Huawei Mate X first impressions review

Posted: 25 February 2019 12:45 am

Here are our early impressions of Huawei's just-announced Huawei Mate X.

Huawei has entered the 5G race with the stunning Huawei Mate X foldable device unveiled at MWC 2019 overnight.

The Mate X has been billed as the first phone to combine a new foldable form factor with 5G connectivity, but don't get too excited; we're not likely to see this device in Australia for a little while yet.

We've had just a little time being run through a demo of what the Huawei Mate X can do, far too short for a proper review. Here are our early impressions of Huawei's new Huawei Mate X.

Huawei Mate X: On the plus side

  • Foldable. This is a bit of a given, but the way that the Huawei Mate X folds is quite different to Samsung's Galaxy Fold handset. The Mate X is both a 6.6-inch smartphone when folded, and it unfolds to an 8-inch tablet as well. When folded, you might not see much difference between the Mate X and a conventional smartphone; it's just 11mm thick. It also won't unfold if you don't want it to, with a release catch that you have to press down before it will unfold.
  • Folds take advantage of the camera. The Huawei Mate X has three rear-facing cameras like many other premium smartphones, but Huawei makes clever use of the folds to enhance the way you take photos, especially portrait photos. By utilising an outward-facing foldable display, the Huawei Mate X has a rear-facing display that your photo subjects can see themselves on, allowing both photographer and subject to make sure the best photos are yours to take. The other advantage is being able to simply turn the Mate X around, and use the "rear-facing" cameras as selfie cameras, meaning there's none of the typical compromise when using the front-facing cameras here.
  • 5G capable. Internally, the Mate X uses Huawei's new Balong 5000 all-in-one 5G radio which supports both of the frequency ranges we'll see in Australia this year. The Huawei Mate X will support both mmWave and sub-6Ghz frequency bands, meaning it will likely support the technologies to be switched on in Australia this year. On that higher frequency band, the Mate X will be (technically) capable of download speeds up to 4.6Gbps, but real world, we're unlikely to see carriers offering that for some time (if ever).
  • Plenty of internal power. The Huawei Mate X runs on Huawei's own Kirin 980 processor. That's the same internally as the generally excellent Huawei Mate 20 Pro, so the Huawei Mate X should be a solid performance phone.
  • Good battery potential. The Huawei Mate X features a 4,500 mAh battery split evenly across the two "sides" of the device making for a balanced in-hand feel, and a super-charged 55W power solution which can add 85% battery life to the device with just half an hour on the charger. With the potential battery drain of an 8 inch display plus the throughput of 5G, it's good to see that Huawei hasn't skimped out on giving the Huawei Mate X enough battery power.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei's flagship camera phone

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro combines the power of Huawei's own Kirin 980 chip, an exceptional battery and a class-leading triple camera array.


    Huawei Mate X: On the minus side

    • Very high cost. The first foldable phones were never going to be inexpensive, but Huawei has really hit a high water mark for its phones with the Huawei Mate X. Huawei's Richard Yu stated on stage that it will go on sale by mid-2019, with pricing at EUR€2,299. At current conversion rates, that's something in the range of $3,600-$3,700. Rather expensive, in other words.
    • No in-glass fingerprint reader. Yes, it's something of a gimmick, and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro's fingerprint reader can be erratic at times, but the Huawei Mate X falls back onto a side-mounted fingerprint reader built into the power button. The Huawei Mate X hardware adheres to a minimal design; there's only a few buttons and ports. Aside from the power button with integrated fingerprint reader, there's simply a volume rocker and USB-C port.
    • May not have a headphone jack. We're not entirely sure whether the Huawei Mate X contains a 3.5mm headphone jack (as we've had limited access to the device) but it does seem unlikely as Huawei's premium smartphones have eschewed it in recent years for a USB-C adaptor instead. Huawei typically bundles those with its phones, though, if you prefer cabled headphones over Bluetooth headphones.

    Huawei Mate X: Early outlook

    When will we see the Huawei Mate X in Australia? The truth is we simply don't know. Like Samsung's Galaxy Fold, journalists have been given limited access to the devices, and we understand there are limited devices actually in existence at this point in time.

    That mid-year timeframe given by Huawei may be matched in the Australian market given that both Optus and Telstra should be launching consumer access to their networks at that time, and there simply won't be that many 5G networks running globally for Huawei to sell a 5G handset to. However, it's far from given that we'll be a launch market.

    Foldable phones are in their infancy, and it seems very likely that Huawei won't stop with just a single foldable phone. However, for a first entry, Huawei has definitely produced a foldable phone that's distinctly different to the competition.

    For more news from MWC 2019, check out our MWC 2019 news hub.

    Huawei Mate X specs

    OS Android 9
    Display size (inches) 8
    Display resolution (pixels) 2200 x 2480
    Pixels per inch (PPI) 414
    Processor Kirin 980
    Height (mm) 161.3
    Width (mm) 146.2
    Depth (mm) 5.4
    Weight (g) 295
    Battery size (mAh) 4,500
    Wireless charging
    Internal storage 512GB
    MicroSD expansion 256GB
    Fingerprint scanner Yes
    RAM 8GB
    Water resistance N/A
    Rear camera (1) resolution 40
    Rear camera (1) aperture
    Rear camera (2) resolution 16
    Rear camera (2) aperture
    Rear camera (3) resolution 8
    Rear camera (3) aperture
    Front camera (1) resolution
    Front camera (1) aperture
    Front camera (2) resolution
    Front camera (2) aperture
    Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
    Network category speed N/A
    NFC support Yes

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