Huawei says Mate X delay is to avoid Samsung’s foldable phone fiasco

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Huawei has officially delayed the launch of its foldable smartphone, the Mate X, from June to September. A company spokesperson on Tuesday cited the well-publicized hardware issues with the Samsung Galaxy Fold review units among Huawei’s reasons for ordering further testing before launching the phone, according to CNBC.

Ostensibly, the primary reason for the delay would be Huawei’s inclusion on Trump’s US Entity List, which forbids American companies from doing business with it. This could interfere with Huawei’s previous plan to have the Mate X run on Google’s Android operating system.

However, Huawei’s global head of public affairs, Vincent Pang, indicated that the blacklisting isn’t the reason for the delayed launch, according to The Wall Street Journal. Certification testing with carriers will run until August, Pang told Reuters.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold received flak in April when four early reviewers reported issues with the foldable screen’s display. Problems included broken screens resulting from a plastic film being removed that seemed temporary but was vital to the screen’s integrity, a bulge appearing and breaking the display, and even the display breaking for no apparent reason. In response, Samsung delayed the release of the smartphone, recalled the review units, and said it was investigating the issues flagged by reviewers.

“We don’t want to launch a product to destroy our reputation,” a Huawei spokesperson said to CNBC, characterizing the company as “cautious” in response to Samsung’s hardware issues with its own foldable smartphone pre-release.

Reuters

Trump’s trade ban interferes with Huawei’s relationship with Google, the maker of its first choice OS for the Mate X, Android. Under a temporary general licence, Huawei has until August 19 to continue working with Google. After that, Huawei will lose access to Android’s OS updates unless it is removed from the entity list. Huawei is developing its own OS, Hongmeng, which it could use as a backup software, although the unique screen design of the Mate X’s folding display could make swapping in a replacement OS more time-consuming or complicated compared to its existing smartphones.

Huawei canceled the release of its new Matebook laptop in the wake of the entity list announcement, indefinitely delaying the computer. With that product, the company’s consumer division CEO, Richard Yu, directly pointed to the trade ban as the reason. The laptop’s launch “depends on how long the Entity List will be there,” he told CNBC.

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