Just as Samsung did, Huawei unveiled its first folding phone in February at MWC in Barcelona. The Mate X differs from the Samsung Galaxy Fold mainly in that the screen is on the outside, rather than the inside when folded. But following the problems with the Galaxy Fold's screen Huawei has also opted to delay the launch until it is happy that there won't be any premature failures of the folding mechanism and screen.
When is the Huawei Mate X release date?
- Expected: September 2019
The Mate X was originally scheduled to be released in the 'middle of 2019 pending on network deployment status of operators'. But when Vincent Peng, an SVP at Huawei, spoke to the Wall Street Journal, he said the launch was being postponed in order to improve the quality of the screen. Initially, there was doubt that 5G networks would be rolled out in time, but in fact, they are already in operation in some countries including in the UK.
So far, only EE and Vodafone have confirmed that they will sell the Mate X in the UK but, predictably, there's no word on price or a specific release date.
Walter Ji, the president of Huawei's consumer efforts in western Europe, has at least told Tech Advisor that the company is "still testing" the Mate X, but that it's in the "final stage," and hinted - though wouldn't quite confirm - that the phone will still hit its planned 'summertime' launch window, which should mean it hits UK shelves by September.
The bottom line is that you'll have a wait a while if you really want to buy a first-gen folding phone.
How much does the Mate X cost?
Currently, only one model has been announced with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It costs €2299, which will $2600 and will likely work out around £1999 in the UK.
What are the Mate X's features and specs?
- Main screen: 8in, 2480x2200, (8:7.1 aspect ratio)
- Secondary screens (when folded): 6.6in, 2480x1148 (19.5:9); 6.4in, 2480x892 (25:9)
- Processor: Kirin 980
- Cameras: 4x Leica cameras
- Battery: 4500mAh split over two cells, supporting 55W SuperCharge
- Colour: Interstellar Blue
If you've seen the Galaxy Fold then the Mate X is almost the opposite in terms of design. It still has a folding screen of course - an 8in one - but it's on the outside, not the inside.
Huawei refers to the device more as a tablet than phone, and it has a Kindle Oasis-style hand grip to aid in holding it. There's no cutout in the screen for a camera - no notch of any kind. The fingerprint reader is built into the power button, so you can use it from either side.
When folded, you end up with two screens, one measuring 6.6in on one side of the fold and 6.38in on the other - it's narrower because the 'bar grip'. You can run different apps on these screens, and you can see them both at the same time of course when you open up the Mate X.
There are components in the folding mechanism, which Huawei has named the 'Falcon Wing' hinge.
When folded, the Mate X is just 11mm thick. That means each half is just 5.4mm thick - that's incredibly thin!
5G support comes from a Balong 5000 chip, which is Huawei's own design. It's a multi-mode chip which means it's backwards-compatible with 2G, 3G and 4G and doesn't require a separate chip to work on those older networks.
For the uninitiated, 5G is split into two broad frequency ranges, called sub-6GHz and millimetre wave. On Sub-6, the Balong 5000 is capable of 4.6Gb/s and on mmWave it can download at 6.5Gb/s. Even on Sub-6 you can download a 1GB file in three seconds. Theoretically, that is: you'll still have to wait until your mobile provider can offer this speed.
Just about the only thing that isn't new is the Kirin 980 processor, which was first seen in the Mate 20 Pro. It's hardly old, but rumours suggested Huawei may have an even faster processor ready for the Mate X.