Chinese phone maker, Huawei, launched its new, foldable device on the eve of the Mobile World Congress, a huge gathering of the mobile industry in Barcelona. The Mate X is set to compete with Samsung's recently announced Galaxy Fold, which is priced at about $1,960 before taxes. The cheapest version of the Mate X goes for $2,600, including taxes.
The comparisons between the Samsung and Huawei phones do not stop there.
Huawei made sure to highlight the foldable phone's 5G connectivity, a technology at the center of its quest for global dominance in the smartphone market. Samsung will offer a version with 4G and a version with 5G. At 8 inches, Huawei's phone folds out to a larger screen than Samsung's Galaxy Fold, which extends to 7.3 inches. In phone mode, Huawei comes in around 6.6 inches and the Samsung at 4.6 inches. But the Mate X is only 11 millimeters thick when folded, much thinner than Samsung's 17 millimeter Galaxy Fold.
Phone makers have begun rolling out foldable phones with a bang, but analysts remain skeptical.
"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," said Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester.
Samsung and Huawei are convinced that phones that act like tablets will catch on.
The Huawei launch drew huge crowds. Fans queued outside the venue hours before the kickoff and those who couldn't get in watched the event outside on a big screen. At times, they burst into excited applause.
"The Mate X clearly shows that Huawei is a technology innovation leader," Husson said. "The new device has nothing to envy to Samsung's latest Galaxy Fold announcement," he added.
Huawei did not make the new phones available for analysts and journalists were only allowed to peer at the devices through glass walls, which were closely watched by security guards. Samsung said it expects to launch the Galaxy Fold on April 26. Huawei didn't give a date yet.
Huawei makes no secret of the fact that it is comparing itself to Samsung. The South Korean rival holds the crown as the world's biggest smartphone maker, and Huawei is keen to snatch it.
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