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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  • flyingpants265 - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Whoa, no. The Mate X looks WAY better, no stupid corner notch, and it's not too tiny when folded. I NEVER use screen protectors and my phones simply do not get deep scratches. I don't put them in pockets with keys. The fold's small screen is exposed to scratches, too.. Reply
  • Rhosta - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    Yeah, because all current smartphones use gorilla glass. But all those foldable displays are going to much softer surface compared to glass. Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    The foldable screens are plastic, not to mention your screen protector will most certainly not protect your device from a drop on the hinge. Just wait for comparisons, the Huawei was released without passing drop tests, for sure. Reply
  • SamitBasu - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    They don't know what's fundamentally flawed with the Mate X. Just wait a week after the Mate X launch before the "Scratch Gate" starts. Reply
  • wintermute000 - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    It will basically turn on two factors
    - Can huawei's software sort out the "2 or 1 screen active" question properly to apps (phone calls, messaging, camera etc.)
    - Can huawei's screen survive the real world

    If so we have a clear winner, and vice versa.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    Agreed. If that screen takes scuffs from normal use, it doesn't matter how good the rest of the design aspects are. Reply
  • Blablabla123 - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    I agree, the front size of the phone can be one hand usable. I do miss my 10 years ago phone had a very small screen for so long. Well done Samsung.
    I do like the big notch when unfolded, it wins the size from iPhone.
    I also like the idea of separating of phone screen and pad screen, makes you feel you are not immerse in what you are doing.
    I also like the thick bassel in both mode. When you drop , it has margin of cracking the screen 👏👏 Samsun wins
    Reply
  • juicytuna - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    The Huawei seems completely impractical to me. It turns from a huge, thick phablet (seriously, how is anyone supposed to use that with one hand) to a small, squarish aspect ratio tablet. On top of that the scratch prone plastic screen is exposed on back, front and one side.

    It does look wow at first glance, but look deeper and nothing about it makes sense outside of being a cool tech demo.

    It's strange to see such unanimous preference for the Huawei, but I suspect most will change their tune once they get to handle both devices.
    Reply
  • Tams80 - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    They're analysts and journalists (and a Verge person... wristband anyone?). Especially with the former, what do you expect? Fads are their thing. Reply
  • ZolaIII - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Actually all of them have had access to both of them and all of them are writer's and editors on well known teach sites. If they all favoured the Huaweis design then there is certainly something to it. Reply

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