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Opinion | The Mate Xs, hands on with Huawei's flawed foldable

The Huawei Mate Xs on its pedestal in Barcelona. (Image source: Notebookcheck)
The Huawei Mate Xs on its pedestal in Barcelona. (Image source: Notebookcheck)
While Huawei's latest foldable is one of the most expensive too, its dizzying €2,499 price tag does not guarantee quality or usability. From creaky hinges to scratched screens, today's launch highlighted why the Mate Xs should be avoided and why Huawei is still yet to perfect the foldable.

If you had attended today's Huawei conference, then you may have been convinced that the Mate Xs was the smartphone for which the world had been waiting. Stepping into the demo area after the keynote, our eyes were immediately drawn to teems of people gathering around a Mate Xs sitting atop a plinth. Adding cameras mounted on tripods into the mix only added to the congestion as people jostled to take the perfect shot of Huawei's new foldable smartphone. Meanwhile, the Mate Xs on display remained motionless. That is, until someone picked it up, which prompted a member of staff to implore them to put it back again.

Similarly, people thronged around two banks of desks where yet more Mate Xs units were ready to be picked up and examined. Seemingly buoyed by the belief that it had equipped the Mate Xs with an improved hinge design, Huawei staff happily let people contort display units to their heart's delight.

We had mixed experiences, though. On the one hand, the Mate Xs really does have an almost crease-free display, as was rumoured earlier this month. Likewise, how the "Falcon Wing Design" springs open is fun. The Mate Xs also packs an impressive combination of internal hardware. Huawei has included a Kirin 990 5G SoC, for example, along with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. The 4,500 mAh battery should keep the Mate Xs ticking over nicely, too. And while the device does not support 65 W charging as was previously thought, few other smartphones offer 55 W wired charging.

A look at the same Huawei Mate Xs in its unfolded state. (Image source: Notebookcheck)
A look at the same Huawei Mate Xs in its unfolded state. (Image source: Notebookcheck)

We had mixed experiences, though. On the one hand, the Mate Xs really does have an almost crease-free display, as was rumoured earlier this month. Likewise, how the "Falcon Wing Design" springs open is fun. The Mate Xs also packs an impressive combination of internal hardware. Huawei has included a Kirin 990 5G SoC, for example, along with 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. The 4,500 mAh battery should keep the Mate Xs ticking over nicely, too. And while the device does not support 65 W charging as was previously thought, few other smartphones offer 55 W wired charging.

On the other hand, today's event demonstrated to us that the Mate Xs has some serious shortcomings. While its launch price of €2,499 is alarming enough, the lack of Google services should be more of a concern for most people. The Mate Xs, just like all foreseeable new Huawei and Honor smartphones, will not come with Google Mobiles Services (GMS) pre-installed. Instead, Huawei includes Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). Simply, these will not replace their Google alternatives. Huawei may boast that its App Gallery is one of the largest app stores, but Microsoft has been struggling for years to attract developers to its Windows and Windows Mobile equivalent.

Moreover, there were issues with multiple Mate Xs units. According to BBC Click's Chris Fox, one unit's display had already been severely scratched. Despite Fox stating that Huawei informed him that the scratch had occurred because of an accident, the anecdote underlines the fragility of the Mate Xs' Optical Polyimide Flexible Display.

While we did not see the afflicted unit ourselves, others had their issues too. The display of one, having been artfully folded and placed on a display, had already started pulling upwards next to its hinges, for example. Additionally, we could feel the hinges of some units creaking as we unfolded and folded them. These could all be isolated faults, but they are disconcerting nonetheless.

Ultimately, the Mate Xs is one of the most impressive smartphones on the market right now. However, it simply has too many shortcomings to warrant spending €2,499 on it.

Source(s)

Huawei & Notebookcheck

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 02 > The Mate Xs, hands on with Huawei's flawed foldable
Alex Alderson, 2020-02-24 (Update: 2020-02-25)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.