2019 is the year of the foldable phone, and so far we've already seen devices from Royole and Samsung. Right on schedule is Huawei, which has just announced the Mate X - a 5G foldable smartphone that's very different to what we've seen so far. Not content with simply offering a phone with a foldable display, Huawei seems to have tried to develop something that will stand out from the crowd.
So what is it? Well like all the foldable phones we've seen, it's phone that folds out and creates a tablet. But unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold it doesn't have separate exterior and interior screens that are accessed by folding the thing like a book. Instead you have a single display that is essentially a double-screen phone when its been folded up. Unfolded you have an 8-inch tablet display with a 8:7:1 aspect ratio and a 2480 x 2200 resolution.
You might have deduced at this point that when you fold up the phone the two resulting screens aren't symmetrical. You end up with a 6.6-inch 'main' display that sticks to the usual 19:5:9 aspect ratio (2480 x 1148 resolution) we've seen from full screen phones. The rear phone is a slightly smaller 6.38-inch display with a 25:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2480 x 892. In other words it's a lot skinnier, and there's a reason for that.
The main thing about the Mate X is that Huawei has chosen to avoid any and all screen cutouts. No hole punch cameras and no notches. Instead it has a grip that takes up some of the space on the rear of the phone. As the name suggests the grip is designed for you to keep hold of the Mate X more easily when it's in tablet mode, as well as housing a bunch of the hardware. This is where the three camera lenses are, alongside a fingerprint-scanning power button and a USB-C port.
Functionality-wise Huawei promised that this design offers two-app multitasking while in tablet mode. The rear part of the folded display also lets a subject see themselves when the camera is open, whether they're taking selfies or someone else is snapping a shot of them.
Another key difference here is that Huawei has designed the Mate X to fold completely flat thanks to what it's calling the 'Falcon Hinge' made up of over 100 components. Meanwhile Samsung and Royole have left a gap between the two screens when their devices are folded up. While many people will be perfectly fine with the gap, Huawei has the edge from an engineering standpoint. To top it off for all the "too thick" naysayers out there, Huawei has promised that the phone won't be. It's 11mm thick when all folded up, and 5.4mm thick when you have it in tablet mode. That's pretty good going, and thinner than your average rugged smartphone.
Also in here is Huawei's Balong 5000 modem, the Kirin 980 chipset, and a Quad 5G antennae that offers a maximum download speed of 4.6Gbps. Apparently Huawei has used its position as the supplier of 5G networking hardware to make sure its new phones have a greater degree of futureproofing from this perspective. Of course the speeds you'd get are wholly dependant on your network.
There's also a 4,500 mAh battery inside, which can be powered up to 85 per cent in 30 minutes thanks to the 55W supercharging. For reference last year's Mate 20 Pro only offered 40W supercharging. There's also a protective case on the way, uniquely designed for Mate X's weird shape, though it won't be bundled with the phone itself. There's also no headphone jack from the looks of things, though that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone given the analogue port was missing on past few Huawei flagships.
The phone is set to arrive in certain markets around June time, with 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, for the price of €2,299. That's £1,998 directly converted, though UK pricing hasn't been revealed, and it's €299 more than Samsung's Galaxy Fold.
EE, Vodafone, and Three have also confirmed it will be stocking the phone in the UK, but didn't specify when it would be available.
In a separate briefing Huawei didn't divulge much in the way of hardware specifics, but an executive did say that the Mate X will offer a similar battery life and camera performance to the Mate 20 series. The phone also has a latch to keep the screen folded, with a button housed in the grip to release it and unfold the phone into its tablet mode. It wouldn't divulge anything on the composition of the screen, however, other than the obvious fact that it doesn't have a glass coating.