The foldable phone war kicked off in earnest last month, as Samsung revealed its Galaxy Fold a few days before MWC 2019 and Huawei unveiled its Mate X at the trade show. The companies have opted for starkly different approaches, but which one is actually better?
According to Samsung’s executive vice-president of R&D, Eui-suk Chung, the Galaxy Fold’s in-folding design has several key advantages over the Mate X’s out-folding form factor. The executive told the Australian Financial Review (subscription required) that this design was the most intuitive out of all designs tested by the company.
“You open it like a book. You close it like a book. It’s much more natural than doing it the other way around, so we went for that even though it presents the harder technical challenge,” Chung told the outlet.
The Samsung executive acknowledged that the Galaxy Fold doesn’t have a “perfect close” when shut, owing to concerns that the tablet screen would be damaged. But he noted that while an out-folding design like the Mate X can close fully, the fact that the screens are on the outside makes it prone to user errors (e.g. accidentally calling someone).
Samsung’s claimed benefits
Chung also said the Mate X’s out-folding design makes it more likely that the screens would be damaged in a fall. This certainly sounds like an advantage for the Galaxy Fold, as the large screen is protected when folded (although you’ve still got the smaller smartphone screen on the outside). This could be an advantage for everyday wear and tear too, as the Galaxy Fold’s main screen isn’t directly exposed to your handbag, pocket, or bedside table.
The Samsung representative adds that an in-folding design also delivers better battery life. Chung says this is due to the smaller smartphone screen on the outside, reducing the need to activate the large screen. Then again, the nature of OLED screens means that the rest of the screen can be turned off when not in use, so out-folding devices should manage just fine.
In saying so, our short time with the Mate X showed that Huawei might have the more refined product here from a visual point of view. The company isn’t using any notches or thick bezels like Samsung’s effort, settling on a grip of sorts to house cameras and other sensors. This does, however, come at the cost of having a selfie camera in tablet mode.
It seems like Android Authority readers also prefer Huawei’s approach, judging by the results of our recent poll. The poll found that 39 percent of people would buy a Mate X, while 28 percent of respondents would opt for the Galaxy Fold. Interestingly enough, 30 percent of respondents said they don’t care for Huawei and Samsung’s devices. Still, it’s far too early to definitively call a winner until we’ve actually spent a significant amount of time with each product.
Complicating the quest for the perfect foldable design is a story by Bloomberg, claiming that the Korean company is working on two more foldable devices, with one being an out-folding design. If true, this suggests that Samsung isn’t 100 percent convinced that the in-folding approach is the best solution.