Huawei won’t let a minor inconvenience like US sanctions stop it from designing new phones. Today, the company announced the next device in its flagship line of foldable smartphones: the Huawei Mate X2. While the 2019 Mate X (X1?) Was an innovative but impractical form factor with a single wraparound screen on the outside of the phone, the Mate X2 follows Samsung’s lead and goes with a book-style folding with a rigid screen on the phone. on the outside and a foldable tablet screen on the inside. It looks like a Galaxy X Fold 2 but with some interesting design evolutions.
Huawei spent a long time saying that the Mate X2 was better than the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2, pointing to larger indoor and outdoor displays, as well as a smaller hinge area with thinner bezels on the front. One thing Huawei didn’t compare to is the price, which starts at a whopping $ 2,784, while the Galaxy Fold 2 costs $ 2,000.
The outer display is a 6.45-inch, 2700 × 1160, 90Hz OLED, while the inner display is an 8-inch, 2480 × 2200, 90Hz OLED. Both are larger than the Fold 2, which has a 6.2-inch exterior screen and a 7.6-inch interior screen. Huawei’s work to slim down the bezels looks impressive, and it really does look like the company got the aspect ratios right. Huawei managed to fit a swamp standard 21: 9 display on the front; looks like a normal smartphone from some angles. The inner screen is almost two 21: 9 screens together, with what Huawei called an “8: 7.1 aspect ratio.” It’s hard to say what the inner aspect ratio “should” be, as Android tablet apps are almost non-existent, but at least this will be good for using split screen apps.
The Mate X2’s folding action looks like a cross between Samsung’s Fold 2 and Moto Razr. From the Fold, we have internal gears behind the screen for hinge action. From the Razr, we have a hinge that results in a teardrop-shaped screen fold when closed, rather than a hard fold. Like the Razr, there are two folding support plates to the left and right of the hinge. They move out of the way when the device is closed, allowing the phone to close without crushing the screen. Huawei says it closes without gaps.
A big downside to it being a Huawei device and not a Samsung device is that it won’t have Samsung’s ultra-thin glass screen cover. Samsung is currently the only company to ship a folding screen cover that is even slightly stiff to the touch, while everyone else uses a wrinkled, wavy plastic screen cover that moves every time you touch it.
During the presentation with a live unit, a reflection of light briefly rolled across the screen, highlighting how uneven the screen surface is. As on the Moto Razr, there is no support over the hinge area, so the flexible screen sinks over the top of the hinge and forms a sizable trench that runs down the middle of the screen. The light also emphasized all kinds of uneven ripples and distortions along what should be the “flat” sides of the screen.
An interesting design choice from Huawei was to make the body of the Mate X2 wedge-shaped. When open, the right side of the phone is 8.2mm, which tapers to the left side measurement of 4.4mm. Huawei says that the right side of the phone is thicker, so it can house all the cameras in a normal phone body, which is about 8mm thick. The left side of the phone does not need as many components, so it can be shortened as much as possible.
I’m not one to push for ever-thinner smartphones with thinner batteries and the elimination of headphone jacks, but for foldable ones, thickness is a major concern if you really want to carry one in your pocket. Many of these early devices are as thick as two smartphones stacked on top of each other, and that just doesn’t fit in a pocket. Huawei’s tapered design and flat folding hinge really looks like a winner here. The company is delivering a device with the same battery size as the Galaxy Z Fold 2, 4500 mAh, but it has reduced almost 2mm from the 16.8mm thickness, making it a 14.7mm thick device when folded. .
Before we go, we must address the elephant in the room and ask if it is possible for Huawei to build this phone in significant numbers. Huawei is still in the midst of a suffocating US export ban, which has prevented it from sourcing parts from international suppliers and caused its market share to plummet. Huawei’s Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu kicked off the Mate X2 presentation with challenging words for the US government. “2020 was an extraordinary and challenging year for Huawei,” Yu said. “We are simultaneously attacked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the second and third rounds of US sanctions, which have posed great difficulties for our business operation and daily work. However, thanks to the strong support of our partners, suppliers and, in particular, consumers around the world, we survived 2020! “
Surviving 2020 is one thing, but Huawei’s market share is still trending rapidly downward, and things only look bleaker in the future. There are already reports that Huawei’s smartphone production will be cut in half in 2021. This is just one of what are likely to be many supply issues – the Mate X2 has a Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 9000 SoC, built on the process of 5nm from TSMC, but TSMC stopped shipments to Huawei. in September 2020. According to supply chain reports, Huawei ordered the production of 15 million chips, but TSMC was only able to deliver just over half, 8.8 million chips, before the deadline. This supply should extend through the Mate X2, the Mate 40 Pro flagship slab smartphone, and probably one more release this year, the P50 Pro.
Note that the Mate X2 will not have any Google apps either. Speaking of Huawei’s software issues, the company ended the program with the announcement that “Huawei flagship phone users” will be able to upgrade their phones to Huawei’s internal operating system, HarmonyOS starting in April, and the Mate X2 will be one of the first to do so. So according to Huawei, the phone will ship with Android and it will be updated to HarmonyOS. For those who missed our previous report, Huawei claims that HarmonyOS is its internal operating system, but after looking at it, there is no discernible difference between HarmonyOS and Android. It should be an easy “upgrade” at least.
With all the supply issues and the meager launch of the Mate X in 2019, it’s hard to treat this as a real phone, but Huawei claims it will be on sale, in China only, on February 25.
Huawei listing image