Huawei CEO shows off the updated design of the foldable Mate X

Huawei CEO shows off the updated design of the foldable Mate X

At the beginning of this year, tech enthusiasts were really psyched about some big names finally entering the space for foldable smartphones. In as early as February, two smartphone majors such as Samsung and Huawei showcased their prospective foldable phone prototypes with aspirations to launch their respective devices over the following months. However, both the companies had to deal with their share of issues in order to make the product sellable and commercially viable, thereby delaying their devices. Hence, recent reports hint that their respective foldable smartphones i.e. the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X will finally hit the markets in September.

At the Galaxy Unpacked event where Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 series, it devoted sufficient time to talk about the Galaxy Fold’s design. Huawei, on the other hand, did not stage a proper showcase event to show off the Mate X and has been moving on more conservatively with it. Adam and I were able to get close to the Huawei Mate X at different events in different time zones and since then, Huawei has been working on improving and polishing the pre-production prototype that hey showcased earlier this year. A journalist recently got the chance for a quick hands-on of a more refined unit when they bumped into Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu at an airport in China.

The journalist, apparently named Li Wei, took some pictures of the Huawei Mate X and shared them via Weibo. Based on these images, we do see some subtle changes in the foldable smartphone. The first and the majorly visible change is the more conspicuous fourth camera on the back. This additional camera is a TOF sensor, as confirmed by Huawei’s website. We couldn’t tell if there was a fourth camera earlier because it was not visible, but it is possible that the TOF camera was hidden under a black filter in the previously exhibited prototypes.

Another noticeable change we see here is the bigger button to unhook the foldable part. Further, the handgrip, as well as the central spine reinforcing the “Falcon Wing” mechanism, are now covered with a texturized composite material, which has an appearance similar to carbon fiber. We wouldn’t be surprised if this is actually carbon fiber, considering the exuberant ~$2,500 price tag that Huawei has put on the device.

We don’t see any navigation buttons, so it’s easy to believe that the Mate X should support navigation gestures.

It is difficult to tell if the quality or the foldability of the OLED display has been improved from pictures. We don’t see any slack in the screen, which appears to be a good sign. The quality of the images is not very dependable, so all perceptions here must be taken with a pinch of salt.

The Huawei Mate X was earlier supposed be available for sale in the month of June but its launch was pushed to September. Vincent Peng, a senior VP at Huawei, told The Wall Street Journal that Huawei was taking some time to improve the quality of the display. Inevitably, the first thing that is likely to come to one’s mind is that this was because of the executive order passed by the U.S. government that put Huawei on a blacklist, but we’re not sure if this was the real reason.

The unit seen by Ms. Wei is a Chinese variant, so we’re still not sure about the status of Google Play Services on Huawei devices. Although President Trump talked about easing the restriction on Huawei at the G20 Summit, the company’s engagement with American companies remains under strict scrutiny.

Additionally, Mr. Yu told Ms. Wei that the launch has been postponed. We can’t say for sure whether he meant that the Mate X has been delayed till September or we may see another setback in the launch date.

In the meantime, Samsung has had to delay the launch of the Galaxy Fold significantly after witnessing complaints about serious design and display flaws. The company had to recall units it sent out to journalists for reviews (and even ask them to take down reviews), leaving us with more angst than excitement for what seemed like a failed crowdfunding project. The Galaxy Fold is also likely to arrive in September and the face-off between the two devices will be something interesting to see.


Source and credits for the images: Weibo/Li Wei

Note: Huawei has stopped providing official bootloader unlock codes for its devices. Therefore, the bootloaders of their devices cannot be unlocked, which means that users cannot root or install custom ROMs.

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