Huawei pioneered foldable devices that were thought to have been retired until we discovered the Mate Xs 2. The original Huawei Mate X, followed by the Huawei Mate Xs, is a phone series that folds in the opposite direction from the popular Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, placing the foldable, enveloping screen on the front of the closed phone.
This unique wraparound folding design offers a wealth of benefits, as evidenced by the predecessor to the Mate Xs 2. These include a thinner body, a larger tablet screen and a comfortable front display in smartphone mode. That’s in contrast to the hyper-tall 25:9 cover screen on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Z Fold 3, which is super narrow.
Despite the advantages, you cannot avoid the fact that an outdoor folding screen is more susceptible to damage than an indoor folding screen. Huawei’s phones have also been plagued with limitations in recent years – no Google services or 5G, and the Mate Xs series was reliably more expensive than the Z Fold series.
With all this in mind, Huawei’s new, improved, stronger foldable category skeptics (and Huawei skeptics) might convince the brand that the brand is really pushing the boundaries in a meaningful way, or does it all feel like expensive filler from a brand struggling to stay mobile despite excelling in other product categories?
Huawei Mate Xs 2 price and availability
Launch times for the Huawei Mate Xs 2 have yet to be confirmed, but we do know it’s coming to Europe in June or soon after – specific details have yet to be confirmed.
Costing around €1,999 – around £1,700 / $2,710 / AUS$3,000, it’s one of the most expensive foldable phones we’ve seen yet and shows Huawei is bucking Samsung’s trend towards more affordable foldable phones.
Design and display
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 unfolds thin – just 5.4mm across most of its body, with a wedge at the end where the phone’s brain lives. That’s even thinner than the already waif-like 6.4mm Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The main design improvement we noticed once we started playing with it was the closure. It’s now much easier to lock the phone shut – there’s no big ‘click’ when you push it into place like on the Mate Xs, just a smooth, unnoticeable mechanism that keeps it closed.
The Mate Xs 2 still bounces back when unlocked from closed to open, so it doesn’t offer the range of folding angles available on Samsung’s foldable devices. The Falcon Wing hinge is not designed to be semi-open.
The large flexible display is both the tablet screen and the phone screen, which means that in phone mode, the back of the phone is partial screen. This is useful in some cases – you can start a preview in the camera app so that your subject can see what you are shooting. That said, it’s also a weakness, after all, folding screens are historically fragile.
On the thick strip on the right side of the Xs 2 is a USB-C port for charging on the base, a volume rocker and power button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner on the side, and the cameras on the back.
The back of the phone, on the back of the screen, is a shaded textured fiberglass material that Huawei claims is both lightweight and durable, with the rest of the frame being free of buttons and ports.
As for the display, this is where Huawei claims it has improved durability. The screen benefits from a four-layer system that protects it from dents, and it looks and feels more like glass than the more warped Mate Xs.
The screen measures 7.8 inches when open and 6.5 inches when closed, surpassing the Z Fold 3 in size and clarity. The fact that you swipe the same screen whether you’re in phone or tablet mode means you get the same screen experience no matter how you use the phone. That means a 120Hz OLED screen with a pixel density of 424 pixels per inch.
In real life, it looks serious and colorful, with 10-bit images and deep OLED blacks. There’s a noticeable bulge in the center, but it’s less pronounced than the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s crease.
Performance and software
Unlike Huawei’s tablets and smartwatches, the Mate Xs 2 and its entire phone line runs EMUI, Huawei’s layer over Android.
Like other Huawei phones, the Mate Xs 2 doesn’t have access to the Google Play Store and Google Play services, but it takes advantage of some of Huawei’s improvements to get more out of its large, fold-out screen. It’s easy to start multitasking, with both split-screen and floating-window apps.
Huawei is trying to take the sting out of the missing Play Store by investing heavily in the AppGallery, which integrates a feature called Petal Search. This gives you access to most of the apps you probably need, including Disney Plus, Netflix, and Instagram.
As for the inside of the phone, it uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 4G – a 2021 flagship processor with 5G disabled. This rolled back power and connectivity puts the Mate Xs 2 on the back foot from a performance standpoint, and the lack of 5G (which is due to sanctions against Huawei) is another tough pill to swallow, given the phone’s price. .
As for the battery, it’s a 4,600mAh cell, charging the phone up to 66W. Unlike the Z Fold 3, Huawei’s foldable flagship lacks wireless charging, but the slightly larger battery is a blessing.
Huawei is known for great camera technology, and a 50MP main camera with an f/1.8 lens leads the charge for the Mate Xs 2. There’s also an 8MP telephoto camera with a 3.4x optical zoom, paired with an f/2.4 lens. , and a 13MP ultra-wide camera with an f/2.2 lens.
Most notably, Huawei has added a punch-hole selfie camera to the phone’s display. On the one hand, this interrupts what was an expansive, full-screen design on the last-generation Mate Xs. On the other hand, as a phone it should all work a lot better – you don’t have to open it for video calls or to take a selfie.
It is always difficult to summarize the Huawei kit. The technology in the Mate Xs – the screen, design and engineering that brings it all together – is exceptional. But the fact that Huawei can’t use Google services or 5G in its phones is a serious blow.
The Mate Xs 2 is also super expensive. So while this is the most exciting 2022 smartphone design yet, and undoubtedly a powerful, capable phone that will likely have strong cameras and a smooth, optimized interface, it will still be an incredibly tough sell.
All this means that the Mate Xs 2 is a powerful demonstration of Huawei’s technical excellence and resilience. What it probably isn’t, though, is your next smartphone (unless you’re very, very rich).