The Mobile World Congress may have been cancelled, but that didn’t stop Huawei from revealing their big plans for the year ahead. Something which given their ongoing struggles with the US government and confirmation from Google that certain software won’t work on the new Huawei devices, has only escalated the importance of where the company is going.
Despite that big setback which might dampen the spirit of many a tech company, Huawei has come out with guns blazing for their big product releases this year. They are one of the world’s most prominent tech companies and they’re definitely willing to remind the world of that. Special thanks to The Verge for providing some details around these new devices
Much like Samsung’s different approaches to foldable devices, much of the attention was on Huawei’s new Mate X phone and exactly what improvements the company was bringing to prevent many of the screen issues found in their competitors and its first model released only to the Chinese market.
The new Mate XS, which looks practically identical to the first model, has reportedly been given a more durable display and features a redesigned hinge. Huawei says it’s using a “quad-layer” construction for the screen on the Mate XS, which it says should make it more robust. Up top are two layers of polyamide film, which are stuck together using a clear adhesive. Below that is the flexible OLED display. Then there’s a softer polymer layer that acts as a cushion and a final layer to connect it to the main body of the device. However, this is still an all-plastic construction; there’s no glass involved, unlike Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip. It will remain to be seen how this new device holds up against other foldable devices.
While obvious attention has been placed on the screen quality of the new device, the performance has also been given a boost with a move from the Kirin 980 processor to the Kirin 990, which provides both a speed boost and an integrated 5G modem. Huawei also says it has redesigned the phone’s cooling system to allow it to bridge the folding portion of the device. This won’t make the device massively quicker than the previous model, but at least brings it up to speed with other latest brands.
Outside of this, the device has similar specs to the original Mate X. The XS has a 4,500mAh battery like its predecessor, and the camera still consists of a main 40-megapixel f/1.8 camera, an 8-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto camera, a 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and a 3D depth-sensing camera. The screen specifications and overall form factor are also unchanged with an 8-inch screen which folds around the outside of the device, and the main display that measures 6.6 inches when folded.
Perhaps the best news coming out of the reveal though is that the device is finally coming to global markets though it’s unlikely we will see a massive uptake on it locally with a ridiculous price tag of €2,499 (R40,000) that comes with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage. That is a lot of money to pay for a foldable device that will still need to convince people’s its screen won’t need replacing in three months’ time.
MatePad Pro 5G
It won’t be a new year if there wasn’t a new tablet model coming out as well. The new MatePad is essentially a 5G version of the MatePad Pro, but also comes with some other unique features like wireless charging. It can charge at speeds of up to 27W itself, but also comes with the rather unique ability to reverse charge other devices like its keyboard case, headphones or another smartphone at speeds of up to 7.5W. Not fantastic charging speeds but incredibly useful as you only need to charge one thing to keep the rest of your devices going. Compared to the iPad Pro, the MatePad also comes with a reduction in Bezel size which will make it look a lot better with a hole-punch notch for the tablet’s selfie camera, and the screen itself has a resolution of 2560 x 1600, with an aspect ratio of 16:10. Like the Mate XS, the new tablets will also feature the latest Kirin 990 processor.
The Tablet is due for launch from June including EMEA regions which hopefully means we’ll be getting this in South Africa. The 5G models start at €799 (R13000) with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, up to €949 (R15500) with 8GB of RAM and 512GB. Alternatively, the company is also selling Wi-Fi only and 4G models which start at prices of €549 (R9000) with a 6GB RAM and 256GB storage and go up from there for bigger models. That is still a lot of money, but far more reasonable and affordable than the Mate X above.
Ultimately, it probably goes without saying that the new phones and tablets will both be launching without Google’s Play Store and native Google Apps. How much of a deterrent this could be for users remains to be seen. Thanks to the large Chinese market already not using the Google Play store much, many apps have already also launched in Huawei’s own app store but there will still be a few big Google apps that won’t be available, and this may detract for some. The rest of the operating system though is still based on Android, so should remain familiar to users.
MateBook X Pro
Much like the aforementioned Mate XS and MatePad Pro, the new Matebook X Pro looks identical to the previous model, but with a whole lot more power contained within its shell. The new laptops all feature Intel’s 10th Gen processors, with options up to the Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage. The Core i7 version will also include Nvidia’s MX250 discrete graphics. The one USB-A and two USB-C ports remain from last year, too. Huawei is also offering a new green colour option for the MateBook X Pro this year, alongside the silver and grey options.
The MateBook X Pro will also come in both a 14 and 15-inch model. The 14-inch model includes a single USB-C, two USB-A ports, HDMI connectivity, and a headphone jack. The 15-inch version includes the same ports, with an additional USB-A port. Both versions will come with a pop-up webcam that’s built into the keyboard, something which allows them to maximise the bezel side of the screen and make them look even more appealing.
The new laptops are expected to be available in April at prices from €1499 (R25 000) for the base core i5 model with 16GB of RAM and 512 GB storage. Not a bad price for the performance you are getting and with none of the similar issues surrounding the Windows OS that has hit Android, it means it will be really appealing to the traditional laptop market.
Overall, while there is nothing brand new or innovative the new Huawei products continue the exceptional built quality of the company and showcase continued confidence that the company has in its products. If the software issues don’t affect them too much, they could have a great year ahead, otherwise, I fear we could see significant changes come next year.
Last Updated: February 25, 2020