Huawei Mate Xs 2 first review: reviving a pioneer


(Pocket Ribbon) – Huawei was one of the first companies to launch a foldable smartphone with a flexible display in the Mate X. It was a pioneer in that regard, bringing to market a phone that we had never seen before.

The phone had a tablet-sized screen that folded around the hinge to close, making it feel like a regular smartphone before opening full-size.

Now Huawei is back with this old formula, but with refinements and improvements that should address many of those early sustainability issues. It’s slimmer and stronger than before, so can it deliver in ways the Fold 3 can’t?

Our quick take

In a market of book-style foldable phones and flip phones, the Mate Xs 2 has managed to stand out. It’s really unlike anything else, and it looks and feels like a truly immersive piece of hardware.

Sure, the lack of Google Play services is an issue, but with Huawei’s App Gallery improving in recent years and other – albeit slightly clunky – workarounds to get apps on the phone, that’s not much of an issue as it might be a a few years ago. What’s more, with a big screen like this, the browser might do a lot for you on this phone.

The only thing you can’t ignore is the price. With a price tag of €1999 in Europe (no prices in the UK yet), it’s hardly the cheapest phone out there and still in that ‘very expensive’ area.

For
Solid and durable design Large and bright screen Triple camera system appears strong Light and easy to hold

Against
It’s very pricey No 5G Old Snapdragon processor No Google Play

Design

Flip-out display Titanium alloy frame, fiberglass back, steel hinge plate156.5 x 139.3 x 5.4 mm (unfolded) – 156.5 x 75.5 x 11.1 mm (folded) 255 grams

There were two major concerns with the first few generations of Huawei’s foldable phones. First, sustainability. Not only because there is a bending screen and many moving parts in the hinge, but also because the screen was always on the outside and was not protected by glass.

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Second, mate. Many of the early foldable phones were as thick as two regular smartphones stacked on top of each other, taking up more space in your pocket and being quite difficult to use with one hand when closed.

Huawei has attempted to address these two pain points with the Mate Xs 2. The flexible display now consists of four composite layers stacked on top of each other. This was intended to make the screen more durable, but also to reduce the wrinkle that was very visible on previous versions.

The phone case is made of titanium alloy, with a back that is infused with fiberglass, while the hinge has a stainless steel cap. The end result is a phone that is much more durable and can withstand everyday knocks and bumps.

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This combination of materials also makes it lighter than the previous Mate Xs, and when open, it’s just 5.4mm thin at its thinnest point.

From a form factor point of view, it takes the key ideas of the Mate Xs. That means the screen is held in place with a catch on the inside of a grip that runs along one side of the phone. Press the small red button and the screen will release the screen to unfold it easily.

In the same grip, you’ll find the three cameras stacked vertically in a line. And it’s a convenient place to hold the phone in one hand. In some ways, this approach reminds us a bit of the Kindle Oasis. It’s got that narrow grip on one side, and the rest is a flat, skinny device that’s mostly made up entirely of the screen.

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Overall, it feels like a decent device based on our bit of time with it so far. The hinge feels smooth and solid when moving, and not loose at all. The phone doesn’t feel as clunky or heavy when held open. It still feels a little thick when folded up and held in one hand, but it’s not terrible. You could easily get used to it, especially if you’re used to bigger phones anyway.

Display

Flexible 7.8″ OLED panel 1 billion colors – 120 Hz refresh rates 2200 x 2480 resolution (424 ppi) 6.5″ – 1176 x 2480 folded

There’s no denying that the screen is the star of the show when it comes to features on the Huawei Mate Xs 2. When opened, it forms a large 7.8-inch panel that takes up almost all the space on the top surface, with thin bezels all the way around and only a small perforated selfie camera in the corner.

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Then when you close it, it takes the form of a much more traditional 6.5-inch screen, just like a normal smartphone. It’s also a great panel, looks like.


Through Rob Kerr
May 18, 2022

We’ve only used it for a short time, but it seems very bright and sharp, with great colors. And that really shouldn’t be a surprise. With a resolution of 2200 x 2480 delivering 424 pixels per inch, that means fine details should look really clear and sharp.

It is also OLED based and supports over 1 billion colors. Combined, that means excellent color coverage, a generally vibrant image with high contrast and really dark, inky blacks. What’s more, it is able to achieve refresh rates up to 120 Hz, and that should mean animations in the interface are nice and smooth.

Performance and battery

4600mAh Battery – 66W Fast ChargingSnapdragon 888 Processor8GB RAM – 256GB/512GB Storage

If there’s one part of the spec sheet that’s a little on the disappointing side, it’s the hardware and specs. It has a Snapdragon 888 processor, last year’s flagship chipset, which – for some – will be a bit of a letdown, especially when you consider the cost of the phone.

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Then there’s the fact that it doesn’t support 5G; you get up to 4G support. In addition, the battery inside seems quite small for a phone this large at 4600 mAh. Powering that big, bright and sharp screen could drain that pretty quickly. Although, again, we need to test it to see how it performs over an average work week or two.

On the other hand, Huawei has often been good at optimizing the battery in the past, delivering battery life that is seemingly beyond what its batteries should be able to handle. And there’s always fast charging to fall back on. In this case, that’s 66W SuperCharge. It should give you a quick refill if you are in a hurry and run out of juice.

Camera system

Triple camera system 50MP f/1.8 primary/wide-angle camera with PDAF8MP f/2.4 telephoto 3x optical zoom with OIS13MP f/2.2 ultra-wide 10.7MP perforated selfie camera

Huawei has long been a company that provides great cameras in its phones. Even with all the challenges it faces in the wake of the trade ban, it continues to deliver versatile and strong phone camera systems.

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With the Mate Xs 2 you get a triple camera system consisting of the usual primary (50 megapixels), ultra-wide angle (8 megapixels) and telephoto zoom with 3x optical (13 megapixels). Combined with some of Huawei’s advanced image processing capabilities, it promises photos with lifelike yet bright and vibrant colors.

Without testing it, of course, we don’t know if it delivers any good results, but based on some early hands-on time, it certainly seems like a strong all-round offering.

summarizing

Yes, it’s expensive and no, it doesn’t have 5G or Google Play, but the Mate Xs 2 is a testament to Huawei’s hardware design and innovation. It’s a wonderful example of a foldable phone form that other manufacturers generally shy away from.

Written by Cam Bunton.

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