One of the biggest talking points this year at Mobile World Congress is the emergence of folding phones. The two largest smartphone vendors in the world, Samsung and Huawei, both announced their next generation foldable devices. We asked a number of press and analysts in the industry for their initial comments on the new handsets and the market in general.

Samsung Announces The Galaxy Fold: The First Folding Display Smartphone

Huawei Launches the Mate X: Folding in a New Direction

 


Samsung Galaxy Fold

  I think foldable phones are going to stay a novelty for a long time, at least until they fall below a $700 price point. Either way, the Mate X totally wipes the floor with the Galaxy Fold. It’s a spectacular device, with an unfortunately spectacular price tag that goes with it. I’m especially sad that it will never make its way to the U.S., but that’s probably a good thing, since now I don’t need to go ahead and re-mortgage my home in order to get one.

-Helena Stone, Geek Spin

 

The Huawei Mate X confirms that we are entering a new era in smartphone design with flexible displays offering an array of new possibilities. However, without hands-on time with these two new devices it would be reckless to draw conclusions. Given both Samsung and Huawei are going to great lengths to ensure that no one gets to touch the products it does raise questions about their readiness – particularly from a software perspective.

-Ben Wood, CCS Insights

 

 

  All foldables are stupid. For now, anyway. But the Mate X looks like the smartest potential design.

-
Charlie Demerjian, SemiAccurate

 

I'm excited for the future of smartphones and these interesting designs do change the way we think about mobile devices. I like that the manufacturers are experimenting with different designs, but worryingly software seems to be more of a challenge than hardware. If I had had a chance to actually use any of the folding phones I had seen, I might have an opinion, but as of yet no-one has held these devices. It's hard to give an opinion. 

-
Andy Boxall, Digital Trends
 

 

  I think for the first time that the Mate X feels like a proper execution of the foldable concept. Royole FlexPai was officially the first, and even though Samsung has some of the smartest people in the world to make it happen, they have still winded up with a design that feels compromised.

-
Chris Velazco, Engadget

 

In would appear that while Samsung showed a first generation product in the Galaxy Fold, Huawei's Mate X feels like a second generation product. The Mate X is more impressive with the hardware, and it is the best I've seen yet in foldables so far, software pending. The big question is how the software works, and if a market even exists for these devices. But the design ID of the Mate X, with the thin bezel and the lay flat capability, show that Huawei has solved issues Samsung hasn't thought of. The lack of notches also helps!

-
Myriam Joire, tnkgrl Media
 

 

  My primary concern is that the screen on these plastic foldables will scratch if the screen is on the outside. However, Samsung's external 4.5-inch screen looks dated. The moving screen, from folding and unfolding, is a concern for longevity. Both devices look like they add useful functionability, but I am currently more sold on Huawei design than Samsung so far. The battery will be a concern too - these devices have a larger screen than the Mate 20 X, but smaller battery than Mate 20 X.

-Basil Kronfli, TechRadar

 

Huawei did a better job than Samsung, because the Galaxy Fold has a massive bezel. That front screen on the Samsung looks like a 7 year old phone. I like the Huawei 5G foldable, but I fully expect Xiaomi to launch something similar for less than a thousand USD.

-Fuad Abazovic, Fudzilla
 

 

  In ten years we will all have foldable smartphones. Right now it is still a solution looking for a problem, and that makes it no more than a neat novelty. I like a phone becoming a tablet, but it is clear the design is not there yet. The Huawei Mate X design is better with its handle, as everyone is worried about dropping their smartphone, so the handle will help. The case for the device is going to as useful as the device itself, especially for peace of mind.

-Judie Lipsett Stanford, Gear Diary

 

The Huawei Mate X looks like a much better designed solution, and certainly more practical. But the fact that we haven't had hands on or a look at the software is concerning. Foldables are coming, but I suggest you hold your breath until 2020.

-Matteo Doni, Tech Travel Geeks
 

 

  I think Huawei has made better design decisions. The lack of a hole in the fold in Huawei's design is an advantage, as it makes it more unified when held in someone's pocket. The way it is done avoids a crease, and overall it's thin. To me, I dont particularly care about 5G support right now, and the Mate X is the closest we've come to a retail product that meets current smartphone standards. Everything else we've seen is a compromise.

-Vlad Savov, The Verge

 

With the Galaxy Fold and Mate X, we see two ways of doing folding phones, and both are intriguing. For me, the way Huawei has done the Mate X seems much more polished and well put together. It’ll be interesting to see which device resonated with customers more.

-
Dominico Lamberti, MobileTechTalk
 

 

  I’ve been following Huawei since the earlier days, before they had become as successful as they are today.  For years I’ve been bullish on the company’s progress. If there’s anything to learn from today’s event, it’s that Huawei have established themselves a true innovators, and are leading the market in terms of bringing new features to their products, enabling true differentiation.

-Andrei Frumusanu, AnandTech


Huawei Mate X

Based on the comments, echoed by other press and analysts I spoke to during Mobile World Congress, it is clear that the overall feeling is that Huawei has done it better, and solved more of the issues around a foldable design than Samsung. The Huawei Mate X (2299 Euro, 8 GB+512 GB) is priced slightly above the Samsung ($1980, 12 GB+512 GB), but the Samsung is the only devices with a firm release date. Either way, it is clear that this is a device for the early adopters - for the users that spent $6000 on their first 480p flat screen TV.

 
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  • Ian Cutress - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    You do realize this is just a series of quotes from press and analysts, right? Reply
  • MadManMark - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    ... plus one r-e-a-l-l-y badly photoshopped photo of you holding the two phones at the top ;) Reply
  • gagegfg - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    I think both are an implementation of a new technology, desperate to be the first, both have the hardware but without the software.
    Samsung has a nice phone but impractical. Huawei made a better aesthetic and functional approach, but with serious durability problems on its screen.
    Huaewi has, by far, better developed the functionality of the cameras with the design. Samsung put cameras everywhere.
    Surely many manufacturers join the fashion for not staying out of the picture, but the long term will tell the truth of this technology. I think it is a transition towards a new implementation of future technologies that will better solve the ability of a smartphone to display information to the user and new ways of interacting.
    The current phones reached a situation where practically all are similar or aesthetically equal, there will come a new branch in the evolution of these devices and in my opinion this technology will be of transition for some time.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    I like the form factor of Mate X better, but the device is simply impractical in so may ways:

    -Scratch prone plastic screens are exposed when fold state. One need a fully enclosing sheath to protect it - and then you need to take it out from the sheath every time you use one.
    -Unfolding is counterintuitive. One need to press the center of the screen to unfold one - which brought a number of false touch inputs even during the demo.
    -All cameras are in one side. No selfie/conference call during tablet mode, and phone needs to be flipped in phone mode.
    -Hinge does not look supportive enough (unlike strong, geared hinge of galaxy fold). The demo device already show heavy wiggles in the center area.
    -Even more expensive than Galaxy Fold, in spite of being a Huawei device with Kirin processor.

    Galaxy fold has some drawbacks (lack of S-pen, too small display size, price tag etc) but at least it seems to be a practical, usable device for me.
    Reply
  • bogda - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    I think Charlie Demerjian summed it up perfectly. Reply
  • Saggitarius - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    So basically Huawei and Samsung are taking different approaches here: The former created a phablet that can be extended to use as a tablet, whereas the latter produced the foldable tablet with the small additional display to check notifications/take photos, similar to old flip phones but substantially larger.

    For the time being Samsung's idea is better because the infold design protects the soft polymer display which is prone to scratching, something Huawei's Mate X will suffer from unless you use the official full protection case. However, once non-scratchable polymer, or some kind of flexible glass panel is invented in future, Huawei's solution will work out so much better. It's far more intuitive in my opinion, and more importantly it allows far slimmer, lighter design by its nature. Huawei just did it way to early - it's indeed ahead of time in terms of design, but for now it's not necessarily a good thing.
    Reply
  • serendip - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    The screen aspect ratio on the Mate X looks strange - it's almost square, whereas most web content on mobile assumes a portrait orientation and videos are in landscape. Reply
  • Alexa9834 - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    Hwaeii mate x definitly has better design(who can deny?), but the problem is it's just a prototype. Ture meaning of outfold phone is a lot harder to make. Their are several techs needed for outfold smart phone. First strechable flexible display. Hwaweeii do not have tech to build OLED , even for Samsung it will take more than 5 years to make it. Second, way to protect soft fragile plastic flexible display. Without it durabilty of outfold phone will be zero.
    Even for Samsung who has better tech on flex , outfold smartphone was mission impossible. That's why they decide to go infold. I really hope hwaouweii will lauch trustable flex phone this year.
    Reply
  • deputc26 - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    They should make these phones three way foldable with a 1.72:1 aspect ratio. That way you can have a 5.5" x 3.2" (6.36" diagonal) phone when folded and a 9.6" x 5.5" (11.1" diagonal) small laptop when unfolded. It'll be a bit thick, but I can handle 12mm for that functionality. Reply
  • ianmills - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    Xiaomi kind of has method implemented in their prototype, only the sides are half the size so the width only doubles (as opposed to tripling in the case you described) Reply

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