The device includes an eight-inch flexible screen that wraps around the whole phone.

Huawei, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, has followed Samsung’s lead by releasing the Mate X, a super-luxury 5G phone with a foldable screen that costs €2,299 (£1,995).

The Mate X, which was unveiled on Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, features a flexible OLED display that spans both the front and back of the smartphone and stretches outwards to create an 8-inch tablet screen.

Huawei’s consumer business chief executive, Richard Yu, described the Mate X as a “journey into the unknown.” “As a new breed of smartphone, Huawei Mate X combines 5G, foldable screen, AI, and an entirely new style of interaction to give users with an unparalleled user experience,” he added.

With the debut of its Galaxy Fold smartphone last Wednesday, the Chinese business, which has been at the center of a political maelstrom, was pipped to the post by its South Korean competitor.

The two cutting-edge gadgets have quite distinct designs. The folding screen is on the interior of the gadget, which opens like a book to expose a 7.3-inch screen, while a smaller 4.6-inch screen is on the exterior for normal phone use.

On the exterior, Huawei’s Mate X features only one screen. The front screen measures 6.6in when closed, which compares well to big non-folding smartphones like Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro. Unless utilized to snap photographs or perform other comparable functions, the screen that wraps around the back is inactive. This exposes the flexible screen to the elements at all times, putting it at danger of scratching.

The Mate X’s 11mm thickness also features a solid strip on one edge that functions as a grip and houses a triple Leica camera system when folded over. The phone also has a fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, a big battery, and a new 55W version of the company’s Super-Charge technology that can charge the phone to 85 percent in 30 minutes from zero.

Analysts were generally pleased about the announcement, noting that it gave Samsung competition in the new folding-phone sector, but many were skeptical that a gadget costing three times the price of today’s top-end smartphones would sell in large quantities.

The Mate X’s “form factor appears to be a lot more user friendly than the Samsung Galaxy Fold,” according to Francisco Geronimo, an associate vice-president at IDC.

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The Mate X’s foldable design is striking, according to Ian Fogg, vice president of analysis at OpenSignal, but he cautioned: “Remember, a foldable design places new tough demands on all aspects of the hardware, not just the display – it still has to deliver a great network experience, battery life, and so on.”

Huawei claims that the Mate X is the “world’s fastest foldable 5G smartphone,” and that its position as a producer of 5G network equipment has given it a distinct edge because it was able to test the phone on internal 5G networks prior to release.

However, that same position has made it a geopolitical talking issue. After raising security concerns about Huawei, the US has warned European nations that working with anyone who uses Huawei devices in their networks may be problematic.

Huawei is the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer, trailing only Apple and Samsung in terms of volume, and it has its sights set on first place. In March, it is also anticipated to unveil a new line of premium smartphones in Paris.

Huawei claimed the Mate X will be available later this year to coincide with the introduction of 5G networks, which are scheduled to begin limited rollout in the UK and abroad this summer. As the race to lead the next wave of smartphone innovation heats up, many other Chinese companies, including Xiaomi, are anticipated to reveal folding-screen phone designs this year.

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