It's been a year since Huawei debuted its first foldable phone on the world stage. A lot has happened since then. The U.S. trade ban had a significant impact on the software inclusions Huawei can have on its phones.
This didn't stop the company from selling its Mate 30 here, but on a much smaller and odder scale than previous generations. Despite nothing changing on the software front, Huawei is forging ahead with launching a foldable in Australia... and it's pricey.
Huawei Mate Xs Specs
Much like the Mate X, Huawei's foldable successor has an 8-inch display 1,148 x 2,480 resolution with folds down into 6.6-inches. It has has a 6.38-inch rear display for selfies.
As rumours suggested back in September, under the hood you'll find Huawei's Kirin 990 processor, 512GB storage, 8GB RAM and a 4,500mAH battery with 40W fast charge.
When it comes to the camera it is the same as last year's P30 - 40 MP SuperSpectrum Sensor (Wide angle, f/1.6), 20 MP Ultra-wide angle (f/2.2), 8 MP Tele lens (f/3.4) and a Time-of-Flight lens.
The device is running on EMUI 10, which is based on Android 10. Apps will need to be downloaded from Huawei's own App Gallery.
In 2018 the Turnbull government announced Chinese vendors would be banned from supplying technology to 5G networks in Australia. While no companies were specifically named, it was clear Huawei and ZTE were the primary targets. Over the following 18 months Huawei was vocal about its belief this was a mistake. But now it seems the company has given up the fight.
Huawei Mate Xs vs Mate X - What's Different?
There isn't a great deal of difference between the first and second generation Huawei foldables.
The design, display and camera specs are largely the same - though the latest version is a whole 5g heavier. The Mate Xs also has 5G, though it will support more bands than the previous generation.
The hinge has also been changed to be 100-element, which is said to be an improvement.
When it comes to the specs the 512GB storage, 8GB RAM and 4,500mAH battery are all also the same. However, the processor has been upgraded to Huawei's latest Kirin 990 chipset.
The other significant change is the operating system, which is now EMUI 10 and supported Google products and other American apps.
Despite the incremental changes in the device itself, and a downgrade in terms of available apps, the Huawei Mate Xs is more expensive than its predecessor. While the original Mate X wasn't sold in Australia, in Europe price hike comes to about 300 Euros.
It was unclear whether foldables were going to be a thing at IFA 2019. After Samsung's issues with the Galaxy Fold, and the delay of Huawei's own offering, 2019 has become a kind of bendable purgatory. So imagine my surprise when I found myself racing across Berlin to have a spontaneous, ten minutes hands on with the Mate X.
Do Google Apps Work On Huawei Mate Xs?
Because of the continuing U.S. trade ban, the Mate Xs cannot run any American apps or products natively. This means that it won't have Google apps installed and won't run the Play Store. Instead, you need to download apps from the App Gallery, which is currently quite limited.
This is also why the device won't run Android 10. Instead, it is using EMUI 10 as its operating system.
While some people have found ways to side load certain U.S. owned apps, it's been quite hit and miss and we don't recommend it.
Huawei Mate X2 pricing And Availability
The Huawei Mate Xs will retail for $3,999 in Australia. While new foldables are exciting and we have loved this camera since the P30, it's difficult to get past that price. Considering its app access is limited and Samsung has another foldable coming to the local market in the coming months, we wonder how well this is going to do.
But if you're keen the Huawei Mate Xs will be available for pre-order from March 14 at JB-HI Fi, Mobileciti, the Huawei Experience store in Chatswood. It will go on sale on April 9.
Huawei is currently blocked from including Google apps and services on its smartphones, but if the trade ban was lifted, would it go back to the full Android phone? It depends on who at Huawei you ask. Update: Huawei Australia weighs in with its own hopes for a Google future.