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HUAWEI Mate X2 hands on: Now this is it

The HUAWEI Mate X2 is the realization of the folding phone dream.

Published onMarch 24, 2021

HUAWEI Mate X2 home screen open
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The HUAWEI Mate X2 has just arrived for review and boy oh boy, is this the one I’ve been waiting for. Judging by its form factor alone, it’s the foldable phone HUAWEI should’ve made a couple of years ago.

To be fair, I actually liked the old Mate Xs design. I appreciated the uninterrupted main display, the economical use of cameras, and the full-sized external screen. But the durability question around an outward-folding display was far too great for far too many people. Since HUAWEI and Samsung debuted their first foldable phones two years ago, Samsung has gone on to dominate the foldable space with over 80% market share.

See also: The best foldable phones you can get

The Mate X2 is HUAWEI’s attempt to claw back some of that market share from Samsung. Ironically, HUAWEI’s new design is highly reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2‘s “innie” design. Regardless of who did it first, HUAWEI is doing it really well here, possibly even better than Samsung itself. Here are my first impressions of the Mate X2.

The “outie” is dead

HUAWEI Mate X2 vs HUAWEI Mate Xs
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
HUAWEI Mate Xs (left) and HUAWEI Mate X2 (right)

The first thing to note is that the Mate X2 does away with the external-folding screen of its predecessor and safely encloses the foldable screen on the inside. Fortunately, you still get that gorgeous full-sized external display HUAWEI has done since the beginning of its foray into foldables.

The spine of the Mate X2 is very well machined and it doesn’t look like dust would be able to get into the innards of the chassis very easily. The top edge of the Mate X2 houses some speakers, a mic, an IR blaster, and the SIM tray. The bottom edge has another speaker, mic, and a USB-C port. The right-hand side of the Mate X2 has a volume rocker and a fingerprint scanner embedded in the elongated power button.

Seen side-on, the front section has a slightly funny-looking wedge shape to it. The Mate X2 is a pretty chunky phone but it’s actually thinner at the hinge when closed than the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (it also folds flatter). My initial takeaway is that the Mate X2 also provides a much better viewing experience when closed than Samsung’s foldable.

The Mate X2 is a perfectly normal phone when closed.

Put simply, the Mate X2, like the Mate Xs before it, is a perfectly normal phone when closed. There’s no bizarre 25:9 aspect ratio here like the Z Fold 2, just a regular 21:9 OLED like any other phone you’re used to.

The 6.45-inch 90Hz OLED panel has 2,700 x 1,160 resolution (456ppi) and apps are displayed at normal aspect ratios, even in split-screen mode when the Mate X2 is open. At first glance, it’s every bit as good as any other screen you’d find on a regular HUAWEI phone.

What’s the inside design like?

HUAWEI Mate X2 notifications shade
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Unfold the HUAWEI Mate X2 and the real fun begins. The 90Hz OLED main display is no less than 8-inches on the diagonal (2,480 x 2,200 pixels, 413ppi) and unmarred by any camera notches or cutouts. The only downside of this I can see so far is that you can’t do video calls on the Mate X2 when it’s unfolded. I got used to this on the Mate Xs and can’t say it bothered me, but it’s something to be aware of.

The upshot of this design is that you’re able to use the main camera array on the back to take selfies too. There’s still a 16MP selfie camera on the external display for when the phone is closed, but you can also open the Mate X2 up and use any of the main cameras for selfies with the external screen as your viewfinder. This includes the 10x optical periscope camera if you want to get right up your nose.

Don’t miss: The best camera phones right now

Whatever you’re looking at on one screen or the other will expand when you open the Mate X2 or compress when you close it. I like the continuity between modes I’ve seen so far. HUAWEI’s AppGallery has picked up a lot more apps than it had when I reviewed the Mate Xs last year, but there’s still no support for Google apps here, unfortunately.

If you look closely at the bezel when the Mate X2 is open, you’ll notice it’s actually got a protective cap on it. This is presumably HUAWEI’s current answer to covering up the edges of the screen protector-like layer that was a bit of an eyesore on the Mate Xs. The previous solution had a tendency to collect fuzz in the grooves around the sensors but this new fix looks much better from the get-go.

Is there a crease?

HUAWEI Mate X2 HUAWEI Assistant feed
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Technically yes, but it’s so minimal I can barely see it. I might notice it more under different lighting conditions, so stay tuned for our full review. The one thing I can say now is that the Mate X2’s display is flat. Like, really flat. You can still feel the fold with your finger as you swipe it across the middle of the screen — just — but it’s a huge improvement over all other foldables I’ve used.

I’m impressed by how solid the Mate X2 feels. There’s no flex anywhere. When you unfold it the screen locks into place very firmly. I doubt the hinge will loosen up over time as it eventually did on my Mate Xs. When you tap on the screen of the Mate X2 there’s no give either, it feels just as solid as a regular phone.

What else do I need to know?

I’ve thrown a specs sheet together below for your viewing pleasure, but the HUAWEI Mate X2 really isn’t as much about specs as it is about an incredible piece of engineering. Given my experience with the Mate Xs, I’m sure the Mate X2 will be every bit as good of an everyday phone as the Xs was. Nevertheless, I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve been able to spend some more time with it.

The HUAWEI Mate X2 box includes a 66W charging brick, USB-C to USB-A cable, and a pair of USB-C earbuds. It also comes with a very nice-looking PU leather case with a kickstand that works when the phone is open as well as closed. It’s worth pointing out that although the Mate X2 comes with a 66W brick (11V/6A), the phone itself only supports 55W fast charging (11v/5A).

Also read: How much does it cost to replace a foldable display?

HUAWEI Mate X2 specs

8-inch (when open) 90Hz OLED, 2480 x 2200, 413ppi;
6.45-inch (when closed) 90Hz OLED, 2700 x 1160, 456ppi
Kirin 9000 (octa-core, 1 x Cortex-A77 @3.13 GHz, 3 x Cortex-A77 @2.54 GHz, 4 x Cortex-A55 @2.05 GHz)
24-core Mali-G78, dual big core and tiny core NPUs
256/512GB, NM card expansion
Main cameras:
50MP Ultra Vision camera (wide angle, f/1.9 aperture, OIS);
16MP cine camera (ultra-wide angle, f/2.2 aperture);
12MP telephoto camera (3x optical zoom, f/2.4 aperture, OIS);
8MP SuperZoom camera (10x optical zoom, f/4.4 aperture, OIS)
16MP selfie camera (wide angle, f/2.2)
4,500mAh battery,
66W/55W SuperCharge wired charging (phone supports max 55W)
Sensors: fingerprint, gravity, infrared, hall, barometric pressure, gyroscope, compass, ambient light, proximity, laser, colour temperature
Primary SIM card
5G NR: n1/n3/n28(TX: 703MHz-733MHz, RX: 758MHz-788MHz)/n38/n40/n41/n77/n78/n79/n80/n84
4G FDD LTE: Bands 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/12/17/18/19/20/26
4G TDD LTE: Bands 34/38/39/40/41
3G WCDMA: Bands 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
2G GSM: Bands 2/3/5/8(850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
Secondary SIM card
4G FDD LTE: Bands 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/12/17/18/19/20/26
4G TDD LTE: Bands 34/38/39/40/41
3G WCDMA: Bands 1/2/4/5/6/8/19
2G GSM: Bands 2/3/5/8(850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
GPS (L1 + L5 dual band) / AGPS / GLONASS/ BeiDou (B1I + B1C + B2a + B2b quad-band) / GALILEO (E1 + E5a + E5b Tri-band) / QZSS (L1 + L5 dual band) / NavIC
Dual-SIM, NFC, USB 3.1 GEN1 (included cable only supports USB 2.0), Bluetooth 5.2 (supports BLE, SBC, AAC, LDAC), dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2x2 MIMO, HE160, 1024 QAM, 8 spatial-stream sounding MU-MIMO (requires router support)
EMUI 11 on AOSP version of Android 10
Open: 161.8mm x 145.8mm x 4.4mm ~ 8.2mm;
Closed: 161.8mm x 74.6mm x 13.6mm ~ 14.7mm
295 grams
Crystal Blue, Crystal Pink, White, Black

HUAWEI Mate X2: The initial verdict

HUAWEI Mate X2 lock screen on book
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

At first glance, the HUAWEI Mate X2 looks like a killer foldable. The hardware, as is always the case with HUAWEI, looks impeccable. The fate of the Mate X2 will likely rest on the software experience. Both on how well it functions without Google services as well as how polished the foldable experience has become. Stay tuned to Android Authority for the full HUAWEI Mate X2 review next week.

The HUAWEI Mate X2 looks like a killer foldable.

The HUAWEI Mate X2 costs 17,999/18,999CNY for the 256GB and 512GB versions respectively (roughly $2,765/$2,920). It has only officially been launched in China, but if I’ve got one, then it’s likely getting a European/global launch soon.

Let me know in the comments what questions you want answered in the full HUAWEI Mate X2 review and I’ll be sure to address them.

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