From numerous cameras, notches, and all-screen displays, smartphones have always had a fast evolutionary cycle. This year, however, we may be on the cusp of the next design of smartphones: a foldable display.

A couple of weeks ago, Huawei has introduced their first smartphone with a foldable display: the Huawei Mate X. Fortunately, we were part of a chosen few that was able to experience the smartphone first had. Here’s what we think so far of the next evolutionary step of smartphones.

Chipset HiSilicon Kirin 980
Screen OLED, Foldable, 8.0-inch, 2480 x 2200; 6.6-inch front display, 2480 x 1148; 6.38-inch rear, 2480 x 892
OS Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.1
Cameras 40MP f/1.8 Main, 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide, 8MP f/2.4 telephoto, Leica
Storage 512GB expandable up to 256GB Nano Memory Slot
Network 5G, 4G LTE, Balong 5000, Dual-Nano SIM
Connectivity WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Dual Band 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz WiFi, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo
Battery 4,500mAh, 55W Huawei SuperCharge
Others Fingerprint Sensor
Colors Interstellar Blue

Dual displays or a single large display

One of the advantages of having a foldable smartphone is a choice of display options. Once unraveled, the Huawei Mate X sports a rather large 8.0-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2480 x 2200. Once folded, however, the Mate X will have a more traditional form factor and a 6.6-inch 2480 x 1148 display at the front and a 6.38-inch 2480 x 892 rear display.

The display on the Huawei Mate X, however, does have its kinks. Creases will appear under certain lighting conditions although it wouldn’t affect the viewing experience in any major way.

First party apps from Google and Huawei won’t have any problems when switching modes. Other applications like games, however, may have act in odd ways such as the aspect ratio not being consistent in either modes.

Huawei has said that they are working closely with third-party developers to iron out kinks in the software to deliver a smooth experience when folding the Mate X.

More space for productivity

A larger screen means more information can be displayed at once. This would also lead to a better multitasking experience with the Huawei Mate X. Two apps can be comfortably displayed side-by-side while even using the keyboard.

Manufacturers can now focus on the performance on only one set of cameras

Since the display covers the whole front portion of the smartphone, Huawei has implemented tricks previously used by dual-screen smartphones like the Nubia X and the Meizu Pro 7 series.

Once folded, the Huawei Mate X’s rear-facing display will act as the selfie screen while taking photos. The rearview display can also be used in previewing the photo if the camera is used as a traditional shooter.

As expected, the Huawei Mate X comes with a top-notch camera system. Hidden away at the handle and locking system of the smartphone is a triple camera setup composed of a 40MP f/1.8 main shooter, a 16MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens courtesy of their partner, Leica.

Where’s the fingerprint scanner?

Unfortunately, Huawei hasn’t jumped on the under-the-display fingerprint scanner on the Mate series just yet. The Mate X uses a more traditional fingerprint scanner but instead of mounting at the rear (since the rear can be covered), it’s now mounted at the side of the smartphone.

Will the Huawei Mate X have a screen protector and a case?

Another question that has been asked about the Huawei Mate X is its outer casing. Fortunately, Huawei will be including a full protection case for the smartphone.

For the screen, instead of having a traditional glass cover which would break when the display is folded, the company is using a polymer to protect the 8.0-inch display from scratches.

5G will redefine mobile speeds

The Huawei Mate X is the smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer to have 5G capabilities. Using their Balong 5000 modem, the smartphone comes with a Quad 5G design that supports mmWave and can reach speeds of up to 4.6Gbps. To put how fast the Mate X’s modem is, it can download a 1GB movie in just 3 seconds.

The smartphone will have dual-SIM capabilities. Only one of them, however, supports 5G while the other maxes out with 4G. If you have problems with 512GB internal storage, you would need to sacrifice the second SIM slot in order to have a Nano Memory Card.

A larger battery for longer battery life

The Huawei Mate X is powered by a 4,500mAh battery. Based on what we’ve seen on the marketing materials, the battery (rather batteries) are split between two chambers on the display.

The rather large battery can be charged via a 55W Huawei SuperCharge adapter that promises 85% of charge in just 30 minutes of charging time. You can even use the bundled SuperCharge adapter to charge the Huawei MateBook.

Initial Conclusion

The Huawei Mate X is a courageous jump into the unproven. To be fair, smartphones with foldable displays is the talk of the town because they are new. In time, we’ll see if this technology will be a mainstream design choice in the future.

Software support

In our opinion, there are several factors that holds foldable smartphones back. First off is software support. There are millions of apps available in Google Play Store in only a handful of them will have full compatibility with foldable smartphones. It seems that we’ll have to wait for quite a bit until most applications have full support for foldable displays.

Long term durability
The Huawei Mate X’s hinge.

Long term durability also comes into the picture. Most devices with a hinge or a slider are rigorously tested to ensure that they stand daily torture. Huawei has mentioned that they have tested the Mate X’s hinge and it has stood up to the test.

The company isn’t dropping anything specific about the tests so we’re going to have for a couple of months to see if the hinge stands the test of time.

It’s damn expensive

Every new technology will have a considerable premium over existing designs. This is true for the Huawei Mate X. Priced at EUR 2,299 or around PhP 136,000, the asking price for the Mate X is quite a pill to swallow.

At this time, Huawei has not said if the Mate X will arrive in the Philippines. If so, we expect it to arrive in limited numbers.

A foldable future

If this trend catches on, more affordable foldable smartphones will surely arrive in a couple of years. We are elated just thinking about the flexibility that the Huawei Mate X offers to its users. Hopefully, we’ll see another smartphone that has most of the Huawei Mate X’s features with just a fraction of its price.