the same goes for the cameras too. However, the battery design and charge is hands-down the best way forward. That makes it a compelling consideration

      Though I wouldn’t be buying this for two very important reasons:
      – software (…or lack of, in terms of polish, efficiency, updates, and support)
      – price (if it was one-third of the price, then it would be fairly priced from a utility viewpoint)

  4. Probably the best folding concept I’ve seen yet. Too bad for Cloak and Dagger smartphone makers of China, nobody in the western hemisphere is going to buy their phones anymore.

    The biggest problem with all these folding phones is that the phone is vulnerable to damage all over, and there is no way to ever make a case for it.

    1. That’s simply not true. Western countries are considering banning Huawei from contributing network equipment to their 5G networks, but not even the US has banned their phones from being sold in their country, and it’s very unlikely a widespread ban on their retail products in the West is going to happen.

      Also, it’s pretty obvious that most customers are far more interested in specs and prices than they are concerned about potential security issues with Huawei phones.

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