Huawei launches new foldable phone as U.S. sanctions continue to hurt smartphone business

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, holds the company’s new Mate X2 foldable smartphone during a virtual launch on February 22, 2021.


GUANGZHOU, China — Huawei launched a foldable smartphone on Monday as it faces questions over the future of its handset business that has been hurt by a number of U.S. sanctions.

The Huawei Mate X2 launch highlights Huawei’s continued push into the high-end smartphone space.

Some of Mate X2’s key features include:

  • An exterior and interior screen that is presented when the phone is unfolded. The exterior display is 6.45-inch and the interior display is 8-inch.
  • A rear camera set up with 4 sensors for zooming and depth.
  • The processor is the Kirin 9000, Huawei’s proprietary chip.
  • It will be one of the first Huawei phones able to run its own HarmonyOS mobile operating system.

The 256GB version will be priced at 17,999 yuan ($2,785) while the 512GB model will start at 18,999 yuan. It will be on sale in China from Feb. 25. Huawei did not say if it will be available in international markets.

Huawei continues to feel the pressure from U.S. sanctions enacted by the Trump administration which has damaged its smartphone business, in particular outside of China.

The Chinese firm shipped 32 million smartphones in the fourth quarter on 2020, down nearly 43% from last year and making it the sixth-biggest phone vendor by market share, according to Canalys. It’s the first time Huawei has slipped out of the top five in six years, Canalys said.

Mate X2 production

Last year, the Trump administration moved to cut Huawei’s access to chip supplies. Huawei designs its own range of chips called Kirin which are manufactured by Taiwan’s TSMC. In May, the U.S. introduced a rule which requires foreign manufacturers using American chipmaking equipment to get a license before they’re able to sell semiconductors to Huawei. 

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer and cloud and artificial intelligence businesses, warned that Huawei could run out of chips.

But the Mate X2 uses Huawei’s Kirin 9000 processor which was launched last year and Yu said the company has enough production capacity for the foldable phone.


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