Mate XS: Huawei launches £2,100 foldable phone with 8-inch screen

Matthew Field
Huawei Mate XS - Reuters

Huawei has launched an upgrade to its folding smartphone that will set users back more than £2,000.

The new Mate XS comes a year after the Chinese tech giant showed off its first folding phone, which had back-to back screens that opened to create an eight-inch display.

The latest design features modest updates including  an improved screen and a better hinge mechanism alongside a Huawei-made 5G chip.

It has an 8-inch main screen that can fold in half, turning the Mate XS into a double-screened phone a 6.6-inch front display. It also has a 6.38-inch rear screen that curls around the device.

The large screen means the phone can use up to three apps at once when it is unfolded into a tablet, or can use it as a regular smartphone when it is folded shut.

Huawei's Mate XS will cost €2,499, around £2,095, making it one of the most expensive phones currently available and more expensive than a rival “foldable” smartphone released earlier this month by South Korea's Samsung.

The Mate XS, like last year's Mate 30 smartphone, will lack access to a licensed version of Google's Android operating system after the US in effect barred its companies from supplying Huawei last year.

The company was placed on a “entity list” by the US government over alleged sanctions breaches, barring US firms from supplying the Chinese company, including with software licences. 

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With Google's Android apps blocked, Huawei has launched its new phone featuring its own rival AppGallery.

Huawei consumer business head Richard Yu said the store would offer “more choice” and cover 170 countries. He said the company was working with local app developers to create versions for its services. 

Among these developers are NewsUK, which is developing Huawei-specific apps for its newspapers and radio station TalkRadio.

Huawei had previously offered developers £20,000 per app they were able to build for its new service. 

On Friday, Google advised smartphone buyers that it has not been able to offer its apps on Huawei phones since May 2019.

Google warned customers against “sideloading” apps onto its devices, which involves downloading them over the internet and not using its Google Play Store app. Google said this was because it could not guarantee their security.

Analysts cautioned the lack of Google services would limit the appeal of Huawei's new devices to European users, although Huawei's new phone will not be on sale in the US.

Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester, said: “The lack of Google Mobile Services will become an issue for many European consumers to buy a Huawei smartphone. [Huawei's] AppGallery... will struggle to become a serious alternative in 2020.”

Huawei launched its new Mate XS smartphone at a virtual Mobile World Congress - with the reveal broadcast online - after the Barcelona technology trade show was cancelled amid coronavirus fears.

Huawei also launched a speaker developed with French audio specialist Devialet, the first tablet in its Mate range, and two new notebooks, a top of the range Matebook X Pro and Matebook D with 14 inch and 15 inch screens.