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There’s a very good reason not to buy the most exciting foldable smartphone of the year

Published Sep 9th, 2019 11:44AM EDT
Mate X Release Date
Image: Chris Smith, BGR

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The most exciting foldable handset of the year is Huawei’s Mate X, which looks so much better than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Both devices were unveiled just a few days apart and were supposed to start selling in the first half of the year. But Samsung and Huawei ended up postponing those launches for different reasons. The Galaxy Fold is now available for preorder in South Korea with other markets to follow soon now that Samsung fixed the phone’s durability issues. The Mate X, postponed for more testing a few months ago, might hit stores as early as October, but there are a couple of details that could convince some people to skip the handset.

The Mate X was supposed to deliver specs on par with the Mate 20 Pro and P30 Pro — and we’re mainly talking about last year’s Kirin 980 processor here. But Huawei might manufacture an even better version in the near future, packing the faster next-generation Kirin 990 chip that comes both in 4G and 5G versions.

Huawei’s chairman Richard Yu told reporters that the Kirin 980 model might hit stores as soon as October, with the Kirin 990-powered Mate X to drop sometime later.

“We were going to sell the Mate X last month, but we postponed that,” the exec told journalists after Huawei’s IFA event last week, according to Digital Trends. Yu said that the slow rollout of 5G and continued app development were the reasons behind the launch delay.

“Maybe we will start to sell the Mate X next month,” he added, revealing that “we are also considering an upgrade to the new chipset.”

If you’re looking to spending more than $2,500 for a flexible device, maybe it’s worth waiting for the better model to roll out. That’s not necessarily the best way to buy mobile devices, as a better alternative is almost always just a few months away.

It turns out there’s a more severe problem that might affect Mate X sales going forward though, and that’s the Huawei ban. Last week Reuters reported that the upcoming Mate 30 Pro flagship might launch without Google apps and services, which would be a huge problem for Android users in all markets Huawei is present except for China. The reprieve the US government gave Huawei apparently doesn’t apply to new products like the Mate 30 or Mate X.

The Mate X will be affected by the same issue, with Nikkei saying the phone will ship “free of Google products and services.”

Paying more than $2,500 for this year’s most exciting foldable phone, regardless of its specs sheet, makes no sense if it ships without Google’s version of Android. The problem could be solved should the US lift the ban on Huawei in the near future, but for the time being it doesn’t seem like that will happen.

Huawei recently unveiled HarmonyOS, it’s own operating system for smartphones, computers, and basically any other gadget that needs an OS. While it’ll be easy to introduce Harmony phones in China, Huawei will have almost an impossible task convincing Android users to switch from Google apps to third-party alternatives.

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.

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