Huawei has revealed its first smartphone to feature a foldable screen, less than a week after its rival Samsung did the same.

Huawei Mate X

The rival handset-tablet hybrids have contrasting designs.

Huawei’s Mate X places its fold-out screen on the outside of the device, so that it covers the front and rear of the phone when closed.

In both modes, the display is larger than Samsung’s. Huawei’s device is also flatter and thinner when shut.

However, unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Fold it does not have a second display on its reverse side.

One analyst attending the launch event in Barcelona also remarked that a crease in the screen appeared to be visible.

The Chinese company allowed attendees at the event to get a close look at the handset following its unveiling. Its South Korean competitor has yet to let outsiders to do so with the Galaxy Fold.

“Security concerns about Huawei’s 5G kit are a shadow hanging over the whole of this year’s Mobile World Congress,” commented the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

“But the firm was determined in a confident, even arrogant press conference to convey that it’s now the leading innovator in smartphones.”

Instead they are placed on the flipside of the device on a strip that also features a fingerprint sensor. This runs down the side of the smaller of the two folded displays when closed and doubles up as a side-grip when open.

This potentially places the Mate X at a disadvantage to the Fold, since it becomes impossible to use its unfolded screen to take selfies. However, it is not yet clear whether this will be a serious consideration in practice.

5G connections

Huawei said the Mate X would come with one of its existing 5G modems and could download a one gigabyte movie in as little as three seconds if a fast enough connection was available.

Like Samsung’s device, it also features a battery on each of its two sides, but claims to be able to recharge more quickly.

That compares to the $1,980 figure quoted by Samsung, although once taxes are taken into account the gap should be smaller.

Huawei’s consumer devices chief Richard Yu acknowledged that the price was “very expensive” but said he hoped it would be reduced over time.

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