Today was definitely quite memorable one, thanks to a few hours we’ve spent in BGC for a much anticipated roundtable and a hands-on of perhaps, one of the most iconic devices to break ground this year, the Huawei Mate X.
Introduced at MWC 2019, the Mate X is the brand’s first foldable smartphone/tablet with 5G capabilities, and is a combination of numerous innovations, from the patented hinge, to a modem that’s built on a 7nm process, allowing for ultra-fast connection speeds, and SuperCharge technology which is faster than ever.
Design and Build Quality
In phone mode, the Mate X looks like any other smartphone. You get a huge 6.6-inch notch-less OLED display with bezels that aren’t the thinnest out there, but also aren’t anything that ruins the viewing experience. Speaking of which, the display shows punchy colors, sharp text, and good detail.
Laying flat on the ground, the device only measures 11mm, which is just about as thin as today’s phones, and is thinner than its competition. The volume rocker and power button, which also serves as the fingerprint sensor are placed conveniently at the right side.
Even with such a big screen, one-handed operation wasn’t cumbersome at all. And despite the number of moving parts, and the fact that it has three screens, the Mate X did feel sturdier than I expected.
At the back of the device is a 6.38-inch display, which can also be used as a mirror screen when taking a photo of someone, so that the subject can already see how he or she will look in the photo before you even take it. There’s also a Leica triple camera setup composed of – a Main, Ultrawide Angle, and Telephoto lens.
Before you can unfold the phone, you’ll have to press a dedicated button on just below the camera module. And while the entire period of switching to tablet mode can be quite scary at first, do it again and again, and you’ll eventually be switching back from one mode to another without any hesitation.
The Falcon Hinge design, which consists of over 100 components working together to achieve a seamless folding mechanism does a good job of ensuring a flat 8-inch display in tablet mode.
There was a very small bump in the middle of the screen that can only be seen in certain angles, but the company did say that they are working to fix it.
They also didn’t say how many cycles the hinge is rated at, but it should last for a reasonable amount of time.
A Whole New Level of User Experience
In tablet mode, split-view multi-tasking can be enabled by a three-finger swipe, so you can basically watch a YouTube video for example, and check out another website on the other side. The Kirin 980 and does shine here with its performance, as there were no hints of lag or stutter. The UI itself was also quite responsive. Add 8GB of RAM, and multi-tasking should be a breeze.
So what about games? well, if Mobile Legends is your thing, it certainly looks more immersive here, with a wider field of view. Surprisingly, the size of the device was just right for using the game’s control buttons. Of course, the game isn’t optimized for the display’s aspect ratio, yet. So some elements of the UI seem to be a bit too small or are somehow out of place.
Surely, you’d also ask, what happens when you switch modes when, say, in the middle of playing a game? well, the good news is that it won’t close, but will continue to run, and will then be adjusted to fit in the display you’re playing on, be it on the front or at the back. There’s a bit of stutter when switching of course, but that’s perhaps more of a software thing.
You’re 5G-Ready, When it Comes
Connectivity-wise, the Mate X is equipped with the Balong 5000 modem, which basically guarantees blazing-fast 5G speeds, of course, that’s when it becomes available here in our country. At the very least, you’re future-proofed, right?
Then lastly, the device is capable of 55W SuperCharge, which can charge its 4,500mAh battery to 85% in 30 mins. Of course, we weren’t able to test that due to the limited time we had, but we’ll believe their claim for now. Huawei has also made a new type of charger that can cater to both smartphones and laptops, saving you the hassle of carrying separate chargers for your gear.
So what do we think of Mate X? well, it seems that Huawei has done their homework. The device is perhaps one of the prettiest we’ve seen, the folding design is well-implemented, and the device feels sturdy despite its moving parts. The display is also one of the richest and most vivid that we’ve come across.
Gaming in tablet mode is indeed more fun and immersive, and content consumption, whether it’s reading an article, watching a YouTube video, or even checking a map, offers a whole new level of user experience. I can only imagine what app developers will be able to do once they fully take advantage of its multiple screens. Best of all, you’re 5G-ready.
Now, you’d imagine that all of this comes at a hefty price tag, and most you’re actually right. The Mate X costs 2,299 Euros, or in our local currency, just shy of PhP135,000. I know, that’s a lot of money for a phone.
But this isn’t just any ordinary phone. The Mate X is the beginning of a new generation of smart devices to come. And in that regard, we won’t hesitate to buy it, given that we have the means to. They didn’t say if the device will even hit our local stores, but we sure hope it does.
Actually, it makes us even more excited for what’s down the road a couple of years from now – will the foldable design make it to the mid-range, or even the budget segments? we’ll have to see.
Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.