Following intense rumors (mostly accurate), Huawei has launched the Huawei Mate X2, its latest foldable phone, which also happens to be its most expensive device, at $2784.
The most significant change is a complete 180-degree turnaround in the industrial design, which went from having the display facing outwards to a book-style inward-facing screen, Galaxy Fold style.
The book-style design has a few advantages that were probably decisive in Huawei’s decision: First, it is an inherently more sturdy design that protects the display from the environment (dust/sand in the pockets, keys in purses etc.). Not exposing the screen surface is key because Folding OLED screens do not have a super-hard glass surface to protect them, even though some OEMs claim they have a glass-like product.
Secondly, the book design allows the unfolded display to be as flat as possible, more so than when the screen faces outwards. Finally, the hinge design is probably sturdier this way, and as you’ve noted, two out of three reasons are related to the survivability of the phone in real-world usage.
The Huawei design has some interesting particularities. For example, the phone has a wedge-shape, and one side is thicker than the other (4.4-8.2mm). This characteristic undoubtedly helps with internal volume management, which is always tricky on folding phones.
The wedge could be an exquisite solution that makes it possible to pack the phone’s guts (computing, 4500mAh battery) on one side and more minor elements (radio, antennas) on the other. The net result is a thinner foldable (14.7mm) than the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
The display is also slightly larger than Samsung’s latest foldable, with the external screen measuring 6.45″ (1160×2700, 90Hz) and the internal one hitting 8″ (2480×2200, 90Hz). The large external screen further makes the “closed-up” experience feel like a regular phone, which is critical in many cases where two-hand usage is not possible or inconvenient.
After reviewing the original Galaxy Fold, and the Galaxy Z Fold2, I am convinced that there is a niche market for these devices and that many people fundamentally want a larger screen. Foldables will start getting competition from Rollable designs, such as the LG rollable phone display, among other new candidates, if the technology ever comes to consumers.
Most people aren’t willing to pay the $2784 price to increase the display real-estate, which surely shrinks the potential audience for such a device. It’s safe to say that Huawei’s goal with the Mate X2 is to show technology leadership. From that point of view, it’s a success.
So far, the Mate X2 looks like an excellent contender in that space, and we’ll have to see what the actual user experience is when we review the phone.