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The Huawei Mate Xs 2 has shown me what the ideal foldable can look like, sans Google

Say what you want about foldable phones, on how they’re gimmicks, a waste of money, or just for show-offs—but I really, really like them.

There’s just something so exciting about a phone that challenges the norms of flagships in terms of form (and sometimes, function).

So far, I’ve played around with the older and newest models of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and more recently, the Huawei P50 Pocket.

Between the two types of foldables I’ve seen so far—those that fold into a clamshell shape (Z Flip and P50 Pocket), and those that fold inwards into a regular phone shape—my favourites are, by far, the latter.

And now I have the Huawei Mate Xs 2 in my hands, and it is beautiful.

Standing out by folding outwards

The first major stand-out point to me is the way that it folds outwards, where the large screen envelops the back and front of the phone.

This technology is not new to Huawei, with the brand first doing it all the way back in 2019 with the Huawei Mate X, and in several other foldables since.

The Mate Xs 2 is undeniably the brand’s most innovative outward-folding model yet, as it’s also their thinnest, lightest, and according to them, most reliable one.

My first time holding it, I was surprised at how sleek-looking it was when folded, just being a tad thicker than the size of your regular flagship phone at 11.1mm.

(Left) Huawei Mate Xs 2 has a (folded) thickness that’s on par with an iPhone 12 Pro that has a case (right)

When unfolded, you get a very thin 5.4mm screen that’s easy to hold, backed by a plaid leather texture (that feels a little plasticky, but works in favour of keeping the phone light at 255g).

In short, it’s nowhere near as bulky as the Z Fold3, which was the last large foldable I used.

Thanks to the Mate Xs 2’s outward-folding nature, you’re given a mainstream cover display experience that I much prefer over the Z Fold3’s narrow cover display.

To unfold the Mate Xs 2, you first have to press a button under the camera housing that unlatches the screen.

And I’m not going to lie, while the new-generation double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinges are firm and fluid, it is a rather clunky experience, especially when folding it.

It requires more screen-touching than I’d like, and I’m usually left with a bunch of fingerprints whenever I use the phone.

A casing that feels more impractical than important

One thing that most people are wary of when it comes to foldable phones is their durability, but according to Huawei, the Mate Xs 2 has 2.5x drop resistance, 2.8x impact resistance, and 1.4x crush resistance.

These are just numbers to me and you, but Huawei claims that these numbers are what keep the phone up and running even after a beating. (As much as I’d like to, I’m not about to personally push the limits of the RM7,999 Mate Xs 2 loaned unit we have.)

That being said, as a user, I’d still be worried about the beautiful screen getting scratched up through regular wear-and-tear.

To provide added protection, Huawei offers phone cases designed specifically for the Mate Xs 2, but they make the unfolding experience even clunkier.

You’d need to unclasp the case from the left, click the unlatching button, move the case flap out of the way, then unfold the phone, steps which don’t exactly scream efficiency or seamlessness.

One benefit of the case though is that it acts as a phone stand when coupled with the Mate Xs 2’s foldability, which means you can watch videos hands-free.

Fantastic display that’s a feast for the eyes

Speaking of videos, it’s worth noting that a lot of apps still aren’t optimised for its unfolded screen dimensions (2,480 x 2,200), so you’ll likely get black bars on the top and bottom of your screen.

I’ve not run into such issues when gaming yet, but admittedly I only play Genshin Impact, which adjusts to both the mainstream and unfolded aspect ratio well (though it doesn’t seamlessly adjust between the two, you need to exit and re-enter the app each time).

Needless to say, the Mate Xs 2’s display is gorgeous, with a dynamic refresh rate up to 120Hz, 424 ppi pixel density, and an overall vivid colour display.

A 240Hz touch sampling rate also means that it should perform well for gaming, mainly in first-person shooters (FPS). On Genshin Impact, I found it to be very responsive, giving an overall great feel.

Multi-window functionality for multitasking

Much like on the P50 Pocket, Huawei has rendered the screen crease on the unfolded Mate Xs 2 near impossible to see, unless you’re really looking for it.

The seamless look really reinforces the feel that you’re using a mini tablet, and ever since using the original Z Fold for gaming, I’ve loved that larger-screen experience.

The screen enables you to utilise Huawei’s Smart Multi-window functionality, whereby you can split your screen, or open up a floating window.

Both features are available regardless of whether the phone is folded or unfolded, but of course, an unfolded screen would give you a better experience.

Using the split-screen feature comes in handy for if you’re taking notes while reading or watching a video, or if you want to quickly copy and drop-paste a part of an online article into a message for someone, for example.

I personally feel like if for the Mate Xs 2 to offer maximum productivity, a stylus might be needed, and it currently doesn’t come with one.

Great cameras, what’s new?

I’m going to keep this part short since you likely already know that Huawei’s camera hardware and software tend to be top of the line, and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

If there’s anything that I would comment on with regards to the camera, it’s that the image processing software may sometimes fine-tune your pictures a little too much.

There are some fun features you could play around with for the camera too.

For example, Dual-View which turns on both the front and back camera for vlogging, and Story Creator, which appears to be software that creates something akin to an Instagram Story for you automatically (with pre-set themes to pick from).

Thanks to the Mate Xs 2’s foldability, you can also take a selfie using the back camera easily, since the phone screen acts as a “mirror”. However, having the phone case on might interfere with this functionality.

Verdict

I enjoy the Mate Xs 2, as it’s a fresh, new, and sleeker design compared to other foldables I’ve reviewed in the past.

It’s overall a fun phone to use, and I feel that in terms of form, its pros and cons weigh each other out well, and it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

Unfortunately, Google Mobile Services (GMS) remain unavailable on this phone, and though you could still download various games and apps through APKs, they don’t always work as intended, and anything that requires GMS to run will not work at all.

If your personal and professional use for a phone doesn’t require GMS, then you’ll have no problem with fully utilising the Mate Xs 2.

I noticed that the phone’s display tends to drain its 4,600mAh battery rather quickly, but the bright side is that the 66W charger is speedy, allowing me to charge the phone from zero to almost 70% in just 20 minutes.

ProsCons
Outward-folding screen allows for a cover display with a mainstream aspect ratioUnfolding the phone can feel a bit clunky, not fluid
Sleek design that’s not too thick (when folded) and quite lightweightCurrent phone case design feels slightly inconvenient and impractical
Fantastic display with near-unnoticeable screen creaseStill no Google Mobile Services
  • Learn more about the RM7,999 Huawei Mate Xs 2 here.
  • Read more VP Verdicts here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.

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