Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Introduction

A pioneer in foldable phones, Huawei is still making two different types – ones that fold in on themselves, and those that have the display wrap around the outside of the body when folded. Another iteration on the second type is what we have for you here – the Mate Xs 2.

Showing up a full two years after the previous outie, the Mate Xs 2 comes with several hardware tweaks. A minor decrease in screen size from 8″ to 7.8″ will have little impact on usability but has to have helped bring weight down to a far more manageable 255g. That display now comes with a 120Hz refresh rate too, one-upping even the inner-folding Mate X2’s 90Hz, and a selfie camera (or should we say video call camera) has appeared in the top right corner – the Mate Xs didn’t have one at all.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Things have changed in the rear camera setup too. A 50MP primary module similar to the P50 Pro’s (minus the OIS) replaces the 40MP one on the old model, though the ultrawide’s been bumped down to 13MP from the 16MP on the Xs. At the opposite end of the zoom range, the 3x-ish tele holds a notch more zoom power than what you can get on most foldables at the time of writing this.

A chipset upgrade is also in place, though it’s not cutting-edge silicon you’ll find in the Mate Xs. Instead, we see last year’s Snapdragon 888 in 4G-only form – the US-China dispute that hit Huawei the most is still taking its toll. That also manifests itself in the Google-less software package, which remains one of the strongest arguments against getting a Huawei phone – though we’ve heard some people list that as a pro as well.

The minor increase in battery capacity (4,500mAh to 4,600mAh) is unlikely to be felt, though it’s still nice that it didn’t suffer from the weight cuts. Meanwhile, the 66W charging support promises speedy top-ups.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 specs at a glance:

  • Body: Unfolded: 156.5×139.3×5.4mm; folded: 156.5×75.5×11.1mm; 255g.
  • Display: 7.80″ Foldable OLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, 2200x2480px resolution, 10.15:9 aspect ratio, 424ppi; folded display: 6.50″, 1176x2480px, 19:9 aspect ratio.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 4G (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.42 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A55); Adreno 660.
  • Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, 512GB 8GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM; UFS; NM (Nano Memory), up to 256GB (uses shared SIM slot).
  • OS/Software: HarmonyOS 2.0.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.8, PDAF, Laser AF; Ultra wide angle: 13 MP, f/2.2, 120˚; Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 81mm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom.
  • Front camera: 10.7 MP, f/2.2.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/960fps; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps.
  • Battery: 4600mAh; Fast charging 66W, Reverse charging.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; Infrared port.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 unboxing

The Mate Xs 2 arrives in a package befitting its price tag and exclusive status – it’s a properly big box by today’s standards, made of thick dark gray cardboard and featuring golden lettering. The phone lies open in a tray on top and the accessories are further compartmentalized in separate boxes underneath.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

This year’s case solution offers a bit more protection compared to the Xs’ stick-on plastic frame protector, though it does come with its own peculiarities, which we’ll discuss on the next page. Still, having a case in the box means that Huawei is not offloading all the responsibility for keeping that exposed foldable screen on you as the end user, which is nice.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Also included is a Huawei Super Charge adapter rated for 66W output, though it does have a USB-A out and we tend to frown upon those in 2022. We’d be cautiously speculating it has something to do with charging the two separate batteries in the two halves of the phone, which is more easily done quickly with a proprietary charging tech. But then the previous model did have a USB-C based adapter, so it’s not that, and this situation has us a bit perplexed. You do, of course, get a USB-A-to-C cable included.

What has gone missing is the pair of wired USB-C earbuds that the 2020 Xs shipped with. That’s two downgrades already, though the earbuds in particular won’t be missed, we reckon.

Design, build quality, handling

One common theme among large foldables is that they are… well, large, but also bulky and heavy. In-folding designs tend to be pretty thick, especially when folded, to accommodate the necessary bending radii for the displays, and also as a result of having to fit one extra screen on the front. That’s most obvious on the Galaxy Z Fold lineup, with the 3 being 16mm at its thickest, but also applies to Huawei’s own Mate X2 (14.7mm). The Mate Xs 2, on the other hand, does things differently.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The wraparound display on the outside of the phone naturally ensures the necessary curvature for the folded state and allows the two halves of the device to fold flat onto each other, no gap, while also eliminating the need for a secondary display. The OG Mate X and the Mate Xs managed to fit into 11mm of thickness when folded, the new Mate Xs 2 is marginally thicker at 11.1mm, but substantially more svelte than the innies.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

That’s one pain point dealt with. But while thin, the Mate Xs (the old one) was still a proper burden at 300g. Everyone has their weight threshold somewhere and the Xs was beyond acceptable for most folk (not that we’re implying it was weight that prevented a foldable from selling by the bucketload). So that’s what Huawei fixed next with the Mate Xs 2 – the new model weighs a significantly more manageable 255g – barely heavier than an iPhone 13 Pro Max (240g).

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The way they did that was in part by slightly shrinking the display – from 8 inches in diagonal to 7.8, and switching from aluminum to plastic for the back panel. ‘Back’, as in what’s on the opposite side of the display when the Mate Xs 2 is unfolded.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Our review unit is the White colorway but it’s more off-white, or cream, or something along those lines. It has a leather-like texture and feels very nice to the touch. The other two color options, Black and Purple, each come with their distinct textures. In any case, they don’t pick up fingerprints, and even if they did, it’s not like you’d be seeing them when the phone’s folded in half.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Just because it’s plastic doesn’t mean they’ve made it any weaker. Quite the contrary – Huawei says the new model has 2.5x better drop resistance, 2.8x better impact resistance, and 1.4x better crush resistance. That’s in their own lab testing, of course, and it’s a lab we haven’t been in, but the point is they’re working towards improved durability – yet another bane of foldable phones.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Speaking of, the Mate Xs 2 uses what Huawei calls the ‘Double-rotating Falcon Wing Hinge’ which we reckon is at least twice as good as the Falcon Wing Hinge of the predecessor. Semantics aside, the hinge on this Mate feels super solid – so solid, in fact, that if its your first time operating it, you might be afraid to exert all the necessary force to fully extend it.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

As before, unfolding the Mate Xs 2 requires that you unlatch it first by pressing the button on the back. That releases the panel and illuminates one intuitively disturbing aspect of the design – when folded, the assembly is under stress. You’d be wise to assume the engineers knew what they were doing and this is a durable solution, and move on.

We’d say there’s no way you could do the whole unlatch and unfold process single-handedly and even if you do pull off some sort of a stunt and manage to, we wouldn’t say that’s practical and it certainly endangers the Mate’s long-term health. Use both hands, please.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

So having unlatched it, you can proceed to fully open the display during which process the hinge visibly extends on the back ensuring the right geometry and support for the flexible panel. There’s a point in all this where you may tend to press your thumb against the folding line on the front while lifting the other edge with the rest of your fingers and this pressing on the front feels like it could develop into an issue down the road.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

In this fully extended state the Mate Xs 2 looks like a small tablet. But it feels not just like a small tablet, but like a very premium one, thanks to what is now just 5.4mm of thickness. Of course, there’s the thick strip on the right where all the cameras and the battery are, but most of the Mate is very pleasingly thin.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Not only that, but it’s flat too. There’s a faint waviness along the folding line but it’s the most subtle of imperfections and it’s certainly way better than any Galaxy Fold crease we’ve seen (or fondled). It’s not something you’ll be seeing unless you go out looking for it with the panel turned off and angled against a light source. Perhaps you might feel it more easily than see it, if you perform the correct swipes across the waves, but that’s not all too bothersome either.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The display is covered with what is a screen protector, but it’s one of those screen protectors that you do not remove. On the previous model, we complained about how this screen protector has odd cutouts along its perimeter that felt scratchy and collected dirt, and the edges on this one here are almost entirely straight – a most welcome development.

Still, the way this film ends on the right edge of the device means that you may end up feeling it lightly scratch against your fingertip when swiping in. It’s hardly a big deal, but it did come up.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

One inescapable fact of living with a Mate Xs 2 is that it’s display is covered by plastic, rather than glass, and that’s a two-fold potential issue. On the one hand, there’s the general feel of swiping and tapping on it, and we’d say Huawei’s got that one right – we wouldn’t say we’re feeling significantly more drag than on a conventional glass-covered display. How that will develop over longer periods of use, we can’t know.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The other aspect is harder to deal with it – the plastic film will inevitably be more prone to scratches than a glass covered display. Huawei can replace it for you if it gets scratched up, but will every authorized service center be able to do it or will it require sending it in to a centralized location. How long will it take, how much is it going to cost – all questions that we don’t have the answers to.

Also, be advised – not only should you not remove this protective layer, you also shouldn’t apply screen protectors of your own as that too could damage the panel.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

While the entirety of the Mate Xs 2’s exposed display is vulnerable, its back is slightly more so since people tend to leave their phones on their backs most of the time. At least we do, and if you’re one to leave your handset face down, unprotected, on a flat surface – you’re wrong.

Anyway, for this year’s model, Huawei’s come up with a new means of protecting the screen (or rather the entire phone) – both simpler and more advanced than the Mate Xs’ frame-type stick-on bumper. The new case, provided in the retail package, snaps onto the thicker strip on the right side of the Mate and also sticks to it with three adhesive strips for extra security. We didn’t use the adhesive strips and it still felt pretty firmly attached, so even if you do choose to apply them, and later make up your mind and remove the case, you’ll be able to reuse it successfully.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The case sort of consists of two parts, the thinner one that attaches to the right side and a wider, flap-like portion. When it’s folded, the flap portion snaps onto the hinge’s exposed elements on the top and the bottom and stays there – not quite as firmly as the case’s opposite end, but with just the right amount of snap. That way it doesn’t flap about but is also easy enough to unsnap for when you want to go into tablet mode.

Case in action - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Case in action - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Case in action - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Case in action

So the way it works is you unsnap the flap and unlatch the screen from the button on the back, the flap moves out of the way for you to extend the screen, and that’s it. Sure, the flap now has nothing to attach to but you’ll either be holding it with your hand (sort of naturally) or you’ll simply not care about it a whole lot.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

It sounds like a clunky arrangement, and everyone’s initial response is dismissal. However, once you give it a shot and use it for a bit, it starts making all the sense. It helps that it’s also a perfectly reasonable case for when the phone is closed. The back and all four corners are covered, plus it sticks out from the front too, so you can now leave the Mate face down – but, again, you’d be wrong.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

We’re yet to see an under-display fingerprint reader on a foldable – some say the vivo X Fold has one, but we haven’t seen it. The Mate Xs 2 opts for a side-mounted capacitive unit in the power button, and it’s predictably on the right side of the device. It’s equally fast and reliable with a right thumb and a left index finger, with the case on or the Mate bare, in folded or unfolded state alike.

Right above the fingerprint scanner is the volume rocker which clicks positively, no complaints.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

On the bottom of the Mate you’ll find the charging port and it’s in the only logical spot – off to one side, in the thicker bar portion of the device. A pinhole in the front section reveals where the mic is, while the loudspeaker and the card slot are in the foldaway half. The card trays will take either two nano SIMs or a nano SIM and a NM card – Huawei’s proprietary NanoMemory storage solution.

Up top, in the front section, is where the second speaker is, as well as an extra mic. Also here is an IR emitter – the leftmost of the six adjacent dots.

Bottom bits - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Card slot - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
There's an IR blaster in there - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Bottom bits • Card slot • There’s an IR blaster in there

That second speaker also has an opening towards the front where it serves an extra purpose as an earpiece. Also notable is the punch hole in the top right corner – the Mate Xs 2 has a selfie camera, unlike the previous model.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

We’ve been rambling on how the Mate Xs 2 is so light and compact and that’s indeed true, but in a certain context. It’s obviously bigger than the clamshell style foldables – the Galaxy Z Flips or P50 Pockets of this world. It’s also huge if you’re to compare it to a Zenfone 9 or a Galaxy S22. But coming from a Xiaomi 11 Ultra, this reviewer wasn’t at all bothered with the Mate’s size or weight and using it in ‘smartphone’ mode required next to no adjustment.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Conversely, in tablet mode it almost feels weightless thanks to the adjusted expectations. In vertical orientation, which is a very moot concept in the first place with the squarish 10.1:9 ratio, we found ourselves holding the phone with the bar to the right, while in landscape the bar tended to end up on top.

That’s mostly because of a natural inclination to keep the selfie camera somewhere along the top edge, rather than the bottom – the Mate will happily oblige and rotate in whatever direction you feel like using it. The bar-on-top orientation has the added benefit that you can just about prop the tablet with your index finger and shift some weight off your pinkie.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Slightly smaller, twice as fast

Same but different, the foldable display on the Mate Xs 2 has shrunk a little bit. So this year you’re getting a 7.8-inch panel compared to the 8 inches of the Xs and when you factor in rounding errors the reduction in area amounts to just over 9sq. cm – less than 5%. Admittedly, you’d be losing a handful of pixels to the camera cutout too, but that’s even less impactful. With a native resolution of 2200x2480px in a squarish 10.1:9 aspect ratio, the pixel density works out to 424ppi – plenty sharp.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The panel does have something to show for the marginal concession in viewable area – it’s now 120Hz capable, where the Xs from 2020 had a standard 60Hz refresh rate and the in-folding Mate X2 peaked at 90Hz. Huawei specifies a 240Hz maximum touch sampling rate and 1440Hz PWM dimming frequency.

In the folded state, the Mate Xs 2 uses around 53% of that new panel – 1176px of the available width. The ‘normal’ smartphone view has a 6.5-inch diagonal in a 19:9 aspect ratio.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

In our brightness testing, with the Mate Xs 2 unfolded, we measured 506 nits at the far right end of the brightness slider. That’s close to 100nits more than what we got on the Mate Xs, more or less the same as the Oppo Find N or the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and perfectly reasonable brightness even for outdoor tablet use. That said, the Find N does get an extra 100nits with auto brightness enabled, while the Galaxy can push upwards of 900nits under bright ambient light, while the unfolded Mate Xs 2 doesn’t do that.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded) 0 506
Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded) 0 413
Huawei Mate X2 0 469
Huawei Mate X2 (Max Auto) 0 542
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G 0 489
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (Max Auto) 0 922
Oppo Find N 0 490
Oppo Find N (Max Auto) 0 582
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G 0 503
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G (Max Auto) 0 935
Huawei P50 Pocket 0 521
Huawei P50 Pocket (Max Auto) 0 803

Things are a little different if you’re only using the Mate folded – as a ‘standard’ smartphone. In this case we did measure an appreciable brightness increase, all the way up to 725nits. That’s still not as bright as the best conventional phones, or the outer displays on competing ‘large’ foldables, but is a welcome sight in particularly sunny environments.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Max Auto) 0 725
Huawei Mate Xs 2 0 514
Oppo Find N Cover 0 505
Oppo Find N Cover (Max Auto) 0 785
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display) 0 479
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display, Max Auto) 0 1001
Huawei Mate X2 (cover display) 0 472
Huawei Mate X2 (cover display, Max Auto) 0 601
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G 0 503
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G (Max Auto) 0 935
Huawei P50 Pocket 0 521
Huawei P50 Pocket (Max Auto) 0 803
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 0 494
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Extra brightness) 0 829
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Max Auto) 0 1266
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 0 852
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (Max Auto) 0 1050
Huawei P50 Pro 0 609
Huawei P50 Pro (Max Auto) 0 754
Xiaomi 12 Pro 0 506
Xiaomi 12 Pro (Max Auto) 0 1050
Xiaomi 12S Ultra 0 512
Xiaomi 12S Ultra (Max Auto) 0 1065
Sony Xperia 1 IV 0 602
Oppo Find X5 Pro 0 475
Oppo Find X5 Pro (Max Auto) 0 762

The Mate Xs 2 has two main color modes – default, warm, and cool variations of each of them, plus a color temperature wheel if you’d prefer to fine-tune the output.

Normal mode is enabled by default and the menu says it should be able to choose between DCI-P3 and sRGB color spaces depending on content. It recognized our testing software as sRGB only, irrespective of what settings we had in there. We got fairly accurate, but not exactly spot-on results, with the grayscale having a pink tint. Opting for the Warm preset improved the average result slightly, and also got the white point closer to target, though it did push it into yellow territory in the process.

We did get to see wider color gamut in Vivid mode, though it wasn’t particularly accurate for our DCI-P3 test swatches – not that it claimed it would be. The white point was shifted towards blue in this case, and more heavily so, but the Warm preset did make things a lot better.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

HDR on the Mate Xs 2 is somewhat of a complex topic. The HDR Checker app says it supports HDR10+, and DRM Info says it’s good for Widevine L1. Netflix says L3, however, and limits things to SD resolution and no HDR. The YouTube app doesn’t run without Google Play Services, which the Mate doesn’t have, and YouTube in a browser does not support HDR. Amazon Prime Video did allow 1080p resolution, but it still wouldn’t give us HDR.

The refresh rate menu gives you three options – Dynamic, High and Standard. Standard is straightforward and it locks things at 60Hz all the time. Dynamic and High both say in different ways that they’ll go up to 120Hz, but both will adjust to lower values depending on content and activity – it’s just that High implies a heavier bias towards the 120Hz refresh rate.

The two modes do behave differently. For example, the in-house browser would go as high as 120Hz and maintain that in High mode, while it would only reach 90Hz in Dynamic mode.

With our in-house application giving unreliable results on the Mate and the phone lacking the native Android tool for keeping track of refresh rate, we couldn’t get into more detail than that. We will say that in both Dynamic and High mode the phone felt fluid and responsive, with smooth animations and transitions. The Standard mode is perfectly okay too, though if you’re used to HRR, you might need a few days of getting used to it.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 battery life

The Mate Xs 2 is powered by a 4,600mAh battery, a marginal increase over the Mate Xs’ 4,500mAhcapacity. The display is slightly smaller, which should help the new model’s case when comparing against the predecessor, but it is a 120Hz panel. Then there’s the newer chipset which rarely helps with endurance.

Indeed, we got some pretty disappointing results for battery life out of the Mate Xs 2, and that includes its folded state too. If using it as a normal phone, we got just over 7 hours of web browsing and 9 hours of video playback – that’s low. The 16-hour voice call result and the rather poor standby performance also contributed to an outright bad overall Endurance rating of 54 hours.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Naturally, things got worse in the tablet-like unfolded state, where we clocked less than 6 hours of web browsing and just over 8 hours of video playback. Mind you, the video playback in our test in this mode was with the picture stretched to cover the full display, as opposed to the usual 16:9 ratio (which we couldn’t force), so it’s a worst case scenario, in a way.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage – check out our all-time battery test results chart.

Charging speed

The silver lining in the Mate Xs 2’s case is charging speed – it’s the fastest charging foldable we’ve seen, and it improves on the predecessor’s already solid results. The Oppo Find N and especially the Galaxy Z Fold3 are slower, as are the bulk of conventional smartphones.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The caveat is that the Mate does that using a proprietary standard, Huawei’s Super Charge. Then again, you do get the 66W adapter bundled, and it’s not a huge brick so you could carry it around with you for mid-day top-ups. In practice, the power being delivered peaked at around 52W so, that 66W adapter may be a little overspecced.

Charging the Mate over USB Power Delivery is considerably slower. We only got to 31% from flat in 30 minutes using a good third-party PD adapter, with the power maxing out at around 14W.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12 Pro (120W)
    100%
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    91%
  • vivo X80 Pro
    88%
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    85%
  • Huawei Mate X2
    80%
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    80%
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    73%
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    73%
  • Huawei P50 Pocket
    70%
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (25W)
    61%
  • Oppo Find N
    57%
  • Sony Xperia 1 IV
    47%
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (20W Apple)
    42%
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    40%
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    33%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Xiaomi 12 Pro (120W)
    0:21h
  • vivo X80 Pro
    0:39h
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    0:40h
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    0:43h
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    0:50h
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    0:50h
  • Huawei P50 Pocket
    0:54h
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    0:57h
  • Huawei Mate X2
    0:58h
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (25W)
    1:04h
  • Oppo Find N
    1:05h
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    1:30h
  • Sony Xperia 1 IV
    1:42h
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    1:46h
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (20W Apple)
    1:46h

What the Mate is missing and the Find and the Galaxy do have is wireless charging. Perhaps induction doesn’t work through OLED display panels? Or it only works once?

Speaker test

The Mate Xs 2 has a stereo speaker setup with a driver on each end of the device. The top one is in the right half of the phone when unfolded, or the front one when folded, and fires both up and forward to double as an earpiece. The bottom speaker ends up in the left half when unfolded.

The phone does switch the channels in software to match its orientation when held in landscape mode, be it folded or unfolded. Holding it vertically assigns the left channel to the top speaker. We almost thought that with the ‘diagonal’ arrangement of the speakers Huawei could have made the top speaker the right channel when the phone is unfolded, but that’s a whole new level of nitpicking even for us.

Top speaker - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Bottom speaker - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Top speaker • Bottom speaker

The Mate Xs 2 is a well sounding foldable too – it packs some low-end punch but also delivers clear vocals and crisp highs. The previous generation lacks the bass of the new one, while the X2 is a bit bassier than the Xs 2, but is more muffled higher up the frequency range. The Galaxy Fold3 is a bit more mid-forward but is lacking in the low region, and the Find N isn’t particularly likable in this crowd.

The latest Mate is also among the louder foldable options. It earned a ‘Very good’ rating in our test, on par with the Galaxy and a notch higher than the Mate Xs and X2.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

EMUI 12 with foldable-specific tweaks

As is the norm with Huawei handsets thanks to the US-China trade dispute, the Mate Xs 2 is denied the latest Android, so it runs Android 11. There’s an in-house overlay on top – EMUI 12 for the global version of the phone we have here, or HarmonyOS 2.0 for China-bound units.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

We got to meet that combo on the P50 Pro and the P50 Pocket, and what we’re seeing here is very similar to the experience on those phones. There are some touches to account for the different form-factor, but we’ll get to those in a bit.

There’s an AoD feature with numerous designs and the usual display mores – always, scheduled, or tap to show. You can set up a magazine lockscreen style that changes the wallpaper every time you wake up the screen and swiping up from the bottom of the lockscreen will bring up quick shortcuts to some commonly used utilities.

The side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Mate Xs 2 works without issues. Face unlock is also available thanks to the newly incuded selfie camera – the Mate Xs didn’t have that. As usual, the fingerprint option is more secure, since Face unlock is just camera based, with no 3D mapping of any sort.

AoD - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Lockscreen - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Tools - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Biometrics and security - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Biometrics and security - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Biometrics and security - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

AoD • Lockscreen • Tools • Biometrics and security

On the homescreen, you will find all installed third-party and system apps, and there’s no option for an app drawer. What there is, is support for large folders, where one occupies four spaces and holds up to 9 apps. You don’t need to expand the folder to launch an app – you just tap on its icon. Simple, yet clever.

The Notification Center and Control Center are handled the Apple way – two separate panes, and you swipe down from the top for each. The rightmost one third of the status bar pulls the Control Center, the rest brings down the notifications.

Homescreen - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Another one - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Large folder in the making - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Folder view - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Notification pane - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Control panel - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Homescreen • Another one • Large folder in the making • Folder view • Notification pane • Control panel

The leftmost homescreen page, if enabled, is Today, part of the Huawei Assistant suite. An infotainment place of sorts, it houses a newsfeed tailored for you, weather reports, smart suggestions for apps, health info, battery info, AppGallery suggestions, a whole lot of things. You can customize this page – there are a lot of information services available from Huawei partners; you can also add game info, scores, and whatnot.

Swiping down anywhere on the homescreen takes you to the system-wide AI Search feature. Also part of the AI suite are AI Lens (for shopping, translation and finding images on the internet), AI Tips (suggestion to maximize your grasp on the UI), and AI Touch (another shopping-focused feature). Out of the P50 Pro, P50 Pocket and this Mate Xs 2 here, only the Pocket had Huawei’s voice assistant Celia (also called AI Voice).

Today - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
System-wide search - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Huawei Assistant - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Huawei Assistant - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Huawei Assistant - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Huawei Assistant - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Today • System-wide search • Huawei Assistant

The default navigation in EMUI 12 is gesture-based – swipe up for Home, swipe up and stop midway for Task switcher, or swipe from the left or right edge of the screen for Back. You can opt for the classic virtual buttons, of course.

Huawei offers a lot of pre-installed apps to get you started. There is Huawei’s Gallery, Music, Video, and Health apps. A File manager is available, as well as an IR remote control app.

Gallery - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Music - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Video - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Health - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
File manager - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Remote control - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Gallery • Music • Video • Health • File manager • Remote control

You also get Petal Maps, Petal Search and Huawei Browser.

Petal Maps - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Petal Maps - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Petal Search - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Petal Search - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Browser - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Browser - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Petal Maps • Petal Maps • Petal Search • Petal Search • Browser

Then there’s the matter of where you’ll be getting your apps in the absence of the Google Play Store. Huawei’s AppGallery is the default choice and it has integrated Petal search, plus it shows results from other app repositories, like APK Pure and APK Monk. It can also download the app from there and install it, no need to install the store apps first. You can install, of course, more app stores like APKPure and Aptoide (though that does keep nagging about missing Google Play services, which is a new development), or even Amazon’s Appstore. Still, some things like Google Maps and YouTube are off the table, unless you turn to one of the sketchy workarounds you could read about on the internet.

AppGallery - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
AppGallery - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
AppGallery - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
APKPure - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
APKPure - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Aptoide - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

AppGallery • AppGallery • AppGallery • APKPure • APKPure • Aptoide

Large screen experience, multi-tasking and productivity

The Mate Xs 2 in its unfolded state looks and behaves just like a small tablet. The 10.1:9 aspect ratio does not appear to be causing any issues and most apps that have a dedicated tablet UI variant simply switch over to it, automatically.

Unfolded UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Unfolded UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Unfolded UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Unfolded UI

A curious observation was that not all in-house apps are fully optimized for the large screen. While the settings menu, Notepad app and the email client do go into a dual-pane view, the Calendar, for example, doesn’t have a different interface that can benefit from the large screen.

Settings - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Petal Maps - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Calendar - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Settings • Petal Maps • Calendar

Also, many games don’t really respond well to the combination of detecting the full resolution and aspect of the display when switching between modes and are then being forced to render at a different size. Touch controls can get misaligned, depending on how the game was developed.

In order to keep compatibility as high as possible, Huawei has included a nifty App scaling menu in the Display settings menu. This is separated out into settings for the unfolded, and the folded display on a per-app basis, though the folded one is in a pretty standard 19:9 aspect so there shouldn’t be any issues. If you do experience any mishaps an app on the folded display, you can tell it not to span the full height but maintain a retro 9:16 aspect, instead.

App scaling - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
App scaling - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
App scaling - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

App scaling

The Mate Xs 2 includes a familiar and functional multi-window and multi-tasking implementation, which is welcome on a device of this size.

Multi-Window gestures - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Multi-Window gestures - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Multi-Window gestures - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Multi-Window gestures

Launching apps into a split-screen view is generally done via a side menu, accessible by swiping from the right edge of the display. Tapping an app from here spawns a floating window of it, and you can now have two such windows open at the same time, with every subsequently launched one minimizing one of the earlier ones to a separate icon on the side, which in turn opens a separate task switcher.

Floating window - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Floating window - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Floating window - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Floating window

To initiate the split-screen view, you have to long-press the app icon from the side dock, and then drag it on top of another app, which is already open. You can add any app you choose into this Multi-Window menu, and most seem to work and scale pretty effortlessly.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Something worth noting is that you can’t change the sizes of the two app sides in unfolded mode. Perhaps it’s a conscious limitation to keep everything working well. Adjusting the app split is possible with Multi-Window while the Mate Xs is folded, though. This looks and behaves a lot like we are used to on any regular phone.

Split screen - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Split screen - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Split screen - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Split screen

There are a few nifty features in Huawei’s Multi-Window, which are a boon for usability. For example, you can drag and drop certain content between two apps. You can also have an app pair remain bundled together as one entry in the recent apps view, so you can easily close both of them or return to that particular side-by-side workflow.

Performance and benchmarks

The Snapdragon 888 – that’s a name we hadn’t heard in a while. But it’s that Qualcomm chipset in particular that is the heart of the Mate Xs 2 amidst the restriction imposed on Huawei by the US government. It’s also in capped at 4G connectivity since Huawei doesn’t get to enjoy US-sourced 5G tech. But for benchmarking purposes, the Mate’s SD888 4G should be as good as any other SD888 – it’s just that by now it’s more than a year-and-a-half-old silicon.

RAM and storage versions of the Mate Xs 2 are easy if you’re shopping outside of China – the global variant only comes in 8GB/512GB spec. In its homeland, there’s a version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, as well as 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Maybe a ‘global’ buyer would like to pay extra for a 12GB RAM version, but that doesn’t appear to be an option.

When it comes to CPU performance, the Mate Xs 2 ranks below average for 2022 flagship smartphones, which is to be expected given its early-2021 chipset. However, the Xs 2 is underdelivering, even for an SD888, and the Kirin 9000-based X2 is posting higher numbers. The Z Fold3 is only slightly ahead of the Mate, for what that’s worth.

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    1324
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    1169
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    1110
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    1105
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    1104
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    1095
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    1095
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    1002
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    985
  • Oppo Find N
    985
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    956
  • Huawei Mate X2
    956
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    900
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    884
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    751

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    4300
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    3682
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    3511
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    3478
  • Oppo Find N
    3478
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    3433
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    3389
  • Huawei Mate X2
    3389
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    3239
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    3239
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    3145
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    3131
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    3079
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    2980
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    2659

The Antutu situation is no different and the Mate Xs 2 records numbers that are way below the current flagship level, but also lower than the average SD888 figures in our database.

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    1039412
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    1012896
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    985226
  • Oppo Find N
    822513
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    799386
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    786215
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    783623
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    762090
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    752218
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    724906
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    661044
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    658825
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    641608

In the offscreen runs in GFXBench, however, the Mate Xs 2 does manage to punch above its weight, and scores a frame or two more per second than the average SD888 smartphone. It’s also consistently on top of the Galaxy Z Fold3. Naturally, that’s not quite Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 level performance, but it’s something.

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    46
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    41
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    40
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    33
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    31
  • Oppo Find N
    31
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    29
  • Huawei Mate X2
    29
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    28
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    28
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    26
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    20
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    17

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    51
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    45
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    44
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    36
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    31
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    31
  • Huawei Mate X2
    31
  • Oppo Find N
    30
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    30
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    29
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    29
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    29
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    19

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    104
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    103
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    96
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    94
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    75
  • Oppo Find N
    73
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    72
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    71
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    66
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    64
  • Huawei Mate X2
    61
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    56
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    55
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    36
  • Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded)
    36

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    182
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    168
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    162
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    134
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    125
  • Oppo Find N
    125
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    122
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    121
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    113
  • Huawei Mate X2
    100
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    99
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    72
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    71
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    71
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    66
  • Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded)
    66

The onscreen tests prove more taxing on the Mate – less so in its unfolded state, but quite considerably when all of its 5.5 million pixels need to be fed. Having said that, the Mate does manage to outperform the Z Fold3 on most occasions.

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    58
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    50
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    49
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    39
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    38
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    36
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    36
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    35
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    34
  • Oppo Find N
    32
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    27
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    25
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    23
  • Huawei Mate X2
    20
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    19
  • Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded)
    12

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    45
  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    45
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    39
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    38
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    37
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    36
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    34
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    34
  • Oppo Find N
    33
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    26
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    21
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    18
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    16
  • Huawei Mate X2
    12
  • Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded)
    10

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    79
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    60
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    60
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    55
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    51
  • Oppo Find N
    51
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    51
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    46
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    46
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    44
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    44
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    38
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    30
  • Huawei Mate X2
    29
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    28
  • Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded)
    16

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
    108
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    96
  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    91
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    86
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    78
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    72
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    60
  • Oppo Find N
    60
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    60
  • Huawei Mate Xs
    54
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    47
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    45
  • Huawei Mate X2
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    40
  • Huawei Mate Xs (Unfolded)
    26

In 3D Mark, the distribution is similar to the offscreen GFXBench runs – slightly above average results for the chipsets from the Mate, and a victory over the Galaxy.

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi 12S Ultra
    10533
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
    9758
  • Xiaomi 12 Pro
    9664
  • Oppo Find N (cover display)
    5931
  • Oppo Find N
    5928
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2 (Unfolded)
    5830
  • Huawei Mate Xs 2
    5814
  • Huawei Mate X2 (cover display)
    5751
  • Average SD 888 (1080p)
    5699
  • Huawei Mate X2
    5693
  • Huawei P50 Pro
    5651
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    5635
  • Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (cover display)
    5563

Under sustained load, the Mate Xs 2 performed as expected from a high-end device with some heavy thermal throttling along the way. The CPU stress test had it dip to 62% of peak performance when unfolded, though it did manage to maintain a decent 72% average. Somewhat oddly, it managed to remain more stable when closed, though admittedly only marginally so. The 3DMark Wild Life stress test returned stability ratings of 57% in either state – again, more or less par for the course.

CPU throttling test (unfolded) - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
CPU throttling test (folded) - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
3DMark Wild life stress test (unfolded) - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
3DMark Wild life stress test (folded) - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

CPU throttling test • 3DMark Wild life stress test

Upgraded main camera, same tele, a step sideways on the ultrawide end

The Mate Xs 2 comes with a slightly reworked take on the Xs’ camera system without introducing dramatic changes. Perhaps the single principal difference is the inclusion of a selfie camera this time around, but as we’ll establish later, that’s better kept for use cases outside of photography.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

One of the changes is the new primary camera. Huawei doesn’t disclose specifics on it other than the 50MP nominal resolution and the f/1.8 aperture. The 23mm equivalent focal length found in the fine print and reported by hardware apps is most definitely not what the pictures look like and the 27mm from the EXIF looks far more plausible. If one is a betting man, perhaps the smart money is on an OIS-less variation on the P50 Pro’s setup, hinted by the BGGR reported color filter array. In any case, it’s a Quad Bayer-type sensor that outputs 12.5MP images by default.

Similarly mysterious is the 13MP ultrawide camera. It has an f/2.2 aperture and supports autofocus (yay!), and all that makes it sound like the P50 Pocket’s unit, but it’s not like we know all that much about it to begin with. Mind you, the Xs had a 16MP ultrawide, and the drop in resolution might sound like a downgrade, but we know not to judge a camera by its megapixels.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The telephoto is somewhat more familiar, and we’re pegging it to be the same as on last year’s model. It features an 8MP sensor behind a stabilized 81mm equivalent lens with an f/2.4 aperture. It offers 3x or 3.5x zoom, depending on how you interpret some conflicting numbers in Huawei’s documentation – in any case, it’s further zoom than what you can get on a Galaxy or an Oppo foldable, with only Huawei’s own X2 having proper long-range zoom capability.

The all-new entry this time around is the selfie camera – the previous two outies from the company omitted that, for one reason or another. The unit we’re seeing here is a 10.7MP one with a very (but not quite ‘ultra’) wide 21mm reported equivalent focal length and an f/2.2 aperture. Focus is fixed on this one.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The camera app is a familiar sight if you’ve seen any remotely recent Huawei smartphone. You have a Mode selector on the bottom, which you can swipe left or right to change modes. You can add more options on this bar, too.

The zoom selector is always in immediate reach of your thumb, which wasn’t the case on some older Huaweis that forced you to use both hands. It has four fixed steps – UW, 1x, 3.5x and 5x, the last being essentially digital zoom. You can use other zoom levels by swiping on the zoom bar, of course.

There’s a Pro mode too where you can adjust parameters yourself – ISO (50 to 409,600), shutter speed (1/4000s to 30s), exposure compensation (-4 to +4EV in 1/3 stop increments), and white balance (presets and specific light temperature). You can also choose the metering mode (matrix, center-weighted, and spot), and the focus mode (single, continuous, and manual). If the phone thinks you messed up the exposure, an icon will pop up to warn you. Mind you, Pro mode is available on all rear cameras.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

A toggle in the far corner of the viewfinder, enables the ‘rear’ display – the portion of the wraparound screen that ends on the back when the Mate Xs 2 is folded. We’ll talk more about it in the selfie section on the next page, but let’s quickly mention here that the lack of an actionable UI on the rear display feels like a missed opportunity.

Camera UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Camera UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Camera UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Camera UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Camera UI - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Camera UI

Daylight image quality

Images out of the Mate Xs 2’s main camera are very good. Noise is nonexistent and detail is nice and sharp. Dynamic range is wide and we’re seeing well developed tonal extremes. Colors we can best describe as accurate, which is to say we’d prefer a gentle nudge in saturation and/or warmth, particularly in outdoor scenes.

Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3460s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3831s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3891s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3205s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3401s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3610s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 200, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 160, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/2252s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/4000s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, main camera

That’s precisely what the ultrawide delivers and it does make greenery and skies look more appealing. Dynamic range is excellent in these photos as well. It doesn’t hurt that these are also among the sharpest ultrawide shots we’ve seen, if a little overprocessed. Another highlight of this camera is its autofocusing capability which means you can use it for closeups.

Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1650s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1828s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1672s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1381s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1698s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1321s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/456s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 160, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/33s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, ultrawide camera

The telephoto is a dependable performer too. It gets you closer to the action and even though 8MP isn’t a whole lot, its shots do contain a lot of detail, while keeping noise at bay. There’s good contrast too – all too often teles can look washed out, but not this one. One area where we saw missteps was white balance – the auto failed pretty badly in that fourth sample and the snail in the first is way too green too.

Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/1761s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/1017s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/1302s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/1209s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/1464s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/1368s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 320, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, telephoto camera

The main camera’s default 50MP mode produces soft result when you go into 1:1 magnification and we’re struggling to see any detail benefit. The 50MP AI mode that takes a couple of seconds to shoot does produce sharper shots, but we still don’t think it’s worth the wait or larger file size.

Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3356s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3717s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/4587s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3067s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3401s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3460s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/4000s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP - f/1.8, ISO 200, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Daylight samples, main camera, 50MP

Low-light image quality

Let’s get one thing out of the way first, so that we don’t have to say it twice – there’s no difference between the results obtained in Photo mode and in Night mode when shooting on the main and ultrawide cameras. If you were to spot any, it would be more of a shot to shot variation, than a genuine advantage of one mode over the other.

With that said, the Mate Xs 2’s low-light photos from its main camera are great. They have pleasingly bright exposure with a wide dynamic range and well developed shadows and highlights. Colors are on point too – we observed no desaturation and we also didn’t experience white balance blunders. Detail leaves little to be desired too.

Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 2000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 500, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 500, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 320, 1/25s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 400, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 320, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera - f/1.8, ISO 6400, 1/15s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, main camera

Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 2000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 500, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 400, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 320, 1/25s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 400, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 320, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 6400, 1/15s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, main camera, Night mode

The ultrawide doesn’t disappoint either. It may not be quite as sharp as during the day, but it still delivers respectable detail levels. The exposures are again a bit enthusiastic and we’d argue that’s our preferred approach over more ‘accurate’ darker shots. Dynamic range remains nicely wide and both tonal extremes have nice roll-off.

Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 51200, 1/4s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 2500, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera - f/2.2, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, ultrawide camera

Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 51200, 1/4s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 2500, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 1250, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 1250, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, ultrawide camera, Night mode

When we get to the telephoto, there might be the occasional scene that is better rendered in Night mode, instead of the default Photo mode. That’s in addition to Huawei’s continued insistence on outputting 12MP images from the telephoto in Night mode, next to the 8MP ones in Photo mode.

For instance, in the second scene below, the zoomed in shot was captured on the main camera in Photo mode, and the Night mode shot, taken on the telephoto, is superior. We found Photo mode to be a bit less dependable in certain scenes and there was that one instance (sample 2) where the zoomed in shot got captured on the main camera. In another scene (sample 3) the photo was captured on the telephoto, but we didn’t get a single keeper, while Night mode returned sharp results.

Overall, however, we’re liking what the Mate Xs 2’s zoom camera is capable of. It too exposes well and has good dynamic range. While not quite as proficient with shadow detail as the other two, if you give it some light to work with, it will produce very usable shots.

Low-light samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 1250, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera - f/1.8, ISO 800, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/25s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/25s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera - f/2.4, ISO 800, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, telephoto camera

Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 1250, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 1000, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/20s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/25s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/25s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode - f/2.4, ISO 800, 1/17s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Low-light samples, telephoto camera, Night mode

Once you’re done with the real world samples, head over to our Photo compare tool to see how the Huawei Mate Xs 2 stacks up against the competition.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Huawei Mate Xs 2 against the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Oppo Find N in our Photo compare tool

Portrait mode

Portrait mode on the Mate Xs 2 comes with the usual selection of ‘effects’ (the background blur style) and a 0-10 beautification feature. Additionally, you can capture portraits at three zoom levels – 1x, 2x, and 3x, all of them sourced from the main camera.

At the native 1x, images are of very high quality. The subject is sharp and detailed, the separation from the background is very competent (unless our wooden wall panelling is involved) and the blur level is well judged to ensure believable results. Colors and dynamic range are great as well. And it’s worth pointing out that the Mate’s comparatively longer focal length on the main camera means that you’re not in your subject’s face so it’s not an uncomfortable experience for the two parties, plus facial features don’t get as distorted as they do with some of the wider cameras.

Portrait mode samples, 1x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/130s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 1x - f/1.8, ISO 200, 1/120s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 1x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/2809s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 1x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/4587s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Portrait mode samples, 1x

At 2x, sharpness and detail on your subject take a noticeable hit, though if you’re after that 50-ish mm lens perspective and you won’t be examining the photos from up close, they just might be good enough.

Portrait mode samples, 2x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/132s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 2x - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/60s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 2x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/2088s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 2x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/4587s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Portrait mode samples, 2x

The 3x setting, on the other hand, we’d straight up avoid.

Portrait mode samples, 3x - f/1.8, ISO 64, 1/120s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 3x - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/60s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 3x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/2119s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Portrait mode samples, 3x - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/4444s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Portrait mode samples, 3x

Selfies

Selfies out of the actual selfie camera of the Mate Xs 2 aren’t very good, for one specific reason. Not once did we get a sharp face out of it, while backgrounds are consistently so. We’re not entirely sure it’s because of the focus distance Huawei has chosen – the rendition of the face has more of a misaligned stacking look, rather than out of focus softness, but it’s so consistently the same that it makes sense to be the latter.

That’s somewhat unfortunate because the images have otherwise excellent dynamic range and likeable colors. Still, with the option to shoot selfies on the main camera and preview them on the rear portion of the screen, the Xs 2’s selfie camera is easily relegated to just video calls and for that it should do just fine (and face unlock if you’re into that).

Selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/407s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1348s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/126s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 250, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples - f/2.2, ISO 320, 1/60s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples

A few words on the less than ideal logistics of rear camera selfies, before we get to quality. The thing is, you need to open the camera on the main screen and enable the rear screen preview from there and then turn the phone around. Once you’ve done that, there’s no software shutter button on the back, so you need to press the volume rocker and squeezing the phone is both dangerous for it and prone to introducing camera shake. There’s also no option to change cameras or modes from the back – switching between photo and portrait mode or between the main and the ultrawide cameras must be done from the front.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 reviewSome on-screen controls would be nice

By the looks of it, Huawei’s engineered this preview so that the people you’re taking pictures of can look at themselves, more so than with selfies in mind, seeing how there’s no actionable interface in it. There’s also the matter that if you’re taking selfies this way, there will be a fully functional camera interface on the opposite side of the phone – other people will see it, but also you may interact with it accidentally. It’s not ideal, but fully fixable in software if they open their eyes to this alternative use case.

Once you get past those hurdles, the resulting rear camera selfies are great. The amout of detail is excellent, though it can have a rather gritty processed rendition in some cases. Colors are vivid overall and skin tones look pleasing, though there can be a tendency for brightening of faces in some instances. Whatever occasional flaw there might be, these are some of the best selfies with a life preview you can get on any phone.

Selfie samples, main rear camera - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1174s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3356s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples, main rear camera - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/382s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera - f/1.8, ISO 80, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera - f/1.8, ISO 125, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples, main rear camera

They do also have a nice level of natural blur thanks to the combination of bright lens and close subject distance. But if you’d like some extra separation from the background, there’s also the Portrait mode. Realistically, at arm’s length you’ll only be using it at the 1x magnification. As with shooting other people, we found it to work great.

Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode - f/1.8, ISO 64, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1209s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/3460s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/301s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode - f/1.8, ISO 160, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode - f/1.8, ISO 125, 1/100s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples, main rear camera, Portrait mode

While the selfie-selfie camera is relatively wide itself, it’s nowhere as wide as the rear ultrawide camera. That one lets you do odd perspective shots or better put you in the context of your surroundings. With no option for on screen shutter release, the requirement for your hand on the volume button inevitably puts your appendage too close to the camera and shots can often end up containing a whole lot of arm. Of course, more experienced selfie-ists will know workarounds.

Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera - f/2.2, ISO 80, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/912s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/1724s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera - f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/196s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera - f/2.2, ISO 200, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review
Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera - f/2.2, ISO 160, 1/50s - Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Selfie samples, ultrawide rear camera

Video recording

The Mate Xs 2 records video up to 4K60 with its main and ultrawide rear cameras. The tele is capped at 4K30, though a zoomed in 4K60 mode is available too, albeit outsourced to the main camera. There’s no 8K recording capability, not that we’d complain about it. Stabilization is always on in all modes. The usual option for using the h.265 codec as opposed to the default h.264 is there in settings too.

The 4K30 (34-40Mbps) videos out of the main camera are decent, but not the best ones we’ve seen. For one, detail is a touch too soft for our liking, when you look from up close. There’s also the excessively contrasty tone curve that’s leaving both shadows and highlights underdeveloped. Colors are neutral which is probably a good thing, but we’d take a warmer more saturated rendition. It’s not a dealbreaking performance overall, just not one of the Mate’s strong suits. For what it’s worth, the 4K60 mode looks essentially the same, despite having a lower bit rate (30Mbps).

The utrawide camera records more likeable colors – warmer, and more saturated, but not off-the-charts so.The high contrast/limited dynamic range point still stands though and the detail isn’t pin sharp, though it’s still good as ultrawides go.

Squeezing 3840x2160px footage out of a camera with a nominal resolution of 3264x2448px with the necessary cropping for the image stabilization has to involve some upscaling. Indeed, that shows in the videos captured at what the video viewfinder calls 4x zoom. We’d call these usable, but the Mate won’t be our top pick for zoomed in video.

Low-light footage out of the main camera is pretty solid. Dynamic range wasn’t great during the day and it’s not gotten better now, but in this context where all phones tend to suffer, the Mate is actually doing more than alright. Detail is good, noise is well controlled, colors are on point.

The ultrawide is doing a decent job itself. Of course, the shadows are relatively soft and noisy, and bright lights will end up blown out, but moderately lit areas are rendered quite well.

The telephoto is struggling to gather enough light at night and its clips end up underexposed. There’s a general softness to them as well, and pretty strong haloing around light sources.

Stabilization works wonders on the Mate Xs 2. Footage from both the main and the ultrawide cameras is free from walking shake and there’s no focus hunting. Pans are smooth too and just pointing the phone in one direction results in a very stable picture.

The telephoto, on the other hand, can be a little wobbly and exhibit the occasional focus hunting. Though at 4x zoom that’s not such a bad result.

Here’s a glimpse of how the Huawei Mate Xs 2 compares to rivals in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete picture.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Huawei Mate Xs 2 against the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Oppo Find N in our Video compare tool

Competition

The Mate Xs 2’s retail price of €2,000 makes discussing topics such as value for money pointless. It’s among the most expensive smartphones you can buy and if you’re contemplating it, you can clearly afford the latest iPhone. But it’s perhaps a foldable that you’re fixated on.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The Galaxy Z Fold3 is an obvious alternative. It has an IPX8 rating, so Samsung says it should be waterproof which the Mate isn’t, plus the Galaxy is perhaps the more durable form factor in the first place. It also has a way brighter (main) display and longer battery life, plus wireless charging, though it does charge at a glacial pace – the Mate easily wins there. The Mate is also the better cameraphone, we reckon. The Galaxy has a more refined software package, and that’s in addition to all the Google apps the Mate doesn’t get to enjoy.

The Z Fold3 is a year old, so it can be had for a lot less than list price – €1300, maybe even lower. The thing is, the Z Fold4 is coming any day now, and it could provide even more compelling reasons to look away from the Mate, albeit at new-foldable prices.

In a different state of software weirdness is the Oppo Find N – from a western user’s perspective, that is. Officially only available in China, the Oppo doesn’t have a ‘global’ software build, so it will have some peculiarities and limitations, but it can run the Google suite just fine. It’s a more compact unit, albeit 20g heavier than the Mate, and has better battery life. The Mate remains our pick for photography though. At roughly €1100 equivalent in China, the Find will remain cheaper than the Mate even after importing it.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

Moving on, perhaps your desire for a foldable can be satisfied by a member of the third kind – like Huawei’s own P50 Pocket. Sure, it’s a whole different experience, but perhaps your pocket will appreciate the lighter and even more compact body. The Pocket can’t match the Mate for zoom power, but has a capable camera setup of its own, including a unique UV camera. The Pocket’s longer battery life is also in its favor, as is the price which is roughly half the Mate’s.

And if that sounds like a potential alley you could go down, perhaps wait for the Galaxy Z Flip4 – it should arrive alongside the Fold4 on store shelves by the end of this month.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
Oppo Find N
Huawei P50 Pocket
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G • Oppo Find N • Huawei P50 Pocket • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4

Verdict

We may have said it a few times, but let’s reiterate then – the Mate Xs 2 is the form factor you’d imagine a foldable to be and one that makes the most sense for the most people. There’s just the matter of the exposed plastic screen that we have to work our way around and all will be well. But as it stands, we’re not there yet, and the Mate’s supplied case is hardly an ideal solution, some solution as it may be. Samsung’s foldables are water-resistant and this one isn’t, so there’s that too. You can see that our main concern remains durability.

We’d almost be inclined to live with it, however, if there weren’t other issues with it. Key among them is the lack of fully functional Google apps, and no AppGallery or shady workarounds can make up for that. Then there’s the barely passable battery life, though perhaps the fast charging alleviates that to some extent. The other, smaller imperfections are easier to live with.

Huawei Mate Xs 2 review

The Mate Xs 2 is not without its strong points. The outie design allows for a nearly creaseless display, which looks and feel much better than what the Samsung Folds have. In tablet form the Mate is a joy to use, and in smartphone mode it can make you forget it’s a foldable – the size and weight are just right. And it’s a properly capable cameraphone too.

Ultimately, if we were asked whether we’d go ahead and spend €2,000 of our own money on a Mate Xs 2 to use as a daily driver, the answer would still be no. But for what it’s worth, that decision would be based on factors outside of it being the type of foldable that it is.

Pros

  • The 7.8-inch display is awesome, with the crease barely noticeable.
  • When folded, it quickly transforms into a ‘regular’ smartphone, the 255g weight makes it just barely heavier than a large-size premium one.
  • Charging speed is excellent – 30 minutes get you to 85%.
  • Top-quality speakers.
  • Camera has great overall quality both in daylight and at night.
  • Rear-camera selfies are hard to rival.

Cons

  • The screen is very exposed, particularly so if you decide to avoid the case.
  • No IP rating.
  • Battery life is pretty bad.
  • No wireless charging – though it may very well be impossible with the form factor.
  • The chipset is showing signs of age, plus there’s no 5G support.
  • Getting some of the popular apps and games can turn into a chore and some will refuse to work at all due to the absence of Google Mobile Services.
  • The camera app could use a rear-screen interface in the folded state, not just a simple viewfinder.
  • The actual selfie camera takes blurry pictures.
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