We'll Finally See Huawei's Next Foldable Phone This Month

Illustration for article titled We'll Finally See Huawei's Next Foldable Phone This Month
Image: Huawei

Amid a massive sales slump and rumors about selling off its consumer phone business, it seems Huawei has decided to forge ahead with the release of its super premium second-gen foldable phone later this month

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In an official post on Weibo, Huawei teased the arrival of the Mate X2 on Feb. 22. This is the long-awaited follow-up to the original Mate X from back in 2019 and the slightly more polished Mate Xs from 2020. The big change, which is not entirely clear from the teaser pic, is that the Mate X2 is rumored to feature an inward folding flexible display—similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Fold2instead of the outward bending panel Huawei used on its previous foldable phones.

When Samsung and Huawei launched their first foldable phones, the contrasting builds of the Galaxy Fold and Mate X sparked a lot of debate as to which design would eventually win out, with a number of pros and cons for each.

On phones like the Galaxy Fold, using an inward folding design seems to offer a bit more durability, because when closed, the phone’s delicate flexible screen is protected from scratches by more sturdy glass or metal sides (though as we saw, there are other ways for a foldable phone to get damaged). The main downside of an inward folding screen is thickness, because when the phone is closed, you lose access to the flexible display, which then requires phone makers to add a secondary exterior display, thereby increasing the phone’s dimensions.

For outward folding phones, the larger radius of the bend means there’s less of a chance of a crease developing down the middle of a flexible display. Because the Mate X’s flexible screen wraps around almost the entire device when closed, Huawei was able to avoid including a secondary display and use a single camera module to capture selfies and more traditional photos. This meant the Mate X was significantly thinner than the Galaxy Fold while also featuring less redundant components. However, even though Huawei did make cases for the Mate X, its flexible screen was often left unprotected, which was an understandable source of concern for many buyers.

The rumored specs for the Mate X2 include a primary 8-inch foldable screen and a 6.45-inch secondary display, so it seems Huawei may have assessed Samsung’s designs and decided to test out an inward folding screen, too.

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The Mate X2 may also include built-in stylus support (something the Galaxy Z Fold2 doesn’t have) and a new laptop mode that allows you to turn the phone sideways and use it as a super tiny personal computer. Evidence of laptop mode was uncovered after a few unofficial Mate X2 phone renders showed up online, and while it would certainly require specialized software or tweaks to make it work, the Mate X2's laptop mode could be an important step forward in the evolution of foldable phones.

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Other rumored specs include a selection of high-end components, including support for 5G, a quad camera module with up to 10x zoom, up to 512GB of storage, and extremely quick 66W fast charging.

Huawei is planning to officially reveal the Mate X2 on Feb. 22, but considering previous Huawei foldable phones have only been available in China and Huawei is still being banned from including support for Google Mobile Services, it’s unlikely the Mate X2 will go on sale here in the States.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

DISCUSSION

Huawei’s consumer smartphone business is unlikely to rebound, or even last, without the Biden administration easing restrictions on Huawei doing business with US suppliers. You simply cannot make the fundamentals of a smartphone with US-supplied tech.