The Huawei Mate X is a direct competition to Samsung Galaxy Fold, announcing almost the same time in 2019. While Samsung rushed out for retail sale, the preview units had quality issues, and Samsung halted the entire launch to improve on the design. Likewise, Huawei limited its launch of the Mate X to China, re-designed the hinge, updated the hardware, and launched worldwide in 2020 as Mate Xs. In Singapore, it retails for S$3,788, much higher than the Galaxy Fold, so is it worth the price?
Why would Huawei Mate Xs Be Better Then Samsung Galaxy Fold
Personally, I would prefer the Samsung Galaxy Fold design, as it protects the fragile foldable screen and feels more solid. The Huawei Mate Xs got the screen folded outwards, so the screen becomes the exterior body, exposing to elements of wear and tear, and that would be a big issue to protect.
But the Huawei Mate Xs is better as a foldable phone because:
- Larger screen display when unfolded and folded
- Higher resolution
- Leica Quad Camera works as normal and as selfie
- Its rear-facing screen works as a secondary display
- Supports 5G network
- Ironically, because the hinge does not get exposed when folded, there are less chances of foreign objects entering it
It’s a Huawei Mate Series and More
The Mate Xs has all the premium flagship Huawei features, including the Leica Quad Camera System, Kirin 990 processor, 5G network, large 4500 mAh battery, 512GB storage, infrared sensor, as well as the powerful EMUI Desktop mode. The power button doubles as the fingerprint sensor, Xperia-style, and works so much faster than in-display sensors. AnTuTu benchmark results reaches 467,679 points.
The hinge feels unusually tight, much tighter than the Galaxy Fold, so it feels like a chore to unfold and use it. I’m not sure if I should exert more force to unfold faster, in case I break something. Fortunately, one need not constantly unfold it to enjoy the large display.
Square Display Form Factor
We know that Instagram popularised square images. The Mate Xs squarish display does offer a huge advantage when browsing images, as it fills horizontally and offers a larger view. Text, on the other hand, appears just a tad bigger, and shows fewer lines compared to a normal tablet.
Portrait-ratio videos are cut-off vertically, including Instagram Stories, but Tik-Tok supports by fitting to screen with black side borders. Some sites like Shopee could not refresh the content layout when switching between the 2 display modes properly, so the phone will prompt user to relaunch the app.
However, certain apps like Lazada support app multiplier which displays the app in two halves when the phone is unfolded. When you select a shopping item from the left half of the screen, it loads to the right half.
Master of Multi-Tasking
Indeed, the greatest strength of the Mate Xs is the multi-tasking capability. When unfolded, you can run two apps side by side, and you can even run a third app in a floating window. To copy text or images, just drag from one app to the other.
Some native apps will also automatically display in two parts – for instance, the settings page will list the settings on the left side while the right will show the setting options.
Want even more productivity? Plug to an external monitor and you get a full-fledged desktop experience while using the large Mate Xs touch surface as a trackpad. Or switch to phone mode where you can use both the phone and the desktop independently.
Leica Quad Camera System
The camera system is similar to the Mate 30, with the telephoto lens at 3x optical zoom, delivering up to 30x digital zoom. Unlike the P30 Pro and the P40 Pro which offers up to 50x digital zoom, the zoom quality is inferior to the P-series.
The unique image capture experience lies in the form factor: when unfold, the live preview window is huge but not excessive like the normal tablet, while handling is also less awkward than a tablet. When folded, the secondary screen acts as a live viewfinder which allows the photographer to frame the subject while the subject gets immediate visual feedback of the shot.
The Mate Xs would be perfect for Instagram husband/wife as the other half holds the Mate Xs while the influencer directs the camera operator to frame the shot to the best angle without disrupting the shooting momentum. Even if it’s a selfie, the shot is taken with the primary camera system, guaranteeing higher image quality than most smartphones available.
Verdict: A Production Concept for a Productive Future
The Huawei Mate Xs is not for everyone. The design offers the best visual experience but challenging to protect the fragile screen. The square display delivers immersive interaction but current content is not optimised for that. What it excels is the multi-window multi-app interaction where you can work with up to 3 apps on the large screen. And thanks to the square form factor, splitting screens means you effectively get the same layout as two full-screen smartphones side-by-side, which makes working on two apps a lot better than a single smartphone, and easier to handle than a normal tablet.
But since this foldable smartphone is already available in the market, why do I say it’s the “future”? That’s because I feel that the product is not ready to face the harsh world. And for a smartphone costing more than 3 times a premium smartphone, I would forgo the multi-tasking convenience over affordability and durability. But we know that sometimes companies need to launch products to market and get them on the hands of consumers so that they know what works and what doesn’t. Huawei is at the forefront of mobile design and technology, and will lead the future of innovation.