The age of foldable phones is upon us, whether you like it or not. Just a few days after Motorola unveiled its revived foldable Razr, Huawei has finally launched its first foldable phone, the Mate X. However, it’s only on sale in China without Google apps. Any plans to launch the phone internationally would no doubt be hampered by the ongoing US export ban, which prevents Huawei from using Google apps.
Huawei unveiled the Mate X at Mobile World Congress in February, just weeks after Samsung first showed off the Galaxy Fold. The two devices have similar use cases, but Huawei’s design uses a single outward folding screen. The Galaxy Fold has a large inward folding screen and a small external screen. The Mate X is a more attractive and elegant piece of hardware, but we have no idea if it’s durable.
Samsung famously delayed its Galaxy Fold launch earlier this year following a spate of review unit failures. That’s around the same time Huawei paused its own foldable launch plans. Samsung spent months redesigning its device, and the final product still seems rather fragile. The Mate X has a 6.6-inch display on the front and a 6.38-inch display on the back. When open, they become a single 8-inch OLED. However, the screen is still plastic and is exposed to damage when folded, unlike the Galaxy Fold.
Huawei uses no US technology in the Mate X. It runs on a Kirin ARM chip designed by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon, which is common for Huawei phones. The Mate X adds a brand new Balong 5000 5G modem, making it the first 5G foldable phone. The other specs include 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a 4,500mAh battery with 55W charging.
Huawei is still on the US Commerce Department’s “Entity List,” which prevents it from licensing technology from US firms. Despite claims that the government would issue exemptions to some companies, Huawei is still cut off from the US. That means no Google apps on the Mate X, but it wouldn’t have those in China anyway, and that’s the only place you can buy the device so far. Huawei wants a whopping 16,999 yuan for the Mate X, which works out to around $2,400; some sites are reporting it has already sold out.
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