Only five days after Samsung disrupted the smartphone industry by launching both 5G-enabled and foldable phones, Huawei has entered the segment, too.
The Chinese manufacturer has combined the features into one device, unveiling its first 5G and foldable phone, the Mate X, at the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona.
In its compact form, the device works as a smartphone with a 16.8cm screen, and when unfolded, it turns into a slim tablet with a 20.3cm screen that is 5.4mm thick.
“Huawei Mate X combines 5G, foldable screen, artificial intelligence and an all-new mode of interfacing to provide consumers with an unprecedented user experience,” said Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei Consumer Business Group.
The company, based in Shenzhen, has announced the base model will retail at the relatively high price of $2,607 (Dh9,576), and will be available in the middle of this year. Samsung's new Galaxy Fold is priced at $1,980 and will come to the market in April.
Supporting a new, high-capacity battery, Mate X comes in what is termed an "interstellar blue" finish, and the battery can be charged to 85 per cent of its capacity in half an hour.
Mate X features a high-strength, flexible screen with a brighter display than Huawei's other models. It also comes with a fingerprint power button that allows access to the device with one tap.
The phone also has a dual-sim option that supports both 4G and 5G.
Global service providers such as Vodafone, Orange, Verizon and Etisalat plan to roll out 5G networks in 2019.
A fifth-generation smartphone can support a network that is around 10 times faster than its 4G predecessor. The speed will enable real-time video streaming, mobile hot-spotting, enhanced gaming experiences and augmented reality services.
Huawei is also investing in research and development, with 10 per cent of its revenues invested in R&D each year.
The Chinese company is facing accusations that its equipments are not secure, and its 5G-network technology is banned by some nations.
However, despite the controversy, the company has managed to increase its market share over the past few quarters.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, Huawei sold more than 60 million smartphones and achieved the highest growth of that period among the top five global smartphone vendors at 37.6 per cent, according to US researcher Gartner.
“Beyond its strongholds of China and Europe, Huawei continued to increase its investment in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East, to drive further growth,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner.
“Huawei also exploited growth opportunities through continued expansion of the Honor series in the second half of 2018, especially in emerging markets, which helped Huawei grow its market share to 13 per cent in 2018.”