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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  • FunBunny2 - 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."

    why would folks look forward to 4:3 (so, so 80s) after all this time with Cinerama?
    Reply
  • remosito - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    My commute is a 45 minutes train ride one way. I like reading during that. Not books but tech stuff. I loathe reading PDFs on my smartphone. Or articles with tables. Yes I can lug around an extra tablet. But a foldable phone will work almost as well and allow me to ditch the tablet and replace 2 devices with one. Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    I could see myself doing that too but Samsung really needs to put a stylus in there and call it a Note. Reply
  • Solandri - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Thing is, this isn't the first time we had the screen on the inside or on the outside argument. It cropped up with flip phones. *Every* manufacturer put the screen on the inside to help protect it when not in use. Most of these reporters are judging the two based solely on how they look. You have to remember that in practical use, this is a device which has to survive being carried in your pocket with coins, keys, and occasionally dropped. Reply
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    You don't even have to envision any rough treatment. It's not clear how you could ever cover it with a screen protector, so any and all tiny abrasions (screen-against-cloth, screen-against-soft-surface) are going to build up. Even better, they're likely to appear unevenly on the left and right-hand sides of the display (rear and front respectively when folded).

    They're right that the Mate X looks like a more finished product, but I don't think either of them will actually be good products.
    Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    It'll scratch the most near the hinge, which ends up near the center of the screen... Reply
  • MartinR - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Just look at this:

    https://www.phonearena.com/news/Huawei-Mate-X-is-a...
    Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    I think people should watch the Galaxy fold event again. I just did and noticed the same crease on the Fold as well, just right before the presenter launches Netflix look up when the light glares, also while playing video on the Netflix app, look at the middle you can see the light distortion and the crease can be seen.

    So that makes, both phones flawed to hell. As expected, Generation 1, no fool should buy it expecting refined device like an S9 or so.
    Reply
  • khanikun - Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - link

    Both have a crease in the fold. Samsung was just better at hiding it. Even their butterfly background is designed to hide it. Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    The reason Samsung used a butterfly background, is that the larger screen folds symmetrically, unlike Huawei's Reply

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