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MWC 2019 Connected Computing Devices: Huawei and Samsung Push Differing Visions of Foldables

by Eric Smith | Feb 24, 2019

Mobile World Congress has not officially begun yet and there are already some major announcements to talk about. Huawei had a big presentation about its newest MateBook products. For the most part, these are iterative upgrades to the CPU, GPU and overall thinness. What really wowed the crowd was how they have included file and clipboard sharing via NFC. Called Huawei Share OneHop, it allows any Huawei device to communicate via NFC with the new MateBook X Pro and MateBook 14 with a tap or shake of the peripheral device (as long as the phone, tablet, or wearable have an upgraded EMUI firmware).

Think about working on your laptop and having some pictures or videos on your phone that you wanted to add into a presentation or email. Rather than hooking the phone up with a cord or emailing the files to yourself, you could almost instantly transfer the files from one device to the other with a tap. Or, if you’ve ever found yourself writing something on your phone and realized you wanted it on your laptop as part of a larger document, you can easily share the clipboard contents (copy/paste) from one device to the other through the same technology. It’s part of a larger ecosystem play Huawei is working on among it consumer devices. The new MateBook X Pro will start at €1599 and the MateBook 14 will start at €1199 and it’s safe to say that both devices are aimed at wealthier professionals.

The fireworks really began when the Mate X foldable smartphone/tablet was introduced. It has two outer screens when folded inwards; a 6.6-inch front screen and a 6.4-inch back screen. When folded out, the two screens merge into one nearly square 8-inch screen. Huawei spent years developing its hinge design in order to make the device super thin (5.4mm when unfolded) and when it’s folded, there is no unsightly bump or space within the fold. Huawei came out swinging against the thickness of its closest competitors in the smartphone and tablet spaces: Samsung and Apple. How can it be so thin? Most of the components (camera, modem, antenna, CPU, and USB-C port) are tucked away in a grip that’s about 11mm thick, which is kind of a technicality.

Huawei Mate X Comparisons

Since Huawei spent so much time talking about Samsung, it only seems right to highlight the achievement that Samsung unveiled last week. The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch cover display and when unfolded, the apps work continuously on the inner 7.3-inch display. Samsung also emphasized the work that went into its hinge to get the fold just right, as well as working with specific developers like Google to make sure the user experience is great on this first iteration.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 4G LTE edition starts at $1980 and becomes available in late April. The 5G edition does not have a price or release date. Huawei’s Mate X is only a 5G model, it costs €2299, has a mid-2019 release window (June was hinted at several times), and will initially only be available on networks that are 5G ready.

Our latest Tablet and Notebook PC forecasts will be published shortly after MWC ends and we’re excited to announce that the Tablet figures will fully include our outlook on foldables through 2023. In the meantime, stay tuned here for more MWC blogs!

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