Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review front

Foldable phones are currently in vogue with smartphone manufacturers attempting to craft their own take on it as rapidly as possible and if the next few years are any indication, it’ll likely become a mainstay form factor alongside current candy bar designs. 

Despite their immense popularity, there are currently only a few vendors with the capability to actually deploy them in sufficient numbers in Malaysia with one of them being from Suwon with the other one being Huawei with their latest phone, the Mate Xs 2 intended as their flagship foldable for 2022.

huawei mate xs 2 review - angled

While it features their most innovative tech including one of the most crease-free OLED displays in the market, the question remains, is it any good? Our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review aims to resolve that mystery and put their foldable flagship to the test.

What is the Huawei Mate Xs 2?

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 is their second foldable smartphone release this year with the first one being the Huawei P50 Pocket that debuted alongside the P50 Pro. Where the Mate Xs 2 differs is that rather than a more conventional clamshell flippable design like the P50 Pocket, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 uses an outward folding OLED display rather than having two separate displays with one being an inward folding display like what the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3’s design and the Honor Magic V uses.

More astute readers will likely notice that it’s actually a more refined successor to the original Mate Xs that debuted in 2020 and the first generation Mate X in 2019 with significant refinements to its weight, thickness and an upgraded Huawei Falcon Wing Hinge design that uses ultra light steel and a redesigned, sturdier hinge mechanism.

While it seems like reinventing the wheel, Huawei’s implementation of an outward folding OLED display in tandem with its new Falcon Wing Hinge design has resulted in a significantly less prominent crease on the folding OLED display.

Detractors may baulk at the potential durability risks of the design seeing as it has an exposed underside and hinge when fully unfolded but Huawei has demonstrated repeatedly just how tough the phone is.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review angled

Despite the lack of an official drop proof certification or MIL-SD-810 rating, Huawei has stated that the Mate Xs 2 has 2.5x the drop resistance, 2.8x the impact resistance and 1.4x the crush resistance of the original Mate Xs. 

Retail samples of the Huawei Mate Xs 2 survived repeated face-up drops unscathed on multiple occasions in full daylight which is quite an impressive feat indeed though I’ve yet to see it undergo a face-down or edge-on drop. Unfortunately, seeing the fact that we got a loaner retail sample for review, it’s not a fact that we could investigate in further detail.

At this point in time, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is currently the world’s thinnest, lightest and flattest foldable phone as it only weighs just 255g and when unfolded, is just 5.4mm thin. Unfortunately, one tradeoff with its slim dimensions is that the Mate Xs 2 solely relies on wired charging and has no wireless or reverse wireless charging options though you get fast 66W SuperCharge charging support so it’s a relatively fast affair. Another trade-off is that the phone lacks any water resistance so care needs to be taken when using it outdoors.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – Build and Design

When held, our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample exhibited all the polish expected of a flagship phone though it does require relearning a bit of muscle memory on account of the unique nature of its design. 

When folded down, the phone is 11.1mm thin which is about the thickness of most conventional candy bar shaped smartphones while offering a 6.5-inch FHD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and compliance with the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

Rather than opening the phone like a book, the outwards folding OLED is held in place with a button and pressing it causes the display to slowly flex open though you will need to manually push it the rest of the way to fully deploy it. 

@hitechcentury How tough is the new @Huawei Mate Xs 2 flagship foldable? Plenty! Watch it dropped from waist height like a boss! #sembanggadget #huawei #matexs2 #droptest #foldable #fyp #malaysia @Hitech Century ♬ Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift

Oddly enough, when folded down the Mate Xs 2 simply deactivates the portions of the display that form the rear and the hinge though you can still use the rear display and main camera for selfies. It’s a missed opportunity but it would have been fantastic if they could have used it for notifications or offer an Always On Mode though it’s not something that can’t be added in a future update.

Once fully deployed, you get a huge 7.8-inch True Chroma OLED display with squarish, almost 1:1 dimensions with a slightly raised ‘handle’ on the right that houses the vertically oriented triple True Chroma triple camera array and the USB-C charging port at the base. In a punch hole in the corner of the display, you get a 10.7MP selfie camera for video calls.

It’s serendipitous but this slightly raised portion makes it more comfortable to hold as it offers something to grip on securely when fully unfolded. Unfortunately, it’s not ideal for use by left handed users as the hinge is asymmetrically oriented to the right but it’s not a deal breaker.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review falcon wing

Of note here is that Huawei’s revamped Falcon Wing Hinge design makes for a nigh non-existent crease across the main folding display and close inspection reveals that it’s otherwise almost flat even to the touch.

Another odd quirk here that’s another missed opportunity is that the display itself is not compatible with Huawei’s 1st or 2nd generation M-Pencil stylus which would have made it a fantastic compact tablet hybrid of sorts.

When flipped across the underside, our Huawei Mate Xs 2 unit is almost disappointingly plain with a fingerprint resistant thatched finish made of fibreglass though the marvel here is that they’ve managed to shave its thinness and weight down to just 5.4mm when fully deployed which is barely thicker than a notepad.

Folding the Mate Xs 2 back into a normal phone requires deliberate pressure to fold the display and Huawei’s emphasis on the robustness of the double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinge is apparent here with a smooth opening and folding experience without any wobbling whatsoever when fully open or closed. 

Out of the box, our Huawei Mate Xs 2 came with the phone itself, the usual warranty paperwork, a SIM eject pin, a USB-C cable, a 66W Huawei SuperCharge charger as well as a pleasant bonus, a soft TPU casing of unusual design. 

Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review casing

Our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample came with a soft TPU casing that can double as a stand

To accommodate the fold out display, the bundled casing primarily latches on to the rightmost portion of the phone while featuring a floppy, bendable backplate. Unfolding the phone requires you to flip the backplate around and unfurl the display which is unorthodox but effective. The casing also offers the added benefit of functioning as a stand of sorts though it’s a bit on the floppy side and really only offers one fixed viewing angle.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review box contents

Our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample came with a USB-C cable, 66W charger and a soft TPU casing

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – Specifications and Benchmarks

Our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample is a retail unit with specifications intended for the Malaysia market with 8GB RAM and 512GB of storage. You can however acquire one of Huawei’s own NM storage cards to expand the storage and the phone supports up to 256GB NM cards in size.

While other regions may have more or less RAM and storage, what will be consistent throughout all variants is the usage of a Snapdragon 888 processor with a 4G modem. Here’s how it stacks up on paper.

Price RM7,999
Display 7.8-inch foldable FHD+ OLED True-Chroma Display, 2,480 x 2,200 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, 1,440Hz high-frequency PWM dimming / 6.5-inches folded
OS EMUI 12
Processor Snapdragon 888 w/ 4G Modem
Memory 8GB RAM/ 512GB storage
Camera 50MP F/1.8 True Chroma camera + 8MP F/2.4 telephoto w/ OIS and 3x optical zoom + 13MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle camera [rear] / 10.7MP F/2.2 [front]
Battery 4,600mAh w/ 66W SuperCharge fast charging
Size/Weight 156.5 x 139.3 x 5.4mm [unfolded] 11.1mm [folded] / 255g
Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review – Specifications

While the Snapdragon 888 processor is superseded by the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU for 2022, it still has plenty of fight left and managed to yield the following synthetic benchmarks.

3DMark Wild Life 5,899
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited 5,906
3DMark Wild Life Extreme 1,555
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited 1,534
Geekbench 5 Single core score 903
Geekbench 5 Multi core score 3,312
Geekbench 5 OpenCL 4,845
Geekbench 5 Vulkan 4,412
PCMark Work 3.0 10,067
PCMark Work 3.0 Battery Life 7 Hours 10 mins
Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review – Benchmarks

On paper, this is respectable and equivalent to other smartphones with Snapdragon 888 processors with smooth performance in day to day use though the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 does yield better synthetic benchmarks. 

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review geekbench

One thing to note though is that EMUI 12 lacks the ability to assign storage memory to virtual RAM or vRAM which is something several competing phones have though it’s primarily for making multitasking and ensuring that swapping between multiple apps a smoother experience. Even with 8GB RAM it still offers a smooth experience and can still multitask between a dozen browser open tabs and Call of Duty Mobile without issue.

As you’d surmise, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 runs solely on Huawei’s own EMUI 12 firmware for units outside of China with apps sourced by their own AppGallery or sideloaded via alternative APK repositories like APKPure. 

Most of the usual apps run without issue from the AppGallery including all the critical ones like Facebook, Whatsapp and WeChat along with the usual array of banking and loyalty apps. There’s no Google Mobile Services but the phone can easily install their GSpace app that emulates a working Google sandbox to install any necessary Google apps though most can be bypassed anyway like Gmail, Chrome and the like by using a browser.

One thing to note is that the Huawei Mate Xs 2 lacks any Flex mode akin to Samsung’s Fold3 due to the outward folding nature of the design so it’s only able to operate strictly as a phone or folded down as a tablet.

Another quirk related to its design also makes it challenging to use for video calls. You can arrange it in landscape mode and use the front 10.7MP camera for video calls by using the provided casing as a kickstand but the floppy nature of the stand means some care needs to be taken when using it. 

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review rear case

While the option to use the main True Chroma triple cameras is possible for selfies and video calls, the design of the casing and the phone itself means that it can only be done handheld with the case removed and propped up on something which is an oversight of design. 

All these quirks don’t detract from the fact that the foldable OLED display is an impressive feat of engineering indeed. When unfurled, the crease can barely be seen or felt. The display itself doesn’t disappoint either with lusciously vibrant visuals and a smooth 120Hz refresh rate though this of course varies depending on what you’re doing and if an app supports it.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review battery life

Battery life for our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample was above average. In the PCMark battery benchmark with the screen fully unfolded, it offered over 7 hours of active usage time. If you keep it in smartphone mode and judiciously unfold it for critical tasks, you should easily get all day use.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – Cameras

Our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample features a front 10.7MP F/2.2 single camera setup identical to the one used in the P50 Pocket but uses a somewhat unique rear triple camera array that culls elements from the P50 Pocket and P50 Pro. 

 

@hitechcentury We put the new Huawei Mate Xs 2 and its True Chroma triple camera array to the test at the sunny Sunway Resort! @huawei #techtok #sembanggadget #tech #fyp #matexs2 ♬ Beautiful World – 2021 Remastered – Hikaru Utada

 

 

Most of the grunt work is handled by the rear 50MP F/1.8 True Chroma camera with Huawei XD Optics though this particular camera lacks optical image stabilisation. This is backed up by a 13MP F/2.2 ultra wide angle camera and an 8MP F/2.4 telephoto camera that has 3x optical zoom and actual optical image stabilisation hardware. The magic sauce on offer here is that Huawei leverages their Master AI here to offer stability for snaps and footage as well as to intelligently sharpen and brighten shots and video. 

Huawei Mate Xs 2 Review rear selfie

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 has the option to use the rear of the display as a viewfinder when folded down for selfies with the main triple camera array

Shots in daylight from ultrawide all the way to up to 10x hybrid zoom are well done with good detail and colour rendition on account of the AI and while 30x zoomed in shots are soft, they’re still viewable for social media. 

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review ultra wide

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – Ultrawide angle camera in daylight on the True Chroma camera

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review 1x zoom

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – 1X shot on the rear True Chroma camera system

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review 30x zoom

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – 30x zoom on the main True Chroma rear camera

Shots in low light aren’t as good compared to what the P50 Pro can offer which is understandable seeing as the Mate Xs 2’s camera array isn’t as powerful as its sibling but it nonetheless offers good results for social media posts with good low light shots for the ultra wide angle and primary camera all the way up to 3x zoom. The Master AI’s work is fortunately reasonably restrained, retrieving modest colour and detail from the shadows and modestly improving dynamic range.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review low light ultrawide

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – Low light ultrawide on the main rear triple True Chroma camera

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review 1x

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – 1x zoom on primary True Chroma camera

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review 30x zoom

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – 30x digital zoom on the rear True Chroma camera

Videos snagged on the rear True Chroma camera offer an ultra wide mode and up to 10x digital zoom at up to 4K@60fps while the front allows use of either the ultra wide camera or the primary camera with no zoom at up to 4K@60fps video. Footage capture on the rear camera at up to 3x zoom is great in daylight and serviceable in dimmer light conditions though it’s understandably also on the soft side. Front video shots are good even in dim light with the option to use the display as a flash of sorts. 

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review macro

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review selfie

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review – Good results with the front facing 10.7MP selfie camera

Overall, our Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample is a solid performer for its cameras but it still pales in comparison to the P50 Pro that simply has better hardware.

Should you buy the Huawei Mate Xs 2?

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 represents a significant upgrade over its predecessor the original Mate Xs with a tougher, slimmer and lighter design along with the customary upgrades to the cameras, processor and battery life. 

Hitech Century Silver award

On its own merits, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is a beautifully designed statement piece of a phone with a unique design and one of the flattest, most gorgeous foldable OLED displays in the market though some teething problems remain. If you’re looking for a non-mainstream foldable alternative that will turn heads, the Huawei Mate Xs 2 fits the bill perfectly.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review display

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review sample courtesy of Huawei Malaysia. To purchase and for more details, please visit https://consumer.huawei.com/my/phones/mate-xs2/buy/

Huawei Mate Xs 2

Huawei Mate Xs 2

The Huawei Mate Xs 2 is a discerning statement piece that features a unique outward folding OLED display, flagship specifications and good cameras. A few teething problems remain with a lack of apps that take full advantage of the dimensions of the main display and the understandable lack of 5G but it does not detract from the fact that this is still a triumph of engineering that sets new standards for lightness and slimness for foldables.