Huawei Mate Xs on Monday made its debut as the Chinese tech giant's second foldable smartphone. It will be the company's first such device to be available internationally, competing in a niche category with new models from Samsung and Motorola. Huawei's first foldable phone – Mate X – never made it out of China. Huawei Mate Xs comes with the company's in-house Kirin 990 chip, quad rear camera setup, and Android with EMUI 10.
Huawei Mate Xs will go on sale in March, priced at EUR 2,499 (roughly Rs. 1,93,000). It will be released in markets outside China. There is no word on the India release date or pricing right now. It's unlikely to be widely available in the US.
The company took the wraps off the new Mate Xs by video instead of a press launch, as the tech show in Spain where it had planned to hold the unveiling was cancelled over worries about the new coronavirus outbreak.
Like its predecessor, the Mate X, which only saw limited release in China last year, the display wraps around the phone's outside when closed and unfolds to a tablet-size eight-inch screen. The company says there are improvements under the hood, including a redesigned four-layer screen and upgraded "falcon wing" hinge. It also gets Huawei's latest homegrown Kirin 990 chipset, a four-lens camera system and can be used on a wider range of high-speed 5G network bands.
However, the Mate Xs also faces a distinct disadvantage because it lacks the full Android operating system by Google. The Trump administration last year blocked Huawei's access to US components and technology on national security grounds, part of a wider trade and tech war between the US and China.
Instead, the Mate Xs runs a stripped-down open-source version of Android. Users can still download apps but they'll be from Huawei's own app store, not the Google Play store.
Huawei's top salesman Richard Yu said it remains committed to the Android ecosystem and to its longer-term partnerships with Google and other US companies.
"We believe technology should be open and available for everyone," Yu said in his keynote speech.
Huawei also launched a speaker developed with French audio specialist Devialet, the first tablet in its Mate range and two new notebooks - a top of the range Matebook X Pro and Matebook D with 14-inch and 15-inch screens.
Huawei, the world's No. 2 phone maker, faces competition from Samsung and Motorola, which recently launched new folding screen smartphones. Faced with stagnating sales as consumers hold on to their devices longer, smartphone makers have turned to foldable technology to rejuvenate the market. It's unclear, however, whether the pricey devices will appeal to more than just die-hard tech enthusiasts.
There are also questions about reliability. Samsung's first folding device, the Galaxy Fold, was plagued by reports of screens breaking after it was unveiled last year, delaying its launch for months.
Huawei plans to hold a launch event for the P40, a 5G smartphone, in Paris next month, said Yu.