Foldable questions: Huawei Mate X2


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Hi everyone!


As you or may not have seen on our Twitter feed, I currently have a Huawei Mate X2 with me on loan from Huawei, and I only get to have it for a week. We haven't had much of a chance to cover foldales before, so I wanted to hear everyone's thoughts and questions on it (and foldables in general). Anything you'd like me to address in a hands-on/review article? Just let me know here and I'll try my best to answer your queries in said article.


Thanks, everyone!


EDIT: For some additional context, we did cover the launch of the Mate X2 here: Be sure to check it out beforehand.











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A few questions:

  • Do applications specifically have to be written to take advantage of both screens? 
  • Any notable or interesting demo apps for this?
  • Can you run two applications side-by-side?  If so how well does that work?


Aryeh Goretsky

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On 03/05/2021 at 05:24, goretsky said:



A few questions:

  • Do applications specifically have to be written to take advantage of both screens? 
  • Any notable or interesting demo apps for this?
  • Can you run two applications side-by-side?  If so how well does that work?


Aryeh Goretsky

Hi, sorry for the delayed response. I'm currently in the process of finishing up my review, and I was hoping to have a section dedicated to questions, but it doesn't look like there are enough to justify that. So here are some answers to your questions>


  1. The only notable advantage of the two screens is just being able to use apps on a bigger canvas, so for the most part, as long as the app is designed to scale to the screen size, it shouldn't matter. However, as a developer, it also apps to design apps that know how to scale while they're open, because some apps may ask you to close and reopen in order to update the interface.
  2. Like I said, there's not a lot of special stuff about the two screens, but some of the apps that work well with the big screen are Telegram, YouTube Vanced (official YouTube doesn't work because Huawei), and the new Edge browser.
  3. You can run two apps side-by-side like on any modern Android phone, and it works fine. You can also open more apps in floating windows. Huawei also includes a feature to multiple apps so you can open more than one instance of the same app, but the app has to specifically support it, and none of the apps I use does.

Hope that helps!

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I've played with a foldable before but it wasn't really for me. When folded it's too chunky, and unfolded I didn't find any major advantage to the larger screen compared to my S20.


A question that isn't specific to the Mate X2 would be, how do covers and screen protectors work and fare? In your last picture it looks like there is a screen protector on the outside screen, but I guess there wouldn't be a need for one on the inside/larger screen? You would be expected to fold it away rather than leaving it in tablet mode and putting it in a shoulder bag?


This is perhaps a basic question that has been asked before for many other devices, but it looks like the forward camera is on the top left of the screen. Does that cause an issue for something like video calls? Do you find that your portrait is offset to one side? And it looks like there is no camera on the enlarged screen, so I guess you wouldn't be able to have a video call on the larger display? That would be a pity, since for something like a group call the extra screen space would help fit more people on the screen at one time.

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9 minutes ago, Nick H. said:

 and unfolded I didn't find any major advantage to the larger screen compared to my S20.

Exactly, it's maybe for people who prefer a tablet-like experience.

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19 minutes ago, Nick H. said:

I've played with a foldable before but it wasn't really for me. When folded it's too chunky, and unfolded I didn't find any major advantage to the larger screen compared to my S20.


A question that isn't specific to the Mate X2 would be, how do covers and screen protectors work and fare? In your last picture it looks like there is a screen protector on the outside screen, but I guess there wouldn't be a need for one on the inside/larger screen? You would be expected to fold it away rather than leaving it in tablet mode and putting it in a shoulder bag?


This is perhaps a basic question that has been asked before for many other devices, but it looks like the forward camera is on the top left of the screen. Does that cause an issue for something like video calls? Do you find that your portrait is offset to one side? And it looks like there is no camera on the enlarged screen, so I guess you wouldn't be able to have a video call on the larger display? That would be a pity, since for something like a group call the extra screen space would help fit more people on the screen at one time.

For the first question, you'd be correct. The case is designed to protect the phone mostly when it's folded, and you're supposed to store it in that position rather than putting it anywhere while it's open. That would bring about a whole slew of issues, like putting pressure on the hinge in the wrong direction and scratching the screen (it's made of plastic).


For the second question, I've never really had a problem with cameras being off to the left side in phones as far as my position in the frame goes, I think it's just natural to slightly adjust the angle so you're more centered.


And yes, regarding video calls, that is what I would consider a big problem with this phone (and it's in my current draft for the review). You can't take video calls on the big screen, unless you want to show off whatever is in front of you rather than yourself. The camera app also lets you use the cover display as a viewfinder if you want to take selfies with the main camera (which is better), but sadly that doesn't work with video calls, either.

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      Display Exterior: 6.45 inches, 1160x2700 (21:9), 456ppi, 90Hz refresh rate, OLED, Glass cover
      Interior: 8 inches, 2480x2200 (8:7.1) , 413ppi, 90Hz refresh rate, OLED, Plastic cover

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      OS Android 11 with EMUI 11 (without Google Play Services) Price ¥17,999 (roughly $2,779) Design
      Let's start with the design, which I think is truly where the Huawei Mate X2 shines the most. Unlike the original Mate X, the company has opted for a inner folding screen paired with a flat external display, similar to Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold line. Unlike its competitor, though, the inner display is covered by plastic, but since it's protected when it's closed, I think this is much less of an issue. Plus, while it is very impressive that Samsung created its Ultra Thin Glass that's able to fold, some users have noticed micro-cracks forming along the crease, so some work may still be required on that type of harder material.

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      The two displays
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      You could argue that having a big screen that fits in a normal(ish)-sized phone is a big benefit by itself, and it certainly is, but Samsung has proven that more can be done with it, and I wish Huawei had learned from that.

      Cameras (and the one that's missing)
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      Huawei has taken a different approach, with a camera setup that doesn't seem to be lacking in any way, at least on paper. There are four sensors on the back of this phone, including the 50MP RYYB flagship sensor we've seen on other Huawei flagships. This sensor is a big deal for night time performance, and on that front, it delivers well. You also get a 16MP ultra-wide camera, a 12MP 3x zoom camera, and an 8MP periscope camera with 10x optical zoom. That combination of zoom levels is impressive and something I praised heavily in my review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and it truly makes this feel like a flagship phone in terms of cameras.

      For the most part, the Huawei Mate X2 delivers in its camera performance, though I must reiterate my relatively short period for this review. The main sensor is naturally the star of the show, and low-light performance is so good it nearly makes night mode redundant. I did find some inconsistencies between the color balance across the different cameras, which I think were more noticeable than some other phones, even during the day. Even the main camera sometimes tends to oversaturate, and other times makes colors a bit too cool.

      Gallery: Huawei Mate X2 camera samples
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      As for the selfie camera on the inside of the phone, there isn't one, which is one of the faux pas this phone makes in my opinion. Having no camera cutout on the inner display may please some people, but it means that you can't take video calls on this phone while using the big screen. The phone just asks you to close it and look at the cover screen instead. That's a big deal because a lot of people are taking a lot of calls right now. And when you're already charging this much for a phone, it's an odd omission.

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      Performance and software
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      Despite that, the Huawei Mate X2 pulled slightly ahead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and even the OnePlus 9 (though it loses to the 9 Pro) in the AnTuTu benchmark, so it looks like Huawei didn't miss out too much by using older cores. This benchmark measures various performance aspects in one test.

      Usually, I'd include GeekBench results as well, but the app refuses to run on the Mate X2, so we'll have to move on to GFXBench, which tests the GPU of the phone. The results here are in line with other flagships, too, so performance isn't something you'll be missing.

      Battery life on the Mate X2 is solid, often lasting me a day and a half with at least a couple hours of YouTube on the big inner display, some web browsing, and some texting. Considering the display size and the 4,500mAh battery, those are impressive numbers, but it doesn't take long to realize how that's achieved. Huawei phones are notorious for delayed notifications, and that certainly applies here. It's happened almost every day that notifications are either delayed or just not sent at all, and I've gone hours not knowing I had received messages in some of my apps. It's incredibly frustrating, and it's a long-standing issue with the brand, so if you're already a Huawei fan, it's probably not going to be worse than usual.

      Also, this phone is only available in China for now, but even if it releases worldwide, it will be plagued by the same problem as every other Huawei phone nowadays, which is the lack of Google services. No matter how much you hate Google, too many apps just don't work without those services. Like I said, GeekBench 5 wouldn't run even after sharing the APK file from another phone. Pokémon GO doesn't work either, and I also lost the ability to use Microsoft Authenticator because of this.

      Despite being over two years old, the foldable market still feels like it's in an embryonic state, which makes it exciting to keep an eye on but also somewhat frustrating when it comes to actually using these devices. I love a lot of what Huawei did here, especially the design. Having most of the weight of the phone directly on the user's hand is ingenious and it almost makes you question why no one else has done it yet. It's also one of the thinner foldables right now, and the cover display has one of the most natural aspect ratios we've seen on any foldable so far, so using it as a normal phone is actually a viable option.

      I also appreciate that Huawei wasn't afraid of using a flagship camera setup on the back of the phone, which you can't say for Samsung's foldables. The results aren't always the best, but at least it isn't evident that Huawei was trying to cut corners in this area. And a lot about the phone is in line with flagship material - high-resolution displays, 90Hz refresh rate, and a solidly built design.

      But some decisions are a bit frustrating, such as the lack of a camera on the inner portion of the phone, making video calls far less convenient. I also feel like there's plenty of room for improvement in terms of multitasking on the big screen, and some software limitations make it feel like the dual-screen dynamic could have been more thought through. Of course, that's to say nothing of Huawei's overly aggressive battery management and lack of Google services.

      In the end, I don't think it would be possible to recommend any phone that costs over $2,700, no matter how much Huawei did right; I just wish I had been more blown away by it than I was. Regardless, there's a lot that other manufacturers can learn from this phone. I hope the wedge-shaped design becomes more of a trend with future foldables, and I hope more of them also have a cover display more similar to this one. I hope we'll eventually see flagship cameras on foldables like Huawei tried to do here. At the same time, I think Huawei could stand to learn from what Samsung has done, too, particularly on the software side of things.