When Huawei announced earlier this week it was indefinitely suspending the launch of a new MateBook because U.S. sanctions were impacting its ability to build the laptop, we wondered what other Huawei products might face delays. We now have our answer — Huawei's foldable smartphone.
Huawei told CNBC today (June 14) that it was pushing back the launch of the Mate X, the folding smartphone it first unveiled at Mobile World Congress earlier this year. The Mate X was supposed to launch this month, but a Huawei spokesperson told CNBC that the phone's debut is being moved to September.
The company claims that the delay has noting to do with the U.S. sanctions that forced the Chinese tech giant to scrap plans for a new MateBook earlier this week. Instead, Huawei says it's delaying the Mate X to keep testing the phone in the wake of the troubles Samsung had trying to launch its foldable phone.
Samsung's Galaxy Fold was supposed to be launched in April, but after reviewers got a hold of test versions of the phone, problems started cropping up with the Fold's display. Samsung pulled the plug on the April launch to try and fix those problems, and though it's said to have come up with a solution, Samsung still hasn't announced a new launch date for the Galaxy Fold. Meanwhile, two retailers — Best Buy and AT&T — have cancelled Galaxy Fold pre-orders, suggesting a new release date isn't coming any time soon.
Huawei clearly wants to avoid those kinds of headaches, so it's going to take more time to make sure the €2,299 Mate X (roughly $2,600) is up to snuff. “We don’t want to launch a product to destroy our reputation,” Huawei's spokesperson told CNBC. This is a clear swipe at Samsung, whose reputation has taken a hit as result of the Fold fiasco.
Still, the timing of the announcement — two product postponements in the space of a week — is going to fuel speculation that Huawei could be feeling the impact of the Trump administration's stepped-up campaign against the company. In addition to an executive order barring the purchase of Huawei's telecom equipment, the U.S. Department of Commerce has placed Huawei on its Entity List, which bars U.S. firms from supplying the Chinese company with hardware and software. That impacts Huawei's ability to acquire components for its phones as well as the software that powers its devices.
Huawei is looking to put those fears to rest, telling CNBC that it's "confident" it can ship the device even if the U.S. ban remains in place. Huawei says its place on the Entity List doesn't impact the Mate X's ability to use Google's Android operating system, since the phone was announced well before the U.S. government took its latest action against the company.
The Mate X impressed us when we saw it at Mobile World Congress. We think its Falcon Wing design, which allows the phone to fold out to reveal a bigger display is a bit more elegant than what Samsung's done with the Galaxy Fold, and its design reduces the need for camera cutouts. Here's hoping the Mate X's delay turns out to be as temporary as Huawei is promising.