Foldable phones still aren’t quite mainstream, but Huawei’s new Mate X2 looks like it may just be real competition for Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Announced via livestream earlier today, the Mate X2 represents a major departure from previous Huawei foldable phones. The company has shifted from an outward folding design to an inward folding design that places the Mate X2’s 8-inch 2480 x2200 foldable OLED display on the inside of the device. On the outside, there’s now a secondary 6.45-inch 2700 x 1600 OLED screen, with both interior and exterior displays featuring 90 Hz refresh rates.
The Mate X2 shares the same basic design as Samsung’s pricey foldable, though the Galaxy Z Fold 2 sports a superior 120 Hz refresh rate. But Huawei deviates in a few interesting ways.
The first big change is something I really wish Samsung had done. On the inside, Huawei doesn’t include a selfie camera, so there’s no notch or hole-punch camera to distract from that huge flexible screen. That might seem like a bold call for some — especially with the way social media is right now — but considering that you can still take a selfie with the cam above the exterior display, that means when it’s open, your attention is on that big, full screen experience, right where it should be.
Huawei said during its livestream that the Mate X2 will have a small crease where the phone’s screen bends because of its design, however with some clever engineering, the crease should be more of a ripple to help avoid potential screen distortion. The Mate X2’s hinge was also designed to eliminate the gap between the two halves of the phone when folded, which is something Samsung wasn’t able to do on the Z Fold 2. The end result is a more compact body.
Another important difference is that the Mate X2 has a more standard-sized 21:9 exterior display compared to the super-skinny 25:9 display Samsung uses on the Z Fold 2, which gives you more real estate when quickly responding to texts or checking notifications. These are all changes that should make the Mate X2 easier to use every day, and serves to reinforce why foldable phones need more companies testing design changes if they’re ever going to get popular.
The Mate X2’s cameras include a 16-MP exterior selfie cam, along with a quad-camera module in back consisting of a 50-MP main cam, 16-MP Cine Cam, 12-MP 3x zoom cam, and an 8-MP Super Zoom cam with a 10x zoom. That’s a pretty potent photo toolkit, with Huawei’s 10x zoom offering much longer reach than the 2x optical zoom on the Z Fold 2.
Samsung loaded up its flagship foldable with impressive specs, but the Mate X2’s components aren’t quite as lofty, with just 8GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage, and no support for wireless charging. The Mate X2 may also be the last Huawei phone to feature one of the company’s in-house Kirin 9000 chips, which originally was supposed to be retired after last year’s Mate 40 Pro.
Even so, the Mate X2 is still expected to cost 18,000 RMB in China (around $3,523) when it goes on sale Feb. 25 — that’s almost $1,000 more than a Z Fold 2.
Hauwei says it will update the Mate X2 with its new homegrown Harmony OS later this spring, but Huawei phones still don’t support any Google apps or services, which is a dealbreaker for folks who live outside of Asia. Between that, its high price, and unknown availability for the Mate X2 outside of China, even though this device represents a nice twist on foldable phone design, Huawei’s tech remains a tough sell.