Huawei has unveiled its 5G-enabled foldable phone, the Mate X, at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, just days after Samsung announced the release of its competitor foldable phone the Galaxy Fold.
The Mate X and the Galaxy Fold take very different approaches to the technology. The Mate X has screens on the front and back of the device which then join together to form a larger display when folded out, while the Galaxy Fold has two displays, one located on the front and a second, larger screen located on the outside which then unfolds.
Huawei has also announced that its offering will have 5G connection while the Galaxy Fold will only be 4G-enabled.
The Mate X also has a starting price of $2,600 to the Galaxy Fold's $1,960, uncharacteristically pricey for a company whose normal strategy involves undercutting the cost of its competitors' products. But Richard Yu, CEO of the consumer products business at Huawei, insisted that the innovation that has gone into the phone makes the hefty cost worth it, in particular the inclusion of long-awaited 5G technology.
Analysts have, however, already been openly skeptical of the benefits the Mate X's 5G will bring.
Forrester analysts Thomas Husson stated: "No matter how innovative and technology advanced the new device is, it will take a lot more time for a critical mass of consumers to experience the benefits of foldable phones and 5G technology."
However, he went on to add: "The Mate X clearly shows that Huawei is a technology innovation leader. The new device has nothing to envy to Samsung's latest Galaxy Fold announcement."
Samsung and Huawei, who are the first- and second-largest smartphone providers in the world, respectively, have spent the last five or so years racing to become the first to develop a foldable phone. Both lost the race to Royole, a relatively unknown startup, who surprised everyone by launching the "FlexPai" in November 2018.
Samsung has said that it expects to launch the Galaxy Fold on April 26, but Huawei has yet to give a launch date for the Mate X.