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Foldable Mate X Shipping Soon, With Two Different Models

(Image credit: Future)

Huawei's Mate X may not be on the market yet — the foldable phone is expected in the fall. But when it does arrive, there will apparently be two versions featuring very different chipsets.

That's the word from TechRadar, which attended a press briefing with Huawei executives at this week's IFA trade show in Berlin, where Huawei just announced its new Kirin 990 chipset. The mobile processor Huawei announces each fall invariably finds its way into the flagship devices the Chinese phone maker releases over the next year, and that sounds like it will be the case with the Mate X, too.

But there's a wrinkle — the original Mate X, which was previewed during February's Mobile World Congress, was powered by the then pace-setting Kirin 980 chipset. The first Mate X models Huawei rolling out shortly will still feature the Kirin 980, with the Kirin 990 powering a second model of the phone that will follow later.

The Kirin 990-powered device sounds like the one to get, based on what Huawei's promising with its new mobile processor. The Kirin 990 integrates 5G connectivity instead of requiring a separate modem. And the new chipset promises to be 9% faster than the Kirin 980 in multi-core performance while also being more energy efficient. (Specifically, the high-performance cores of the Kirin 990 will consume 12% less power than before while the other cores are 15% more power-efficient.) Graphics performance gets a boost with the Kirin 990 as well.

The Mate X was originally set to debut in the summer, but Huawei pushed the launch back to continue testing the foldable device with an eye toward avoiding the problems that have marked Samsung's launch of its foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold. Huawei had been targeting a September launch, but that date got pushed back again last month.

Now it seems that the Mate X launch is finally imminent. During the IFA meeting with reports, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer division, said the foldable phone may be ready to ship globally by "next month."

It's still unclear if the Mate X will reach the U.S., where the government has singled out the Chinese phone maker as a potential security threat. Those tensions have only escalated during the Trump administration's ongoing and unending trade war with China. As a consequence, it's been a while since Huawei has directly sold its phones in the U.S., and the Mate X's launch may not change that.