After months of rumours and weeks of teasers from the company itself, Huawei has unveiled the worst kept secret of 2021: the Huawei Mate X2. Unlike the Mate XS, which offered the same design as its predecessor, the Mate X2 is a complete redesign.

The key change is that the Mate X2 has ditched the outer folding design of the foldable Mates before it and opted for a more traditional book-like inside fold akin to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2. With concerns over the durability of a smartphone with a wraparound display on the outside, it’s a smart move from Huawei – especially with such a premium device.

Unfolded, the Huawei Mate X2 sports an 8in display with an 8:71 aspect ratio that’s both bigger and wider than the competing display from Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, and with a resolution of 2480 x 2200, a 90Hz refresh rate and P3 colour gamut support, it should be great for watching movies and playing games.

Huawei has also spent time on the coating of the display, utilising a "magnetically controlled nano-optical layer" to reduce reflectivity, and it’s confident of its abilities too, citing an average reflectivity of just 1.5% compared to 2.1% of Apple’s high-end Pro XDR display and 5% from Samsung’s Z Fold 2.

The more eagle-eyed among you will notice that the new foldable sports a wedge-like thickness, with a thick end that tapers out to a thin end. That’s due mainly to the camera array and other smarts needed to power the phone, meaning the body measures in at 8.2mm at the thickest point and 4.4mm at its thinnest, although Huawei claims that the unusual design provides a better centre of gravity, making it easier to hold one-handed.

Of course, the foldable nature of the smartphone means there’s concern about the display crease – it’s been prevalent in every foldable until now, after all. Huawei has designed a multi-dimensional hinge that bends the display into a teardrop-like shape to reduce the overall crease when folded. There is still a crease, admittedly, but Huawei claims that it reduces the crease by up to 40% compared to "competing products".

More impressive is that, despite the wedge design, the hinge allows the phone to sit flat on the table with no visible gap between the displays, immediately making it look more premium than Samsung’s high-end foldable.

When it is folded, you’ll find a 6.45in OLED display on the rear, boasting an impressive 2700 x 1160 resolution and, like the larger display, a 90Hz refresh rate. The tall 21:9 aspect ratio of the display means it’s large but not wide, making it nice to use one-handed, with the additional benefit of being able to play classic Hollywood blockbusters without black bars. It’s not a feature exclusive to the Mate X2 by any means, but it’s a great aspect ratio for consuming content.

One change is the lack of a front-facing camera on the larger display, ruling out using the 8in display for video chats, which seems like a bit of an odd omission to this writer, but hey.

That’s not to say Huawei has skimped on rear camera performance though, sporting a main 50Mp RYYB sensor with f/1.9 aperture and OIS alongside a 16Mp f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 12Mp 3x Telephoto zoom lens with OIS and an 8Mp SuperZoom periscope lens offering 10x optical zoom at f/4.4 and OIS.

There’s also a front-facing 16Mp selfie camera on the smaller 6.45in display alongside a multi-spectrum colour temperature sensor to help nail the colours in your selfies.

The whole experience is powered by Huawei’s new 5nm Kirin 9000 Series chipset, offering 5G connectivity with Dual-SIM support, and there’s a 4500mAh battery to keep it all going. When the Mate X2 does need a top-up, 55W fast charging – which is much faster than any competing foldable – should get you untethered pretty quickly.

In terms of storage, you’ll have either 256GB of 512GB to choose from, although without a memory card slot, there’s no way to upgrade in future.

That all sounds great, but as with other recent Huawei products, US sanctions mean that Huawei can’t offer Google Play on the new foldable. The company’s alternative, Huawei AppGallery, is growing all the time, with more western apps including the likes of Amazon now available, and you can use other installers to get access to apps like Facebook not yet available natively, but it’s still not the perfect workaround.

You won’t be able to sign in to your Google account to sync your contacts, for example, and no matter where you find the apps, Google apps like YouTube and Gmail simply won’t run on the Mate X2. Unless the US reverses restrictions, that’s not going to change anytime soon either.  

The Huawei Mate X2 is set to go on sale in China on 25 February 2021, although ongoing US sanctions and other factors mean it’s unclear whether Huawei will bring the Mate X2 to the UK and Europe. The Mate XS was available to UK fans, but with a £2,299 price tag and no access to Google Play, it was undoubtedly a tough sell for Huawei in the west.  

To find out more, take a look at the latest Huawei Mate X2 news

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