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Huawei Mate X2 foldable phone has some durability surprises

Although it has the lion’s share of the attention, Samsung is hardly the only one making foldable phones. There’s, for example, Royole’s FlexPai and, despite troubles with supplies, Huawei’s Mate X. The latter just had its true second-gen model, one that goes in the opposite direction from the first Huawei Mate X’s “outie” fold. The design, however, isn’t the only thing that has changed with the Mate X2 and, fortunately, the changes that come with the redesign also made it a lot more durable in the process.

To be fair, the first Huawei Mate X didn’t exactly have the same disastrous problems as the first Galaxy Fold exactly because of its outie fold. The screen was, of course, still more fragile than your regular phone screen and that design also carried its own problems. Dropping the Huawei Mate X, whether opened or even closed, was equally catastrophic.

With the Huawei Mate X2, the company switched to an innie fold just like the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 2. While more expensive, the new foldable did more than just upgrade the specs but also added some measure of redundancy and reliability. After all, you still have a screen on the outside even in the worst-case scenario that the main foldable screen breaks.

That flexible screen does get scratched with sharp nails but sand and rocks surprisingly do no damage. The Mate X2’s hinge design notably didn’t let sand get out once folded, and JerryRigEverything speculates that it wouldn’t let dust in either. Most importantly, the phone doesn’t even flex when forcibly bent the other way, an effect of the hinge and the two halves locking against each other.

The Huawei Mate X2 turns out to be quite a durable phone despite being a usually fragile foldable one. There’s still a lot of room for improvement on the screen, but every year seems to push technology and materials towards that direction. It will be interesting to see if the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which may be announced in July, has more to offer in this regard and whether it will be more accessible than a $3,000 foldable phone without Google Play Store that you can’t easily buy outside of China.

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The Huawei Mate 30 phones have arrived and they have everything—except what you need most

Huawei has taken the wraps off the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro and it has everything you could possibly want in a late-2019 handset: all-screen industrial design, giant displays, huge batteries, and 5G. They’re just missing one small thing: Google.

While the new phones are based on the open-source version of Android 10, Huawei is unable to include Google’s apps on any of its new devices since it was blacklisted from doing business with U.S. companies earlier this year. So that means your brand new Mate 30 won’t have Gmail, Chrome, Maps, or the Play Store. That obviously puts a serious damper on what is otherwise a pretty incredible phone. Let’s look at the details…

Huawei Mate 30 specs

  • Display: 6.62-inch, Full HD OLED
  • Processor: Kirin 990
  • RAM: 6GB/8GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Front camera: 24MP
  • Rear camera: 40MP, f/1.8 wide + 16MP, f/2.2 ultra wide + 8MP, f/2.4 telephoto
  • Battery: 4,200mAh
  • Colors: Black, blue, green, gold

Huawei Mate 30 Pro specs

  • Display: 6.53-inch, Full HD, OLED’
  • Processor: Kirin 990
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Front camera: 32MP + time-of-flight
  • Rear Camera: 40MP, f/1.6 wide + 40MP, f/1.8 ultra wide + 8MP, f/2.4 telephoto + time-of-flight
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Colors: Black, silver, purple, green, vegan leather orange and green

While the Mate 30 features slim bezels all around and a small notch for the front camera, the Mate 30 Pro is nearly all screen. Like Samsung’s Galaxy phones, the sides of the screen are curved, but they’re far more aggressive than on the Note 10—88 degrees to be exact. That’s nearly a straight down for those who don’t remember their algebra. Add to that the slimmest of bezels and a thin notch and you’ve got a phone with an insane screen-to-body ratio.

mate 30 display Huawei

The Mate 30 Pro has a “waterfall” edge with a nearly-straight 88-degree angle.

It’s not just the bezels that Huawei has jettisoned. The Mate 30 also dispenses of buttons in favor of “intuitive side-touch interaction” that brings customizable virtual keys to either side of the phone. The phones also include “AI gesture control” so you can use the screen without touching it.

Like the iPhone 11, Huawei has put particular emphasis on the camera in the Mate 30, redesigning the rear array in a giant circular camera bump that takes up a good deal of the back of the phone. It also introduces the dual SuperSensing Cine Camera, which “features a large 1/1.54-inch sensor size with a high maximum Video ISO of 51200 to capture videos with an extended dynamic range at 4K/60fps as well as ultra slow-motion at the highest 7,680 fps.” That’s not a typo. You can record 720p video at 7,680fps on the Mate 30 Pro.

Huawei is also selling a 5G variant of the phone featuring “the world’s first 2nd generation 5G smartphone” with a modem that’s integrated into the main processor. Qualcomm has announced that its next 5G modem will be integrated into the Snapdragon system-on-chip, but it won’t start shipping until 2020. Huawei says the the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G features 14 antennas dedicated to 5G networks.

No Google, big problems

But what you won’t find on Huawei’s handsets will overshadow the things that are there. The Mate 30 runs a new version of EMUI based on Android 10, but it doesn’t have any of Google’s apps on board, and you won’t even find Google Assistant and the Play Store. Huawei teased a “workaround” in an interview, but it hasn’t specifically addressed what users outside of China—which is already barred from using Google apps—are to do.

mate 30 camera Huawei

The Mate 30’s new camera array is striking.

Until that workaround arrives, Mate 30 users are stuck with Huawei’s stock apps and the AppGallery, which the company promotes as “safe, selected, and fun.” However, while Huawei’s store includes some 45,000 apps, many of those are from Chinese companies and are of little use to users outside that county. Case in point: In the latest Play Store listing for AppGallery (updated in March), Huawei said the AppGallery has “hundreds of apps,” including many popular U.S.-based ones such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Of course, this pales in comparison to the breadth of the Play Store at large, and AppGallery apps will also be slower to receive new features and updates, since developers will target the Play Store first.

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Huawei Mate X2 vs Galaxy Z Fold2: Head-to-head comparison

You’d have come to realize by now that foldable smartphones come for a premium. They are a luxury not meant for everyone. That said, the market of foldable phones is fiercely poised with Huawei introducing its third-generation handset in the Mate X2 that delivers a different, sleeker form factor than its predecessor. This new device unfolds an expensive rivalry by knocking at the door of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 which, after a head start of five odd months, finally has a competitor.

Galaxy Z Fold2 is not ancient just yet. It is fresh and has the mettle to take on what Mate X2 has to throw at it. Arguably, Samsung’s defining handset – that ironed out every glitch of its younger brother – was one of the finest smartphones of the pandemic year, and it wouldn’t be easy for Huawei to attain that spot. With the new launch, Huawei – if the manufacturer is able to retail Mate X2 outside of the home country – has a slight advantage with its new form factor and flagship processor powering its guts.

Samsung has been the vanguard of foldable phones, and to safeguard that image, it already has plans of introducing new devices in the Fold and Flip series this year. This will again leave Huawei playing catch up. So before the Koreans take lead, how is the Mate X2 pitted against the Galaxy Z Fold2, let’s have a quick look.

Fold and display

Huawei has succumbed to the more appreciated inward folding design. After the outer display design in the previous iterations, the Chinese OEM has now introduced the Mate X2 with a book-like, inward folding mechanism that protects the screen effectively. Though the design is influenced by the Galaxy Z Fold2 you’d say, it is bigger and sleeker in comparison.

The hinge mechanism of both the phones has been meticulously worked, but initial reports suggest that Huawei has minimized the gap between the screens – better than Samsung – with its multi-dimensional hinge. The gap has been reduced in the Galaxy Z Fold2, from its predecessor, but somehow it is noticeable, which the Chinese manufacturer seems to have done better.

On the display front, Huawei Mate X2 features an inward-folding 8-inch OLED panel with 2480 x 2200 pixel resolution and 90Hz screen refresh rate, which is larger than the 7.6-inch flexible AMOLED display – with 2208 x 1768 pixels resolution and 120Hz refresh rate – of the Galaxy Z Fold2. Mate X2 gets a cover display, again similar to its competitor. This is a 6.45-inch OLED screen touting 2700 x 1160 resolution. When folded, the Samsung handset has a 6.2-inch 2260 x 816 pixels cover display.

Despite its larger screen size, Mate X2 is slimmer – weighing only 295 grams; the phone measures 4.4mm at its thinnest point, and 13.6mm when it’s folded. The Samsung device, on the other hand, is a tad lighter at 282 grams but it measures 6.9mm when unfolded, and 16.8 mm when closed.

Processing and power

Huawei Mate X2 is powered by in-house Kirin 9000 SoC. Based on the 5nm manufacturing process, the octa-core chipset is clocked at 3.13GHz and is comparable to the power and performance of Qualcomm and Samsung’s flagship processors – Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 – respectively.

The Mate X2 is a clear winner with its flagship processor; the Galaxy Z Fold2 is only powered by the comparatively older Snapdragon 865 Plus, which nonetheless offers smooth performance despite very occasional software glitches while multitasking.

The Kirin 9000 in Mate X2 is paired to 8 gigs of RAM and 256 or 512 gigabytes of internal storage. Galaxy Z Fold2 on the other hand has mammoth 12GB of RAM which is accompanied by internal storage options akin to Huawei’s smartphone.

You’d expect a robust battery pack to power these interesting devices. Both are powered by the same – 4,500mAh capacity battery – they differ in their quick charging capabilities. The Galaxy Z Fold2 supports 25W fast and 11W wireless charging, the Mate X2 employs SuperCharge adapter to boost its battery with 55W fast charging.

Camera

Samsung has proven its worth in the mobile camera department, Huawei has not been far behind either. The latter has versatile camera setups and the aspect is carried down to the Mate X2 as well. Continuing its Leica partnership, the Chinese smartphone maker has equipped its foldable smartphone with Ultra Vision Leica quad-camera module comprising 50MP primary shooter with OIS and an f/1.9 lens.

Other three cameras in the setup on the back include 16MP ultra-wide camera, 12MP telephoto sensor with 3x optical zoom and OIS, and an 8MP lens capable of 10x optical zoom. Galaxy Z Fold2’s cameras are not as enticing. It has only a triple camera setup on the back that includes 12MP primary camera with an f/1.8 lens, 12MP ultra-wide, and another 12MP telephoto sensor with 2x optical zoom.

The phones differ significantly in their selfie cameras. The inner folding display of Mate X2 lacks a selfie camera, which you can find in its rival in form of a 10MP selfie camera. Both have a front camera on the outside – Mate X2 features 16MP sensor, while the Z Fold2 has a 10MP camera.

Software and global approach

Huawei has the upper hand in the design, camera, and power, but in addition to the hardware, the software will help you make the final decision. Mate X2 here is a slight disappointment out of the box. It runs the EMUI 11 based on Android 10, while the Galaxy Z Fold2 is upgraded to run Android 11-based One UI 3.0.

The bigger factor still is that Huawei’s foldable smartphone cannot use the Google app ecosystem – no Play Store, YouTube etc. It has to rely on Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) for the apps and other features. Galaxy Z Fold2 offers a complete Google ecosystem experience, which would play in its favor, especially in markets outside of China. Mate X2 will allow sideloading of prominent apps but it’s not going to be a full-proof solution to lure in many.

Adding to Huawei Mate X2’s limited future in international markets is the uncertainty of whether it will actually release globally. For now, the smartphone is available in China and there is no information on international reveal. The only hopeful fact is that Huawei sold its Mate Xs (second-gen foldable) in select overseas markets, which it would want to achieve again with the Mate X2.

Pricing

This is what the expensive rivalry actually comes down to. Both Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and Huawei Mate X2 are very expensive devices, even though there is a stark difference in how much they will set you back. Samsung has priced the Galaxy Z Fold2 at $1,999 and comes in two – Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze – to choose from.

The Mate X2 however starts at a deal-breaking $2,780 (RMB 17,999). If you have the dosh to spend, the phone is available in Crystal Blue, Crystal Pink, White, and Black color options.

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3 obstacles that folding phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X need to overcome

In just a few months, the first folding phones will be available for sale, and if you have a couple thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy one for your very own. But while those first few buyers will be the talk of the town, the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X might not be as top-of-the-line as their price tags would suggest.

While they certainly represent an advancement in overall smartphone technology and an exciting new direction for the future, in some ways, folding phones are a step backward from the premium phone we’re used to using. Here are three areas of concern I have as the folding revolution takes shape:

Display quality

The odd shapes of the folding displays are the most obvious challenge. When opened, Samsung’s Fold display has an aspect ratio of 4.2:3, with a 7.3-inch QXGA+ resolution somewhere around 2152×1536 pixels. The Huawei Mate X offers an 8-inch display with a 8:7.1 aspect ratio and 2480×2200 resolution. On the outside, Huawei’s main screen is 6 inches diagonally, with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a resolution of 2480 x 1148. The Fold’s outside display is a tiny 4.6-inch, 1960×840 screen with a 12:9 aspect ratio. That means we’re gong to have to learn all-new ways of holding these unconventionally shaped phones, and apps might look a little funky at the start.

huawei mate x openAdam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Mate X’s display is packed with pixels, but its glossy finish feels strange to the touch.

Beyond the ratios, the screens themselves look and feel a little weird. If I hadn’t seen the Mate X with my own eyes, I’d have thought the screen was a high-quality printout—it’s that glossy. Touching it was equally weird. While it doesn’t feel cheap per se, I could definitely feel that it wasn’t a completely flat screen like a tablet. I don’t know whether it was the thinness, the flexibility, or just my imagination, but I swear I could feel the ridges and imperfections as my finger moved across the display. Scrolling and tapping worked pretty much as expected, but the tactile sensation was quite a bit different than it is on a phone like the Galaxy S10.

The Mate X display also feels more like plastic than glass, so much so that I was afraid I would dent it if I pressed too hard. I’m sure Samsung and Huawei will go through countless revisions of their displays before they find a manufacturing method that’s feels right, but these earliest models will definitely show some growing pains.

samsung galaxy fold seam middle cr resizedSamsung

We all saw the seam during the Galaxy Fold demo.

Then there’s the seam. Both companies have gone to considerable lengths to hide the center of their folding display in product shots and display units, but it’s definitely there. We saw it during the Samsung Unpacked demo, and I saw it during my hands-on with the Mate X. I have to assume it’ll only get worse with repeated folds. Display durability is definitely an area of concern with these early folding phones, and the fact that seams are already visible isn’t a comforting sign.

Battery life

We’ve reached a point with contemporary phones where we’re pretty much able to leave our chargers at home, but folding phones could take a step back. Bigger displays use more power, but the folding phones’ batteries haven’t scaled to fit.

Granted, the batteries they have are beefy—4,380mAh on the Fold and 4,500mAH on the Mate X. The 6.6-inch Galaxy S10 5G has a 4,500mAh battery, however, and that only needs to power a mere 6.7-inch display. Let’s not forget the additional power strains of switching screens, sensors, and 5G on these bleeding-edge folding phones.

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Huawei Mate X2 foldable smartphone, as we know it so far

It’s been a while since the launch of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 – arguably the best foldable smartphone yet – therefore there is a void in the foldable phone market which Huawei is planning to fill up soon. There is a confirmation that Huawei is going to announce its new flagship foldable smartphone on February 22. The information was made public through a teaser poster on the company’s official Weibo page.

Huawei Mate X2 as it would be called is the company’s third-generation foldable phone, which if the teaser image is anything to go by, is going to be way different in its design language than any of the previous two models. And considering the name, the Mate X2 is probably going to be a direct successor to the Chinese smartphone maker’s first foldable – the Mate X. Though Huawei Mate Xs was introduced in between the two, but based on the name, it’s more close to the Mate X.

The upcoming foldable phone from Huawei is expected to arrive with a dual selfie camera and significant improvements on the Mate X or Mate Xs, for that matter. The previous two iterations from the top Chinese OEM have not achieved remarkable sales figures for various reasons including an unreliable folding display. Huawei stands to change that with a foldable smartphone that can give Galaxy Z Fold2 a run for its money. Samsung will not take that lying down – the Koreans are already planning the successor to both its Fold and Flip series foldables.

The Mate X2 launch date is just around the corner; ideally, in case of many other smartphones, you would by now know almost everything about it, courtesy of rumors and official teasers. Huawei however has managed to remain secretive about the new folding phone; not much is revealed in the open, so there is limited information but some remarkable new features are on the cards that Huawei fans are going to appreciate. How many of those are going to be outside of mainland China is debatable.

It’s an “innie”

One of the biggest changes that the Huawei Mate X2 is going to make from its predecessors is the inward folding design. Both the previous Huawei foldable phones folded outwards, the single panel wrapped around on the outside. This new smartphone is going to fold in, pretty similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 2. This kind of book-like folding design is found to be more protective for the large screen that remains folded inside – with probably a smaller screen on the outside for a quick glance.

The hint of such a folding mechanism was previously seen in renders based on the phone’s patent. Only recently, Huawei has officially made sense to the rumor with a teaser image that reveals an innie design. The image is suggestive of Huawei planning to take a different approach to the folding screen in line with Samsung’s flagship foldable.

It’s productive and powerful

As far as official information goes, all we know is the release date and the confirmation of inward folding mechanism. Rumors however signal that Huawei is going to live to its image of delivering hardware that’s worth attention. The Mate X2 is likely to be powered by the company’s own Kirin 9000 SoC, which is found on Huawei Mate 40 too. The octa-core chipset is clocked at 3.13GHz and is based on the 5nm manufacturing process. This processor is going to give Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 and Samsung’s Exynos 2100 some serious competition.

Huawei Mate X2 is expected to run Android 11 with EMUI 11 on top and is likely to arrive in 8GB of RAM with 512GB of onboard storage. The 8.01-inch internal display could boast 2480 × 2200 pixel resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, while the secondary display on the outside – when folded – will feature 6.45-inch screen with 2700 × 1160 pixel resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. What’s going to be really exciting is the playtime that this new foldable phone would deliver thanks to its 4,400mAh battery, which would charge instantly via 66W fast charging.

Huawei smartphones feature versatile camera setups. This is going to trickle down to the folding design of the Mate X2 as well. On the camera front, the phone’s secondary display is likely to feature a dual selfie camera in punch-hole cutout, but when unfolded, the phone’s main screen would have no front facing camera. This means video calling is only going to be possible in the standard smartphone form factor.

That’s not it, on the flip side that Huawei Mate X2 is expected to have a protruding quad-camera setup complete with a telephoto lens. It is likely to sport a 50MP primary shooter with other lenses promising OIS, 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom.

It’s restrictively global

One of the most anticipated flagship phones of this year, the folding Huawei Mate X2 is going to launch on February 22. It’s on this date that we would know everything there is about the phone but uncertainty looms on whether the device will launch globally or it will be limited to China – in which case it wouldn’t help solve Huawei’s woes much.

The dual-band 5G compatible folding smartphone will still not feature Google services, including Play Store at launch, which leaves it with limited appeal in markets outside of China. The phone will rely on Huawei Mobile Services and in-house App Gallery, though prominent apps can be side loaded.

Previously Mate X didn’t make it out of China though slightly tweaked Mate Xs did venture out (in select regions) and was one of the desirable foldable phones. Huawei would be wanting to replicate the out of China approach with the Mate X2 as well, if it does, a premium smartphone with an expensive price tag is on the horizon.

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Huawei delays the launch of its $2,600 folding Mate X phone, surprising no one

Following the near-disastrous roll-out of the Galaxy Fold, Huawei has delayed the launch of the Mate X folding phone, which was due to arrive this month, to September. According to the Wall Street Journal, the $2,600 phone is now slated to arrive in September while Huawei proceeds to conduct “a lot of tests.”

When it was revealed at MWC in February, the Mate X was seen as the foil to the Galaxy Fold, with an outside-folding screen and a thinner design. I got a chance to briefly spend some time with the Mate X at Mobile World Congress, and it definitely seemed like a pre-production unit. The representative was very careful to launch specific apps and handle it gingerly, and journalists weren’t allowed to hold the device for more than a few seconds at a time.

Huawei Mate XAdam Patrick Murray/IDG

This is about all I could do on the Mate X.

But while the delay is no doubt in large part related to engineering, the U.S. trade ban surely plays a role as well. It’s unclear whether Huawei will be able to run Google’s Play Store on the device due to Android licensing restrictions. The ban applies to all future phones, but since the Mate X was already in development, it might get a reprieve. It was also reported this week that Huawei is moving forward with its own operating system overseas under the name Hongmeng.

Even so, a poor launch of the Mate X would give Huawei a black eye it could ill afford right now. As a company spokesperson told CNBC: “We don’t want to launch a product to destroy our reputation.”

“Destroy” might be a harsh word, but the Galaxy Fold has certainly taken away some of Samsung’s luster. After early review units were plagued with screen issues, Samsung delayed the launch of its $1,899 device and several outlets have canceled pre-orders. However, Samsung still says the Fold is still coming. But at this point it might be a race to see which phone gets here last.

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Huawei Mate X2 leak suggests it could surpass the Galaxy Z Fold 2

Huawei will be launching another foldable phone this month, that much is already established. Whether there will be a market to receive it warmly is, however, still uncertain. Few details about the Huawei Mate X2 are available and those that are disappointingly point to what may be a Galaxy Z Fold 2 clone. The latest piece of the unofficial puzzle to fall in place, however, turns the table on Samsung, making the Mate X2 foldable phone potentially more interesting if not better than Samsung’s take.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 fixes the design and mechanical flaws of the first Galaxy Z Fold. It banished the odd notch on the larger main screen and extended the external “Cover Display” to cover almost the entire surface of the phone’s back half. Samsung also refined the design to be thinner but, at least compared to the Surface Duo, it still needed a lot of work in that direction.

According to a leak on Weibo from Digital Chat Station, the Huawei Mate X2 will one-up even the Galaxy Z Fold 2. For one, it would be thin and light, perhaps even more than Samsung’s current foldable phone. The second screen on the outside also covers the entire surface but has not one but two cameras in an elongated punch-hole cutout.

More curious, however, is the lack of any such cutout on the main screen. That suggests that either the phone will have no front-facing camera on that side or, more likely, it will be underneath the display. So far, only ZTE has tried to pull off an under-display camera in the ZTE Axon 20 5G and it wasn’t exactly that impressive.

It will definitely be impressive if Huawei is able to pull these changes off without a hitch and without also going overboard with the pricing. Unfortunately, given the company’s history and present predicament, only one of these is likely to happen.

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Huawei Mate X2 foldable phone release date, design officially confirmed

It’s probably not a stretch to say that Samsung has, at least for now, cornered the nascent foldable market. Royole’ FlexPai is generally unavailable in most markets and Motorola has gone silent almost completely on the Razr. Samsung’s closest rival would have been Huawei, had it not been too busy with more critical concerns. That said, it seems that the embattled Chinese company still has a bit more to give and it will be announcing its next-gen foldable phone in just a few weeks.

In the span of time that Samsung took to launch no less than five foldable phones, Huawei launched only two, one of which was really just a variant of the other. Huawei boasted about its more practical choice of an “outie” foldable screen that required only one expensive foldable display but didn’t iterate over it to prove that claim. It might be too late, however, as Huawei has seemingly folded to use a different design instead, pun totally intended.

There have been quite a few rumors since last year that Huawei would be switching to an “innie” design, the same design Samsung has been using since day one. The biggest confirmation of that has now come from Huawei itself, at least from its official Weibo account. The reveal for the Huawei Mate X2’s announcement, which also confirms its name, shows a screen that folds on itself rather than the other way around like the first Mate X.

This innie design does have the benefit of protecting the sensitive flexible screen when folded and not in use. It does, however, require the addition of another screen in order to use the phone even when it’s folded down. According to previous leaks, that external second screen would be a 6.45-inch 2700×1160 panel while the foldable screen inside would span 8.01 inches with 2480×2200 pixels.

There are many details still unknown about the Huawei Mate X2, which gives the company plenty to reveal on February 22, 2021. Some believe it will have support for a stylus, beating Samsung to the punch, though that advantage could mean little if the foldable phone doesn’t get much traction in markets where Google Play’s absence will be painfully felt.

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