Huawei’s first 5G phone, the $2,600 foldable tablet-phone hybrid Mate X, will miss its originally expected June release date in favor of a revised September release. The troubled Chinese smartphone maker told CNBC that the delay is based on the need for “extra” tests following the highly publicized failures of Samsung’s similar Galaxy Fold, but suggested that its concerns are more on the software than hardware side.
One good piece of news for potential Mate X buyers is that the phone is still expected to ship with Google’s Android operating system, a question that came up after Huawei was banned from doing business with U.S. companies. But Huawei is apparently still testing third-party apps to make sure they can switch between Mate X’s phone and tablet modes, and working with carriers to ensure proper network performance.
As bad as the business ban has been for the company’s fortunes — including the disappearance of Huawei 5G devices from some carrier release schedules outside the United States — the manufacturer believes its troubles could worsen if Mate X underperforms. “We don’t want to launch a product to destroy our reputation,” a spokesperson said, though it says it’s confident that it can deliver the Mate X to consumers.
It’s presently unclear whether sales of early foldable devices will be significant, but all signs presently point to “no.” The nearly $2,000 price tag for Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was enough of a deterrent to mainstream success even before its screen failures, and thanks to its higher price and software questions, Mate X seems an even riskier purchase, even if its hardware works as expected.