Huawei has stepped into the folding phone arena with the Mate X, a transforming device which folds from an 8-inch tablet into a 6.6-inch, 5G-equipped phone.
Huawei's folding phone arrived a little over a week after Samsung announced its own transforming device, the Galaxy Fold. It's interesting to see the two companies' different approaches.
The key difference between Huawei's folding phone and Samsung's is that Huawei's folds back on itself, keeping the screen on the outside. Samsung's however, folds in on itself like a book closing.
CNET's Roger Cheng managed to go hands-on with the Huawei Mate X. (That's the CEO of Huawei's consumer group, Richard Yu, behind him.)
The version with 512GB storage and 8GB RAM is coming in mid-2019 for 2,300 euros.
Here's a close-up of the camera strip on the back. You can see three, but there are really four -- one's hidden until Huawei launches its P30 in March.
Just keep looking.
There's a "wing" on the side that serves as a grip.
Unfolded, the Mate X is basically a tablet.
While it's too early to say which approach is "better", Huawei's method means you get a full-screen phone on the outside on both sides.
Samsung's method of folding the main screen away inside itself means the phone has to have a second, separate screen on the outside to display information.
When folding the phone, the larger tablet display wraps around the hinge, so you have one screen in three configurations.
The phone detects the bend and the software automatically snaps the screen into a phone mode.
Folded into the 6.6-inch mode, this is still a big phone.
This "main" display has a 2,480 by 1,148-pixel resolution, which looked quite sharp from our brief time seeing the device.
It uses Huawei's Kiring 980 processor.
The display stretches right to the edges in both phone and tablet mode.
On the other side of phone mode is a camera module, which forms a ridge in tablet mode that should make it comfortable to hold.
Huawei hasn't given many details about the cameras on the phone, but it does have a a Leica logo, so I have high hopes for quality images. So far the demo unit we've held has three cameras, but a fourth hidden camera is planned to be shown off with the P30 next month.
Of course, selfie lovers are well catered to.
Unexpected benefit: Folding phones don't need a stand.
The phone looks a little chunky when it's folded.
There's USB-C charging on the bottom.
Opening the phone back out is a simple process.
As it snaps back flat, the software recognises the movement...
...and springs back into full tablet mode. Even in this brief demo, it was a seamless experience.
Neat stuff, huh?
With 5G on board, Huawei promises data speeds four times faster than 4G. That's enough to download 1GB of data in three seconds.
The big question: With the screen folded around on itself like this, how well is it protected from knocks and bumps?
The Mate X folded flat.
It's a slender device.
Flat as a pancake.
There's that USB-C port again.
Huawei reckons you'll spend most of your time using the Mate X in phone mode and only unfolding if you want a big-screen experience -- when watching a film, for example.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business, shows off the Mate X at its press conference debut.