Huawei built a folding phone similar to Samsung's Galaxy Fold — but killed it because it was so bad
- Huawei's consumer CEO, Richard Yu, told Business Insider that his company had prototyped a folding phone design similar to Samsung's Galaxy Fold but "killed it" because it was so bad.
- Huawei's Mate X folding phone has a single, flexible display that folds and unfolds between a smartphone and tablet format.
- Samsung's Galaxy Fold is configured a little differently, with a dedicated smartphone screen on the front of the device, and a separate larger screen for tablet mode.
- There's a lot of debate about which device has the better design.
A senior Huawei executive took a shot at the company's biggest rival in mobile, Samsung, as the two companies go head-to-head in showing off their new foldable phones.
The CEO of Huawei's mobile business, Richard Yu, told Business Insider that Huawei had originally prototyped a folding phone with a similar design to Samsung's Galaxy Fold but killed it off because it was "not good."
"I feel having two screens, a front screen and a back screen, makes the phone too heavy," Richard Yu said of the Galaxy Fold, speaking to Business Insider.
"We had several solutions, but we cancelled them. We had three projects simultaneously. We had something even better than that [the Samsung Galaxy Fold], killed by me."
"It was bad," he added.
Huawei's Mate X folding smartphone comprises a single, flexible display that folds and unfolds to turn the device from a smartphone into an 8-inch (20cm) tablet.
You can see how that looks here:
The Galaxy Fold works a little differently, with a small front screen that acts as a smartphone display when the device is folded up. The phone then opens like a book to reveal a second, tablet-sized screen.
Here's how that looks:
Yu's comments come as Huawei guns for Samsung's number one position as the biggest phone maker in the world.
Samsung has occupied that top slot for years, while Huawei tends to rotate between second and third place with Apple. But Huawei was the only company of the three to gain market share in the holiday quarter of 2018.
The differences between the Mate X and the Galaxy Fold have sparked some debate about which phone has the better design.
Some believe the Mate X would be the more delicate of the two devices, because the screen folds outwards and may scratch easily. Others point to the Galaxy Fold not quite shutting flush, which might allow dust and other objects to fall into the gap and damage the device.
Frank Gillet, an analyst with Forrester, noted that no one has had a chance to test out either device properly but said Huawei's initially looked like the better design.
"Huawei's folding tablet looks better at first glance simply because it's thinner, and has a larger screen in phone and tablet mode," he told Business Insider. "And it's likely the fold-out design stresses the screen less than Samsung's fold in display, though only time will tell.
"It's too early to argue about which one is better until we can all try out production units. These were clearly prototypes, which never look as good as they will later."
Folding phones are still out of reach for the average consumer, Gillett added. The Mate X costs a whopping €2,299 (R36,000). The Galaxy Fold costs around R28,000.
"[These devices won't last as long as today's smartphones, because the hinging display and mechanisms simply won't last as well a today's candybar smartphones," he said.
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