Although it will launch with a few fatal flaws, the Huawei Mate X2 is still a phone to be excited about. Not only is it a rare launch of a new foldable phone, it’s also a big departure from the previous foldable Huawei produced.
The two big limitations will be the lack of Google apps and its unavailability in the U.S.. It’s still worth paying attention though since Huawei often has some excellent hardware to show off. Moving from its first generation of folding phone to its second, Huawei will have, in theory, made major refinements to its design, albeit at the expense of the original’s more unique look. With the launch merely days away, here’s what we know currently about the Huawei Mate X2.
Huawei Mate X2 release date
As Huawei itself announced, we’ll get our first look at the Mate X2 on February 22. As for a retail release date, that’s less clear. The original Huawei Mate X didn’t come to the U.K., where Huawei sells most of its phones. The revised Huawei Mate Xs was sold in the U.K., so hopefully that does mean the X2 will also be available.
U.S. users are out of luck though, as Huawei doesn’t offer its products for sale on the other side of the Atlantic. The best course of action if you did want a Mate X2 would be to import one via a third-party online store, although that’s an awful lot trickier and more expensive than buying phones locally.
Differences can redefine the rules. 22.02.21. #HUAWEIMateX2 #ImagineWhatUnfolds pic.twitter.com/YRscrPX0GIFebruary 18, 2021
Huawei Mate X2 price
The Mate X was one of the most expensive phones in the already expensive foldables segment – costing £1,999 at launch, with the Mate Xs costing even more at £2,229. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 costs £1,799. It would be good if Huawei could drop the price to be in line with the Z Fold 2, since very few people are going to spend over two grand on a phone.
Huawei Mate X2 design
The new Huawei foldable is a huge departure from the first. The original used a “falcon wing” folding design, with a single display curving around the outside of the hinge. The new one is rumored, and hinted at by official materials, to be using the more common book-style fold, where the main display is hidden on the inside when the phone is folded up. To make up for this, the Mate X2 is thought to be gaining a secondary display on the front for use when the phone’s folded up (see below).
The camera block on the Mate X acted like a handle on the right edge of the phone, and fit snugly with the other half of the display when folded up. This likely won’t return in the same form. Although Huawei could use arrange the cameras vertically, to differentiate this phone from its other flagship lines.
We know the measurements of the unfolded phone according to Digital Chat Station on Weibo: 6.8 x 5.7 x 0.3 inches (161.8 x 145.8 x 8.2mm), plus its total 10.4 ounce (295g) weight. That’s larger and heavier than the Galaxy Z Fold 2, although, it will be interesting to know how compact the Mate X2 is when folded up, considering this will be how the phone will be most often carried.
Huawei Mate X2 display
There was a single 8-inch panel on the Mate X and Mate Xs, which, when folded, became a primary 6.6-inch display and a rear 6.38-inch display. The main display is thought to be 8 inches once again, but as a result of the design change, we could see some big changes to the rest of it.
With the main screen on the inside, Huawei has installed a secondary display on the front of the Mate X2, to allow users to access apps when it’s not fully open, according to a Twitter leak from Digital Chat Station. It’s another design element taken from the Galaxy Z Fold 2, but one that users will likely appreciate.
#DigitalChatStation The Huawei Mate X2 engineering machine is about this long, which is considered thin and light in a folding screen mobile phone. The secondary screen is a 16mp+ sensor with dual holes, and the main screen has no holes, which is pretty cool. pic.twitter.com/nbcd2VuK4mFebruary 3, 2021
Unlike Samsung’s foldable, the Mate X2 design shown by Digital Chat Station has no internal cameras. It would mean you couldn’t take selfie shots while using the unfolded display, but it would mean you could enjoy content on the full screen without a little black hole spoiling the view.
Huawei Mate X2 cameras
The first Mate X used a single array of cameras that could be pointed both forwards or backwards depending on how you held the phone. It meant that you had the same choice of sensors for selfies as you did for normal photography, or that the people you were taking a photo of could see themselves in a rear viewfinder
With the new design, there’s now a clear differentiation between front and back cameras. Another Digital Chat Station leak from Weibo claims there’s a quartet of 50MP, 16MP, 12MP and 8MP sensors on the back, and a 16MP sensor on the front. Looking back to the design above, the front camera punch-hole seems to have room for a second camera, likely an IR sensor for facial recognition and depth effects.
As for the rear cameras’ functions, we can expect the basic combination of main, telephoto and ultrawide cameras, plus perhaps a depth sensor to round it out. We know one of them is a telephoto sensor with 10x optical zoom, which is far better than any zoom sensor found in a foldable so far. Even the Z Fold 2 only manages 2x optical zoom.
The 50MP sensor is presumably a main camera equipped with Huawei’s unique RYYB sensor. To summarize, this type of camera senses different colors to a normal RGGB camera, which allows it to be more sensitive to light. Therefore, the Mate X2 should offer excellent low-light performance based on this sensor’s previous use in the Huawei P40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro.
Huawei Mate X2 performance, battery and charging
Inside the Mate X2, Huawei has said it will use the Kirin 9000 chipset, the newest chip from Huawei’s partner company HiSilicon. This 5G-ready chip, likely accompanied by 8GB RAM, should offer strong performance for any app.
Like the Mate 40 Pro, the Mate X2 will offer 66W wired charging, a faster charging speed than all rival foldables. The previous Mate X was unable to offer wireless charging since the display was on the outside of the device, but we hope the Mate X2 will work with Huawei’s 50W wireless charging.
The battery size rumored for the Mate X2 is 4,400 mAh, slightly smaller than the Galaxy Z Fold 2. That’s a reasonable size for a normal phone, but is perhaps a little small considering it’s got to power a much larger display than other phones.
Huawei Mate X2 software
Digital Chat Station claimed in his big Weibo leak that the Mate X2 will run on Android 10, rather than the newer Android 11. That’s unfortunate news since it means users would miss out on the newer system-level features until Huawei releases an update. However this probably isn’t the biggest problem with the Mate X2’s software.
Due to the U.S. government keeping Huawei on its “entities list” of potential national security threats, Google is barred from letting Huawei access any of its products except for the open-source version of Android. It means the Mate X2 will look and feel like a normal Android phone, except won’t be able to use Gmail, Chrome, YouTube or any of Google’s other apps. What’s more, without access to the Google Play Store, the Mate X2 will have to rely on apps found in Huawei’s own App Gallery, side-loaded apps or apps with official downloads available from other sources. Huawei phones are still usable in this state, but swapping to this from a different Android phone will mean you’ll have to break up with some of your favorite apps.
Huawei’s unlikely to sell many Mate X2s in the U.S. or U.K. Foldables are not currently big sellers due to increased pricing, and unless you’re already invested in Huawei’s cross-device ecosystem, you’re unlikely to pick a Mate X2 over a Galaxy Z Fold 2.
But even if it’s not a practical purchase, it’s still a phone to watch. While the design sounds similar to Samsung’s, Huawei’s still likely to offer some unique features, such as faster charging and better cameras, that will make us jealous that it’s not easier to buy over here. We will certainly be watching the reveal event on the 22nd with interest.