Huawei hosted a media event at its offices in Johannesburg today, where it confirmed the upcoming launch of its foldable Mate X in South Africa.
The company also allowed attendees to get their hands on a prototype version of the smartphone and experience the unique design.
While the device was a functional smartphone, Huawei stressed that it was an early version and that the final product would run more optimised software and could feature a number of enhancements to the display technology.
We tried out the Mate X and were instantly impressed with the efficiency and robustness of the foldable design.
The Huawei Mate X design sees the back screen folding out towards the user, which also acts as a rear display when folded.
This means the middle of the display acts as the hinge. This is accomplished through Huawei’s patented “Falcon Wing” hinge design.
Huawei SA CTO Akhram Mohamed said that Huawei has been researching foldable smartphone technology over the past three years, and the hinge inside the Mate X includes over 100 individual components.
The main idea behind the Mate X is the ability to use the device as a standard smartphone when folded, which is why the company went for the outward-folding design.
A full-screen front display and a large rear panel allow the smartphone to function like a flagship handset when folded, and opening the device delivers an 8-inch 2,480 x 2,200 tablet display for enhanced productivity and multimedia experiences.
Using the foldable smartphone
When first picking up the folded Huawei Mate X, it feels like holding a slightly-thick flagship smartphone – apart from the rounded hinge where the panel curves behind the back of the device.
From this configuration, you can use the smartphone as you would any other handset, although the photography experience is seriously enhanced.
When you open the camera app to take a photo, you can choose to display the camera feed on the rear panel of the device so that your subjects can see how they look before the image is taken.
Additionally, when you tap the selfie button, the Mate X asks you to turn the device around and use the rear display to capture a selfie from the main camera array.
Taking photos can also be done when the Mate X is unfolded, offering a much larger viewfinder feed.
These camera features worked flawlessly and the quality of the images were impressive, as Huawei has packed a powerful Leica triple-camera system into its device.
Folding and unfolding the device was also easy, as the hinge snaps to the folded and unfolded positions smoothly.
The Huawei Mate X does have a plastic cover over its display instead of the standard Gorilla Glass to allow it to fold, however, and this can be more prone to scratches.
There was remarkably little creasing in the middle of the panel when unfolded, though.
It is also very easy to hold the 5.4mm-thick smartphone when opened, thanks to the grip on this side which houses the cameras and hardware.
Viewing photos, watching videos, and multitasking is greatly improved by the large screen, and the software support for the foldable display looks to offer impressive functionality.
Photos of Huawei’s Mate X prototype are below.