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Huawei Mate X2 is impressive, exciting and doomed

The Huawei Mate X2 should make Huawei proud, even if it’s probably going to be a sales flop.

Announced earlier this week, the Chinese company’s latest foldable is an impressive technical achievement. Compared to current top foldable, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Huawei’s new offering does almost everything better on paper. However those few areas where it’s worse which are so bad it simply becomes unable to compete.

Mate X2: What Huawei gets right

(Image credit: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Let’s go over the Mate X2’s highlights. For me the most obvious improvement over other foldables are its cameras. Having a quartet of sensors, including two telephoto cameras, offers the same quality of camera hardware you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, a conventional smartphone praised as one of the best camera phones. Mounting all these cameras onto a foldable is not only an impressive feat of engineering but is arguably the kind of camera offering foldables should always have had, considering their price.

The Mate X2 also beats its rival on its displays too. The Huawei has larger screens both inside and out, with both refreshing at 90Hz. Although the interior display on the Z Fold 2 manages a higher 120Hz refresh rate, the external screen remains at 60Hz.

Huawei Mate X2

(Image credit: Chen Hao/VCG via Getty Images)

There’s more to appreciate under the Mate X2’s skin too. A powerful 5G-ready Kirin 9000 chipset powers the phone, and you also get rapid 55W wired charging. While the Mate X2 is running on Android 10 instead of Android 11, Huawei has added enhancements that benefit the folding form-factor like foldable-optimized apps and simultaneous active and floating windows. 

Speaking of form-factor, Huawei hasn’t been too proud to go back and change the Mate X2’s folding style. Back when the original Huawei Mate X launched, the phone maker was adamant that the exterior folding display was the superior design since it only required a single display. But with folding screens being so fragile, the more ensconced book-style fold with a primary internal and secondary external display has won out, and Huawei adopted it for its second-generation Mate X. It feels like a smart decision for Huawei to quit while it was ahead.

Huawei Mate X2

(Image credit: Photo by Chen Hao/VCG via Getty Images)

One thing I’m undecided on, at least until I get some hands-on time with the Mate X2 myself is the device’s asymmetrical body. Rather than make the phone a uniform thickness, Huawei’s given the phone a tapered design, with the widest point on the side where the cameras are (in order to fit the periscope telephoto lenses in), and the thinnest at the opposite end. Huawei claims this makes the phone easier to use with one hand, but it also sounds like the Mate X2 could be horrendously unbalanced and tricky to handle when you’ve opened the phone.

Mate X2: Why Huawei’s phone will falter

So as a whole, the Mate X2 has many pros. Now it’s time to acknowledge the cons that are going to kill the phone’s chances of success, at least outside of Huawei’s home market.

Huawei Mate X2

(Image credit: Lyu Liang/VCG via Getty Images)

The Mate X2 isn’t even an option for our readers in the United States, since Huawei devices are not sold there. But if you’re in the U.K. like me, you might actually be tempted to buy the new foldable. 

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