Huawei Mate X Unfolds the Future of Smartphones Today

Posted on February 24, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 41 Comments

Huawei today announced its own smartphone with a folding display, the Mate X. Unlike Samsung’s entry, it looks polished and ready.

“The Huawei Mate X’s revolutionary form factor is achieved by Huawei’s relentless effort in R&D,” Huawei CEO Richard Yu said in a prepared statement. “It represents a voyage into the uncharted. As a new breed of smartphones, the Mate X combines 5G, foldable screen, AI, and an all-new mode of interfacing to provide consumers with an unprecedented user experience. The Huawei Mate X will be the first key for consumers to open the door to 5G smart living.”

The announcement is a blow to Samsung, which announced its Galaxy Fold last week ahead of MWC, formerly called Mobile World Congress. The Fold looks impressive when unfolded, but the external screen is relatively tiny and has massive bezels. I predicted this would be the case, and that Huawei and other China-based tech giants will continue to out-perform Samsung going forward.

The Mate X, by comparison, seems like a complete product that is read for the market today. Its display measures 6.6-inches when the device is folded and it expands into a tablet-like 8-inch form factor when opened. Unlike the Fold, the Mate X has a single screen on the outside of the device, not a small exterior display and a separate, larger internal display. This design also allows Huawei to use the same LEICA camera system for both the front and rear of the device.

The Mate X is also outfitted with 5 Gbps 5G connectivity and is powered by a massive 4500 mAh battery with fast charging capabilities.

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Comments (41)

41 responses to “Huawei Mate X Unfolds the Future of Smartphones Today”

  1. mmcpher

    How does it feel, to be be proved right, as so quickly? I balked at the earlier article predicting this but I like this form factor so much more.

  2. RobertJasiek

    So here are the breakable devices. How long until they crack?

  3. captobie

    The headline for this story reads like a Huawei press release.

  4. hassan_timite

    Sure the Mate X looks prettier than the Fold but it seems obvious to me that Samsung has a better, more reliable and productive offering. Not forgetting that the Fold is significantly cheaper and seems to have a more advanced software. And last but not the least the Mate X seems closer to a prototype than to a ready for production device.From what i have seen up to now, i would choose the Fold over the Mate X without hesitation !

  5. j_c

    No interest in either but the phone state on Samsung’s looks terrible so I give it to Huawei.

    If it takes more than a few years to get these close to a $1,000 price point I don’t see this category going anywhere. Even then. Feels like 3D TV. A gimmick to try to bolster sales.

    Plus tablet apps on Android (general statement with exceptions, I know) aren’t very good.

  6. red.radar

    So... I buy this because I am that upset about having to carry a tablet and phone.

  7. provision l-3

    I was looking at the hands on pictures at Cnet and it looks a bit more clunky/clumsy than the pictures here and the U.I. running on the front and back when it is folded seems a bit wonky to me. Overall I feel like this and the Fold feel way more prototype-y than well polished products. This one is also $2600 dollars which is just a mere 700 dollars more than the fold. So much for Paul's theory that Huawei will wipe the floor with Samsung on the price front.

  8. Rycott

    So I have a screen sitting on things no matter what way I sit it unless it is unfolded. Pass.

  9. harrymyhre

    8 inches is better for tablet mode.

  10. BrianEricFord

    This is clearly a more thoughtful design than the Fold — would be hard for something NOT to be, frankly — but I have the same expectation when it comes to durability that I had for the Fold: It’ll be terrible.

  11. littlejohnjt

    Paul you called this one on last weeks WTT

  12. jrickel96

    The price is still way out there, but that will improve over time. Much better design than Samsung's. Seems like Samsung knew they were behind and rushed something out so they could claim to be first.

    Huawei is killing Samsung in design across the board. The S10 is not appealing whereas the Mate 20X and Mate 20 Pro are top end Android. They still have other issues (as Huawei does across the board, but not for tech).

  13. nbates66

    having the entire screen on the outside it'd better hope it's not covered with plastic (scratch away!!!)

  14. Tony Barrett

    I have no doubt that the Fold is the better designed device - more robust, with the main screen on the inside of the device rather than the outside, which will offer much better protection. The Fold may not be as pretty, but I think that's a small price to pay to be an early adopter of the next wave of mobile devices.

  15. locust infested orchard inc

    This product, as witnessed by the comments here and elsewhere, is surely the Huawei Marmite X – you'll either love it, or hate it (only the Brits will understand the nature of the Mate to Marmite word substitution; for everyone else, refer to ).

  16. Rob_Wade

    That thing is as ugly and badly designed as Samsung's device. This is just a stupid idea with different but equally horrible approaches.

  17. jimchamplin

    Nice! I kinda like the thick bit on the side, it seems like it would be a better place to hold than the thin edges.

    On the other hand, it’s only LTE unless you live near to one of the nine 5G towers in the entire universe. ?

    That’ll be better in the next couple of years, but I still think a lot of these makers are jumping the gun on 5G.

    • wright_is

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Agreed. I have an "up to" 500mbps LTE contract, at work I get around 300bps to 1kbps, so I'd like to see them sort out the LTE first - I could have paid more for a 750mbps contract, but given the low speeds, I'm glad I decided that paying for extra speed wasn't worth it.

  18. VancouverNinja


    From the photos the device looks unbalanced. The screen at the hinge area seems to be unprotected. The Samsung Fold looks to be a much higher quality build compared to the Mate X.

    Both these companies have blown the initial opportunity to get a true head start with these devices. Odd strategic decision by both of them.

  19. derekaw

    This design looks better and makes more sense that the Samsung Fold.

  20. Daekar

    Meh, it's different but I don't know that it's better. I feel like the large screen is incredibly vulnerable in this design, and I would have discarded it on the drawing board for this reason alone.

    The Samsung has a large chin and forehead, but my wife said "Oh, good, so you can reach the whole screen easily, that's nice," when she saw that.

    Don't assume too much at this stage...

  21. Shel Dyck

    and someone is testing microsoft launcher and other ms apps to see how it/they handle

    the layout? in both portrait and landscape?

  22. mattemt294

    The folded area shows when extended you can see a line there. It actually looks like the display on the Royale device. At first I was blown away but compared to the new footage of the galaxy fold today the Samsung device looks much more reliable and polished.

    • mattbg

      In reply to mattemt294:

      Agree - normally device screens have something like Gorilla Glass to be very scratch resistant, but I assume that's not used in the foldables because GG isn't flexible to support the fold. It's likely plastic of some kind. Having the screen on the outside is likely cheaper and may have some usability advantages but I'd be interested to see how long the screen lasts.

      At least on the Samsung it would be protected. If this isn't durable you're going to end up with a screen where the face-down part wears faster than the face-up part and your screen will be two-toned.

  23. codymesh

    It honestly does looks like Huawei has out-engineered Samsung, not only did they make better design decisions, but the device itself is somehow thinner.

    • hassan_timite

      In reply to codymesh:

      Well, we shall see the final design/capabilities of this product before claiming that Huawei has out-engineered Samsung especially as i find some of their design choices questionable to say the least.

      Moreover Huawei needs to justify a 30 % higher price, doesn't it ?

  24. dontbe evil

    waiting for apple to invent it ... oh wait :D

    • red.radar

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      Well in truth they could. So far these are just prototypes. It’s not even clear what problem they try to solve or what value they bring to the consumer other than nift. It will take apple to embrace the concept so others can figure out how to sell it.

      not really seeing too many things that android vendors brought to the table other than they went big screen phone first and that was because android in tablets was a dumpster fire.

    • locust infested orchard inc

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      iSheeple need not fret, for the iFold (with the highly anticipated trademark notch) is expected sometime in 2020, if the reports from March 2018 by the senior analyst at Merrill Lynch Bank of America is to be trusted.

      I am of the opinion the iFold will be a raving success at a price point I previously suggested at $2300, but now revised between $3200 and $3500 in light of the Huawei Marmite X.

      The iFold will presumably have the awesomely fast A13X / A14X SoC (the successor to the current A12X, and probably in development), and will have native Adobe Photoshop available too.

      By 2023-2025, I expect the entire Adobe CC suite to be available for iØS, paving the way for other software developers of professional software to natively code for the iFold.

      For this very reason, amongst others, Microsoft needs to get their Andromeda and Centaurus out within the next 15 months, else Satya Nadella's "new form factor" will have been outgunned by both iØS and Blandroid products.

  25. Alexander Rothacker

    From a pure usability I like the Huawei approach better, but there are still many questions:

    • How does the screen wear? Scratches?
    • Samsung did some really cool things with Android modifications to handle multiple apps. What are Huawei's usability improvements?
    • How does it work in real life? Nobody independent has had a proper opportunity to use/test these devices yet
    • What are the release dates? Samsung gave a data in April, Huawei does not have a date yet, and presumably everything shown at MWC is hand build pre-production. Based on that fact, Huawei has NOT beat Samsung to the punch yet

    Overall, I think this an emerging category, all these devices are expensive gen one devices for early adopters. This battle gets decided in the next 2-3 generations and when prices come down to a level that a broader audience can afford.

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