The MWC 2019 is over and waiting to test the products announced on the show, we were able to take in hand the Huawei Mate X, the folding smartphone that opposes the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Here are our first impressions.
You probably have not missed it: the Huawei Mate X was the big star of the MWC 2019. The foldable smartphone and compatible 5G came to face the Samsung Galaxy Fold just days after its officialization. Throughout the Barcelona show, we gave you some information about it and we could even approach it very closely to make you a first return on what we thought about it.
However, to our frustration, we could not really handle the phone. But this feeling has been partially erased. At an event organized by the brand in Paris, we were finally able to put our hands on the smartphone so popular. The opportunity to use it briefly and, therefore, to share with you our impressions of the device.
Let's get started with Huawei Mate X and let's say at the outset that the model we tested is very likely to be fine-tuned by the time it launches.
First of all, let's remember some technical elements about the Huawei Mate X:
8-inch screen when unfolded
6.6 inch screen
6.38 inch screen
4500 mAh battery compatible with 55W fast charge
SoC Kirin 980
5G Balong 5000 modem
Our video of getting started
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When folded, the Huawei Mate X is 11 mm thick. This is not particularly fine, when we know that a lot of traditional smartphones do not exceed the 10 mm mark. However, it is an impression of finesse that left me my first contact with the foldable smartphone. Easy to handle, well finished, the device is far from a brick.
Note also that when the Huawei Mate X is unfolded, the thickness announced is 5.4 mm.
During the brief use that I could have, I did not observe the slightest display bug. The format of the big screen can be a little surprising, but finally the different elements are relatively coherent. It should be noted that Huawei has worked with Google to make his device enjoy a version of Android adapted to foldable smartphones. However, we will obviously need a longer test to have a more complete opinion of the software performance of the Mate X. As far as we know: Android is not basic, the OS best suited to tablet format . We are not safe from unpleasant surprises on some third-party applications.
What I can tell you in the meantime is that the transition effects when moving from the folded screen to unfolded are fluid and do not interfere. Alas, on the Huawei Mate X, it is currently not possible to display three applications at the same time on the big screen while it is a feature put forward on the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Another important detail: the fold in the center of the screen is quite visible.
Just before the video occupies all the space in the screen, the crease is very visible.
"Wow" effect and worries
The design of Huawei Mate X causes a real "wow" effect. The product is rather elegant and the way it folds sharply slice with the Galaxy Fold. On the Samsung product, the screen folds inward indeed and it is a second screen in front that takes over in this small format.
On the Mate X, the large 8-inch slab folds outward and once the device is in phone mode, this same large slab is actually divided into two screens of 6.6 inches (front) and 6.38 inches (back). Visually, it is very successful and I was rather seduced.
But, there is a but. For a screen to bend this way, it is necessary to use a P-OLED (Plastic OLED) display. The problem is that this solution is particularly known not to withstand scratches as a traditional glass screen Gorilla Glass. Putting the foldable smartphone in his pocket with the keys or dragging it inadvertently on the surface of a table could carry more risks than expected.
In response to this, Huawei officials were keen to ensure that their teams had done all the testing necessary to ensure good durability. They also claim to have designed a special anti-scratch coating and that their screen is made of particularly strong polymers. Once again, it will take a more thorough test to make it clear.
Also know that Huawei provides a shell for his smartphone, but only to protect it when it is folded. For comparison, on the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the large slab is protected when it is folded. And the small screen in front is covered with a layer of glass Gorilla Glass to preserve it well. Also note that on the side of Motorola, the screen tests similar to that of Mate X were inconclusive for these same questions of sensitivity too increased.
I spoke earlier about the quality aspect of the Huawei Mate X. I will not go back on this impression, but I would like to nuance it with a small detail: the noise that causes the unfolding of the screen. To describe it in good French, I would speak of screeching or thin squeaking. But the context here pushes me to use an onomatopoeia to be closer to the auditory reality: "krrrkrrrkrrr".
In itself, it's a small detail, but when I first heard this sound, I was really scared of breaking the product. Throwing a frightened look at Huawei's manager sitting in front of me, I saw his serene face: everything seemed normal, I had not spoiled anything. And yet, throughout the rest of the grip, I handled the product with zealous caution.
Finally, I will allow myself to nitpick on one point. To unfold the phone, you must "unclip" by pressing a button on the back of the phone. The key does not fall naturally under the finger unfortunately and it takes a good time to get used to it.
Triple photo sensor
Although it would not be very relevant to advance on the phone's photo performance at such an advanced stage of its design, I was able to enjoy capturing some images with the triple rear photo sensor. There are three important things to remember about this module. First of all, it is impossible to take a selfie in tablet mode. Personally, I do not find it extremely disabling … except as part of a video call that can be nice to spend with a big screen.
Always on selfies – in folded mode so – we are not forced to use a sensor of lower quality facade as is often the case on traditional smartphones. Whether for a classic shot or for a selfie, we still enjoy the trio of main sensors and as there is a rear screen and a screen in the front, we can always see what we are about to take in picture.
Finally, the third point, and it was put forward by Huawei, is that if you take the portrait of a person, you can make sure that it can see what it looks like on the screen that it faces. It's gadget, but I admit it's funny.
Price and availability
The Huawei Mate X will be sold for the tidy sum of 2229 euros in Europe. The marketing will take place in the second half of 2019. A spokesman told me that the period covered was roughly between July and October.