Huawei Mate X release date pushed back, but next version may have even more screens

Huawei Mate X
(Image credit: Future)

Update: Huawei sent TechRadar an official statement that says "Huawei confirms that Mate X is still scheduled for launch between September and November 2019."

We still believe our source to be correct that it's set for November considering our information came directly from Huawei during a press event at its own headquarters in China.

Original story: The foldable Huawei Mate X is unlikely to come out before November, which means a delay from the previously slated September launch, TechRadar learned at a press event at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters today.

There's no possibility of a September launch date anymore, which leaves the door open for the Samsung Galaxy Fold to be the first foldable to market. However, the company is certain the Mate X will launch before the end of 2019. 

We also got wind of more exciting news: the next Mate X could have more screens, and it might come out as soon as next year.

Where will the Huawei Mate X follow-up fit more displays? By swapping out the steel rear cover in the current Huawei Mate X with a glass back, and those glass surfaces could become usable, touchable displays. 

It’s a big engineering challenge to say the least – it might end up being years before the issues are worked out and we get glass backs on foldable phones. We don't even have them on the upcoming Mate X's 8-inch front display yet.

The Huawei Mate X release date is likely being pushed to November – but ideally not any later, as the company wants to get it out in time for the holiday shopping window before the Chinese Spring Festival in early 2020.

Mate X changes – and some that didn't pan out 

At Huawei’s Shenzhen HQ, we saw an earlier ‘cert’ version of the Mate X, one that's slightly different from the phone spotted in the hands of Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu in late July. The only changes coming to the final version are a slimmer lock button that runs flush when the phone is placed flat, and refinements in the 'Falcon hinge' - but the hinge won't be carbon fiber, as some have predicted.

Here's another plot twist that almost went down: the Mate X engineering team had tried other refinements – including replacing the steel back with an aluminum one, which would have saved 20g off the final weight.

Unfortunately, when the team tried this a few months ago (testing it out sometime between February and today), the aluminum material wasn’t strong enough. The steel back will remain in the final Mate X after all.

But the Mate X engineering  team had a bunch of other ideas, too. One of those is the aforementioned glass back. Another is an 'sheet' display - think of it like a roll-out sun shade - that could extend from the bottom of the phone. The tech for that is still years out (even up to a decade) from being feasible, but it shows where the Huawei engineering team is thinking. 

But, right now the Mate X front display is covered in plastic, as glass simply doesn't fold – yet.

There are clearly big challenges standing in the way, especially in the assembly process. The engineering team would need to deal with new gluing complications given the additional glass surfaces (and presumably their touchable display properties). 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.