The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a new rival, as Huawei's Mate X2 has just launched. And it looks like the smartest folding phone we've seen so far.
Although Huawei has apparently copied some of Samsung's design when moving from its first-gen to second-gen foldable, it's offering several unique features of its own. While the software, availability and price might be dealbreakers for many shoppers, you can't deny that today's launch presentation shows off one impressive phone.
Starting price: 17,999 yuan ($2,784)
Colors: Black, White, Crystal Blue, Crystal Pink
Exterior display: 6.45-inch OLED, 90Hz refresh rate
Interior display: 8.01-inch OLED, 90Hz refresh rate
Rear cameras: 50MP main, 16MP ultrawide, 12MP 3x telephoto, 8MP 10x telephoto
Front camera: 16MP
Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 9000
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Charging: 55W wired
Operating System: Android 10 with MIUI 11.0
Dimensions (folded): 6.8 x 2.9 x 0.5 - 0.6 inches (161.8 x 74.6mm x 13.6 - 14.7mm)
Dimensions (unfolded): 6.8 x 5.7 x 0.2 - 0.3 inches (161.8mm x 145.8mm x 4.4-8.2mm)
Weight: 10.4 ounces (295g)
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Huawei Mate X2 price and release date
Huawei gives the price of the Mate X2 as 17,999 yuan for the 256GB version and 18,999 yuan for the 512GB version. Converted to USD, that comes to $2,784 and $2,939 respectively. That's almost another $1,000 on top of what the already expensive Galaxy Z Fold 2 costs.
If you do want to spend almost three grand on a phone, pre-orders for the Mate X2 open in China on February 25. There's no news yet on if this phone will reach the U.K. however, but it's basically a dead cert that this phone won't make it to the United States.
Huawei Mate X2 design and colors
Like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Mate X2 has a normal-sized 6.45-inch display on the front of the phone that then unfolds to reveal a much larger 8.01-inch display. It's a substantial difference from the Mate X, which had a single screen that bent over the exterior of the phone and around the hinge.
Both displays run at 90Hz, while the Z Fold 2 offers 60Hz for the external display and 120Hz for the inside panel.
By comparison, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 features a 6.2-inch external display and a 7.6-inch screen when unfolded. Plus, there's no internal camera on the Mate X2, which means that the 8-inch panel offers a completely uninterrupted view.
The shape of the phone is interesting, too. Huawei's given the Mate X2 a wedge-shaped design, with the phone tapering from right to left when opened. This was done to let Huawei fit an impressive selection of cameras on the back, as well as to manipulate the phone's center of gravity. Huawei claims that the phone is easy to use one-handed because of the uneven design.
Huawei also boasts the Mate X2 has a "perfect" fold, thanks to a water-drop cavity within the hinge that cradles the display. That lets the phone close up without a gap, and allegedly removes the typical display crease found in current foldables like the Z Fold 2 or Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.
The Mate X2 comes in one of four colors: Crystal Blue, Crystal Pink, White and Black.
Huawei Mate X2 cameras
With this being a Huawei flagship, we again see Leica-branded cameras. Mounted in a rectangular block on the back is a quartet of sensors. The main one is a 50MP RYYB sensor, Huawei's unique camera that offers excellent low-light photography.
Joining this main shooter are a 16MP ultrawide camera plus two telephoto cameras; a 12MP lens capable of 3x optical zoom and another 8MP camera that can manage 10x optical zoom. This is a much better setup than the triple camera system on the back of the Galaxy Z Fold 2, even if Samsung does offer a selfie camera on the inside display, too.
There are another two cameras on the front in a pill-shaped punch-hole notch, located in the top left corner. These are a 16MP selfie camera, and a color temperature sensor. If that's not enough for your selfie needs, the quad cameras can be used as front cameras too, by opening the phone and checking the shot in the front display.
Huawei Mate X2 processor
Running the show is Huawei's Kirin 9000 chipset, a 5G-enabled chip first seen on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro. It offers roughly similar performance to the Snapdragon 888 chipset found in the Samsung Galaxy S21 series. That's accompanied by 8GB of RAM, and either 256GB or 512GB of storage depending on the version of the phone.
You only get Android 10 as your operating system. however, which is starting to look out of date now that Android 11 is widespread, and Android 12 is on the way. That hasn't stopped Huawei from making some unique foldable-focussed optimizations to the software, such as a split keyboard for typing with the phone open, plus the option to open multiple app windows for multitasking.
Huawei Mate X2 battery and charging
The Mate X2 features a 4,500 mAh battery. When the phone does run low on power, it's rechargeable using a speedy 55W wired charger, which thoroughly beats the Z Fold 2's 25W charger for speed.
Huawei Mate X2: Still no Google apps
Of course, we can't ignore the fact this phone won't have Google apps built-in, thanks to continuing U.S. sanctions that prevent Google from working with Huawei. However, as a final part of the announcement, Huawei says that it's offering its new HarmonyOS operating system for its phones from April.\
It's been rumored for some time that Huawei would move away from Android and regain some of the control it lost from the U.S. sanctions, and the Mate X2 will mark the first step in the rollout of the new software. Let's hope it can still offer all our favorite apps without any help from Google.
Huawei Mate X2: Outlook
It's encouraging to see that the problems with the U.S. government hasn't stopped Huawei from producing an ambitious foldable phone. Even if the Mate X2 doesn't become a sales smash outside China (and at that price, it's very unlikely), it still shows Huawei's a force to be reckoned with.