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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  • mr_tawan - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    The foldable phones reminds me of Sony Tablet P. Although not with 'foldable screen' (uses 2 screens instead), large bezel, smaller screen, and no phone call (I believe), I think it essentially works the same way as these folding phone. I really like the idea of the P but could not find one in my area so I settled with S instead. Reply
  • Tams80 - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Wow, so many going with the Mate X. Honestly, I think they're delusional and as usual, being wowed by form over function (although both are more form than function at the moment). Comments such as "dated", "premium" and "too big bezels" just scream opinionated.

    Honestly, the Fold looks better. The main display is protected better. Cases will fit better. It's less wide when folded. The second display actually offers something different to the unfolded display, as it looks like you could actually use it with one hand. Why do you need a big folded display when the damn thing unfolds?! The software looks better. Sure, there's the notch, but at least it's across a wider display, so takes up proportionally less room.
    Reply
  • Rhosta - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    I agree, but on the other hand:

    It looks like Huawei went for solution with better "backwards compatibility". It is basicaly a regular big smartphone with added feature of unfolding the phone. You basicaly dont need any support from sw developers to be able to use it effectively and just unfold in case some app supports it.

    Samsung is bringing back one handed solution (which is something I really miss since I got rid of iPhone 5S), but it is still too tall for being comfortable in pocket. They also ate away a lot of space by its camera position in unfolded state.
    Reply
  • jjj - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Samsung's small display is half the area of a normal phone, it's some 4.55 mm wide and high aspect ratio. Plus, the thickness is 17mm on one side and some 5 mm less on the other. Might weight up to 300 grams. You can't use it as a phone and it's certainly not comfortable, in hand or pocket. Reply
  • jjj - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    45.5 mm wide ,the small display not 4.55 lol Reply
  • Tams80 - Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - link

    What kind of pockets do you have (unless you're a midget, in which case fair dos)?!
    Maybe you were too young to have a mobile phone during the 90s and 00s.
    Reply
  • SamitBasu - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    @Rhosta

    Huawei had no choice but to fold outward because this was the only screen available to them. Only Samsung can make infolding screen in the world, this is a Samsung exclusive technology.
    Reply
  • s.yu - Thursday, February 28, 2019 - link

    I was thinking about that too, BOE stole some of Samsung's flex screen technology but I suspect their products won't fold as flat as Samsung's with practical reliability. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    Whether someone likes the Fold or the X is always going to be an opinion. Reply
  • SamitBasu - Monday, February 25, 2019 - link

    @Mr Perfect

    Anyone who likes the Mate X is simply ignorant. The Mate X is a scratch magnet and there is nothing you can do about it.

    There is only one foldable phone you can use in real life, and that's the Galaxy Fold.
    Reply

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