Huawei Mate Xs 2 hands-on
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 is finally moving out of China and it will come to Europe starting in June.
We were lucky enough to attend the launch event and have some early hands-on impressions to share with it.
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 will be offered in three colors – Black with what Huawei calls a cross-hatch leather texture, White with a “natural” leather texture, and Violet. The Mate Xs 2 is a significant departure from its predecessor the Mate Xs in terms of design, but shares a lot of its hardware. The camera setup, for example, is very close in terms of specs, as is the battery.
But the display and the body are very different. The Huawei Mate Xs 2’s display stretches to a slightly smaller 7.8-inch diagonal and retains a 6.5-inch usable area when folded. The resolution is the same at 2200x2480px, but this year’s panel can variably refresh up to 120Hz.
The body is 45g lighter and a bit smaller overall, both of which are immediately noticeable.
Huawei Mate Xs 2 specs at a glance:
- Body: 156.5×139.3×5.4mm, 255g; .
- Display: 7.80″ Foldable OLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, 2200x2480px resolution, 10.15:9 aspect ratio, 424ppi; Folded cover display:, OLED, 6.5 inches, 1176 x 2480 pixels.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 4G (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
- Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, 512GB 8GB RAM; UFS; NM (Nano Memory), up to 256GB (uses shared SIM slot).
- OS/Software: HarmonyOS 2.0.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.8, PDAF, Laser AF; Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 81mm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 13 MP, f/2.2, 120˚.
- Front camera: 10.7 MP, f/2.2.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30/240fps; Front camera: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30/240fps.
- Battery: 4600mAh; Fast charging 66W, Reverse charging.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; Infrared port.
We were most impressed by the screen on the Huawei Mate Xs 2. It’s an outward folding design, which wraps the display around the phone’s body, not tucking it on the inside. When it’s unfolded you get an almost crease-less experience.
It’s something hard to show in photos, but the unfolded panel of the Huawei Mate Xs 2 sits flat and seamless. You can’t feel an interruption in the surface, though it can show when light hits it under certain angles. But trust us, in everyday normal conditions, the crease is barely visible and we’re very impressed.
The display is a big leap forward from the Mate Xs. The panel gets very bright and exhibits lovely colors. Huawei calls it a True-Chrome foldable display. The screen has an aspect of 8:7.1 when fully extended, and 19:9 when folded, bringing a very traditional one-handed experience.
Huawei has applied an anti-reflective Nano Optical Layer.
The other immediately noticeable improvement over the previous Mate is in the hinge. The outward folding is achieved thanks to Huawei’s double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinge. It’s much stronger than the previous generation and allows you to prop up the Mate Xs 2 in practically any position you want. This enables cool use cases like taking a selfie with the main cameras.
Huawei says the hinge uses self-developed, ultra-light steel. The body itself uses lighter materials, which help the phone achieve the superb weight of just 255g (for comparison, the Galaxy Z Fold3 is 271g). Huawei has used ultra-light glass fibers for the phone’s backplane, aerospace-grade titanium alloys, and the aforementioned ultra-light steel.
Strong hinge and impressively thin frame
Huawei calls the Mate Xs 2’s desgin 3D Fiberglass. It uses patterns in the texture of the rear panel to create a leather-esque finish. The Black model, which we had the chance to play with, feels just like leather even if it is actually plastic.
The finish feels nice too, especially when watching a video or using the phone with two hands. The Mate Xs 2’s profile when unfolded is just 5.4mm, which sounds thin, but we’re here to tell ya it feels thinner! With the thicker sliver at one end of the phone, the Mate Xs 2 feels a bit like the Kindle Oasis.
The profile when opened is just 5.4mm
Being foldable, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is handy for taking selfies with its main cameras. The proper in-display selfie camera is good in a pinch and we’d still default to it for video calls. But we’d choose the triple main camera for taking photos of ourselves every time.
Weirdly, Huawei is insisting on giving you a blocky square viewfinder to preview your main-camera selfies with. The final shots are in the sensor’s native 4:3 aspect, which is fine, but it makes framing very hard. Then there’s the fact that you still can’t use the ultrawide camera to take a selfie with, just like on the Mate Xs, which is just weird.
Shooting yourself with the Mate Xs 2
Huawei has gone with the Snapdragon 888 chipset on the Mate Xs 2 and it lacks a 5G modem, unlike the Mate Xs and its 5G-capable Kirin 990. Buyers outside of China will have to contend with having just 8GB of RAM, but storage is very ample at 512GB.
Software-wise the Mate Xs 2 launches with HarmonyOS and EMUI 12. It’s a responsive OS that’s well-adapted to using the foldable form factor with options like Smart Multi-Window, Split-screen, floating windows, swipe gestures, and the option to rotate the screen any which way you’d like.
But the Mate Xs 2 is limited to only the apps in Huawei’s App Gallery. And while they have grown significantly, the lack of Google apps and the full Android app store support are bound to turn many power users away.
Interestingly, the Mate Xs 2 doesn’t reach its top 120Hz refresh rate in all conditions – for instance, the native browser and the settings were noticeably choppier, perhaps because of the pre-release unit we had.
Using the screen in both modes
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 will arrive in Europe in June and will start at €1,999 for the 8/512GB model. And while it stands little chance of breaking sales records, the unique design might entice a few buyers. We’ll hopefully get a better idea when the phone arrives in our office for a full review.