We went hands-on with the Mate X foldable phone

We went hands-on with the Mate X foldable phone

Huawei’s European president Walter Ji was visiting Amsterdam today and we got a chance to interview him about the upcoming foldable smartphone Mate X. We were also allowed to briefly test the groundbreaking 5G device that will be commercially available in the summer. Watch the video below.

The most important takeaways from our brief encounter with the device and the interview with Walter Ji.

  • The Mate X will first launch in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and The Netherlands around the June/July timeframe.
  • The USA won’t get the device at this time.
  • In our hands-on, the Mate X felt sturdy and seemed to have a good build-quality.
  • The mechanism that locks and unlocks the device when folded needs time to get used to. It’s a small button that is difficult to see as it’s the same color and almost flush with the body. Hopefully, the design will change in the final commercial model.
  • The display is bright and has good contrast. Touching the display feels almost like regular smartphone glass, although there are polymer layers only.
  • We saw a small crease in the middle, where the device folds, but only under certain lighting conditions (when displaying a plain white screen or when the display was turned off). Under normal usage conditions, it was not visible and could not be felt.
  • The glossy finish of the screen seemed to aggravate the wrinkle effect.
  • Huawei is working on software optimisations and encouraging partners and developers to work with the new Google SDK for foldable devices.
  • The device we tested had Android 9 Pie and Huawei’s custom user interface, EMUI 9.1 (unreleased).
  • Switching from smartphone mode to tablet mode and back, sometimes didn’t trigger the necessary UI changes. Clearly some work on the software still needs to be done.
  • Huawei is working on a keyboard accessory that can be attached to the Mate X, effectively turning the device into a foldable notebook.
  • Huawei managers were playing down the risk of damaging the device, which folds outwards and leaves the display exposed when folded. They say a protective cover will be offered and users will be made aware not to put keys or sharp objects next to the phone in their pocket.

See also:

The great Huawei vs. Samsung shoot-out

Video report: all foldables announced at Mobile World 2019