Huawei unveils new Mate Xs foldable phone
24 February 2020, 14:44
The new phone is set to go on sale in the UK despite Huawei losing official access to Google apps.
Huawei has unveiled a new version of its foldable smartphone, which is set to be released outside mainland China for the first time.
The Mate Xs is the Chinese tech firm’s second folding phone.
The device follows last year’s Mate X in having a screen which wraps around the outside of the device, that can be opened out to become an eight-inch tablet-sized display.
Despite first revealing a foldable phone a year ago, Huawei did not release the original Mate X in the UK after the company’s trade ban in the US meant it was no longer able to access Google apps, including YouTube and Google Maps.
The company has since begun building up its own app store – Huawei AppGallery – to replace Google’s Play Store app marketplace.
Google has urged users not to install its apps on to new Huawei phones through unofficial means, warning that the process was “high risk” as it could not guarantee apps installed in this way had not been “altered or tampered with in ways that can compromise user security”.
Speaking at Huawei’s announcement, chief executive Richard Yu said the company “remain committed to the Google ecosystem” and to working with it and other US companies in the future.
He said the Chinese firm “brings value” to US companies with its technology, and in a swipe at the trade ban placed on it by the United States, said he believed “technology should be open and available to everyone”.
On the new foldable, Huawei said the Mate Xs had a 6.6-inch front screen and a 6.38-inch display on the rear of the device, which unfolded to become an eight inch screen when unfolded – similar to the original Mate X.
Mr Yu said the Mate Xs had also been “mechanically improved”, with improvements made to the falcon wing hinge used to fold the phone.
The device also includes a quad-camera system, 5G support and a large 4,500mAh battery.
Mr Yu confirmed the Mate Xs would cost £2,299 and would go on sale “next month” globally.
Huawei’s announcement follows smartphone rival Samsung’s launch of a new foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, earlier this month.
In contrast to Huawei, that device is designed to be a similar size to modern-day smartphones – it opens vertically like the flip phones popular in the early 2000s and has a 6.7-inch display and costs £1,300.
The new Huawei foldable was unveiled alongside a number of other new devices, including the MatePad Pro 5G tablet and several new MateBook laptops.
Industry expert Ben Wood, from analyst firm CCS Insight, said that despite improvements to the folding phone’s design, he still had concerns about the flexible screen on the Mate Xs.
“The Mate Xs appears to be a heavily re-engineered update to the original device, addressing the fragility of the folding screen in particular,” he said.
“Based on a quick hands-on test, the hinge mechanism seems to have been significantly improved, however, I still have major reservations about the long-term durability of this design approach, with the flexible display permanently exposed.”
He said the high price meant the device would be “ultra-niche” rather than for mainstream phone users.