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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  • jjj - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    To expand the conversation a bit, let's not forget the TCL and Xiaomi prototypes and the pics OPPO shared.
    OPPO's pics, a Mate X with thicker bezels.
    http://img1.mydrivers.com/img/20190225/3a774b75890...
    http://img1.mydrivers.com/img/20190225/c42c8a26376...
    http://img1.mydrivers.com/img/20190225/8b9959ec0f5...
    http://img1.mydrivers.com/img/20190225/3e56c2f8d16...

    That guy that thinks we'll all use foldable phones in 10 years, is he allergic to glasses?
    Samsung had a patent with kind of a pseudo-rollable solution on both sides but could be done on only 1 side. That kind of thing if slightly evolved, would solve the camera z-height issue. Ofc fully rollable and/or stretchable solves it too.
    Prices to become somewhat sane might take up to 3 years but we'll see if all China players agree or some try harder.
    Size matters too, the larger the display, the more value upside vs normal phones. Samsung screwed up on that too.
    Tabs will take even longer, much larger display and yields go down hard.

    BTW super funny that Huawei Mate X is the tablet with the thinnest bezels.This is how much folks care about making good tabs. Nobody has made a tablet worth buying in ages.
    Reply
  • WarlockOfOz - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Next up: double folding screens, with one convex and one concave hinge giving one panel on the outside and two on the inside when folded. Reply
  • Rοb - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    That will put another wrinkle in it: https://www.phonearena.com/news/Huawei-Mate-X-is-a... Reply
  • Ad.P - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    The Mate X looks better.. until you found a scratch on the plastic screen of your €2299 phone that is always unprotected Reply
  • haukionkannel - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Yeah... that is real problem!
    Now I carry a phone and a tablet with me. Good foldable phone would allow me to carry only one device... the problem is...
    My phone is the last real compact phone Sony XZ1 and I am not willing to give up that form factor.
    Problem two is that the really big screen would reguire really big battery and that would mean more heavy and thicker foldable... when we need is paper thin foldable screen that use solar power to work... I may have to wait 50 more years for that to appear to market.
    Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Once the prices come down to planet earth, I would definitely be interested in a foldy. The large, not sliver-like screens could go a long way to allow me to leave my laptop at home more often. I presently own a large phablet, not for gaming, but for reading, writing and editing emails and documents. And that gets better and easier to do with bigger screens. For now, I hope TCL's design will "disrupt" the $ 2,000+ club of Huawei and Samsung and bring prices down. Reply
  • DieMusik - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Almost unanimous on Mate X? I expect things will change so their tunes once they get their hands on the devices. I personally prefer Galaxy Fold. Reply
  • porcupineLTD - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    This is the first time I have seen Andrei! In my mind he always looked fat and angry (love u man). On to the fordables, the Huawei looks better but I think the Samsung has a more durable screen, apparently Samsung sued some of its contractors for selling the recipe for the lamination process of the screen to the Chinese (lamination being from my understanding the hardest part of manufacturing that ensures no crease in the screen, a process that has taken Samsung years to perfect). I don't know if the current BOE screen has this new lamination but next years model (or maybe even the commercial version since the current mate X seems to be a prototype) is sure to have it. Reply
  • melgross - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    First of all, it’s $1980 for the Samsung vs. $2600 for the Huawei. You can’t compare Euro’s to dollars, and say it’s “slightly” more expensive. $600, in that price range isn’t slight.

    Secondly, these aren’t these two vendor’s “next generation foldable devices”. They are their first generation foldable devices. I know what you meant to say, but you didn’t say it.

    Both of these are publicity stunts. I can’t imagine either being useful. Someday, maybe, if the problems with batteries, size, weight and to a certain extent, price are solved, along with an SoC powerful enough to drive a screen of that resolution as well as they do lessor screens, then maybe, for those who can afford them, this will begin to take off. But there is nothing from Qualcomm, or other vendors on the Android side that has anything near what’s needed, and Apple sure as hell isnt going to sell them their SoCs.
    Reply
  • Tabalan - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    And why would you compare Euro price (Euro prices always have taxes included) to $ price (no taxes)?

    About issues with those 2 devices - you have to start somewhere. There is no way to get 3rd or 4th gen foldable device without 1st gen.
    Reply

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