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Huawei’s first 5G phone, the $2,600 foldable tablet-phone hybrid Mate X, will miss its originally anticipated June launch date in favor of a revised September release. The troubled Chinese smartphone maker told CNBC that the delay is based on the need for “extra” tests following the highly publicized failures of Samsung’s similar Galaxy Fold but suggested that concerns are more on the software than hardware side.
One piece of good news for potential Mate X buyers is that the phone is still expected to ship with Google’s Android operating system, a question that came up after Huawei was banned from doing business with U.S. companies. But Huawei is apparently still testing third-party apps to make sure they can switch between Mate X’s phone and tablet modes and working with carriers to ensure proper network performance.
As bad as the business ban has been for the company’s fortunes — including the disappearance of Huawei 5G devices from some carrier release schedules outside the United States — the manufacturer believes its troubles could worsen if Mate X underperforms. “We don’t want to launch a product to destroy our reputation,” a spokesperson said, though the company maintains it’s confident it can deliver the Mate X to consumers.
Unsurprisingly, Huawei says it’s planning to launch the Mate X globally while focusing on markets with 5G. Putting aside the United States, this leaves countries such as South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and China in the mix, though it’s unclear how much the U.S. ban will cloud handset sales in allied countries.
It’s presently unclear whether sales of early foldable devices will be significant, but all signs presently point to “no.” The nearly $2,000 price tag for Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was enough of a deterrent to mainstream success even before its screen failures, and the combination of a high price and software questions seem to make the Mate X an even riskier purchase, even if its hardware works as expected. Early rival 5G smartphones have launched at prices in the $1,000 to $1,200 range, depending on the model and country.
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