Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer products division, is already on record talking a pretty big game about the foldable smartphone the embattled China-based tech giant appears set to reveal at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month, with a press conference scheduled for Feb. 24. The company’s foldable handset is of course one of a slew of such devices coming very soon, with specs that include a reported 5-inch screen on the front, a notch that makes facial identification recognition possible, 5G — and, according to Yu, it will also be powerful enough to replace your computer. As he puts it, in fact, this is the “smartphone that comes after the smartphone.” The next evolution of one of if not the most successful consumer electronics product of all time. No pressure, right?
We still don’t know a few of the most important details, like what the official name will be. Huawei has dropped some hints along those lines, filing trademark applications for possible names like the Mate Flex, Mate Flexi, Mate Fold and Mate F. Meanwhile, Dutch blog LetsGoDigital has taken these and some of the relatively sparse other specifics about the device that are already known and produced a set of renders that make the company’s first foldable look, at first glance, pretty sleek.
The blog’s renders of this handset come on the heels of LetsGoDigital’s reveal of similar renderings for a new Samsung foldable that nobody seemed to realize was in the works, adding another potential competitor to this device from Huawei. We already knew one foldable smartphone is coming soon from Samsung, but now it seems the South Korea-based smartphone titan is also apparently working on a gaming smartphone that will be a foldable, as well.
Meanwhile, at the end of Huawei’s presentation last week of its Balong 5000 chipset which will support a range of 5G products, Yu indicated Huawei is indeed going to show off its foldable phone at Mobile World Congress. It, we should note, will be equipped with that new Balong 5000, a counterpart to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 modem. Among the things we don’t know is if it will come equipped with the M-Pen, like the Mate 20 X gaming phone, as well as how it will fold.
Pet LetsGoDigital, it seems Huawei’s foldable will open up to a tablet format and won’t have a clamshell design. But there’s also the question of whether the screen will fold inwards or out, and it’s also possible the display will be on the outside.
The arrival of Mobile World Congress will certainly be a big moment for this new era in smartphone design, since Huawei will be joined by a handful of other companies like Samsung, Motorola and Xiaomi all set to reveal similar foldables. Unlike those rivals, though, Huawei is dealing with a slew of bad press at the moment, not the least of which are the recent criminal charges unveiled against it in the US for a range of alleged crimes like fraud, and the US this week also finally moved to formally request the extradition of Huawei’s CFO from Canada to the US.
All of which is to say, the company will no doubt jump at the chance to change its narrative and generate some positive press coverage for a change in a few weeks.