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Meet the HUAWEI Mate X, a $2,600 foldable powerhouse (Update on release date)

HUAWEI has just sent a powerful shot across the bow to the Samsung Galaxy Fold.

Published onFebruary 24, 2019

Update: June 14 2019 11:47 am ET – HUAWEI has confirmed that the Mate X will now officially launch in September. The company claims that they want to improve the foldable phone’s flexible display so it does not have any issues. However, it’s possible the delay may also be due to the U.S. government’s decision to ban Huawei’s use of U.S.-made hardware and software devices in its future smartphones.

Original story: February 24, 2019 8:45 am ET – HUAWEI has just sent a powerful shot across the bow to Samsung.

Introduced in Barcelona today, the Mate X is an impressive foldable phone that looks just as advanced as Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, but may be more practical.

Here’s what you need to know about the HUAWEI Mate X.

Read our HUAWEI Mate X hands-on!

Mate X folding design

Just like the Galaxy Fold, the Mate X is a smartphone-tablet hybrid that folds down the middle. There’s a big difference however: the Mate X’s display folds on the outside of the device, as opposed to the Galaxy Fold’s inward folding design. The difference means the Mate X’s display remains exposed when the device is folded. That looks simple to use and potentially better than the Galaxy Fold, but it does raise questions about its long-term durability with daily use.

According to Huawei, its out-folding design is more durable than Samsung’s in-folding implementation, presumably because it has a smaller bending radius.

The new foldable phone HUAWEI Mate X used in tablet mode at a presentation at MWC 2019.

Flexible display

The HUAWEI Mate X features a single display mounted on one side of the device (the back appears to be just plastic). The device folds slightly asymmetrically, so one side of the folded device has a slightly larger display area. The opposite side features a “grip” going along its side that looks a lot like the chin on the old Motorola Razr V3.

The grip hosts the Mate X’s triple camera and also helps with handling – it’s about 11mm thick, which is double the thickness of the rest of the device (5.4mm).

When folded, the thinner side of the Mate X tucks in nicely against the grip.

bottom side of the new HUAWEI Mate X foldable phone in tablet mode at the MWC 2019 presentation.
HUAWEI Mate X in a tablet mode showcased at MWC 2019

When open, the display is 8 inches across the diagonal, with thin, uninterrupted bezels. There’s no notch or punch hole, because there is no selfie camera. Instead, the main triple-camera doubles as a selfie cam – the drawback is you can only take selfies when the device is folded.

The Mate X display form factor is an almost-square 8 to 7.1 when open, with a resolution of 2480 x 2200 pixels.

When closed, one side of the Mate X features a 6.6-inch screen of 2480 x 1148 pixels. The other one, with the grip, is 6.38 inches across and 2480 x 892 pixels in resolution.

Photo of a HUAWEI Mate X in tablet mode showcased at MWC 2019

Internal specifications

There’s plenty of space inside the Mate X for some great internal components, and HUAWEI did not hold back. The SoC is HUAWEI’s latest and greatest, the Kirin 980, which also powers the Mate 20 Pro and will make an appearance in the upcoming P30.

The SoC is coupled with another homegrown component, the Balong 5000 5G modem. It ensures download speeds of up to 4.6Gbps or 10X what you could get on a 4G device. According to HUAWEI, the Balong 5000 is twice as fast as the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 modem inside competing 5G devices like the Galaxy S10 or the Mi Mix 3 5G.

What does this mean in real life? If – and that’s a big if – you manage to get a 5G connection anytime soon, you’d theoretically be able to download a 1GB movie in just three seconds.

half open HUAWEI Mate X on a showcase at MWC 2019

The Mate X comes with 8GB of RAM, 512GB of internal storage, two batteries for 4,500mAh of charge, and a USB-C charging port. There’s no headphone jack from what we saw or in the specs sheet from HUAWEI.

Read more: A few Mate X musings after finally getting to touch it

Another impressive feature is ultra-fast charging at 55W. That’s a big step over HUAWEI’s previous best effort, the 40W Super Charge feature in the Mate 20 Pro. With 55W charging, the Mate X can fill 85 percent of its 4,500mAh battery in just 30 minutes.

There’s a lot we don’t know yet about the HUAWEI Mate X. How will software work? Is the display actually durable? How is durability going to be? How about battery life? It goes on and on. What we do know for sure is the HUAWEI Mate X will give the Galaxy Fold a run for its money.

HUAWEI Mate X price and availability

The HUAWEI Mate X will be available from 2299 euros (~$2600) starting in “mid-summer”. HUAWEI CEO Richard Yu said the OEM is working with network operators to range the Mate X, with initial availability starting in June at the earliest. For comparison, the Galaxy Fold will start from $1980 in the U.S.

Thoughts on the HUAWEI Mate X?

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