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Huawei teases more durable, powerful Mate Xs foldable for February reveal

(Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei's Mate X foldable hasn't gone on sale outside China yet, but the company is almost ready to release a more powerful and durable foldable phone. Just don't hold your breath for its arrival.

Speaking to French outlet Frandroid, Huawei CEO Richard Yu said the revised model, called the Mate Xs, will debut at Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona at the end of February.

The Mate Xs' 8-inch foldable plastic OLED display is tougher than the one inside the original device, Yu told Frandroid, and the hinge has been improved as well. The Mate Xs will also adopt Huawei's new flagship processor, the Kirin 990, which incorporates a 5G modem.

Huawei is also looking to introduce its foldable in Europe sometime during the first quarter of next year, though it's unclear whether that device will be the first-generation Mate X or the new Mate Xs.

The Mate X was originally scheduled to begin shipping over the summer, but its domestic launch was repeatedly delayed through the second half of 2019. The device finally went on sale in China only a month ago for 16,999 yuan, which translates to about $2,400.

Huawei had sought to offer the Mate X in the West, though the company's ongoing battles with the U.S. government and restrictions in licensing Google services and dealing with American suppliers seemingly threw a wrench into those ambitions.

Still, evolving the Mate X is a wise move, as Huawei doesn't want to lose any ground to Samsung. The Galaxy Fold's launch was of course fraught with durability issues; as a result, that device didn't see the light of day until September. Where the Galaxy Fold conceals its display on the inside, Huawei's design places it on the exterior — leaving it even more prone to damage when folded.

Rumors and leaked images suggest Samsung is looking to follow up its first foldable with a successor that bends on a horizontal axis, in a clamshell fashion, again with the display on the inside. That phone could debut as soon as March, timed alongside the upcoming Galaxy S11 series, which could square up with Huawei's timetable for the Mate Xs.

And let's not forget that Motorola is entering the foldable space with the $1,500 Razr in January. Preorders for that phone begin on Dec. 26, and it'll be available exclusively through Verizon in the U.S.

Foldable phones became a reality in 2019. But in 2020, manufacturers will look to get them into more consumers' hands. Will the Mate Xs be the device to make that happen? Its lofty price tag suggests otherwise, though it could be the example other phone makers seek to follow. We're looking forward to seeing for ourselves come MWC season in only a few months time.