Huawei unveils upgraded Mate XS foldable with tougher screen, Kirin 990, and no Google Play

During the week which was supposed to host MWC 2020, Huawei has unveiled a revamped version of last year’s ill-fated Mate X foldable smartphone. The new Mate XS replaces its predecessor and makes some meaningful improvements, despite none of them being very drastic.

The biggest news surrounding the Mate XS is its display. Huawei says it’s made the screen 80 percent stronger than it used to be. It also has a new hinge that’s apparently more sturdy and smooth compared to the Mate X. I’ve never tried either phone so I can’t tell you if this claim is true, but I’ll take Huawei’s word for it.

You still get a 6.6-inch OLED display when the device is closed. When open, you have an 8-inch panel to stare at. Thanks to the extra screen real estate, Huawei says you can load up to three apps at once.

Speaking of apps, you’ll be downloading them all from Huawei’s AppGallery on this device. That’s because the Mate XS doesn’t ship with Google Play due to trade tensions between the U.S. and China. It doesn’t look like things will be letting up any time soon, so for the foreseeable future, Huawei phones will be arriving without any Google apps on them. For U.S. citizens, I wouldn’t recommend importing any Huawei devices for this reason.

Regardless, the phone runs on Android 10.

Under the hood, Huawei packs in a faster Kirin 990 processor. It’s paired to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage. Huawei also includes a 4,500mAh battery that’s been split into two separate cells so that the device can fold. In addition, the device can connect to 5G networks.

On the back, you get a quad-camera array consisting of a main 40MP f/1.8 lens, an 8MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and a 3D depth sensor. There are no front-facing cameras, so in order to take selfies, you have to close the device and flip it around to use the quad-camera array with a viewfinder.

Huawei will charge €2,499 for the Mate XS and launch it in certain markets next month.