Huawei Launches the Mate X: Folding in a New Directionby Andrei Frumusanu on February 24, 2019 8:45 AM EST
- Posted in
- MWC 2019
- Foldable Smartphones
Today at Huawei’s press conference at MWC Barcelona, Huawei has something special to share with us. It’s only been a couple of days since Samsung announced its own foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold – generating a lot of talk and hype around the new form-factor. Huawei of course didn’t stand still and has long been an innovator themselves, introducing a lot of new first-exclusive features over the last year or two. This year, Huawei is ready to steal Samsung’s thunder with the follow-up announcement of the new Mate X – the company’s own take on a foldable smartphone.
From the front, you actually might have issues identifying the Mate X from any other larger screened phone. While the device is folded on itself and you’re facing on the wide screen side, there’s not much to really distinguish it from any other modern bezel-less device.
It’s when you view the device from the top or bottom sides that it becomes evident that this isn’t your usual slab phone design. The Mate X is defined for being a foldable phone with a bendable screen on the outer surface (Whereas the Galaxy Fold’s screen is on the inner surface).
Huawei here has opted for a novel asymmetric design where one half of the screen is narrower than the other one. What this allows the company to do is to create a thicker phone edge where we locate the phone’s quad-camera setup. Because the cameras are all lined up on this “bar”, it means that the phone doesn’t actually distinguish between rear and front cameras. However because when the phone is folded, we have screens on both sides of the phone and you can still take selfie pictures and see yourself in a viewfinder. The bar also serves to provide housing for the USB-C connector as well as the 2-in-1 power button / finger-print sensor.
The fullscreen display on the wide side of the phone when folded acts as a 6.6” unit with a resolution of 2480 x 1148. This results in a relatively modern 19:5:9 aspect ratio which we see in a lot of new flagship devices. Flipping the phone around with the “bar” facing us, we’re presented with a narrower display which stands in at 6.38” and a resolution of 2480 x 892 and a resulting aspect ratio of 25:9.
Finally, unfolding the Mate X results in the AMOLED screen to reveal its true physical dimensions. Here we see the full footprint of the 8” flexible panel – coming in at a full native resolution of 2480 x 2200 and its quite square-ish 8:7 aspect ratio.
What is remarkable about the Mate X’s design is just how thin Huawei has managed to make it: The unfolded parts of the phone come in at a mere 5.4mm which is thinner than almost any other phone today, and also much thinner than what Samsung was able to achieve in the Galaxy Fold. The “side-bar” as well as the folded phone thickness comes in at 11mm, which is still a reasonable thickness.
Huawei calls the new hinge system a “Falcon hinge”. It’s to be noted that this seems to be the weak-point of Huawei’s design as it doesn’t look nearly as refined as Samsung’s attempt. At the pre-brief we weren’t able to actually get our hands on the phone, but one unit of the presenter had a notable “waviness” of the screen where the hinge was. It also seemed that the hinge locked into place via some sort of magnetic system, as that’s what it sounded like when unfolding the phone. It’s to be noted that the devices that were presented were still early designs – so Huawei might be able to iterate here and provide something more robust in commercial units.
Even though one segment of the Mate X is only 5.4mm thick, the company has still managed to cram in a lot of battery into the phone. Here we see a battery cell in each segment, resulting in a total 4500mAh battery capacity. Because there’s two batteries, they can be charged at the same time at high charging rates. Here Huawei first proclaims it’s able to charge the phone at 55W of power, reaching 85% of capacity from empty in just 30 minutes.
The number one concern of the Mate X however is the fact that it is a outwards folding phone. By nature of it being a flexible display means that we’re dealing with a polymer material which is softer than glass, and thus also more scratch prone. Samsung’s inwards folding design here will be much less prone to scratches, however the Mate X will be a quite more fragile phone in this regard. In fact it seems Huawei is aware of this as they also presented a protection case in which you can slip the whole device in, trying to address this compromise of this surely better looking, but likely less practical design.
|SoC||HiSilicon Kirin 980|
Unfolded: 8" 2480 x 2200 8:7
Folded Short Side: 6.38" 2480 x 892 25:9
Folded Wide Side: 6.6" 2480 x 1148 19:5:9
|Dimensions||Unfolded display: 5.4mm - Camera/Folded: 11mm|
|Primary Rear Camera||yes|
|Secondary Rear Camera||yes|
|Tertiary Rear Camera||yes|
|SIM Size||Dual SIM nanoSIM (or NM card)|
|Cellular Capability||5G NR NSA/SA
4x4 MIMO 256QAM (4.6Gbps sub-6Ghz)
|Launch OS||Android 9.0|
In terms of specifications, the Mate X is very much a high end phone. Powered by the Kirin 980, the device holds up with the best in the market in terms of processing power.
What actually further distinguishes the Mate X is that this isn’t just Huawei’s first foldable phone, it’s also Huawei’s first 5G phone. With connectivity provided by HiSilicon’s Balong 5G01 modem, Huawei is able to provide 5G NR NSA/SA connectivity and speeds of up to 4.6GHz at 200MHz of bandwidth at 4x4 MIMO and 256QAM in the sub-6GHz range. We’re not sure if the phone supports mmWave connectivity.
Huawei plans to make the Mate X available in the middle of 2019 at a super-premium price of 2299€. Availability of the phone will strongly depends on the 5G deployments of carriers.
This article is breaking news – we’ll be updating the article as Huawei CEO Richard Yu further details the hardware of the phone.
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jjj - Sunday, February 24, 2019 - linkThey have some extra specs listed now https://consumer.huawei.com/en/phones/mate-x/specs...
cfenton - Sunday, February 24, 2019 - linkHave they explained how apps are going to deal with these screens? Android tablet support has been terrible, and there will be far fewer of these foldable phones for the near future. I'm sure the Huawei bloatware will work fine, and maybe even stuff from major developers (eventually), but what about everything else?
s.yu - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkHMD's pentacam seems much more promising, 12 stops DR, RAW oriented features, competitive price.
Midwayman - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkSo many concerns. Screen on the outside- how is that not going to get beat to hell? You'll have to use flexible screen protectors and a sleeve seems like the only case that would work. Still super concerned about how that hinge area is going to hold up. At this point I'd rather live with a seam and rigid screens if I really wanted a folding phone I think.
Roy2002 - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkPerfect storm over the Samsung Fold.
imaheadcase - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkI see nothing practical about a folding phone. Its not improving a device so much as making it easier to break the screen in more ways. A person would just look silly using one for any task as well.
peevee - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkThrow out the 5G BS (or at least the most useless "mmWave" part), make it cheaper as a result, make sure it is fully T-mobile compatible (actually useful 700 and 600MHz bands) and I will buy.
nonosam - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkWow! Huawei has a unique design here. It is simply a state of the art design, with incredible 5G speeds. can't wait to see how it pits against the Galaxy Fold
Jboy1450 - Monday, February 25, 2019 - linkSomeone here said it already; this tech is the next step in the evolution of the smart phone. To say it is impractical is embarrassingly shortsighted. Sure, these first gen devices need some work, and are very expensive, but they're just the start.
They solve a simple, annoying, common problem; having to carry 2 devices. Who wouldn't want a single compact device that can serve two purposes? It's that simple. As for which is better, for now, I'm leaning towards the Samsung for better overall design. Looks is one thing, but usability and durability are others. Even folded, the Mate X is huge which could make it less comfortable as a phone. And seeing that crease in the middle of the screen during the demo created some doubt as to its long term durability.
Can't wait to see what the future holds!
An_Roid - Friday, March 15, 2019 - linkWhat is the screen going to look like after it has thousands of scratches on it? Unless they use a sapphire screen I won't touch it.