The Huawei Mate Xs and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip are the newest foldable phones in Singapore: Here’s which you should get

The Huawei Mate Xs (left) costs S$3,788, while the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip costs S1,998.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

If you’re looking at finally owning a foldable smartphone, you might find yourself spoiled for choice this year.

Barely four months into 2020 and already, two of the world’s biggest smartphone makers have launched foldable phones in Singapore.

But aside from the fact that they can both be folded into half, the Huawei Mate Xs and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip are worlds apart. For starters, Huawei’s second-ever foldable phone (and its first to launch in Singapore) is almost double the price of the Galaxy Z Flip. It is also much heavier than the Samsung and has a much larger display size.

Of course the differences are not just limited to price and physical appearance. Here’s how my time with both these phones went.


Huawei Mate XS Price: S$3,788 for 8GB RAM + 512GB ROM

The Mate Xs when folded (left) and unfolded.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Huawei gave me around 4.5 days to test the Mate Xs, which is actually a pretty short time to try out a device but at least I had it over an entire weekend.

Luxurious large screen that’s seriously impressive

My first impressions of the phone were good. It looked very professional (I could see myself using it in a business meeting), and had a nice shiny black surface that oozed sophistication. The huge screen (8 inches unfolded) also caught my eye, especially since it featured brilliant display colours and a very thin black border.

When folded, the screen gets split into two – a 6.6-inch main screen and a 6.38 secondary screen. What’s curious about this phone is that it folds outwards, unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. This means that the screen was always exposed and very quickly became covered in fingerprints.

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It also meant that I had to be extra careful about where I put and kept the phone. Since I have a habit of just throwing my phone into my bag when I’m in a rush, there’s a high chance it would get scratched or damaged with prolonged usage. It’s also important to note that you can’t buy a screen protector for the Mate Xs because of its folding mechanism.

According to Huawei, the “double aerospace-grade optical polyamide” screen is already protected by a layer of high-end aerospace-grade optical polyamide. But if this expensive material gets damaged, you’ll have to go to Huawei to pay for a replacement out of your own pocket.

Another thing I found inconvenient was the device’s weight. At 300g, the Mate Xs is a lot heavier than a regular phone (the P30 is just 165g). This made it a challenge to hold up the device when watching videos, playing games or taking photos.


Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Price: S$1,998 for 8GB RAM + 256GB ROM

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The Z Flip in Mirror Purple.
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Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Samsung loaned me the Galaxy Z Flip for a much shorter period of time compared to Huawei – just 24 hours. This meant that in reality, I only had a few hours to test out its features and wasn’t able to do a comprehensive review of the device.

Pretty, shiny and nostalgically cute

The latest foldable phone from the South Korean tech giant may boast some of the newest technologies but it was also like a strange blast from the past.

The review unit I received was a pretty Mirror Purple colour, small in size (just 87.4mm by 73.6mm when folded), and had a unique folding design that resembled flip phones from over a decade ago (think Sony Ericsson Z610 or Motorola Razr2).

When unfolded, the Z Flip reveals a 6.7-inch screen and looks like a regular smartphone. While it folds inwards (like a flip phone), the outer shell is still a fingerprint magnet given its shiny, reflective characteristics.

Since it is much smaller than the Mate Xs, the Z Flip is also much lighter with a weight of 183g. With its kawaii good looks, it’s the complete opposite of Huawei’s more serious-looking phablet. I found myself quite happy to show the phone off to a group of friends over lunch, but I’d definitely hide it if I were attending a business meeting.


What you’ll get in a Huawei Mate XS

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The app multiplier feature on the Mate Xs makes online shopping much easier.
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Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Taking the usual multi-window design up a notch, the Mate Xs features an app multiplier which allows users to view two different pages on one app at the same time. This makes shopping and comparing products a lot easier, although the feature is currently only available with the Lazada app.

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The Mate Xs is also perfect for scrolling through Instagram posts and watching videos, thanks to its huge screen.

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But this doesn’t translate well for every type of media.

Certain media, such as Instagram Stories, cannot be displayed properly when viewed on the full unfolded screen.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Another unique feature on this phone is the ability to show a live view of what’s on camera on the secondary screen while taking photos.

That’s a live view of what the camera is seeing on the secondary screen of this Huawei Mate Xs.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

This means that you can get someone to take a photo of you and direct the shot at the same time because the secondary screen (which is facing you) will show you a live view of what the photographer is seeing on the main screen.

Same amazing camera system

Of course, with all Huawei’s top-of-the-line phones, users have access to one of the best camera systems in the industry.

Here are some photos I took on the Mate Xs, which has a Leica quad camera system:

The colours of photos taken on the Mate Xs are vivid and strong, even after being transferred to a computer.
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A photo taken in HDR on the Huawei Mate Xs.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

This photo was taken just as it was getting dark, but the colours still turned out sharp and clear.
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This clarity of this photo, taken in a very dark setting with only some light streaming in from outside through a nearby window, took me by surprise.
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Its macro cabilities on photo and video are also stunning, even when in slow-motion mode.
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Is it the right foldable phone for you?

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Going by how expensive it is, the Mate Xs is for those who will use it quite extensively. It is a pretty good option for someone who is looking to replace both their smartphone and tablet, but probably way too pricey if all you need is a smartphone.

It’s also not for clumsy phone users like myself, given how the screen is always exposed. It’s also on the heavy side, which may be inconvenient for everyday use, especially if you’re used to travelling light.

Having said that, the Mate Xs has many perks, including an impressive, intuitive camera system and a very user-friendly interface. The Huawei App Gallery isn’t too shabby either, with a wider variety of apps than I initially expected.

The only major downside to using this phone is its lack of access to everyday apps that most smartphone users are used to, including Google services, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix and more. And while there are ways to obtain these apps through third party sites, security experts have so far warned against doing so.


What you’ll get in a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

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While the screen folds inwards, you don’t have to flip the phone open every time you need to check the time or battery power.
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Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Compared to the Mate Xs, the Z Flip is a lot more basic with fewer new features but still has some pretty impressive specs.

Running on the Snapdragon 855 Plus, which is an upgraded version of the chipset used on the Galaxy Fold, the Z Flip is great for gaming on the go. But its odd screen ratio also means that many games or apps will not sit nicely in full screen mode.

Very clever design

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Another thing I loved was the tiny display on the cover, reminiscent of flip phones from the past, because I didn’t have to flip open the phone every time I needed to tell the time.

The Z Flip was also designed so that it can sit with its screen at a 90-degree angle, which comes in handy when you need to prop up the phone without a propping device.

High-end camera system

 

The phone comes with two 12MP cameras on the back.
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The phone also comes with two 12MP cameras on its rear and a 10MP selfie camera on the front.

Since I didn’t have much time with the phone, I only managed to test out its shooting abilities on my lunch for the day. The photos turned out reasonably well, and maintained their vibrancy and clarity even after they were transferred to a larger computer screen.

Business Insider/Jessica Lin

It also has the standard camera modes you would expect on any high-end smartphone, from night photography to Live Focus, which is similar to the portrait mode on other phones.

The rounded icons on the phone kind of irked me on the Samsung S20 Ultra, but they fit right in with the cutesy Z Flip.

The rounded icons on Samsung phones (left) adds to the cute factor of the Z Flip. Meanwhile, it has a pretty comprehensive camera system (right) you would expect from a high-end smartphone.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Is it the right foldable phone for you?

At almost S$2,000, the Z Flip is very pricey, especially when you can get the S20 Ultra at a lower S$1,898.

Another thing to note is that the Z Flip is not 5G compatible, so it may not be a great choice for people who like to hold on to their devices far into the future.

As mentioned earlier, it also would not be my phone of choice at work or in a business meeting because of how it looks. Overall, other than design, there’s nothing much that sets the Z Flip apart from the other latest smartphones.

Still can’t get over how attractive this phone is.
Business Insider/Jessica Lin

Nonetheless, the Z Flip is for you if you really miss the flip phones of yesteryear but are unwilling to part with the conveniences of modern day technology.

It’d likely also be suitable if your job takes place in a more casual setting, or if you really just resist its charming good looks.

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