In 2019, Foldable phones are full on real, but they are still prototypes of sorts. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X are two hot foldable phones that have already materialized, and the good news is that both of these cutting-edge pieces of technology will make it to India later this year.

The two phones follow an entirely different approach, each with its own set of pros and cons. And while we are yet to examine Galaxy Fold in person, Huawei today showcased its foldable phone in India in a closed, restricted environment and confirmed that it will be available later on for early adopters (read: exorbitant price). Yes, we tired out the upcoming foldable phone and here are our Mate X first impressions.

Huawei Mate X Price and Specifications

Model Huawei Mate X
Display Folded display: 6.6″, AMOLED, 1148 x 2480 pixels (19.5:9)

Full: 8-inch, AMOLED, 2200 x 2480 pixels

Processor 2.6GHz 7nm Kirin 980 octa-core chipset
RAM 8GB
Internal Storage 512GB, Expandable
Software Android Pie based EMUI
Primary Camera
  • 40 MP, f/1.8, 27mm (wide), 1/1.7″, PDAF
  • 16 MP, f/2.2, 17mm (ultrawide)
  • 8 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto)
Front Camera NA
Fingerprint sensor Yes
Battery 4500mAh (no fast charging support)
Indian Price To be announced

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy S10+ Review – More Than An Iterative Upgrade

Huawei Mate X Quick Review: Design and Build

Huawei uses just one notch-free 8-inch AMOLED screen for the Mate X. You can fold this display backward and clasp it to get a dual-display phone of sorts. The hinge folds inwards and the folded display edge goes black resulting in an illusory, yet very convincing, side frame.

The good thing about the Mate X design is that it’s perfectly usable as a manageable 6.6-inch big display phone in its regular folded state. Unlike the Galaxy Fold, where primary display unfolds outwards leaving a small secondary 4.6-inch screen for primary interactions. Which is to say that you won’t feel the urge to unfurl the screen for every basic task. The fact that the bezels are extremely narrow without any selfie camera breaking the continuity helps too.

We are not saying Samsung’s approach is without merit. If our Vivo Nex Dual display experience is anything to go by, it can be really messy to live with a phone that has displays on both front and back. Just that Mate X feels more alluring and pragmatic.

All the camera components are placed within a verticle bar on the back. This is where Huawei houses several key components, including the button you can press to unfurl the full-size screen and the USB Type-C port that supports 55W supercharge. The bar also gives you a place to conveniently grab Mate X in its unfolded state (similar to the Kindle Oasis design).

For selfies, you need to use the same cameras and the portion of the screen folded to the back – pretty much same as it is on the Vivo Nex Dual Display edition.

Huawei places two separate batteries under each half of the display that totals up to 4500mAh. The Mate X is still remarkably slim but has a decent heft to it. It naturally feels heavier in the folded state.

Huawei Mate X Quick Review: Display and Hinge

The display obviously takes center stage here. Since we still don’t have glass digitizers to go with flexible OLED panels, we were curious to check how the display feels to touch. The good news is that it didn’t feel plasticky or cheap at all.

Huawei allowed us to hold the device in hand and to touch it but prohibited us from folding the phone ourselves. So, we have no clue what it feels like to fold the Mate X. We did notice a slight crease on the edge that’s folded about but only when viewed from an angle.

The 2K resolution display feels extremely gorgeous when unfolded, and it should be a delightful experience to read to browse on the screen. As of now, we are not quite sure how well apps and videos will scale to the form factor.

Huawei Mate X Quick Review Performance and Software

The Mate X is powered by latest Kirin 980 chipset that’s paired with company’s own Balong 5000 5G modem, which Huawei claims is the fastest 5G chip as of today. The modem will rival Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 which is currently under development. Since there is still time before 5G goes mainstream, this shouldn’t matter as much.

Going by the experience we had with Mate 20 Pro, we are quite confident that performance shouldn’t be an issue. We are also quite optimistic about battery mileage.

Huawei clarified that the software on the unit was still under development. It’s basically EMUI 9 with some added features to make use of the foldable display, including vertical split screen function for convenient multitasking with two apps. Huawei says more cool apps that make use of the foldable screen are underway.

We didn’t hear anything about Galaxy Fold Like continuity feature where Apps running on the folded screen seamlessly transition to the full size as you unfold. The continuity still works in certain apps including YouTube.

Huawei Mate X Camera Expectations

The Mate X has the same triple camera system that you’d get on the best of Huawei flagships, which is only fair considering the price and positioning of the phone. Of course, we didn’t get to test the camera on the Mate X in the brief period we held it and aren’t well equipped to comment on camera quality just yet.

Huawei Mate X Hands-on Review and First Impressions

The Huawei Mate X is indeed a cool phone and I am sure many people will find it more appealing than the Galaxy Fold. Then again, these are first-generation devices and it will be a while before manufacturers straighten out all folds.

Our time with the Mate X was enough to convince us that foldable tech is meaningful and we’d surely love it to go mainstream and be available at more accessible prices somewhere down the line. But it left as many questions unanswered, including the durability of the foldable display, and it will be a while before we get all answers.

The Huawei Mate X is not meant to retail a million units, but it’s more of an innovation that will help Huawei be seen right up there with the best smartphone manufacturers. To that effect, it surely succeeds.

Expect the Mate X to be available for purchase in India somewhere around Diwali.

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