MWC 2019: Samsung Galaxy Fold Gets Tough Competition From the Huawei Mate X

A challenger approaches.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X are, at least at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali of the foldable phone game.

Both represent something of a transformation from the era of smartphone design dominated by the pocket-sized handset, and both products were on display at MWC 2019. But between their high price tags and the museum-like security partitions that prevented onlookers from getting too close to the hardware, it also seems fair to say that consumers remain a long way away from being able to experience these innovations in person.

The two launches came in rapid succession, with Huawei unveiling the Mate X at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday. For its part, Samsung hosted its own Unpacked event a day ahead of the the tech exhibition. Both devices profess to be able to give users a smartphone and tablet experience within one device, but there are a lot of questions. Here’s what we know so far about the two foldable smartphone incumbents.

Galaxy Fold vs Mate X: Release Dates

Samsung announced at its Unpacked that the Galaxy Fold will hit shelves on April 26, while Huawei has yet to reveal an official release date. That said, the two companies are fierce competitors, and a leaked timeline from December of Huawei’s 2019 product release schedule suggests that the Mate X will drop in the first quarter, so a clearer timeframe from Huawei should be imminent.

Galaxy Fold vs Mate X: Prices

The latest in smartphone innovation doesn’t come cheap: Both devices are expected to cost the equivalent of a new MacBook Pro or a used car. The Mate X will start at $2,600 while the Galaxy Fold will be available for $1,980. That price difference is due to the face that the Mate X is packing a huge feature that the Galaxy Fold skipped on.

Galaxy Fold vs Mate X: 5G Compatibility

The biggest differentiator between the two is that the Mate X supports high-speed, 5G wireless internet connectivity in all variants while the Galaxy Fold does not (at least for now). While that might not be immediately influential because most 5G networks are still getting off the ground, this feature will likely be crucial in the future.

Foldable phones serve as phone-tablet hybrids that let people quickly take a call or open up to a larger screen for entertainment or creative use-cases. To really get the most out of the functionality and actually multi-task, 5G will likely be a must-have: Without it, users would likely still need to remain connected to Wifi to be able to stream longform video, games, or multiple apps simultaneously without experiencing lag. Huawei has been vocal about the importance of 5G, with its CEO saying in some MWC 2019 remarks reported by the Telegraph that the United States risked falling behind in 5G relative to China.

Galaxy Fold vs Mate X: Who Wins on Display and Design?

Both companies have also taken distinct approaches to these new displays, particularly in terms of how, exactly, they actually fold.

The Galaxy Fold includes a 7.3 inch Infinity Flex Display when you’re using the device as a tablet, and a 4.6 inch cover display to use when the phone is folded up. That’s made possible by a system of interlocking gears hidden under the screen that Samsung says allows for hundreds of thousands of folds and unfolds with no wear and tear.

Whereas the Galaxy Fold looks like a booklet, the Mate X’s pamphlet-like design may offer more versatility. Huawei’s foldable phones start as a tablet that can be folded back on itself to make it a double-sided handset. When it’s opened up, the tablet display is 8-inches, but once folded the front screen comes in at 6.6-inch and the back is 6.3-inches.

Both seem to be easily pocketable, but it’ll be up to consumers to determine which design choice is most useful: Samsung’s promise of longevity thanks to its hinge, or Huawei’s decision to include an outward facing screen.

Galaxy Fold vs Mate X: Other Known Specs

Other than the display, there have also been a few announcements about the two devices’ camera hardware: At six full cameras, the Galaxy Fold is said to tout double the camera set-up that the Mate X will have. Samsung’s device will include three on the back (including a 16 megapixel ultra-wide lens), two on the inside, and one on the front.

On the other hand, while the Mate X will only pack three cameras, its main lens will offer way better resolution: It will pack a 40 MP wide angle lens, a 16 MP ultra wide angle camera, and an 8 MP telephoto sensor

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