Unveiled at its Mobile World Congress press conference - well, it had leaked a couple of days before, due to a poster gaffe - Huawei's first folding phone, to us, outsmarts the Samsung Galaxy Fold in its execution.
Here's everything we know about Huawei's Mate X 5G folding phone to date.
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Release date and price
- Due middle of 2019
- €2299 (8GB+512GB)
Kicking off with the thing that everyone wants to know: just how ridiculously expensive is this phone? It will be €2299 with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage.
And when will it be available? All Huawei is saying is "from the middle of 2019 (pending on network deployment status of operators)".
Huawei Mate X: Design
- Smartphone design folds into tablet form with ease
- Measures: 11mm thick; 5.4mm when unfolded
- 2-in-1 power key and fingerprint scanner
The Mate X looks convincing as a phone, given its 11mm thickness. It's slimmer than Samsung's Galaxy Fold effort, which is likely to be important in this sector - to actually make a phone that'll fit in your pocket and doesn't feel like an excess.
Unfolded, in its tablet form, the Mate X is just 5.4mm (less than half of 11mm, yes, but the air gap between will be why). There's a little 'lip' that sticks out where the cameras are housed to make holding it easy, which is an intelligent use of design.
Despite being an OLED panel, there's no in-screen fingerprint scanner (or scanners) to be found here, instead the side positioned power button doubles-up as the scanner for rapid login. There are no cameras on the front - they're housed around the back - to make for minimal screen bezel, but that means there's also no facial recognition for login.
Huawei Mate X: Display
- Total screen: 8in, 8:7.1 aspect ratio, 2480 x 2200 resolution
- Front screen portion: 6.6in OLED, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 2480 x 1148 resolution
- Rear screen portion: 6.38in OLED, 25:9 aspect ratio, 2480 x 892 resolution
- Falcon wing hinge design for seamless fold
In phone form the Mate X has a big screen: it looks like a slightly chunky 6.6-inch phone, really.
Flip it over, however, and the second screen is particularly elongated; a 6.38in portion of the panel sits alongside the camera strip. We suspect that, other for selfies and second apps (maybe a QR code loaded for that train or plane journey), that this part won't be used a great deal.
It's when those screens 'combine' - although, to be clear, this is one 8-inch screen total - that things get really interesting though. When unfolding the phone to flat the OLED panel reveals itself in full, with no dividing line between and minimal to no creasing. The so-called falcon wing hinge does a convincing job.
However, we don't know how that screen will hold up. As the screen is OLED it can bend, but it has to be coated to protect it, and that plastic exterior might be prone to scratches. Maybe that's why Huawei is also producing a 'Full Cover Case' accessory - which we've been told will be in the box (region dependent).
Huawei Mate X: Hardware and battery
- Kirin 980 chipset, 8GB RAM
- 512GB storage, NM card expandable
- Balong 5000 modem for 5G
- 4,500mAh battery capacity
- Huawei SuperCharge (55W)
- Recharge 85% of battery in 30 minutes
Huawei confirmed the Mate X will run using its Kirin 980 chipset and have a Balong 5000 modem for 5G connectivity. Exactly how fast download speeds will be depends on too many factors though - so for many it'll be 4G speeds only, which does make us wonder why Huawei is putting all its eggs in one basket and not ranging two forms of the device. Maybe it's for its caveated headline of being "the world's first 5G foldable phone" (true, but it's not the world's first folding phone).
In terms of RAM there's 8GB. We've seen that the software - presumably EMUI version 9.something over the top of Android Pie - can run dual screen apps or apps front and back, so we thought perhaps there'd be more crammed into this body. The only other phone we've tested with two screens is the Vivo NEX Dual Display, which comes with 10GB RAM to keep things ticking along nicely. And with phones like the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT packing in 12GB, it seems odd that Huawei hasn't gone all in.
How all this software will work with the hardware setup will be one of the most interesting aspects to the Mate X. It'll need to be different to other Huawei phones in managing split/dual screens effectively, in a way that will enhance the experience. And we've not yet played with the phone, so that's one big question mark hanging over this device for now.
In terms of battery, Huawei is taking no gambles. It appears there are two cells in the Mate X, totalling 4,500mAh capacity. Not only is that more than almost any other smartphone on the market - well, the low-end Moto G7 Power is 5,000mAh, but that's a whole different sell - it offers the fastest charging technology of any consumer phone. Yep, Huawei SuperCharge is 55W, outstripping Oppo's Super VOOC (50W) to make for the most rapid top-ups. Indeed, from zero battery to 85 per cent full, the Mate X needs just 30 minutes at the plug. That's 3,825mAh in just half an hour. Ridiculous and amazing, eh?
Huawei Mate X: Cameras
- Leica camera partnership confirmed
- Believed to be Mate 20 Pro triple camera setup (TBC)
The last part of the puzzle that Huawei was being somewhat tight-lipped about is the camera setup. We know the Leica partnership continues and, from what we've seen, it appears that the Mate X will deploy a triple camera solution like that of the Mate 20 Pro - not the quad camera solution of the forthcoming P30 Pro.
That's likely to mean a standard lens, a wide-angle lens, and a third camera for depth detection. Or Huawei is being tight-lipped because it'll do the opposite and introduce a longer zoom lens, which is what we expect to see on the P30 Pro.
Will it be the best folding phone?
All in the Huawei Mate X looks to be the most interesting folding phone we've seen to date. Because it folds on the outside, rather than housing a screen inside like the Samsung Fold, it's a more elegant solution that's more practical in any of its forms. But with MWC rolling along at a steady pace, it won't be the only company showing off its foldable hardware.