Welcome to T3's official Huawei Mate Xs review. At Mobile World Congress last year T3 went hands on with the Huawei Mate X foldable phone and now, a year later, a year in which that original device did not get a widespread, mainstream release, its successor has arrived.
What follows is our early verdict hands on impression of the Huawei Mate Xs, which is broken down into a series of easy to digest sections including design, specs and camera system, among others. Will the Huawei Mate Xs make it into T3's list of best foldable phones? Is it a case of too little revision too late? Does the Samsung Galaxy Fold smoke the Xs? Read on to find out.
Huawei Mate Xs review: design and screen
The design of the Huawei Mate Xs is very familiar, and for all intents and purposes it looks and feels like last year's Mate X. The "falcon wing" hinge means that the same screen wrapped round a folding frame mechanism survives and, so Huawei are keen to state, it has been significantly improved, with new Fold-style caps placed at either end of it. The purpose of these caps is to protect the 100-part hinge from dust and debris.
And, speaking of the hinge mechanism, after spending some time folding and unfolding it, we can confirm that it feels better than than on the Samsung Galaxy Fold. When you fully open the phone there is a nice popping noise, while when it closes you get a satisfying click. Hype-aside, the Huawei Mate Xs' hinge is actually very accomplished, and of the folding phones on the market the best we've used.
In terms of display, the Xs has the same 6.6-inch front display, 6.4-inch rear display, and combined (in tablet mode) 8-inch screen that we saw on the Mate X. The screen when unfolded is 5.4mm, which feels as thin in the hand as you would imagine, while the phone is 11mm thick when closed in phone mode.
The same side-mounted bar / handle is still present on the Xs, too. This carries the Xs's recessed power button, as well as a fingerprint scanner for biometric security. As we noted in our original Mate X review, this side bar is actually really well implemented as it keeps the tablet screen free of clutter, helps keep the unfolded screen thin, and helps holding the device when in tablet mode, too.
Huawei Mate Xs review: camera system and software
And, speaking of the Mate Xs' sidebar, this features the device's quad-camera array, with four Leica-tuned lenses at your disposal. These are the same lenses that appear on the Huawei P30 Pro and Huawei Mate 30 Pro, and consist of a 40MP main sensor, a 3x optical, 30x digital 8MP telephoto sensor, a 16MP wide sensor (with a 2.5cm macro photo mode), and finally a 3D time-of-flight camera for depth sensing duties.
Interestingly, there is no selfie camera on the Mate Xs, with you instead just turning the device around so that its lenses are pointing at you or your chums. The benefit of this is that you get access to ultra-wide shots, TOF-enhanced bokeh, and optical zoom enhancement of your and your friends’ facial features. Basically, you get to use the full power of the Mate Xs' camera array, rather than a separate, lesser selfie camera.
Huawei Mate Xs review: connectivity and battery
While the Mate Xs has lost the ability to run Google apps, it retains the Mate X's 5G capabilities. Unlike the Mate X, though, this time the 5G chops comes installed in the brand new Kirin 990 chip, rather than sitting separately in the form of a Balong 5000 modem. This is important as, Huawei say, the phone will therefor support both current and future 5G network tech, including sub-6 and mm-Wave. This future-proofs the device somewhat.
Lastly, in terms of battery, the Mate Xs carries over the same 4,500 mAh battery that featured on the Mate X. This supports 55W fast charging, which can be achieved with the 55W fast charger that comes with the phone, and will recharge the Mate Xs to 85% capacity in just 30 minutes.
Huawei Mate Xs review: early verdict
The original Mate X never got any sort of mainstream release, so the fact that it has returned in a new and slightly improved form in the Xs is something that, from a tech enthusiast's point of view, is something to be celebrated.
To date Huawei's effort at a folding phone is the best we've seen and, price aside (which at €2,499 is a very serious outlay), feels like a device that many phone lovers would very much appreciate. It is, after all, a folding phone that actually works very well. The ability to transition from a phone to a tablet, and not have either form factor or functionality compromised, is really what this tech drive has been about all along. So in that sense Huawei should be praised.
With such a short period of time with the Huawei Mate Xs under our belts, though, it is hard to cast any firm judgment on the phone itself, or how it is actually like to live with. On face value it still looks like the Huawei has made the best foldable phone to date, beating the Samsung Galaxy Fold, in terms of hardware. But the phone's lack of Google apps is something that could affect how usable the phone is for many users — until we can live the the Mate Xs it is simply hard to judge.
In addition, many things remain to be tested with the Mate Xs, such as its battery life, benchmark scores and 5G connectivity in the real world. Naturally, T3 intends to do so as soon as we can get our hands on a unit for a long-term test. As such, keep your eyes glued to T3.com over the coming weeks for our full Huawei Mate Xs review.