Five, said soon, the company began its journey in this folding device with the Huawei Mate X and its striking design with a single screen outside and not inside the machine. 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. Three years later, Huawei continues to squeeze it with the Huawei Mate Xs 2, the 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 Now the terminal comes without Google services, without 5G, and with an outdated processor, courtesy of the blockade by the United States.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.
The single screen is foldable
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 phone not to be so thick and makes the experience of moving 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 somewhat saturated out of the box, but you can adjust them in settings. Very good in contrast and brightness, although we could not put this last point to the test in more complex conditions such as on a sunny day. The feeling is that the intellect is relatively 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 concerning the fold; the radius is more significant, and there is no mark on the screen as in other foldable.
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 to the eye. Since the screen of the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is on the outside, the radius of the crease is much larger, and that mark is wholly avoided. It is not noticeable to the touch or 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. A downside to having the screen outside is that we will only be able to use the front part when it is closed; the rear one next to the cameras will remain off all the time except when we open the camera to take a selfie.
The eternal shadow of the blockade weighed down somewhat outdated hardware and software.
As we already know, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 comes with the Snapdragon 888, a previous processor, and without 5G. We are talking about the chip that was Qualcomm’s flagship in 2021, so fluidity is guaranteed. However, it is still a significant disadvantage compared to its competition, especially considering its price. When we tested it, we did not have any problems in terms of performance. However, we did notice that it got a little hotter than necessary after prolonged use; 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 significant disadvantage compared to its competition.
And let’s talk about the software, which 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, and the question arises of what the updates will be like. Performances aside, Huawei has nourished 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 well, but it has so many options that it requires some learning. A mini-tutorial with all the available options skips us the first time we try to use it.
Regarding available apps, we must limit ourselves to what we have in the App Gallery. New apps continue to arrive in the store, but there are still extensive absences that weigh down the experience a lot. Of course, Huawei wanted to show off the 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 could take some photos in the demo area, it was not possible to obtain the samples to show them in these first impressions. We can tell you that the sharpness surprised us for the better, including the wide-angle sensor, which is usually the one that suffers the most in complicated situations.
We will have to wait for the review to learn more about the photographic capabilities of the new Huawei foldable. However, a novelty that deserves to be commented on 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 always to use the primary camera. We can continue doing so, but with the new front camera, it will be much more comfortable with making video calls.
The best foldable in design, the worst in everything else
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 for me to realize that this design solution is much better for a foldable “mobile that becomes a tablet” type.
A single screen makes it thinner and does not have a marked crease. The main doubt 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.