On MWC 2019, Huawei introduced its first foldable smartphone. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Huawei Mate X folds outwards. It must also be the first 5G smartphone from the Chinese manufacturer. Last week it became clear via CNBC that the launch was postponed to September. Initially, the folding phone would be launched at the end of June, but Huawei first wants to do some extra testing. In order to prevent problems similar to those experienced by Samsung with the Fold.
It is not a good start for the folding smartphone, now that both Samsung and Huawei have decided to postpone the launch. However, this will not prevent both companies from developing new foldable smartphone models. Last week LetsGoDigital reported on a Samsung smartphone with roll-up display, we also discovered an Oppo foldable telephone with a pop-up camera. This time we have discovered a special folding device from Huawei.
New folding telephone with double folding display
The Huawei Technologies patent was investigated in the summer of 2018 by the European Patent Office in Rijswijk, the Netherlands. After which the patent entitled ” foldable mobile device ‘was granted by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Office) on 31 May 2019.
The display is on the outside of the patented smartphone. In contrast to the Mate X, this device cannot be folded 1 but 2 times. Huawei has also devised an alternative for the side-bar.
Three models are set out in the patent. With the first model, a wide screen border is visible on both the top and bottom of the device. This contains the camera, sensors and a home button. This model is mentioned on the patent illustration below. With the second model there is only a bezel on the top, for the front camera and the necessary sensors. This is Model B on the patent drawing below.
The third model is the most advanced, there are no screen edges at all. The full-screen design extends from the front to the sides and the entire rear. The total device consists of a display surface. The renders that LetsGoDigital has produced are based on the latter model. This is referred to as Model A on the patent drawing below.
Apart from the differences mentioned, the following specifications are the same for all three models. An on / off button is provided on the top of the housing, in addition the bottom offers space for a connector to charge the mobile device.
In its most compact form, the device is the size of a regular smartphone. When the device is folded, the display parts on the back are folded over each other. This means that the screen edge is not in the middle but on the side. This not only looks elegant, so a larger screen area can also be created. Another advantage is that part of the screen remains better protected against scratches.
The Huawei folding phone differs in this respect from the Xiaomi foldable smartphone, of which a prototype was shown at the start of this year. Samsung also patented a similar folding phone in March this year. Another company that has already applied for several patents for a folding smartphone that folds open into a large tablet is Intel. At the beginning of this year, LetsGoDigital reported on an Intel foldable smartphone that has three display parts.
The flexible screen of the Huawei phone is held in place by magnets. The folding mechanism also looks very solid and ingenious. The device has two hinges, which are mounted on either side of the housing. When folded out, the shape of the hinge provides additional support for the flexible display. When folded, it curls nicely around the housing. Because the flexible screen can be folded at two points, there are also multiple user options.
Fully expanded you have a large tablet at your disposal. But the possibilities of this Huawei foldable phone go beyond ‘just’ a phone and tablet mode. For example, the patent refers to a so-called desk-stand mode. If the user only folds one part of the screen, the device can be used as a desk stand or laptop. The user interface will adjust as the user has folded the device.
In addition, it must be possible for the user to set the display configuration himself when using the full-size display. In tablet mode, for example, the user can decide for himself whether each display should show a separate interface, or whether, for example, all three parts of the display should function as one large screen.
Furthermore, the new foldable phone from Huawei is equipped with a camera system, which is placed so that the camera can be used in all modes. In the first two models, the camera is placed in the upper bezel. In the third model, the camera is not visible, which indicates that the camera is processed under the screen. However, it will certainly take some time before this technology becomes available.
At the beginning of this month, Oppo and Xiaomi put an impressive video online of a prototype smartphone with an under-screen camera. However, the image quality is currently not sufficient to actually use this technology in a smartphone. It will be even harder to implement this technology in a flexible screen, it is expected that this will certainly take a few years.
Foldable Huawei phones for the price of a mid-range smartphone
It is possible that Huawei chose to launch this design first with a narrow top bezel. In any case, you can assume that the company has several models in development. In March this year, Walter Li, the director of Huawei’s telephone division in Europe, revealed in an interview that the company intends to launch foldable smartphones within a few years at a price comparable to that of a mid-range smartphone.
The top man did not want to release any information about the form factor yet, but chances are that Huawei will continue to focus on foldable telephones with the display on the outside. In addition, the company seems to see more future in devices that expand into a tablet format, than so-called clamshell models, with an elongated screen.
Although Huawei had a good start to the year with a successful introduction of the P30 series and the Mate X, the company suffered heavy blows last month. America decided to blacklist the Chinese company. One of the consequences is that Huawei is no longer allowed to introduce smartphones and tablets that run on the Android operating system. This also led to great dissatisfaction on the part of Google.
Huawei Ark OS / HongMeng OS
Although Huawei did not mention the American ban as a reason for postponing the launch of the Mate X, it is, of course, obvious that this has partly played its part. Because who is still willing to spend € 2,300 for a smartphone where it is unclear how the OS will perform in practice?
It may be clear, the decision by Trump is a big setback for Huawei, yet the company will not be fooled by this. In the background, the Chinese manufacturer has been working for years on its own operating system. At the end of May, trademarks were established in various countries, including Europe, for both Huawei Ark OS and Huawei HongMeng OS.
The name HongMeng will probably be used in home country China, while internationally the name Ark OS will probably be used. For now, the company does not want to disclose when the brand new operating system becomes available.
There are even rumors that there are currently other Chinese smartphone manufacturers, including Oppo and Xiaomi, who are testing the Huawei OS. The Chinese may want to be a strong front in this way vis-à-vis the Google Android OS, which has become the ruler of Apple ‘s iOS when it comes to mobile device operating systems. If we can believe the rumors that the OS of Huawei will be no less than 60% faster than that of Google.
The American ban has more major consequences for Huawei. The company also works together with Intel and Qualcomm, both are also American manufacturers that are no longer allowed to work with Huawei. Last week it was announced that this is also the reason that the launch of the new MateBook laptops is being postponed.
Twitter and Facebook (incl. WhatsApp and Instagram) have already indicated that their applications may no longer be pre-installed on Huawei smartphones and tablets. It is possible that the sanctions of the US will be relaxed over time. However, tensions between China and America have risen to such an extent that no prediction can be made on this.
Wondering which brands all have a foldable smartphone in development? View our full foldable smartphone overview and read more about the advantages and disadvantages of a foldable phone.