That's not the only way Huawei is aiming to future-proof the Mate X, either. The top-of-the-line device also boasts 5G support, preparing it for the 2019 rollout of the high-speed mobile network.
8-inch unfolded screen, 6.6 inches when folded.
5G network support.
The foldable capabilities of the Huawei Mate X immediately differentiate it from your average modern smartphone. When folded, you're looking at a 6.6-inch screen with no bezel on its hinge-side. Because this configuration is effectively two screens stacked on top of each other, it increases the overall thickness of the phone to 11mm – not a brick by any means, but considerably thicker than most premium smartphones.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Huawei Mate X folds with its screen facing outwards, and this means your hand is resting on part of its screen when holding the phone in its folded configuration. Whether this leads to an increase in smudges and scratches will be something we will test for when we get our hands on the device. On the plus side, the Mate X features a catch-release mechanism that keeps the phone from unfolding by accident when you're carrying it around.
When unfolded, the Huawei Mate X measures in at an impressive 8 inches. This format lends itself well to split-screen viewing, allowing you to run two apps side-by-side and even drag files from one to the other.
Since the Huawei Mate X doesn't really have a proper backside when in folded mode, Huawei has decided to shift the fingerprint sensor to the side of the phone and integrate it into the power button. Side-mounted fingerprint sensors aren't always as reliable as front- or rear-mounted ones due to their narrow surface area, so it'll be interesting to see how the Mate X's performs.
Other than its foldable nature, the Huawei Mate X's biggest selling point is its support for 5G connectivity. Huawei's own 7nm Balong 5000 mobile chipset allows the Mate X to connect to 5G networks for faster download speeds, while the dual-SIM card slot means it can fall back on the existing 3G/4G networks in areas where 5G coverage is unavailable.
Triple-array 40MP/16MP/8MP rear camera.
Through its partnership with renowned camera brand Leica, Huawei has consistently delivered some of the best smartphone cameras on the market. This remains true with the Mate X. Three rear-facing cameras deliver the goods with a 40MP wide-angle lens, a 16MP ultra-wide lens and an 8MP telephoto lens.
Where the Mate X really distinguishes itself, though, is in the extra photographic versatility afforded by its foldable screen. When folded, the back of the Mate X can show your subject what they look like, giving them the instant feedback in the same way a traditional selfie does. Speaking of selfies, the Mate X's folded screen also means you can use the rear cameras for your self-portraits instead of relying on the less-powerful front-facing camera.
Kirin 980 promises plenty of power.
Huawei is one of the few smartphone manufacturers that builds its own mobile processors rather than using the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon platform or one of MediaTek's power-efficient alternatives. For the Mate X, Huawei has opted for its top-of-the-line Kirin 980 processor, the same chip that powers the recent Huawei Mate 20 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
As we noted in our review of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the Kirin 980 is a tremendously powerful processor that easily delivers performance on par with the widely-used Snapdragon 845 chip. In practical terms, this means the Huawei Mate X should have no trouble maintaining a smooth experience across modern apps and games, and the pairing of 8GB of RAM should ensure multi-tasking on the 8-inch screen is slick and responsive.
SuperCharge promises lightning-fast charging.
Like Samsung's Galaxy Fold, the Huawei Mate X actually includes two batteries: one in each of the phone's hinged halves. Together, they amount to a capacity of 4,500mAh, an impressive figure that will likely prove necessary to power the Mate X's 8-inch screen.
Ordinarily, a 4,500mAh battery would all-but guarantee excellent battery life – the 4,200mAh battery in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, for instance, gives that phone the power to survive two full days of regular use. However, with the Mate X's massive screen, battery drain is going to be significantly steeper. We won't know how much impact this will have on the Mate X's longevity until we get the device in our hands for testing, but for now, it's worth remaining cautiously optimistic.
There's less uncertainty around the charging capabilities of the Huawei Mate X. Leveraging Huawei's SuperCharge technology, the Mate X supports 55W fast-charging which Huawei claims can charge the phone up to 85% battery in just 30 minutes.
Pricing and availability
The Huawei Mate X is slated to launch internationally by mid-2019.
International pricing starts at EUR€2299 or roughly AUD$3600.
Matt Sayer is a writer for Finder, covering all things technology and telecommunications. Along with reporting on events like CES and Mobile World Congress, he has produced comprehensive guides for popular products like smart speakers and graphics cards. He has a Bachelor of Computer Science from RMIT University and is passionate about helping Aussies leverage technology to better their lives.
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