But now CNBC reports that the launch date has been pushed back to September.
Is this because of the company’s widely-reported difficulties in face of a US trade ban? Maybe. But the official reason is that Huawei wants to play it safe after Samsung had to delay the launch of its Galaxy Fold smartphone due to issues uncovered by early reviewers.
The Mate X is a 5G-ready smartphone that features a Huawei Kirin 980 processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, four cameras, a 4,500 mAh battery, and support for up to 55 watt fast charging.
But it’s the foldable display and unusual design that really make the Mate X stand out — it’s not so much as a smartphone as a smartphone/tablet hybrid.
When the screen is unfolded, it’s an 8 inch, 2480 x 2200 pixel screen with an 8:7.1 aspect ratio. Fold it and you’ve got a smartphone with a 6.6 inch, 2480 x 1148 pixel (19.5:9) display on one the front and a 6.4 inch, 2480 x 892 (25:9) display on the back.
The screen on the back is smaller because it leaves room on the left side for the camera bar — meaning this phone doesn’t need separate front and rear cameras. You can use the primary 4-camera system to snap selfies while using the back screen to frame your shot.
When unfolded, the Huawei Mate X has a larger screen than the Samsung Galaxy Fold. And when folded, the phone is thinner (although at 11mm or 0.43 inches thick, it’s kind of chunky for a modern smartphone).
One thing that Mate X has in common with the Galaxy Fold other than the flexible display? A high price tag — the Galaxy Fold is priced at $1980, while the Mate X is expected to sell for about $2600.
So it’s not surprising that both companies would rather take their time working out the kinks before shipping an easy-to-damage product to customers willing to spend that kind of money on a new and untested device in a brand new product category.
What is a little surprising is that those kinks weren’t worked out before the companies announced their products — Samsung delayed the release of the Galaxy Fold just days before it was set to go on sale. Maybe the companies felt pressured to get something to market ASAP rather than cede the space to less well-known companies?
Interestingly it looks like the Galaxy Fold recently received certification from China’s 3C agency, and showed up on a Chinese retail site. It’s possible that means the phone could go on sale in China before shipping internationally. But it’s also possible someone just jumped the gun.
Meanwhile, if Huawei and/or China don’t reach some sort of deal with the US soon, the future of this and other Huawei phones could be in question. Huawei is reportedly developing its own smartphone operating system that it could use if Android is no longer an option. But if it cannot license intellectual property from companies like Arm, that would make it difficult to continue developing the Kirin processors that power its smartphones and tablets.