When Huawei dropped the Mate X video last evening at its Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Samsung’s executives in Seoul would’ve taken a big gulp. They would’ve had that nasty sinking feeling — because Huawei had just shown a foldable smartphone which seemingly was better than the one Samsung had shown off just days ago at an event in San Francisco. The interesting thing here is that Samsung has been teasing folding displays as the future of the smartphone for almost a decade. And out came Huawei and showed off a seemingly better foldable smartphone within 4 days of Samsung showing is Galaxy Fold. But what many experts consider to be a wow moment for Huawei, the truth is that Huawei has been pulling such miracles for years. It has a beastly track record of out-engineering luminaries like Samsung and Apple. The Mate X out engineering the Galaxy Fold is just perhaps the most refined and bleeding edge example of what the Chinese tech giant has been achieving.
A look at the past
If one goes back in time, there are a number of instances where Huawei has been a pioneer in the industry but it hasn’t gotten its share of credit. Here’s a list of devices and firsts that Huawei’s products have managed :
- •Huawei P20 Pro: It was the first triple camera smartphone in the world which was launched last year. One year before the flagship grade Samsung Galaxy S10 and the iPhone XS hasn’t even hit this mark.
- •Huawei Mate 20 Pro: Reverse wireless charging, a full view display with an infrared Face ID, in-display scanners, and triple cameras in one package in slimmer form was another example of Huawei out engineering a phone like the Galaxy Note 9.
- •Dual cameras: With the Honor 6 Plus back in 2015, Huawei became one of the first manufacturers of dual camera smartphones. In 2016, it released the Huawei P9 which had Leica branded dual cameras. Dual cameras on Samsung’s Galaxy S9 only became standard issue in 2018, while even Apple was later than Huawei to introduce a dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus. Today, the P20 Pro has the highest rated camera on DxOMark and it took Samsung one full year to catch. Imagine what will happen when the P30 comes around next month.
- •Force Touch haptic feedback: While Apple has been lauded for pioneering 3D Touch on smartphones, it was Huawei Ascend Mate smartphone that introduced the feature even before the iPhone 6s.
- •USB Type C: Huawei was one of the first smartphone brands to bring USB Type C with the Nexus 6P in 2015 and the rest they say is history. Again this was at a time when Samsung’s phones were still trotting micro USB ports.
- •AI neural engines: With the Kirin 970 processor in 2017, Huawei became one of the first manufacturers in the world to adopt dedicated NPUs alongside Apple. Samsung has only done this in 2018 that too with the Exynos variant of the S10.
- •Design innovation: With the P20 Pro, Huawei took a lead with design as well with it introducing gradient colours for the first time which has triggered an industry-wide trend. They introduced a unique patterned finish on the Mate 20 Pro while Samsung and Apple have stuck on to largely traditional designs.
At least for the last 4 years, Samsung has been getting its butt spanked by Huawei. But all of this comes as a surprise to many when it shouldn’t be. The Mate X, however, elevates this brinksmanship to another level with the Galaxy Fold which should be a cause for concern for Samsung.
How the Mate X is better than the Galaxy Fold
Initial images and videos have made one thing apparent — the Mate X is much more thought out taking on the foldable smartphone than the Galaxy Fold. Where the Fold looks like a beta product, the Mate X looks like a final product. It is slimmer and more practical with its inwards folding panel. But there are other details as well:
- •Huawei has integrated its 5G modem on this phone which touts the fastest wireless speeds ever seen on a gadget. Samsung says there will be a 5G version of the fold, but there is no detail offered.
- •Huawei is said to be lifting the same class leading triple camera system as the Mate 20 Pro while there is no word on what Samsung is offering. Also, there are no unnecessary 6 cameras. The triple camera array is housed in a module which can be used even as a selfie camera as the screen folds and nestles right next to it. Your selfie camera and the main camera are the same, which means the selfies will be incredible.
- •When unfolded, the screen also doesn’t have any kind of notch which is there on the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The screen is also bigger than the Galaxy Fold which makes the Mate X even more remarkable. The smaller screen also has less bezel unlike the ungainly top and bottom bezel on the Galaxy Fold.
- •Huawei is introducing a 55watt supercharger on the Mate X which just knocks the socks out of the fast charger Samsung is offering. Add to this the fact that the Huawei also has a larger battery than the Samsung and perhaps a more efficient display, less RAM, a more frugal Kirin 980 processor you could be looking at a phone that’s more of a roadrunner.
There is no doubt that Samsung still makes the best mobile phone screens in the world. There is also no doubt that software will define the success of foldable smartphones and so far, Samsung has shown more than Huawei, but when we’re talking about brinkmanship on the hardware itself Huawei has been outgunning Samsung at its game for years; it hasn’t started with the launch of Mate X.