The foldable Huawei Mate X is still coming and we know when it’ll launch: September or sooner, according to a Huawei executive who spoke to TechRadar this week.
“It’s coming in September – at the latest,” said Vincent Pang, President of Huawei’s Western European Region, while visiting New York City. “Probably earlier, but definitely September is guaranteed.”
Where will the Huawei Mate X launch? “Any country that has 5G,” Pang told us, making sure to remind us that Huawei’s foldable phone is a 5G phone.
This was likely stressed because the Samsung Galaxy Fold launched with a 4G LTE version (before ultimately being recalled), with a 5G version only spoken about once and never officially priced.
Of course, Pang’s “any country that has 5G” comment comes with a caveat. The Mate X isn’t coming to the US, which is no surprise given the Huawei ban in the US.
Surprise: it’ll still run Android at launch
We got more hands-on time with the Huawei Mate X, going as far as playing a game on all of its screens: folded front, folded back, and unfolded in tablet mode.
While PUBG looked great and felt roomy on the 8-inch screen (foldable phones will almost certainly dominate our best gaming phones list one day), it got us wondering: will the Mate X actually run Android and its apps when it launches?
“Yes,” Pang told us. “Because it has already been announced,” suggesting that it may fall outside of Trump administration’s ban on US companies (including software companies like Google) from dealing with Huawei.
We’ve seen a lot of your comments predicting “We’ll probably never see this phone” in the last two months given the ban. But Pang and Huawei officials we’ve spoken to seem awfully confident it’ll launch, and launch with Android intact.
Why ‘by September?’
Two extra bits of information about the “by September” launch time frame. First, we were told that 5G’s slow rollout was the reason for the ‘delay,’ not US politics.
Huawei is waiting for 5G to cement itself in China and other important areas. 5G just went live in the UK, which has always been a key territory for Huawei smartphones.
Second, the word ‘delay’ is in dispute: it was always due to launch in the summer (which ends on September 21 in the Northern Hemisphere). A journalist inferred July at MWC 2019, according to Huawei, and the internet ran with that story.
“It’s basically the same hardware [as we showed at MWC],” Pang told us. He said Huawei has spent its time tweaking the software so that applications adapt to full screen mode, when the Mate X is unfolded in the tablet orientation.
When asked what Huawei was doing to ensure the durability of the Mate X’s plastic OLED screen and avoid mimicking Samsung’s botched launch, Pang told us “That’s a secret. But we have done a lot of tests, especially for that.”