Huawei Announces New Foldable Mate X2, HarmonyOS to Replace Android on Flagships from April

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on Monday unveiled its latest foldable flagship, the Mate X2, signaling continued efforts to lead the high-end smartphone space.

With a complete redesign from its predecessors, the Mate X and XS, the new 5G device has a large screen that unfolds from the inside like a book, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 2.

The smart-looking phone has an 8.01-inch display with a 2480×2200 pixel resolution and an 8:7.1 aspect ratio. Once the screen is folded back, the device has a 6.45-inch screen with a 2700×1160 pixel resolution and a 21:9 aspect ratio. Both displays are OLED panels and have 90Hz refresh rates. 

The Huawei Mate X2 is co-engineered with Leica. Touting it as the first foldable phone with a periscope lens, it is equipped with a rear camera set-up with 4 sensors, including a primary 50-megapixel wide-angle, a 16-megapixel ultrawide, a 12-megapixel telephoto with 3x optical zoom and an 8-megapixel SuperZoom. The external display has a 16-megapixel selfie camera but no camera on the foldable internal screen.

The Mate X2 features a new Falcon Wing hinge design, which reduces the phone’s overall thickness when folded, eliminating the perceptible gap seen in early foldable models.

The smart-looking device has an 8.01-inch display with a 2480×2200 pixel resolution and an 8:7.1 aspect ratio. (Source: Huawei)

The device carries Huawei’s self-developed Kirin 9000 chipset, manufactured by Taiwan’s TSMC. Inside, it packs a 4,500mAh battery which supports 55W fast charging. 

The 256GB version will be priced at 17,999 yuan ($2,786) while the 512GB model will retail at 18,999 yuan ($2941). The phone, which is available in black, white, blue and pink, will go on sale in China on Thursday. 

As with all new Huawei phones launched since late 2019 following U.S. sanctions, the Mate X2 will land on the market without Google support, and it is not clear if the device will be available in international markets.

The device currently runs EMUI 11.0 based on Android 10, but will be one of the brand’s first phones to be updated to its self-developed HarmonyOS in April, according to Richard Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business and cloud and AI businesses.

Huawei has already rolled out a Beta Version of the HarmonyOS 2.0 to some devices.

Richard Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, showcases the new Mate X2 at Monday’s launch event in Shenzhen. (Source: Huawei)

“2020 was an extraordinary and challenging year for Huawei,” Yu said at the launch event on Monday evening in Shenzhen.

“We found ourselves simultaneously attacked by the Covid-19 pandemic and the second and third rounds of US sanctions, which has posed great difficulties to our business operations and day-to-day work. However, thanks to the solid support of our partners, suppliers, and in particular, consumers around the globe, we survived 2020,” Yu said.

Huawei shipped 32 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2020, a decrease of nearly 43% from last year, according to research firm Canalys.

In 2019, the tech giant was put on the U.S.‘s Entity List which bars American firms from exporting technology to Chinese firms. The move cut off Huawei from Google’s Android operating system and threatened its hardware supply, including key chipsets.

In November 2020, the firm sold its budget smartphone sub-brand Honor to a consortium of over 30 agents, dealers and government-backed entities, saying it was under “tremendous pressure” to do so.

Last month, Reuters reported that Huawei is in early-stage talks to sell its premium smartphone brands P and Mate series, a piece of news later refuted by the company as well as Founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei.

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The P and Mate phone series are Huawei’s best-selling flagship phones, contributing nearly 40% to the company’s total sales in the third quarter of 2020, according to market research firm Counterpoint.