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.

 
POST A COMMENT

82 Comments

View All Comments

  • Tams80 - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    Yeah, they like form over function.
    Remember this is a site that posted a whole article railing against removable batteries and storage.
    Reply
  • ZolaIII - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    If you noticed they cleverly avoided to share their own opinions regarding it as all quotes are from authors from other teach sites.
    Batteries are still replaceable and in most cases not so hard. SD card support is as you wish it to buy one with or without it. For me stupid notches & tall displays where (& still are) much more annoying abominations.
    Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    I don't think I know anybody on that list who's actually shown a capability to do some really professional work, except Andrei, who only welcomed the idea without commenting on the practicalities.
    OTOH I see some serious amateurs up there, the Verge, Cnet...Cnet just "yawned" the 12.4EV Nokia 9 you know.
    Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    This reminds me of Wandering Earth's promotion events, James Cameron only wished them good luck yet they somehow managed to twist that into an acknowledgement of the movie as a successful hardcore sci-fi. It's in fact genuinely *soft*core with loads of BS cliché and the only person James was interested in talking to was the original author of the book, not the director of the childish adaptation. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    Phones haven't been sized for one hand in years. That's just how the market is. Full of copy-paste, unimaginative crap. At least the foldables are interesting. Reply
  • MarcusMo - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Screen on the inside or on the outside, that is the question. From a pure aesthetic standpoint, on the outside seems like a clear winner. Although as some of the reporters are hinting at, that pretty much precludes use of anything other than a flexible, thus scratch prone, polymer as screen protector.

    More generally, I don't at all agree with Judy form Gear Diary's opinion that this is a solution looking for a problem. Clearly people see utility in increased screen real estate on their phones, why would we otherwise see ever increasing phone sizes and shrinking bezels. Soon we're at the limit for what consumers can tolerate in regards to physical size, and bezels are almost gone. Foldable phones seem like the logical progression from that point on.
    Reply
  • Fergy - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    "Clearly people see utility in increased screen real estate on their phones, why would we otherwise see ever increasing phone sizes and shrinking bezels."
    I still don't understand why the brands do that. Most people I know think that a 5 inch screen is great and would rather want a smaller phone. Instead the brands decrease the size of the bezels but also make the phone larger and larger.
    When the first note came out with a 5.3 inch screen most people thought it was just too big. Now they are calling a 5.8 inch phone a _small_ phone.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    I remember when 4.2" was considered "too big for comfort". I don't know what happened. My hands didn't get larger. Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    I had a Note 2 with a 5.3" display. Technically my current Oneplus 6 has a "larger" display at 6.3", but there's no doubt about which is the bigger device in the hand.

    I agree that these companies should still explore something in the 5" diagonal area though. Something with that display size could easily fit in an iPhone SE-sized body. It's kinda what I thought Apple would do, to be honest.
    Reply
  • Retycint - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    The typical usage scenarios (e.g. social media, web browsing, media consumption etc) all benefit from a larger screen estate, and I guess consumers don't really mind the decrease in one-handed usability, given how well large devices like the Note series sell. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now