Less than a month ago, Huawei announced in China what would be its fifth folding phone: the Huawei Mate Xs 2. Five, which is said soon The company began its journey in folding devices in February 2019 with the Huawei Mate X and its striking design with a single screen that is on the outside and not inside the device. Since then, they have explored other formats such as the clamshell type of the Huawei P50 Pocket or a more ‘Fold’ style with the Huawei Mate X2, but the idea of the external screen is the one that has penetrated the most.
The proposal was very innovative at the design level and, three years later, Huawei continues to squeeze it with the Huawei Mate Xs 2, its latest folding phone that has just arrived in Europe for the not too modest price of 1,999 euros. Things have changed a lot since the first release. Now the terminal arrives without Google services, without 5G and with an outdated processor, courtesy of the blockade by the United States. We have had the opportunity to spend some time testing it and we bring you our first impressions.
An all-too-familiar design, now lighter than ever
As we said at the beginning, Huawei continues to squeeze the design concept that they released in 2019 with their first folding. Unlike the rest of the proposals on the market, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 has a single screen that wraps around the device from the outside rather than the inside. Closed, we have a device with a classic format. When unfolding it, the entire screen is activated, giving way to a surface of 7.8 inches which is more like a mini tablet with a square format.
Unlike other foldables like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 has a single screen and thanks to this not as thick when folded. Specifically, when folded, it is 11.1 millimeters thick, compared to 14.4 mm for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3.
What will happen if we drop it and hit that side? We did not want to find out, but it does not give too much peace of mind that the screen is so exposed.
The feeling when holding it is that of a slightly thicker than normal mobile. The only thing that reveals that we are facing a folding is that we do not have a left frame, but the screen folds and occupies almost the entire rear. It’s not uncomfortable, but yes It raises many doubts about its durability. What will happen if we drop it and hit that side? We did not want to find out, but it does not give too much peace of mind that the screen is so exposed. What we did verify is that it attracts a lot of fingerprints and, due to its design, it is impossible not to touch this screen, so it is always dirty. Cleaning maniacs, get a good chamois.
In the rear we have more screen and the module where the cameras are located, which occupies the entire height of the device. And how do we open the mobile? Here we cannot open the mobile manually, but we have to use the physical button that is located on the rear module. When pressed, the mobile opens almost like a spring. It is a comfortable gesture in the sense that the button is well placed and it is not easy to accidentally press it, but it is a bit abrupt as the screen opens. To close it we also have to do some force until the click is heard. This doesn’t have to be bad, actually. the system conveys a feeling of robustness, although personally I would appreciate a little more softness in the hinge in general.
With the mobile open, the thickness of the terminal decreases and it becomes more comfortable to hold. In addition, since the camera module is on the right side, we can almost use it as a kind of handle that makes it even more comfortable. Besides, the back has a textured finish that improves grip. Very good here.
With a quarter of a kilo, we can not say that it is a light mobile, but considering its unfolded size, the feeling in the hand is more than reasonable.
Huawei continues to squeeze the same design formula from its first folding, but it has improved it and in this generation the weight has been reduced considerably. To give you an idea, the Huawei Mate X weighed 295 grams and this generation remains in 255 grams. With a quarter of a kilo, we can not say that it is a light mobile, but considering its unfolded size, the feeling in the hand is more than reasonable.
The single screen foldable. and what screen
Having a single screen is probably one of the distinguishing features of the Huawei Mate Xs 2. The same panel serves as a “normal” mobile phone and a tablet. As we have already seen, this helps the mobile not to be so thick and also makes the experience of going from one screen to another more fluid and consistent.
In terms of quality, we have a density of 424 dots per inch, more than enough to give us sharp images. Colors are a bit saturated out of the box, but you can adjust it in settings. Very good in terms of contrast and brightness, although this last point we could not put to the test in more complex conditions such as on a sunny day. The feeling is that the brightness is quite high, but the ease of catching fingerprints can be an issue that hinders visibility.
That the screen is on the outside plays in its favor with respect to the fold. As the radius is larger, there is no mark on the screen as it happens in other foldables.
And let’s talk about a critical point in folding phones: the fold of the panel. Here the wrap-around design on the outside plays in its favor again. In mobiles like the Huawei P50 Pocket or the Galaxy Fold, the screen folds almost completely, leaving a small mark on the panel. It is not a drama, but it is noticeable to the touch and sometimes also to the eye. Since the Huawei Mate Xs 2 screen is outside, the radius of the fold is much larger and that mark is avoided altogether. It is not noticeable to the touch or to the eye because it is not directly there.
The screen responds quickly when we open it and vice versa, adjusting the content to the new format. To find a problem with having the screen outside is that we will only be able to use the front part when it is closedthe rear one next to the cameras will remain off all the time except when we open the camera to take a selfie.
Somewhat outdated hardware and software weighed down by the eternal shadow of the blockade
As we already knew, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 comes with the Snapdragon 888, a processor from last year and without 5G. We are talking about the chip that was Qualcomm’s flagship in 2021, so fluidity is guaranteed, but it is still a big disadvantage compared to its competition, especially if we take into account its price. During the time we tested it, we did not have any problems in terms of performance, although we did notice that it got a little hotter than necessary after prolonged use, but we will have to wait for the review to see if it is something worrying or specific (in the demos area mobiles are always on).
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 arrives with the Snapdragon 888, a processor from last year and without 5G, without a doubt a great disadvantage compared to its competition.
And let’s talk about software, which by the way is Harmony OS 2.0. From what we could see, the version is indistinguishable from the EMUI 13 layer that we have in current Huawei mobiles, the doubt arises with how the updates will be. Versions aside, Huawei has nurtured its new foldable with multitasking functions so that we can have several apps open, either in split screen or in floating windows. From what we could test, multitasking works fine, but It has so many options that it requires some learning. In fact, the first time we try to use it, a mini-tutorial with all the available options skips us.
Regarding available apps, we have to limit ourselves to what we have in the App Gallery. New apps keep coming to the store, but there are still great absences that weigh down the experience a lot. That yes, in Huawei they wanted to show off variety and the mobiles in the demo area were well loaded with apps. Some even had Tinder installed.
Triple camera with a less ambitious, but versatile zoom
Regarding the cameras, although we were able to take some photos in the demo area, it was not possible to obtain the samples to show them in these first impressions. What we can tell you ahead of time is that the sharpness surprised us for good, including the wide-angle sensor who is usually the one who suffers the most in complicated situations.
We will have to wait for the review to learn more in detail about the photographic capabilities of the new Huawei foldable, although there is a novelty that deserves to be commented on and that is that It has a selfie camera located in the upper right corner of the screen. The previous model did not have a selfie camera and forced us to always use the main camera. We can continue to do so, but with the new front camera it will be much more comfortable to make video calls.
The best foldable in design, the worst in everything else
Some time ago I had the opportunity to test the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 for a month. With the Huawei Mate Xs 2 I have been able to spend much less time, but it has been enough to realize that this design solution is much better for a “mobile-turns-tablet” foldable.
Having a single screen makes it thinner and it does not have a marked crease. The main question is that the screen is too exposed and we are not sure how it would withstand a fall, but otherwise it is much more comfortable. That Huawei continues to squeeze the same design could be seen as a negative point, but if something works, do not change it. Perfect it, yes. And they have.
Without 5G, with a processor from last year, without Google apps and with a price of almost 2,000 euros, we can’t think of many arguments in its favor.
The problem with the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is that it has several problems. And of the serious ones. Without 5G, with a processor from last year, without Google apps and with a price of almost 2,000 euros, we can’t think of many arguments in its favor. If a foldable is no longer a device for everyone, in this case things get even more complicated. In China you may have a chance, but here it will be very difficult.