BARCELONA: IT'S CERTAINLY THE YEAR of the foldable phone, as Huawei has pulled a Samsung and revealed a phone that thinks it's a tablet as well.
Dubbed the Huawei Mate X, the handset features a trio of screens; a 6.6in 2480x1148 19.5:9 aspect ratio display on the front, a 6.38in 25:9 aspect ratio display on the back with a resolution of 2480x1892, and when unfolded it has an 8in "FullView" OLED display running edge-to-edge.
The device was revealed a day ahead of MWC 2019's kick-off, though we weren't allowed to fondle the phone, only gawk at it. From what our peepers could perceive, the display looks fairly impressive, with good dollops of brightness, contrast and colour, with the tablet screen looking particularly impressive.
While foldable phones are very much first-gen products at present, the Mate X sports some thoughtful design touches such as the "Falcon Hinge" that has been designed to support the bendy OLED display and allow it to fold completely flat as well as shrinking down to just 11mm thick when folded up.
And the use of a protruding bar on the side of the phone when its opened up in tablet form that supposedly makes it easier to hold as well as packing in some of the gadget's guts and USB-C port. Using the lip to hold some of the internal electronics means the Mate X is 4.5mm thin in tablet mode, which is trimmer than the new iPad Pro.
Speaking of internals, the Mate X rocks the Kirin 980, Huawei's powerful 7-nanometre SoC, and the Balong 5000 modem chip which is 5G ready and has Huawei claiming the Mate X is "the world's fastest 5G foldable phone".
It touts a quad-antenna 5G array and promising 4.6Gbps per second download speeds, meaning a 1GB movie can be downloaded in three seconds. Huawei might be onto something here, especially as Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem chip has yet to make it to market.
Other good bits include a 4,500mAh battery with fast charging - get to 85 per cent in 30 minutes - and a fingerprint scanner built into the power button.
There's a suite of cameras using a new Lecia lens system, which should promise some rather lovely photography chops if it's anything like the Mate 20 Pro's camera capabilities. And with a tablet display, viewing and tweaking photographs should be an easier experience with all the extra screen real-estate.
The device will be available in the "middle of 2019", and it'll cost a whopping €2,299 (around, er, £2,000). EE and Vodafone have confirmed that they'll be offering the Mate X here in Blighty.
Some of you might be all ready rushing to the comments section to ask what's the point of a foldable phone regardless of its hardware chops. Well, Huawei reckons it'll allow people to do more browsing on their phone, capture better selfies, and nail multi-tasking.
We'd need to be convinced, but the concept isn't wildly left-field. While the Mate X might not win any phone beauty competitions, it's at least pushing something new, much like the Galaxy Fold. And in a world where phones are all getting a bit too samey, that's no bad thing. µ
Some deliberately, others through stupidity
Quite the business expense
It's another quantum leap camera
Evolution, not revolution, but that's just fine