Huawei's super-expensive foldable phone to launch in SA - TechCentral

Huawei’s super-expensive foldable phone to launch in SA

Chinese electronics giant Huawei said on Wednesday that it will launch its super-pricey new foldable phone, the Mate X, in South Africa towards to the middle of the year, making this one of the first markets to get the premium device.

The company demonstrated the phone-cum-tablet at a press conference in Sandton. Though media representatives were asked not to fold the phone themselves, they were able to get hands-on time with the device and see the fold mechanism in action.

Huawei said the Mate X will be launched commercially in June or July 2019 and will go on sale in South Africa within weeks of its global debut.

It won’t come cheap, though: at an estimated €2 300 (or about R38 000 before taxes), the Mate X will appeal exclusively to the very top end of the market, said Huawei South Africa marketing director Akhram Mohamed.

Because of that, the company will work through network operators to tailor contract packages aimed specifically at the premium segment.

The phone is likely to appeal to consumers who typically carry a phone and a tablet given that it can be folded out to a large-screen device, the idea is that it will obviate the need to carry a tablet, too.

The plastic-screen device used a patented hinge that allows it to be folded into a smartphone format or unfolded to reveal a larger screen.

‘Stagnated somewhat’

Mohamed said the smartphone market has “stagnated somewhat” in recent years, and the Mate X is designed to “go beyond that”. Rival Samsung has also developed a foldable phone, known as the Galaxy Fold, which will also be launched later this year. However, the two companies have taken different approaches, with Huawei building the screen on the outside of its device.

Folded, the Mate X has a 2 400×1 148-pixel, 6.6-inch display at a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. At the rear is a 6.38-inch screen at 25:9 with a resolution of 2 480×892 pixels. The device opens to an 8:7.1 display with a resolution of 2 480×2 200.

In TechCentral’s short time with the device, the build looked solid, though the plastic screen was highly reflective (and could prove annoying).

In tablet mode

The rear screen of the phone when folded

The power button is built into the side of the phone and doubles as a fingerprint reader. Mohamed said the reader wasn’t built under the screen — as is the case with the Mate 20 Pro — so as to keep a “slim profile”. When it’s open, the device is just 5.4mm thick, which is thinner than the new iPad Pro from Apple. The device is also easy to hold when open thanks to an “ergonomic curvature” along the side, which also happens to house the cameras, processors and antennas.

The 5G smartphone will be able to support local 5G networks, Mohamed said, including the one being built by Rain. It will launch in one colour only, “interstellar blue”. It has dual Sim slots, though the second Sim will only support up to 4G connections. The second slot can also be used instead to house a memory card. The phone has a 4 500mAh battery, which is split between the two panels. It uses Huawei’s new 55W “supercharging” system, which the company said will charge the device from flat to 85% in 30 minutes. – © 2019 NewsCentral Media

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