The Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold — two of the world's first foldable smartphones — take two very different approaches to the foldable niche that'll likely draw their own groups of fans and critics. If you're really considering buying one of these two phones, however, your decision may ultimately come down to where you live.
Which foldable phone is for you may depend on geography more than taste
We've been dreaming of foldable phones for years now, and thanks to devices like the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold, it looks like 2019 is the year in which these unicorn gadgets finally become a reality. There's still a lot we don't know about both of these phones, but even so, there are already a few early pieces of advice we can give.
For starters, and perhaps the most important, the foldable phone you start saving your money for will ultimately come down to where in the world you live.
The Galaxy Fold is officially launching in the U.S. on April 26, whereas the Huawei Mate X will likely never be sold in America. If you live in the U.S., that probably just helped you decide right there.
Innie or Outie?
Looking at the devices themselves, the biggest difference between the two is how the folding mechanism works. On the Galaxy Fold, Samsung's using what we're calling an "innie" design. That's to say you open up the phone to access its large 7.3-inch tablet display. And when it's closed, it's hidden inside the chassis, and you interact with a separate 4.6-inch phone screen.
With the Huawei Mate X and its "outie" form factor, there's one single display panel that wraps around the entire phone's body. When it's closed together, you're using a large 6.6-inch screen with the other half hidden behind it. Open it up, and the entire panel is revealed and gives you access to a huge 8-inch canvas.
|Huawei Mate X||Samsung Galaxy Fold|
2480 x 1148
1680 x 720
2480 x 2200
2152 x 1536
|Processor||7nm Kirin 980||7nm 64-bit Snapdragon 855|
|Cameras||40MP Wide Angle Camera
16MP Ultra Wide Angle Camera
8MP Telephoto Camera
|10MP Selfie Camera
10MP Selfie Camera
8MP RGB Depth Camera
12MP Telephoto Camera
12MP Wide Angle Camera
16MP Ultra Wide Camera
|Battery||4,500 mAh||4,380 mAh|
|Charging||55W Huawei SuperCharge||18W Fast wired and 15W wireless charging|
|Operating System||Android 9 Pie||Android 9 Pie|
As for the smaller differences, there are a lot of them.
The Galaxy Fold has a total of six cameras, and the Huawei Mate X has only three. The Mate X has an impressive 8GB of RAM, but the Galaxy Fold has even more at 12GB. Samsung's going to offer the Galaxy Fold in 4G LTE and 5G variants, but the Mate X is only a 5G device. You get wireless charging on the Galaxy Fold, but only the Mate X comes with Huawei SuperCharge that can deliver up to an 85% charge in just 30 minutes.
Each of those specs will mean something different to everyone reading this, but for a device of such a new form factor, they're pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things. What really matters here is which phone is available where you live and what type of folding you prefer.
Then there's the software to consider
Both phones ship with Android 9 Pie, with the Galaxy Fold running Samsung's One UI while the Mate X boasts the Huawei EMUI interface. We'll need to sit down with each phone for a while to really get a feel for how the software works with the whole folding thing, but if we were to make a bet right now, we're inclined to say that Samsung's Galaxy Fold will be better in these regards.
EMUI has always been kind of quirky even with regular Android phones, so we're a bit concerned for how that'll translate to a foldable device. Samsung will likely have its own issues to work out, but based on what we've seen so far, it looks like a fairly smooth and polished experience.
A note on the Galaxy Fold's display issues
Shortly after Samsung gave journalists review samples of the Galaxy Fold, reports started coming out showing the Galaxy Fold's inner display breaking after around two days of being used.
In a couple of these instances, the Fold's display broke as a result of a protective plastic layer being removed from it. It looks a lot like a screen protector similar to what you'd find on the Galaxy S10, but unlike the S10, the one on the Fold should not be removed under any circumstances. It's designed to keep the flexible plastic OLED panel safe during daily use, and as we've now seen, taking it off can very easily result in permanent damage to the Fold.
However, we've also seen two other instances where the screen was compromised without that plastic layer being removed. The fact of the matter is that flexible OLED screens just aren't very durable by design, and as we keep pushing forward with foldable tech, this is something we're going to need to learn to live with.
It remains to be seen if the Huawei Mate X will have similar issues to the Fold, but in the meantime, be sure to check our our in-depth explainer that dives into this subject in much greater detail.
How much are you willing to spend?
We were pretty shocked to see the Galaxy Fold announced with its steep $1,980 price tag, but after learning that the Mate X will cost a staggering $2,600, Samsung's phone seems like a bargain.
We aren't sure what Huawei will do (if anything) to add to the value of the Mate X, but with the Galaxy Fold, it comes with premium packaging, a free case, and the Galaxy Buds wireless earbuds that typically sell for $130.
A work of art
Huawei's foldable debut is damn impressive.
The Huawei Mate X is ridiculously expensive and a device a lot of people probably won't ever buy, but man oh man does it have us excited. Its design is one of the best we've ever seen in the foldable form factor and is filled with impressive specs. Unfortunately, it probably won't ever come to the U.S.
Coming to the U.S.
The most mainstream foldable phone yet.
Samsung's Galaxy Fold may not look as impressive as the Huawei Mate X, but its gorgeous 7.3-inch AMOLED tablet display, 12GB of RAM, and total of six cameras have us giddy to get our hands on it. It's still really expensive, but it's actually coming to the States and is bundled with free Galaxy Buds to try and offset the exorbitant cost.
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