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The first new foldable phone of 2021 is stunning, but there’s one big problem

Published Feb 22nd, 2021 12:37PM EST
Huawei Mate X2
Image: Huawei

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  • Huawei just unveiled the Mate X2 foldable ahead of MWC 2021 Shanghai.
  • The new foldable has a design similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 2, with a flexible OLED screen on the inside.
  • The phone offers several tech innovations unseen on other foldables, but the Mate X2 is quite expensive, starting at over $2,700.
  • There’s also another big problem: Like other Huawei flagships, the Mate X2 doesn’t support Google apps.

Huawei launched a new foldable handset for the third consecutive year, but the Mate X2 marks a stark departure from Huawei’s initial approach to foldables. The Mate X2 folds inwards, just like the Galaxy Fold and Z Fold 2. A secondary screen sits on the outside, and it’s quite generous, extending from edge to edge like what you’d expect from a regular smartphone. Also admirable is the fact that the main flexible display has no compromises. There’s no notch or hole-punch camera, as all the camera modules are placed on the outside of the handset.

Like the previous two Mate X foldables, the Mate X2 has a very hefty price tag — but it won’t necessarily be the phone’s cost that will stop you from buying one. The Mate X2 has the same problem that affects all Huawei Android handsets in western markets. The phone comes without the Play store or Google apps, as Huawei is still banned from doing business with US tech companies.

Interestingly, the Mate X2 has two sides that aren’t symmetrical, which is what you’d expect from foldables. The half of the handset that features the external display is 4.4mm thick near the edge, while the half containing the main camera is noticeably thicker. When folded, however, the phone has the same thickness on both sides thanks to the wedge design.

Huawei Mate X2
Image showing the unfolded Huawei Mate X2 highlights the wedge-like design. Image source: Huawei

Also, the two halves of the display fold perfectly, leaving no gap between them. That’s all thanks to the hinge that allows the screen to fold into a waterdrop-shaped cavity. The hinge also reinforces the middle section of the display, where creasing would typically appear on a foldable handset. It’s unclear whether this particular foldable display is made of glass or plastic, however.

The Mate X2 is the kind of Android flagship you’d expect this year. We’re looking at high-end specs packed into a foldable device that will turn a few heads. The main 8-inch OLED display features 2480 x 2000-pixel resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. The outer screen has a 6.45-inch diagonal measurement, 2700 x 1160 resolution, and the same 90Hz support.

Other specs include Huawei’s custom Kirin 9000 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB/512GB of storage, 4,500 mAh battery with 55W fast charging support, in-display fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G support, and USB-C connectivity.

Huawei Mate X2
Huawei Mate X2 color options and main camera module. Image source: Huawei

On the camera side, the Mate X2 features a quad-lens main camera system packing a 50-megapixel wide camera, 16-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, 12-telephoto camera (3x optical zoom), 8-megapixel SuperZoom camera (10x optical zoom). The external display features a 16-megapixel hole-punch selfie camera.

The phone runs Android 10 out of the box with EMUI 11.0 on top. But, again, there are no Google apps on this device. You’ll have to make ends meet with the Huawei AppGallery instead of Google Play. And Google’s apps like Gmail, Google Maps, and more aren’t available at all on Huawei’s platform.

The 256GB version costs 17,999 yuan ($2,783), while the 512GB model retails for 18,999 yuan ($2,938). The phone will be available in China on February 25th. Video of the full launch event follows below.

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.