• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

We’ve seen the future of smartphones, and it’s the Huawei Mate Xs. This, above all other foldables (such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola Razr), is where we expect and want the foldable future to lie.

Sounds promising? It is. But this is also essentially a first generation device, so it’s not without its issues, and it has one problem above all others – faced exclusively by Huawei – which could make it a tough sell.

We’ll get into all that below, along with why we’re – for the most part – so happy with this take on a folding phone.

Screen

Huawei Mate Xs Tablet View

In a sense there’s not one screen here but three, but because it’s foldable it’s actually one big display that can essentially be divided into smaller sections.

When unfolded, the Huawei Mate Xs has an 8-inch 2200 x 2480 screen with 414 pixels per inch, making it the size of a small tablet. The iPad Mini for comparison has a 7.9-inch display. But you can also fold the Huawei Mate Xs in half, shrinking it down to phone size with a display on both the front and back.

Huawei Mate Xs Rear Folded

In this form its front screen is a 6.6-inch 1148 x 2480 one, and its rear display is an 892 x 2480 one. So unlike the Galaxy Fold, which folds inwards and relies on a much smaller secondary screen when in phone form, or the Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola Razr, which never reach tablet size, the Huawei Mate Xs really delivers the best of both phone and tablet worlds.

It has a good quality screen too, if one that’s not quite a match for, say, the Samsung Galaxy S20 or arguably even the Samsung Galaxy S10.

 

Design

Huawei Mate Xs Side Angle

With its minimal bezels and metal frame, the Huawei Mate Xs looks about as good as we’d expect an early foldable to, but there are some problems that come with being foldable. For one, it’s a bit thicker than most phones at 11mm when folded (though that’s still not too bad). It’s also inevitably quite heavy at 300g.

Having the screen fold in such a way that it’s always ‘open’, and when in phone form also extends to the back, also leaves us a little concerned about the durability. More than almost any other phone, this is one that you don’t want to drop. But that can’t be helped while retaining a design that’s otherwise the best we’ve seen on a foldable.

Overall, this is a phone that’s really going to turn heads. Even before you open it out into tablet form eyes are sure to be caught by the all-screen look with a display that curves onto the rear.

Huawei Mate Xs Folded

Power

The Huawei Mate Xs has an octa-core Kirin 990 chipset, which is the company’s top-end one and rivals the likes of the Snapdragon 865 (though arguably falls slightly behind that chip).

In any case, it provides more power than most users should need, and it’s paired here with 8GB of RAM, which is an acceptable amount for a flagship, but dwarfed by some phones which are starting to include 12GB or even 16GB of RAM. One thing the Huawei Mate Xs has that a lot of phones don’t though is a graphite cooling system, which keeps the phone cool even when you’re pushing the processor.

The Huawei Mate Xs also supports 5G, so its mobile data speeds will be fast too – assuming you pair it with a 5G plan and have 5G coverage.

Camera

Huawei Mate Xs Rear

The Huawei Mate Xs has a quad-lens camera, with a 40MP f/1.8 main lens, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens, and a depth sensor.

It’s a strong, versatile setup and it excels in the dark, but the most interesting aspects of the Huawei Mate Xs camera aren’t the lenses themselves, rather it’s how they’re arranged. You see, because the phone folds there’s no need for a front-facing camera, as you can still see part of the screen while using the main lenses, so this thing can take excellent selfies.

Plus, if you’re taking a photo of other people, they can see how they’re framed on one side of the screen while you’re lining the shot up on the other, so they can easily pose perfectly.

Features

The main thing to mention here is the interface, but not for what it offers so much as what it doesn’t, as like other recent Huawei phones, the Mate Xs doesn’t have access to Google apps and services, which also means no access to the Google Play app store.

Instead, you’ll be using Huawei’s App Gallery, among other third-party options, and these have big holes in their app offerings, limiting what you can get.

In the Box - Huawei Mate Xs

This may change over time, but it’s unlikely to soon, and even if it does, you still won’t be able to get Google apps like Chrome and YouTube unless the US’s beef with Huawei is overcome and the company is allowed to use US services again.

As things stand this is the biggest mark against the Huawei Mate Xs, and it certainly is a big problem, but the software isn’t a complete loss. The phone still runs Android 10, just overlaid with Huawei’s own interface.

And it’s quite a good interface, making the most of the foldable screen with the ability to run two different apps side by side, or even open one app in two windows, so you can manage different tasks within it. It’s mostly just the app selection that holds the Huawei Mate Xs back.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

The Huawei Mate Xs has not one battery but two, yet combined the size is still only a fairly ordinary 4,500mAh. That’s quite big for a phone but not for a tablet, which this doubles as.

Still, that’s probably helped keep the device fairly thin, and it should still last you a day of mixed/moderate use. It also supports very fast 55W charging, though there’s no wireless charging.

Memory comes in at 512GB, and there’s also the opportunity to expand that by up to 256GB more, though annoyingly you have to use a nano memory card, rather than the more common microSD card standard.

Connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and – as mentioned above – 5G.

Verdict

The Huawei Mate Xs is a brilliant phone. It’s the best folding design we’ve seen yet and one of the most polished foldables too.

It also excels in all the typical ways a smartphone should – the screen is good, the cameras impress, there’s lots of power, lots of storage, reasonable battery life, and 5G.

But three things hold the Mate Xs back. The first and most significant is the lack of Google. The second is the price, which like most foldable phones is prohibitively high for many would-be buyers. And the third is concerns about durability. That’s another thing somewhat shared by other foldables, but having the main display on the outside when folded shut makes it an even bigger concern here.

With all that in mind this definitely isn’t a phone for everyone. But if you want the cutting edge of tech and a surprisingly polished glimpse of the future, these are problems that it might be worth looking past.

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Specifications

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm): 161.3 x 146.2 x 5.4 (unfolded) / 161.3 x 78.5 x 11 (folded)
  • Weight (g): 300
  • Battery capacity (mAh): 4500
  • Colours: Interstellar Blue
  • Screen size (inches): 8 (unfolded) / 6.6 (main folded) / 6.38 (secondary folded)
  • Resolution: 2200 x 2480 (unfolded) / 1148 x 2480 (main folded) / 892 x 2480 (secondary folded)
  • Pixels per inch (PPI): 414
  • Processor: Octa-core
  • Processor make: HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Internal storage: 512GB
  • Expandable storage up to: 256GB
  • Camera: 40MP, 16MP, 8MP and depth sensor
  • Operating System: Android 10

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