Huawei’s very expensive foldable smartphone, the Mate XS 2, up for pre-order in Kenya

Foldable smartphones appear to be all the rage right now. Samsung’s foldables, which are what comes to mind to many a Kenyan when the word “foldable” is thrown around, have gone mainstream. Xiaomi has wowed us with its own take on the foldable craze. Heck, even Vivo is in on the fun, too.

While Samsung is on its fourth iteration of its initial foldable effort, the Galaxy Fold series, and already up on a “new” lineup with the Galaxy Z Flip series, the competition is in its second or third generation of iterating. Indeed, Vivo just released its second-generation foldable. Xiaomi has its second generation Mix Fold out and, well, Huawei, too, was not left out.

Huawei’s second generation foldable, the Mate XS 2, has been out for a while now in the global arena, having launched nearly half a year ago. However, it is only now that the device is getting close to us. The Huawei Mate XS 2 is set to start selling in Kenya on October 1st. Currently, the device is up for pre-order. For a whopping Kshs 285,000.

At its price, it is easily the priciest foldable smartphone one can buy in the country right now directly from its maker or an authorized reseller. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, has been selling at Kshs 270,000 locally.

Huawei’s foldable device works somewhat differently from other foldable we have seen unveiled so far. In place of a large display that the device opens into, the Mate XS series, instead, has a wraparound display. When one is holding it, they are clasping at either one or both of its displays. The interior, which would ordinarily be the main display area on foldables like those from Samsung, is instead what looks like the back of the device. In practice, the actual back of the device is the other side of the wraparound folding display and it is usually off unless it is unlatched via a mechanism at the back. Interesting.

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The downside to this approach, however, is that the sensitive foldable part of the display is constantly exposed and users have to figure out ways of making sure it stays out of harm’s way.

Like other Huawei devices, the Mate XS suffers from the consequences of Huawei’s ban from trading with American companies by the US government. It is a 2022 smartphone with a last-gen Qualcomm chipset (the Snapdragon 888) that we find on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4’s predecessor, the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It also arrives running a dated version of Android, Android 11 – at a time when we are just weeks away from the start of the official rollout of version 13 of Android. Not only that, it, obviously, arrives without the support of Google Play services. The lack of Google apps and services mean that some niceties like its HDR10+ support, are lost on the user and they may not see them in use.

Given the apparent popularity of Samsung foldables in the country and elsewhere, will Huawei’s first foldable smartphone in the Kenyan market make waves? Given a chance, would you buy it?

Buyers of the Huawei Mate XS 2 in Kenya through Huawei’s official retail channels are getting the company’s GT 2 Pro smartwatch for free.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at]