(Reuters) – Huawei unveiled an upgrade to its folding smartphone on Monday, hoping that a faster phone with higher-quality display will encourage consumers to spend as much as $2,700 for the top-of-the-range version.
The new Mate XS arrives a year after the Chinese tech giant showed off its first folding phone, which had back-to-back screens that opened to create an eight-inch display. That device went on sale in China in November after the company improved the design.
The Mate XS has the same size display as its predecessor but comes with an improved gull-wing hinge mechanism and stronger wraparound screen, while boasting faster download speeds and longer battery life than the rival Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei’s top salesman Richard Yu told a launch presentation in Barcelona.
The folding phone will be priced at 2,499 euros ($2,710) for its premium model and goes on sale worldwide next month, said Yu, as Huawei pushed the price frontier for the most expensive smartphones even higher.
The launch was streamed from Barcelona, where the Mobile World Congress was due to be held this week before it was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Sony, meanwhile, showcased its newest Xperia 1 device as the Japanese company – which lies outside the top 10 smartphone makers by sales – targeted its niche audience of high-fidelity video fans.
Samsung Electronics, the world’s top smartphone maker by volume, narrowly beat its Chinese rival in the folding race last year, but its launch was delayed after testers encountered problems with the screens.
The South Korean company is persevering with foldable technology and this month showed off a device shaped like a make-up compact that unfolded to look like a traditional smartphone.
The Mate XS, like last year’s Mate 30 smartphone, will lack access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system after the United States effectively barred its companies from supplying Huawei last year.
Huawei is offering users access to its own app store instead, but Yu said it remains committed to the Android ecosystem and to its longer-term partnerships with Google and other U.S. companies.
“We believe technology should be open and available for everyone,” Yu said in his keynote speech.
Huawei also launched a speaker developed with French audio specialist Devialet, the first tablet in its Mate range and two new notebooks – a top of the range Matebook X Pro and Matebook D with 14-inch and 15-inch screens.
Huawei plans to hold a launch event for the P40, a 5G smartphone, in Paris next month, said Yu.
($1 = 0.9223 euros)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Goodman)