Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review – A Beautifully Designed Smartphone

Critique du Huawei Mate Xs 2 - Un smartphone magnifiquement conçu

A few months ago, Huawei announced the second iteration of its version of the foldable smartphone. The Huawei Mate Xs 2 was launched in South Africa in August this year, ushering in its second publicly available foldable smartphone in the country. It follows the Huawei P50 Pocket launched earlier this year.

RELATED: Huawei P50 Pocket Premium Edition Review – Gold in the Crosshairs

In the second half of 2018, the world held its collective breath to see which OEM would win the battle for the first officially released foldable smartphone. While hindsight would indicate that there were really only two brands in this battle, at the time there were six brands vying for this honor. It wouldn't be until six months later that we would receive the first of the releases in the market before MWC 2019.

Although the initial release dates are quite similar, there has really only been one player in the South African market, already on the fourth iteration of its foldable series available on our shores. With Huawei a late entry into this space in the region, what can the Mate Xs 2 bring in terms of a unique offering to dethrone Samsung's foldable lineup?

Construction and design of the Huawei Mate Xs 2

When I unboxed the Huawei Mate Xs 2, I was struck by its aesthetics. It was presented in its unfolded state in a carefully packaged golden box. It may seem trivial once you start using a device after the fact, but those few moments of unwrapping the plastic cover and opening a beautifully crafted box count for a lot of first impressions. A sort of honeymoon for your new device, in a way.

If you're not familiar with the Mate Xs series compared to other smartphones, you might be a little surprised by its folding technology. Although you might expect this folding, its outward folding design is unique in the smartphone market. While many other OEMs have taken a dual-screen approach – a larger screen on the inside that folds up like closing a book with a secondary screen on the outside – Huawei has taken what would appear to be the opposite route.

This means that the Huawei Mate Xs 2's screen folding mechanisms remove the need for a secondary display. What makes this great is that the device doesn't need to change screens while you work when you unfold to a larger screen. Instead, it is a more transparent approach. And the device is also very beautiful. There's a sense of wonder as you unfold and fold, contemplating the science behind what appears to be an extendable screen.

Huawei's design approach for the Mate Xs line has two elements. The first of these is the hinge located behind the center of the screen. Compared to the original Mate Xs, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 features a much more refined hinge, which is thinner, lighter and more durable. As a result, Huawei decreased the overall weight by 45g between the two iterations. That’s an impressive 15% drop.

The second item that I found very useful is the bar that runs down the back. The usefulness of this bar has multiple aspects. For starters, it secures the folded screen in place when folded. You can use the button to detach the screen when you're ready to unfold it again. It also serves to house the charging port, camera and flash, as well as the fingerprint reader, while serving as a practical handle. Additionally, when unfolded, the rear is also featured with its textured finish. I like this approach, because it allows for easier handling of the Huawei Mate Xs 2 when used in tablet mode.

Regarding its design specifications, it has the following dimensions:

  • Unfolded: 156.5×139.3×5.4mm

  • Folded: 156.5×75.5×11.1mm

If the outward folding screen makes a strong impression, it is not without its flaws. To begin with, the only aspect that sticks in the back of my mind is screen protection. Using this folding technique means the screen is always exposed. It may not be different from classic smartphones, but if we take into account that it is not the tempered glass that we are used to on these devices, the fragility of the foldable screen constitutes a risk. It may be worth investing in a case or cover to protect it, or simply a carrying bag for added peace of mind.

RELATED: Samsung launches Galaxy Z Fold4 & Flip4 in South Africa

Screen and display

While I've already covered many aspects of the Huawei Mate

Starting with the specifications, the display has a 7.8-inch foldable OLED panel. It folds down to a more reasonable 6.5 inches, similar to the size of the now-completed Note line. For perspective, the 7.8-inch panel is about 0.2 inches larger than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4. That said, Huawei has shrunk it down from the original's 8-inch screen.

The biggest difference, however, between each of the phones is the screen resolution. The Huawei Mate It uses an OLED panel and supports HDR. Overall it looks great. Colors are bold and bright and details are sharp, even when enlarged in tablet mode.

The only real downside to the tablet-sized screen is its aspect ratio. It works well for reading and managing documents and tasks, but when it comes to entertainment, there's a lot of wasted real estate. This is not to say that the quality is bad or that it is not larger than on a normal smartphone, but since many games and movies have a 16:9 aspect ratio and the foldable smartphone has a more square approach, much of the top and bottom of the image is blacked out. This means that there is a lot of waste in this regard. Sometimes you have the option to zoom in to adjust, but you either lose the wide angle (and maybe some detail) or get a weirdly distorted image.

In comparison, the OLED panel is not as avant-garde as the AMOLED of the Fold4. However, it has a much better resolution while offering the same characteristics. As such, it is only a matter of opinion or side-by-side comparisons.


Aside from the design and screen, there's quite a bit left to unpack in terms of specs. These include the chipset, RAM, camera, battery, and supporting software that makes the Mate Xs 2 work.

As with many recent builds from Huawei over the past few years, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 features a Qualcomm chipset. The device is equipped with a Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 4G (5nm) chipset. It has an octa-core processor (2.84 GHz Cortex-X1 + x3 2.42 GHz Cortex-A78 + x4 1.80 GHz Cortex-A55). It is supported by the Adreno 660 GPU.

Following this, there are several memory and storage options. This includes :

  • 256GB 8GB RAM

  • 512GB 8GB RAM

  • 512GB 12GB RAM

Although the underlying operating system is still based on Android firmware, it uses the HarmonyOS 2.0 operating system. However, he still can't use Google services, which means he doesn't have access to the Play Store. With each iteration of the smartphone, the brand has done more and more to improve AppGallery and add to its growing base of app stores.

Finally, it has a 4,600 mAh battery. It is considerably large. However, to enhance its capabilities, it also supports fast charging with 66W as well as reverse charging for other devices that support wireless charging.

RELATED: Which manufacturer will be the first to launch the foldable smartphone?

Performance and battery life

The performance of the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is excellent. Even with the larger screen and switching between the two sizes of screen real estate, there is little to no lag at all. Its performance is punchy, even without having the latest Qualcomm chipset. The software that supports the folding technology is also quite efficient, with very few bugs encountered during the review period.

The only downside to Qualcomm's Snapdragon SM8350 is its lack of 5G. While there is no immediate need for 5G in South Africa, with most operators only offering 5G access through specific plans and specialist routers, this would be an asset for future compatibility. And, at the price of the Xs 2, that would be a two to three year investment, meaning 5G will definitely become a consideration.

One of the coolest aspects of the outward folding screen is its ability to stay in place while folding and provide a view of the screen when it's still at a 90° angle. On the other hand, by folding the Fold4, you close the screen, a bit like a book, and turn off the interior screen, while simultaneously turning on the exterior screen as part of the transfer. Although there is no specific task built in for applications to extend this view to 90°, its support for future use is quite useful.

Battery life is surprisingly good on the Huawei Mate However, more than once I was able to spend a full day at the office and charge the device the next day, right after the 15% warning.

On top of that, I used the power adapter included in the package to recharge. It uses 66W to charge and does so in no time. Huawei claims it can reach 90% in just 30 minutes. Since I was often charging from around 15%, it charged to 100% within that time frame. When testing from 0%, it took just over 30 minutes to reach the 90% mark as stated, mostly losing time with a completely drained battery. Quite impressive in the end.

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Triple-lens camera

In total, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is equipped with four cameras. On the back, it has a triple-lens camera setup with a selfie camera on the front.

In terms of specifications, it has the following hardware information:

  • Main (wide): 50MP, f/1.8, PDAF, Laser AF

  • Ultra-wide: 13MP, f/2.2, 120˚

  • Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 81 mm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom.

Compared to the original Mate Xs device, there is not much difference in configuration. At least on paper, there are only a handful of improvements in terms of hardware, including increased resolution, and better Auto-Focus. It's also not the best in terms of camera offerings from Huawei on its smartphones. This is most likely the restriction of space available for the camera setup.

That's not to say the camera isn't really good. In well-lit environments, the performance of the three-lens camera is undeniable. You can shoot with any of the lenses and get a high level of detail and good color balance in every image.

It's in low light environments that I found the device to really perform. Often the clarity of the image was better than my eyes could observe at night. The only problem with the resulting image was a bit of noise, which is to be expected with refining. That said, the visual display compared to what you might see yourself is impressive.

On the front, it has a more conventional 10.7MP, f/2.2 single-lens camera. During the decade of Huawei smartphones in the South African market, its selfie camera and effects have always been in the lead. It's no different here again. It offers very good quality on natural shots with its enhancement features that are definitely worth it. I've never been the biggest fan of front-facing cameras, but it's still fun to use them on Huawei smartphones, even if just to do some testing.

Overall, the image quality of both cameras is good. You won't be caught out, even in low light conditions.

RELATED: Mate Xs 2: Huawei unveils its new foldable smartphone in South Africa

Should you buy the Huawei Mate Xs 2?

Huawei Mate Xs 2 Smartphone Review

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 is a great device. It looks great as is and is even more impressive when you first fold and unfold it. Its screen quality is good, with excellent supporting hardware. The only negative aspect is the lack of 5G support.

Depending on where you buy, there are quite a few different price points. There's even more when you take into account the different RAM and storage options. However, the best deal would be to buy directly from the Huawei website itself. This is especially true if you are interested in their bag of goods that are included with the purchase of the Mate Xs 2. These are the Huawei MateView GT, portable speaker, Watch Fit and FreeBuds Lipstick Edition . The total value of these extras comes to an impressive R20 000. This makes the Huawei Mate Xs 2's R39 999 price tag much more palatable. However, if none of these interest you, there are a few deals priced under R30,000.

There's plenty of value to be had if you're in the market for a foldable smartphone and the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is on your radar. If you're not too integrated into the Android and Google ecosystem, you can easily get by using AppGallery and HarmonyOS 2.0.


Huawei Mate Xs 2


  • Beautifully designed
  • Single screen, folding outwards
  • 7.8″ OLED with a resolution of 2200 x 2480 pixels
  • Impressive battery life and fast charging
  • Low-light imaging is excellent


  • No 5G support
  • You may need to invest in a carrying case

Detailed review

  • Ease of learning

  • Ease of use

  • Design

  • Performance

  • Pleasure

  • Value for money