After almost a year, it’s time to share my experience with the Huawei Mate Xs 2 foldable phone with a flexible screen, which I’ve been using as a daily driver. It is worth noting that I also use Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 as my secondary device. First off, you should note that Huawei Mate Xs 2 is not a device that folds inward, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4, but the other way around. This may be counter-intuitive to some users, but after several months of using it, I am used to it. So here’s my long term review.
The concept of flipping outward, instead of inward, has its advantages too. Namely, Huawei didn’t have to make an additional (external) screen, which directly affected the overall dimensions of the device. I’m primarily referring to the thickness here. Compared to Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, Huawei Mate Xs 2 is almost twice as thin. Furthermore, when folded, you can use it as a regular smartphone, unlike Samsung, whose usability in the folded state has many challenges due to its weird shape.
Handling Huawei Mate Xs2
In the folded state, many will not even notice that it is actually foldable. Of course, until you unfold it. On the other hand, Huawei’s shape has its shortcomings too, due to the fact that the device is practically surrounded by screens on both sides. As such, it is not suitable for placing on every surface. This points to the fact that you must carry it in some kind of protective case. The one which came in the box fell apart after just two months.
So, I had to order a new one on eBay, but due to very strict postal and customs regulations in Croatia, it has never arrived. Another problem is that I couldn’t buy such a case in Croatia either. So I had to get used to carrying the phone without it. I was forced to such a risky move, but it turned out that it wasn’t a bad thing at all. Namely, I’ve become more careful with my phone, and interestingly enough, I never dropped it again.
If you own Samsung long enough, you will eventually get used to the gap between the asymmetrically placed halves of the casing. But when you realize that this is not the case with Huawei, which is incomparably thinner, you will be delighted.
In short, Huawei has done the hardware job way better than Samsung, and after a year of using it, I haven’t changed my mind. Samsung is much more difficult to handle. It should be also noted that I haven’t had any issues with the hinge, unlike Samsung’s one, which had to be replaced after three months.
Huawei Mate Xs2 compared to other foldables
The story now continues with Honor Magic VS, since I had the opportunity to try it at the MWC in Barcelona in February. Although the mentioned device does not have a gap like Samsung, it is still visibly thicker than Huawei. On the other hand, the Xiaomi Mi Fold 2, announced at the end of last year, is about as thin, but its folding mechanism is not even close to Huawei’s one. This might be the reason for Xiaomi’s failure to reach the global market with Mi Fold 2. I suppose that its successor will be ready for that adventure.
The Huawei Mate Xs 2 Display one year later
In addition to its thinness and folding mechanism, the Mate Xs 2 also differs in display quality. Perhaps not so much in terms of appearance, although it is also practically perfect, but rather the fact that there is no crease. When unfolded, Huawei’s display is almost perfectly flat. Still, there’s one minor disadvantage.
After about half a year, some kind of color change appeared at the overlap point, but only when the display is turned off. When active, this color change is not visible at all. Then again, 12 months later, the display hasn’t lost any advantage it had at the beginning. I’m still enjoying Netflix, YouTube, and any other media service, without the need to carry an additional tablet, as I did before.
Huawei Mate Xs 2 software experience
Now that we’ve concluded that the Huawei Mate Xs 2 has the best hardware (surely not as Huawei Mate X3), it’s time to move on. Obviously, the software is not Huawei’s leverage due to US sanctions, as it comes without Google services. This doesn’t necessarily apply to power users, considering the profile of the targeted consumer group. I am quite convinced that you are able to install Google services on your own, using various methods, one of which I’ll mention later.
If we assume that you are used to Google applications and services, it’s also worth noting that the Huawei Mate Xs 2 is fully functional without them. If you don’t want to bother with installing Google’s standalone applications, you should know that Gmail works perfectly through the built-in e-mail client.
Alternatively, you can use Gmail through Microsoft Outlook too, which will sync the calendar and contacts too. Also, if you’re used to Google Maps, Drive, etc., you can use all these services on the web. Personally, I prefer Outlook, because, for some reason, it delivers push notifications faster than the native Gmail app on Samsung.
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You can still use Google apps and services
However, if you still want to have native Google applications, a simple solution is called Gspace. Through this service, you can install practically everything, including the Play Store, and then download applications directly from it. Don’t forget Huawei’s AppGallery, which also has a large number of apps, and practically all of them are supported except Google ones and those connected to the Google framework.
I’ve used the device for 12 whole months just like any other Android, so I completely forgot about the sanctions. However, there’s one major app that won’t work. Google Wallet (former Google Pay) can’t be installed, probably due to security reasons. In case you want to use your mobile phone for contactless payments, and sure you do, the solution comes in the form of the Curve application. This service is a certain combination of mobile banking and payment via NFC. Furthermore, it accepts cards from more banks than Google Wallet. So, I managed to load up on all my cards, including Revolut, Binance, N26, and even the Hong Kong Neat card.
Huawei Mate Xs 2 UI experience
When it comes to the interface, I can’t say that Huawei made as much effort as Samsung. It’s because a good part of the software is not adapted to large and foldable displays to the maximum extent. It has stuck on Android 12, on top of which Huawei installed its own EMUI. Hence, there is a lot of room for improvement, and this is what we want to see in the successor. The same applies to the software upgrade of this very model.
Therefore, the mere existence of a large screen, i.e., twice as large as the one you use on a classic smartphone, is not all Huawei could have done. For example, multitasking could be done better, as well as optimizing homescreens to be able to add more widgets.
In this domain, Samsung obviously did a better job. They obviously worked harder to bring more possibilities to be used with the large displays by adjusting the extension of the application interface. They introduced better multitasking and additional items such as a Taskbar. I sincerely hope that Huawei has learned something from this and that the next software update will improve the overall experience.
Nevertheless, watching videos and playing games on Huawei are way better than on Samsung. The main reason is the crease, which in Huawei is literally non-existent.
The lack of 5G isn’t an issue
You’ll notice that Huawei is powered by an older processor than its competitors and that it doesn’t have 5G support. However, thanks primarily to the pandemic, chip shortage, and disrupted supply chains, 5G has not yet taken off as planned. In Croatia, all three carriers provide 5G, but the coverage is still weak. In many cases, 4G networks often provide higher speeds. The situation in many other EU countries is not much better. It’s often even worse, especially in larger cities like London, Paris, and Berlin.
Therefore, the lack of 5G connectivity is not an issue yet, and it probably won’t be until standalone 5G networks take full advantage.
Huawei Mate Xs 2 performance
According to benchmark tests, the power of the processor itself is notably lower than that of competitors with newer chips. Still, you will experience this in real life only if you are a hard-core gamer. I really want to believe that you are not buying such a device for gaming.
Rather for something more useful, such as increased productivity. For example, working with emails is way more convenient and realistic. The work in Excel is also much easier than on a classic smartphone, and I don’t even need to mention Word or PowerPoint presentations.
Overall the Snapdragon 888, which is produced on the 5 nm node, is good enough to manage all your needs.
Huawei Mate Xs 2 Camera Experience
Well, it would be quite stupid if Huawei equipped such an expensive device with a bad camera. On the other hand, you shouldn’t expect it to be at the level offered in the P series, though. This is because every millimeter of space has been used for other components. Those are the ones that made it possible for the phone to be foldable. Besides the display per se, the other one is the hinge, which is not that easy to produce.
The camera on Huawei Mate Xs 2 serves its purpose. It takes photos, maybe not so great as Huawei P50 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro, but still good enough for everyday usage. The same applies to video recording. Your friends and followers on social media won’t be disappointed with image quality either.
Huawei Mate Xs 2 Camera samples
Huawei Mate Xs 2 – Battery life after one year
Finally, let me say something about the 4800 mAh battery and its autonomy. Given that this is still a relatively new concept of the phone, I didn’t expect the autonomy to break records. Considering all the above, it is surprising that in many cases the phone managed to last almost a whole day. In moments of inspiration like filming cats, or tense moments in Netflix movies, I’ve needed a charger already afternoon. The package is equipped with a 66W fast charger, which is an obvious advantage compared to Samsung’s Fold 4, which is stuck on 25W.
The next big thing is that the battery health is still the same as when the phone was unboxed. That means that 66W fast charging hasn’t done any damage to the battery yet.
Conclusion: Huawei Mate Xs 2 is a surprisingly good phone even after a year of use
Flexible screens are the refreshments we need. Especially in these gloomy times when the market is saturated with devices of almost equal performance and boring design.
Also, you shouldn’t ignore that wonderful “wow” factor from the crowds, which occurs every time you unfold your Huawei Mate Xs 2. In such a situation, every other phone loses its shine. I don’t even have to mention iPhone, which has looked the same for the last five years.