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Huawei just teased a big design change for its 2021 foldable flagship

Published Feb 3rd, 2021 11:51PM EST
Huawei Mate X2

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  • Huawei will unveil the Mate X’s successor on February 22nd, according to a teaser from the Chinese smartphone maker.
  • The new Mate X2 will feature a different foldable design, with a flexible display placed on the inside of the device.
  • Huawei’s Mate X2 will likely not run Google’s version of Android, as Huawei is still banned from doing business with US companies.

The Huawei Mate X stole the show at MWC in February 2019, in what now seems like it happened a lifetime ago. The Huawei foldable launched after the Galaxy Fold but featured a much better design. While the Galaxy handset folded like a book, the Mate X folded outwards, keeping the screens on the handset’s exterior even when it was folded closed. The phone looked great in person, but it wouldn’t end up being a success story.

A series of events would end up hurting the Mate X series in the coming months. In late April 2019, Galaxy Fold reviewers found that the screen could be destroyed with ease, forcing Samsung to postpone the launch to September of that year. The Mate X saw its own launch delayed after that. In May 2019, the US banned Huawei from doing business with American companies or firms using American-made tech. While the ban would not necessarily hurt the first-gen Mate X, any Mate X successors would have launched with a different type of operating system onboard. As a result, there was no real Mate X2 last year, though Huawei launched a Mate Xs refresh. But Huawei is now teasing a new foldable flagship launch for February 22nd, and this time around, we are looking at the Mate X2.

The main Mobile World Congress event hosted each February in Barcelona, Spain has been moved to late June, on account of the ongoing pandemic. MWC Shanghai will take its place in late February, which explains Huawei’s teaser on Weibo. The company posted the following image, which indicates that a press conference will take place on February 22nd for the Mate X2. That’s one day before MWC Shanghai officially kicks off.

Image source: Huawei via Weibo

Aside from the date and product name, the teaser image also gives us a close-up look at the Mate X2 handset. Huawei might not show us the entire phone, but a glance at that photo is enough for anyone familiar with the Mate X to tell you that the sequel will deliver a massive design change.

The foldable screen is placed inside the phone this time, and the phone will fold like a book, just like all of Samsung’s first foldable phone. This could increase the handset’s durability, as the main screen would not be as exposed like it is on the original Mate X.

It’s unclear what sort of display the Mate X2 will feature. Samsung moved to Ultra Thin Glass last year. The screen is still fragile, but it’s better than plastic. Also, it’s unclear what the exterior of the phone will look like.

The Mate X2 will likely feature a second display on the outside, so the phone can be used for some tasks without opening it. There’s always a chance the phone will have more than one hinge, of course. This would give the Mate X2 an even bigger screen in tablet mode, and one-third of that screen would act as the display when it’s folded. That’s just speculation, as we haven’t had any Mate X2 leaks recently to detail Huawei’s advancements in the foldable phones business.

Regardless of how the Mate X2 folds and how many displays it might feature, what is abundantly clear is that the handset isn’t something Western buyers will want. Foldables already have sky-high price tags, and the Mate X2 will also likely be expensive. But the main problem with it is the software. The US ban is still in place, which means the Mate X2 can’t run Google’s version of Android.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.