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HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 hands-on impressions: The outward-folding foldable returns
With the global launch of the Mate Xs 2, HUAWEI resurrects its original “outie” foldable in a new, stronger chassis. At first glance, there’s very little that’s “new,” with almost every part of the Mate Xs 2 looking like its two-year-old predecessor. But the devil is in the details, and HUAWEI has made several improvements here that really give the outie form factor a fighting chance. Whether they’re enough to truly challenge the more prevalent inward-folding design seen in the likes of the Mate X2 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 is something we’ll only know after spending more time with it. For now, here are our first impressions of the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2.
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Hands-on impressions
First things first: the display. The Mate Xs 2 has a single 120Hz foldable OLED panel, measuring 6.5 inches on the diagonal when folded and 7.8 inches when unfolded. Because there’s only one screen — at 2,480 x 2,200 pixels when open — you get the same high refresh rate screen whether the phone is open or closed. From my short time with it so far, it looks like a really nice panel.
HUAWEI has reportedly done a lot of work in the last two years to improve the durability of this flexible screen too, something we’re keen to test out at a later date. According to HUAWEI, the new four-layer structure of the polymer-coated display improves durability and enhances drop protection.
The Mate Xs 2's design is very similar to its predecessor, but HUAWEI says it's more durable this time.
The dust caps on the ends look to be very similar to those on the original Mate Xs. There’s no dust- or water-resistance rating here, though, and it remains to be seen just how durable this new screen is compared to the other third-gen foldables.
I still wouldn’t recommend buying the Mate Xs 2 if you’re the clumsy type with your phones but it is great to see such bold claims made for the most fragile part of an outward-folding phone.
Next up, the cameras. The general layout on the Mate Xs 2 is the same as its predecessor, barring the addition of a 10MP punch-hole camera in the top right of the screen. This means you can now handle video calls while the phone is in its closed state. You also have the option to use the main cameras for selfies by using mirror mode. This turns the folded part of the screen on the back into a viewfinder. I really like this versatility.
The triple-camera setup on the back has also been upgraded, even if its layout is identical to its predecessor. There’s a 50MP primary, 13MP ultrawide, and an 8MP 3x telephoto lens. I didn’t have a chance to test these out yet but I expect very similar performance to those found on the HUAWEI P50 Pro. In a word, most likely great.
HUAWEI has improved the hinge mechanism too. It certainly feels sturdy and I didn’t hear any creaks in my short time with it. Foldable hinges occasionally loosen up over time though, so we’ll have to see how it holds up over time. The one thing I can say is that the crease is almost imperceptible. Having used both the Mate X2 and Galaxy Z Fold 3, this is the closest to a non-existent crease I’ve seen so far.
Check out: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review
The global variant is only available with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The Mate Xs 2 battery is 4,600mAh on the global version, although China gets a 12GB/512GB version which carries a capacity bump to 4,880mAh. All models feature 66W fast charging. The one downside to the Mate Xs 2 specs is the Snapdragon 888 processor. As far as raw performance goes, Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship chip isn’t on the bleeding edge, but it certainly isn’t anything to sneeze at either. However, if you were hoping for blazing-fast 5G speeds you won’t get them here as HUAWEI isn’t taking advantage of those capabilities as a knock-on from the US trade ban.
There’s a new texture on the back panel, which I like. It’s a big upgrade to the original material on the first Mate Xs which was a huge fingerprint magnet. I also got to see a unique new case for it, which allows you to prop up the Mate Xs 2 in tent mode. HUAWEI says that this case, which doubles up as a stand, is included with the phone.
The Mate Xs 2 is overall a slightly more compact device than its predecessor. Everything seems to have generally been refined despite the visual similarities. It’s also 15% lighter at just 255g. The Mate Xs 2 comes in black, white, or purple, and it’ll be launching in select global markets for a princely €1,999 (~$2,104) though we’re yet to hear specifics on regional availability. It also runs Harmony OS 2, which we’re eager to try out on a foldable after its inauspicious debut on the Matepad Pro (2021).
And that’s about all there is to say on the new Mate Xs 2 until we can test it a little more. Whether you think outward-folding designs are a disaster waiting to happen or not, I for one am glad HUAWEI is keeping its options open (pun fully intended). Variety is the spice of life and if the demise of LG has taught us anything, it’s that we should always appreciate those that zig when others zag. The vast majority of folks may well opt for an inward-folding foldable but it’s great to know there’s an equally impressive outie on offer as well.
HUAWEI Mate XS 2: Hot or not?
HUAWEI Mate Xs 2: Specs
|HUAWEI Mate Xs 2|
7.8-inch OLED screen (open), 8:7.1, 2,480 x 2,200;
6.5-inch OLED screen (closed), 19:9, 1,176 x 2,480 pixels
120Hz adaptive refresh rate
1,440Hz PWM dimming
Up to 240Hz touch sampling rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G
Main: 50MP f/1.8
Tele: 3x optical 8MP f/2.4
Wide: 13MP f/2.2
Selfie: 10MP f/2.2
4,880mAh (on 12/512GB version)
66W SuperCharge wired charging
Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Harmony OS 2
Dimensions and weight
156.5mm x 139.3mm x 5.4mm (open)
156.5mm x 75.5mm x 11.1mm (closed)