Reviews

Huawei Mate Xs Review: Innovative, A Masterpiece of Design, but too big and too pricey

The hype that should surround this phone is disappointing only because of it’s absence – the Huawei Mate Xs is a masterpiece of design, innovation and technology, but I’d never buy one.

COVID-19 puts a whole new angle on everything these days, like – is it right to be charging $3,999 for a smartphone/tablet/phablet/foldable?

It’s also hard to break through the COVID-19 news barrier, something that is only just starting to change.

But leaving all that aside, could Huawei have ever had a successful launch for this device in Australia? Probably not.

China’s relationship with The United States of America means Huawei is in the firing line of a tid for tat trade war, and it’s crippling them – Aussie telcos can’t touch them and won’t sell their newest devices because they just can’t guarantee the long term updates to the products.

Add to that the newness of the “App Store” and it’s a whole new learning experience which I think puts Huawei on shaky consumer ground despite unbelievable success with their products in recent years. Very sad really.

Huawei Mate Xs from a Hardware Perspective

Magnificent. The engineering presence in this device is at every corner and every mechanism.

I love that there is a button to push to pop out the screen before unfolding.

I love that they have stuck with their original design and have just a single high-quality camera array that can be used in every single form factor the device can exist in.

It’s big – it’s heavy, it’s bulky. It doesn’t sit in any of your normal “phone places” without standing out. Your pocket, your bag, anywhere.

8 Inch Tablet screen or 6.6 inch smartphone form factor screen -you choose, either is stunning, both are very workable.

Wisely, Huawei include in the packaging a buffer case – this strip that sticks to the entire outside of the device gives you a level of protection for your solid investment, and also allows the screen to sit off the desk if placed face-down.

Like Lenovo’s original Yoga Tab, the camera “bump” on this device provides an almost grip like comfort when holding the Mate Xs and is a real staggering point of difference design wise to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold.

Huawei Mate Xs from a Software Perspective

It’s running Android, it certainly looks and feels like Android in the setup and usability day to day.

Until you need an app. No Google Play Store here – Trump wont’ allow that.

Instead you have the Huawei App Gallery, which is a bloody great alternative to a very long standing App Store from Google.

However, it’s not full. It’s not rich with apps, particularly those from the western world. Loads of apps popular in Mainland China, and plenty of old favorites too.

But many missing.

Huawei are working hard to solve this, to fill the gaps, and they even have a Wishlist function where you suggest apps, and if they find them, get them included, they can automatically install for you.

I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the Service NSW app making it in though for my Digital Drivers licence.

There are some great ways to get your apps though.

Firstly, where Huawei don’t specifically have the app in their App Gallery, but they know of it’s download location – they provide essentially a web-link to the download.

Hey presto!

Then there’s the Phone Clone option. Got an existing Android phone? Use Phone clone, it will bring across all your apps, all of them.

It even brought across Google apps like Analytics for me – sadly, try to launch them they fail.

For those apps that can’t be obtained either way, Huawei – rather flippantly, suggest using the Website version of the App.

Many apps are just front for websites, I get that, but this just – isn’t the same.

That Camera

Forget the specs, it’s good. But why it’s great is the modularity of uses.

  • Open the tablet, full screen viewfinder.
  • Close the phone, standard style smartphone approach.
  • Turn it around for a selfie – you’ve got a huge preview screen.

Really really smart stuff, and makes this so immensely usable as a “tablet camera”, moreso than any standard tablet camera, for which you look crazy using.

Pros

Watching videos, reading content, working your emails – on the folded out Tablet screen – epic. This thing looks stunning, it really does change that “browsing” and “viewing” experience.

No Notch – the big screen is notch free, thanks to that universally usable camera array

The camera, great quality, very usable.

Cons

It’s huge. I don’t care what you say, that matters. Heavy and bulky are not sales pitches.

When in smartphone mode, the Keyboard on the screen is ENORMOUS – too much so. I’m sure you can install a new one to improve that, but why should that be required?

Screen durability – I am worried, very worried, this thing can’t endure a long term usage. I have scratches on the screen. Might be from cords in my bag, or keys in my pocket. That’s how I roll.

There are more dense individual scratches on this screen than any of the worse scratches on an iPhone I’ve used for months.

It’s like the screen is well – plastic, because it is. Run a nail into a plastic drink bottle, it makes a mark. Do it on glass – nothing.

This seems to be the biggest potential issue for my mind.

The upshot?

I bloody love it. I want to keep it, just because I know in years ahead this will be seen as one of the pioneering devices of our time, the next generation of smartphones.

It’s just far to expensive to recommend as a daily use device, and the Huawei App gallery, while excellent, isn’t yet a patch on the Google Play Store.

Huawei Mate Xs Review: Innovative, A Masterpiece of Design, but too big and too pricey
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