No smartphone development has been hotter than foldables this year. Sure, 5G connectivity and hole-punch cameras may be the buzz words of 2019, but folding displays are the future tech we have now.
While the Galaxy Fold is expected to launch sooner, no one except Samsung’s executives and developers have used the device. It’s a stark contrast to the Mate X, which has not only been handled by media during the last Mobile World Congress, but also made its way to Southeast Asia already.
I was fortunate enough to spend some hands-on time with the Mate X; not enough to present a comprehensive experience, but good enough to address some questions our readers have asked since the foldable was first announced.
Is there enough heft to it?
The funny thing is, the Mate X feels heavy in its smartphone state, but almost too light when in tablet mode. That’s because there’s a lot of screen (8 inches when opened up) and battery capacity (4600mAh split into two units) for a handset, while being remarkably thin for a slate.
— Marvin Velasco (@labacnotan) March 11, 2019
There’s a sort of handle to the side that’s helpful for holding the device when opened up, yet prevents it from lying down flat when unfolded. When folded, however, the smartphone-like thinness and curves on the sides make the Mate X such a joy to grasp — well, based on my early usage at least.
How durable are the display and hinge?
This is one question that’s crossed everyone’s mind. Although the idea of a folding display gives the impression of poor quality, Huawei’s implementation is anything but. Huawei is said to have worked for three years on the Mate X’s sturdy hinge, and though it’s too early to judge the plastic display’s durability, it feels like it can take constant, everyday folding.
— Marvin Velasco (@labacnotan) March 11, 2019
I can’t attest to the display’s scratch resistance, but it does get quite smudgy with dirty fingers. It’s especially apparent with the sheer size of the panel. It’s even more obvious because of how reflective the screen is under bright lights. Again, these are things that’ll take time before we can come to a conclusion.
Are the cameras any good?
There are pros and cons to the Mate X’s camera system. The good: Since it has three cameras on the back for everything, there’s no need for a notch, and they’re as good as the Mate 20 Pro’s chart-topping shooters. The bad: Because of the placement, you can’t take advantage of the 8-inch screen for video calls.
Still, it’s a fine compromise and doesn’t get in the way of the phone’s usability. What’s especially great is that you can use the rear display like a mirror during smartphone mode so that the subject can see his or herself for better compositions. It’s a lot like what the Vivo NEX Dual Display offers.
Is the software optimized for foldables?
The lingering question after the Mate X’s launch was: Will the software — and its developers by extension — adjust to this new form factor? From the few apps I got to try out, the experience was surprisingly smooth, allowing me to fold and unfold the device at any time without noticeable lag or glitches.
That’s saying a lot for a device which isn’t even in the consumer market yet and has no apps with its unusual aspect ratios in mind. The possibilities here are endless if game developers are willing to adjust their titles to this; imagine switching from one viewing mode to another with a simple fold.
What else is there to know?
A minor gripe I had with the Mate X during my short time with it was the single loudspeaker. Considering how gorgeous the display is, I was hoping for more power and bass out of the lone audio source. However, I’m sure anyone who can afford a Mate X already has excellent wireless or USB-C headphones on hand.
I didn’t get to test the security features, but I did like the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the side-mounted power button. It felt natural and well within reach. There’s no under-display scanner, unfortunately, and I can’t say for certain if unlocking this phone with the rear cameras is a practical option.
Is this a glimpse into the future or a niche product?
This is what I got asked most once my friends found out I tried out the world’s first outward-folding smartphone, and it’s definitely the most difficult question to answer. With the pricing Huawei and Samsung have chosen for their first-generation products, they’re certainly reserved for those who can afford it, and not those who simply desire it (like myself).
Unless prices go down in the next year or two, foldables will never be as practical as a smartphone-tablet combo, or even a handset paired with a reliable laptop. It’ll take a while before folding phones go mainstream, but for now, the Mate X is fun as hell to use, and I can’t wait to play around with an actual retail unit.
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Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 First Look
Dell’s best laptop?
This is our first look at the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.
Way back when we first started making videos on this channel, the Dell XPS line is one whose evolution we’ve been tracking — a favorite because of its slim design and near borderless display. We’ve seen many tweaks over the years, including a two-in-one variant that offered more flexibility.
The problem is it didn’t always feel like it offered more. Well here at Computex, Dell might just have fixed this problem.
This is the World’s First Foldable Computer by Lenovo
Will this replace the laptop?
Three years in the making, Lenovo’s upcoming ThinkPad X1 computer is the world’s first with a flexible display. The device is still nameless, but the company believes “it will replace the laptop.”
Recently we were given some hands-on time with the prototype and suffice to say, our techie bones were tickled pink.
You can check out Michael Fisher’s video here.
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