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Huawei Mate Xs Hands-on Review: Better Than The Fold?

 

We go hands-on with Huawei’s second-generation foldable!

MWC might have been canceled this year, but that’s not stopping Huawei from announcing new smartphones and tech this February. The Chinese company announced its second-generation foldable tonight in the form of the Mate XS. While the phone isn’t drastically different from the original Mate X we saw a year ago in MWC, there’s still plenty to unpack with the new foldable.

Better hinge, and a less annoying crease

It was pretty much love at first sight for us with the Mate X back in 2019, but as revolutionary as the device was, we still had a few concerns and nitpicks. The biggest one was the crease in the middle of the display where the phone folded on itself. You can’t really avoid having a crease in a foldable (at least, not yet) but the one in the original phone was a little distracting.

Somehow Huawei managed to fix that a little bit with the new phone, though there’s still a crease to be had when the phone’s fully opened. You really have to hunt for it though to see when you’re using the phone in medium brightness and doesn’t detract from the experience of using the phone at all.

The hinge has been upgraded for better durability. The Falcon Wing design has been upgraded with new materials, specifically a Zirconium-based liquid-metal alloy to allow for more opening and closings before it breaks.

Huawei has made the button that releases the display more prominent thanks to the red accent highlight (it was previously just a silver, knurled button). Pressing on that opens the display automatically to a 45-degree angle, thanks to the spring-loaded mechanism inside.

The Mate Xs’ overall display size is still the same, with the phone coming in at around 8-inches total when fully unfolded.

When folded, you get a 19.5:9 aspect ratio display on the front with an overall screen size of 6.6-inches, and a 6.38-inch screen size on the rear.

The phone is a little chunkier than typical smartphones today by a few mm, and is a little heavier thanks to the hinge and additional components that make the curved display magic work.

The Mate Xs still doesn’t use ultra-thin folding glass like the Galaxy Z Flip. Instead, it uses a polymer plastic display with a screen protector. Huawei says you can remove the screen protector and replace it if it ever gets scratched, which is good news since the phone’s screen folds out, not in.

5G-ready

The Mate XS uses Huawei’s new Kirin 990 5G chipset, paired with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage.

That’s more than enough RAM and storage here to keep all your apps running fluidly, without any issues.

Unfortunately, the Mate Xs is still covered by the US government blacklist that has been hounding Huawei since last year, and as such doesn’t ship with Google Mobile Services, and won’t have Google Play on board. To combat this Huawei is pushing its own App Gallery as an alternative. There’s also a good chance that a workaround to install GMS will be made for the Mate Xs, which is what happened with the Mate 30 Pro and the Mate 30 as well.

Despite Google’s non-participation with the foldable, Huawei’s done quite a good job in adapting its EMUI 10 UI for the Mate XS. Transitions when moving from tablet mode to smartphone mode look very fluid and well-thought-out, which isn’t always the case for specialty form-factors like these.

As for 5G, the Mate Xs works with both sub 6Hz as well as millimeter wave (mmWave) networks, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility there.

As for the battery, the Mate Xs has a 4500mAh battery inside of it and features 55w SuperCharge tech.

Better cameras all around

The Mate Xs isn’t a platform where Huawei goes big on camera tech, as they typically reserve that for the P-series of phones that launch around March of every year. Huawei says the Mate Xs has Supersensing 40-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 wide-angle lens, 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and 8-megapixel telephoto camera, topped off with a 3D depth-sensing camera.

You’re pretty much getting equivalent performance to Huawei’s P30 series in terms of image quality and camera capabilities with the Mate XS.

Huawei’s new version of its flagship portable isn’t a huge leap from their freshman offering, delivering quality of life improvements to an already impressive device.

Huawei looks to have learned from the headaches that its main competitor, Samsung, went through when they launched their first foldable, applying many of its hard-learned lessons to their second-generation device.

As for cost, Huawei hasn’t indicated how much this would be locally or even if they would offer it in the Philippines. If we were to guess, we’d wager that the Mate Xs might see action in Philippine shores, since the company is more than happy to release 5G-capable handsets here even though 5G networks are still in their infancy.

Unlike the original Mate X, the Mate Xs is a phone made for global audiences. The phone is priced at Euros 2499 (around Php 138K) and will be shipping in Global markets next month. Take note though – Euro pricing is typically higher than local pricing, and the Mate Xs may end up being significantly cheaper if and when it hits our shores.

Huawei Mate Xs 5G Specs

  • Kirin 990 5G octa-core processor
  • Mali-G76 GPU
  • 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • Dual outer display: 6.6-inch main display, 6.3-inch secondary display
  • 8-inch foldable inner display
  • 256GB UFS 3.0 internal storage
    Quad Leica rear cameras: 40-megapixel f/1.8 SuperSensing primary camera with PDAF; 8-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom and OIS; 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera; 3D depth sensor; LED Flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE,¬†WiFi 6, dual-mode 5G
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • USB-C
  • 4500mAh battery with 55w wired charging
  • Android 10 with EMUI 10

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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