Huawei's first foldable phone, the Mate X, features an OLED display that can be wrapped outwards to form two separate screens. Photo: Handouts

A new round of tech rivalry is now unfolding in Barcelona as leading phone makers and telecom firms vie for the world’s attention with the best of what they have to offer at the 2019 Mobile World Congress. Huawei has just created a wow factor of the annual tech show with the unveiling of its first 5G-ready gadget, also its first foldable smartphone, the Mate X.

Sporting a 6.6-inch screen, the phone’s OLED display can be expanded into an eight-inch, edge-to-edge tablet when unfolded, all in a remarkable thin package with a stretchable hinge design that is only 11 millimeters thick when folded.

Huawei brags that the Mate X’s soft, flexible display can bend and stretch with ease yet it is rigorously built and tested to ensure reliability.

The design allows users to keep the phone compact for single-hand tasks while on the go or they can unfold the device to reveal an immersive experience in multitasking, gaming and entertainment.

Huawei executives show off the Mate X in Barcelona. One designer told reporters that the software in the device had not been finalized.

An early look at Huawei’s first foldable phone. Photos: Handouts

Connecting speed and processing are also impressive on the strength of Huawei’s indigenous Balong 5000 processor, touted as the world’s first 7nm multi-mode 5G chipset, 8 GB of RAM, integrated 5G antennae and 512 GB internal memory. It can download a 1-GB file within the blink of an eye.

Huawei claims the Mate X’s two batteries boost a combined capacity of 4,500 milliamps per hour, “well above that of all competing offerings on the market,” and they say the batteries can be fuelled up to 85% in a mere 30 minutes.

Other drawcords include a fingerprint reader built into the sleep/wake-up button, a compact hand-held sidebar with a Leica-designed three-lens camera system, as well as a novel “mirror shooting” mode that allows a photographer and his subject to preview a shot in real-time on two screens, when the phone’s vast display is wrapped outwards to form two smaller screens.

There is also a striking difference in design approaches adopted by Huawei and Samsung for their respective flagship foldable gadgets: Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, unveiled last week, has two separate displays, one small and one big, on each side of the device.

The Mate X comes with a whopping price tag of 2,299 euros (US$2,607) and is expected to hit the market in summer.

Huawei also presented several other products at the same event in Barcelona on Sunday, including a new line-up of laptops featuring 3K displays.

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