Foldable smartphones may just be the next big thing–at least if the near back-to-back reveal of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X are any indicator.

Samsung chose to host its own event ahead of Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, but Huawei waited until MWC to show off its foldable smartphone. Huawei’s announcement has given it a great opportunity to attract attention to its Galaxy Fold competitor, and based on the specs seen so far, the Mate X could steal some of the spotlight from Samsung.

Will a Huawei Mate X be a good investment for business professionals or are foldable smartphones just a gimmick?

In order to help you make the right decision, this cheat sheet contains all the details we know about the Huawei Mate X so far. The article will be updated when more information about the Mate X is available.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

What is the Huawei Mate X?

The Mate X is Chinese tech giant Huawei’s entry into the emerging foldable smartphone market, and it is the second folding smartphone to be announced (the first being Samsung’s Galaxy Fold).

The Huawei Mate X has a single 8″ screen that can be folded over a hinge thanks to its screen being made with flexible OLED technology.

Huawei describes the devices as having “three screens,” but in reality, the device only has the single folding screen that works in three configurations: A 6.6″ front screen and a 6.4″ rear screen when folded, and the full 8″ screen when opened.

SEE: Reducing the risks of BYOD in the enterprise (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

According to TechRepublic sister site ZDNet, Huawei is positioning the Mate X as a productivity device, highlighting its multitasking capabilities that can include “the ability to browse multiple tabs or files at once when performing workplace tasks.”

Despite touting the capabilities of the Mate X while unfolded, Huawei intends it to be used most often in the closed position, with unfolding being primarily for using entertainment software and accessing more advanced productivity capabilities.

When unfolded, the Mate X has what Huawei calls the “Falcon Wing”–it’s the bar left behind by the cameras and other internals. Huawei said it intends the wing to be used as a place to hold it in order to free up the other hand for tapping and swiping, which TechRepublic sister site CNET said may be a bit more difficult than intended.

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Huawei Mate X specs

Display: Three configurations:

  • 6.6″ front display (2,480 x 1,148 pixels)
  • 6.38 rear display (2,480 x 892 pixels)
  • 8″ unfolded display (2,480 x 2,200 pixels)

Dimensions: 6.35″x5.75″x0.21″ (unfolded), 6.35″x3.08″x0.43″ (folded)

Storage: 512 GB onboard memory, expandable using Huawei Nano Memory (up to 256 GB)

Memory: 8 GB RAM

Network capabilities: 5G wireless standard

Platform: Android 9.0

Cameras: 40 MP f/1.8 wide, 16 MP f/2.2 ultrawide, 8 MP f/2.4 telephoto, time-of-flight camera

Battery: 4,500 mAh, Huawei SuperCharge capable

Additional details:

  • No headphone jack
  • Side-mounted fingerprint reader integrated with power button
  • No front-facing camera
  • USB Type C reversible connector
  • Dual SIM slots

How does the Huawei Mate X compare to the Samsung Galaxy Fold?

With both devices being revealed within days of each other, it makes sense to compare the two–they’re obviously competitors.

For starters, there’s a major difference in design: The Samsung Galaxy Fold closes like a book, with the large screen hidden inside the device and a smaller screen taking up one side of the outside. The Mate X has a single large screen that stays on the outside of the device when it’s folded, splitting it into the back and front screens.

Aside from design choices, there are a number of other differences between the two devices that may make one a more attractive choice than the other.

  • There is no 4G version of the Mate X.
  • The Galaxy Fold only has one SIM slot.
  • The Mate X has an 8″ unfolded screen, while the Galaxy fold’s is 7.3″.
  • The Galaxy Fold has no memory expansion slot.
  • The Galaxy Fold has six cameras, while the Mate X only has four.
  • The Mate X’s battery is larger: 4,500 mAh to the Galaxy Fold’s 4,380 mAh.

It’s worth examining the fully reported specs of both devices side by side, as there are other minor differences as well. Suffice it to say, if screen size and battery capacity are your two biggest selling points, the Mate X is a superior choice in both regards.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

The Mate X faces competition from more than just the Samsung Galaxy Fold–there are several other folding smartphones from smaller manufacturers waiting in the wings.

The Royole FlexPai was revealed at the end of 2018 and can already be purchased directly from its manufacturer. CNET’s review of the device found it was still in need of work, felt like a prototype, and was squarish, thick, and difficult to hold. As a company, Royole falls squarely into the startup category, and it’s unlikely the FlexPai will be real competition for Huawei.

Chinese tech firm Xiaomi also has a foldable device, but it’s still in the prototype stage. TCL, parent company of smartphone manufacturer Alcatel, has been showing off its new DragonHinge for folding smartphones at MWC 2019, but it’s also a prototype that has yet to be included in a working device.

Other companies, including Lenovo, have filed patents for foldable components, but none of them have yet to reveal a device, even at the prototype stage.

The foldable smartphone market is, at least for the present, confined to two major competitors: Huawei and Samsung. For those considering early adoption of this new smartphone form factor, the choice is ultimately inconsequential, and may be largely down to aesthetics.

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Should you buy the Huawei Mate X?

Folding smartphones are a new and exciting trend in an industry that has been largely stagnant for the past few years. Tech-obsessed professionals will likely be looking for a good reason to invest in the Huawei Mate X, but it’s worth slowing down to think about whether it’s a good idea before diving in.

Take CNET’s piece about why you shouldn’t buy a Galaxy Fold–many of the same reasons apply to the Huawei Mate X: It’s unknown how well the Android UI will take to the new form factor, battery life is a major unknown, the size is a bit bulky, and durability is a mystery as well.

Price is another important consideration, and if you thought the Galaxy Fold was expensive you’re not going to like the price tag on the Mate X: Huawei marked it at $2,600 USD.

SEE: Get more must-read smartphones and mobile tech coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

CNET makes another great point about the Mate X and other foldables– very little hands-on access has been allowed to the devices thus far, which should worry early adopters.

CNET’s Roger Cheng had a chance to handle a Mate X at MWC 2019 and said that it worked pretty well, aside from some stiffness in the hinge. Despite that, Cheng said he remains skeptical of foldable devices, and predicts that they may be a decade out from being practically useful.

For those still interested in the Mate X as a business device, it’s also worth noting that the Trump administration has been trying to ban Chinese telecommunications from US mobile networks out of security fears. This isn’t likely to have a direct impact on consumer devices like the Mate X, but given that the US government has yet to announce its ban, and in light of other institutions getting rid of Huawei equipment in an effort to appease the the Trump administration, it’s not a bad idea to wait to order any Huawei hardware, the Mate X included.

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When will the Huawei Mate X be available?

Huawei said that it plans to release the Mate X in the middle of 2019 but hasn’t given a specific date. The Mate X will be priced around $2,600 USD when it releases.

No carrier partners have been announced, and preorders are not yet available.

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