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Huawei Mate X3 Review

With foldable smartphones becoming more and more mainstream, manufacturers keep on pushing the boundaries of technology to provide a seamless user experience.

Aside from making the foldable display more durable, the race to develop a thinner chassis is certainly at the top of the priority list. The goal is to develop a foldable smartphone that does not feel like you’re holding two normal phones with one hand in exchange for the promise of a much bigger display.

Huawei is making this last few steps with the Mate X3 in an attempt to make you think you’re holding a regular bar-type phone that shows its real capability when unfolded.

Design and Construction

Let’s get this out first — the Huawei Mate X3 is crazy thin at just 5.3mm. It’s the thinnest smartphone currently being sold in the market today. The last time Huawei made something as thin as this is the Huawei P8 (6.4mm) back in 2015.

A Huawei rep told us that they had to re-engineer the USB Type-C module so that it would fit into the 5.3mm-thin chassis design of the device.

When folded, it’s still the thinnest among the foldables but remain to be a bit on the chunky side at 11.8mm. Once foldables break the 10mm or 9mm barrier, when folded, we think that’s the sweet spot for it to become a non-issue altogether.

There are two large speaker grills at the top and bottom sides of the unit; the SIM tray on the left side; the volume rocker and power button that serves as a fingerprint sensor on the right. There’s a noise-canceling microphone up top together with the IR blaster, while the primary microphone with another secondary mic and Type-C charging port are at the bottom end.

The frame is polished metal and lined with a total of 12 antenna bands so you can get the best signal reception whether the phone is folded or unfolded.

Along with the slight curved cover display and a tapered edge, the Mate X3 feels good in one hand and very manageable to hold.

The Mate X3 uses a dual-track, wing-shaped hinge with high-precision cam-drive system allows for a smooth and effortless folding and unfolding of the screen. It is also very easy to flex at any angle and it comfortably holds it in place. When folded, the display touches each other so closely you won’t even see a gap.

Likewise, Huawei boasts of the Mate X3 as the only foldable phone that has an IPX8 rating for splash and water resistance to depths of up to 1.5 meters and as long as 30 minutes.

The Feather-Sand Glass back panel of the Mate X3 has a frosted finish that is immune from fingerprint or smudges. The camera module at the rear is quite thick and encased in stainless steel with brush metal finish at the top and glossy around the sides.

By far, the Huawei Mate X3 has the best engineering and design of a foldable smartphone — it is almost flawless even at very close inspection.

Display, Multimedia and Biometrics

On the exterior, the Mate X3 features a 6.4-inch OLED Cover Display with a resolution of 2504 x 1080 pixels. This is protected by a durable Kunlun Glass which Huawei claims is 5 times more drop resistant than the one on the previous Mate X2.

On the inside, it has a large 7.85-inch foldable OLED Inner Display with a resolution of 2496 x 2224 pixels.

The screen refresh rate will vary depending on the specific app or game used. The adaptive refresh rate of the LTPO exterior screen can go a low as 1Hz, up to 120Hz while the refresh rate of the LTPS interior screen is can be set at 60Hz, 90Hz, or 120 Hz.

The expansive interior display looks great, colors are bright and vivid with deep contrast. Same goes with the external display. The crease on the inner display isn’t too obvious unless you are at an angle or there is glare hitting the screen.

While playing games with the Cover Display is good enough; it feels completely different when done on the inner display. You will see more of the environment when playing games like Mobile Legends but the visibility is cropped with games like Genshin Impact.

The stereo speakers are great, very loud and offers good balance. There’s a little bit of bass but the treble is so much more prominent.

In terms of biometrics, you get the standard fingerprint sensor embedded into the power button on the right side. To compliment, you can also activate Face Recognition. We also like the Smart Unlock feature that assists in unlocking your phone using a trusted Bluetooth wearable device that’s within vicinity.

OS, Apps and UI

The Huawei Mate X3 runs on EMUI 13.1 which is based on Android 12. As expected, it’s running on HMS and not GMS so you get native Huawei apps such as Petal Maps, Petal Search, Huawei Health, Huawei Cloud, and many more.

You get most apps and games via Huawei AppGallery and, if you need to install Google apps, it comes integrated with GBox that runs in the background to provide GMS support.

Huawei has been doing this for quite some time now — pre-loading a number of apps on to the device and even slapping dozens of shortcut links for recommended apps to download right away. It might feel a little confusing at first since there’s a ton of them in there, only to realize that it’s just a link to download the actual apps.

There are a few pre-installed apps as well, like Bing search, Trip.com, Microsoft Start, MS Office, Translator, Booking and Agoda.

Huawei’s smart assistant, Celia, is still here and it works fine just like Google Assistant. You can choose between Celia Keyboard or Microsoft SwiftKey as your default keyboard.

Everything else seemed familiar, especially if you’ve used a Huawei phone before, and you can heavily customize the interface to your liking.

Camera

The Huawei Mate X3 packs a 50MP Ultra Vision main camera with f/1.8 aperture, a 13MP ultra-wide angle camera with f/2.2 aperture, and a 12MP periscope telephoto camera with f/3.4 aperture that can do 5x optical zoom.

Huawei managed to include the telephoto despite the 5.3mm thin body due to that extended camera module that protrudes from the back so, yes, there is plenty of room for the stacked lenses in there.

When Huawei and Leica ended their partnership, Huawei eventually developed its own in-house version and called it XMAGE. In the native camera app, you can choose between 3 XMAGE styles — Original, Vivid, and Bright.

Here are some sample photos:

 

Photos turn out great — a little on the vibrant side with some sharpening on the edges; highlighted contrast with the skies, same with saturation on shots of food, flowers and greeneries. The Night Mode is likewise impressive.

The SuperMacro Mode, which we really liked on the P60 Pro, did not deliver on the Mate X3. Almost all of the macro shots we took were all blurry.

Video recording maxes out at 4k@60fps. There is no 8K @ 24fps here but not really a big deal. Check out sample video clip below.

For selfies, you’ve both two cameras here, one when folded and another when unfolded. Both have an identical sensor with 8MP resolution, and f/2.4 aperture.

Overall, the camera system of the Mate X3 is good but it is nowhere near that of the optical clarity of the Huawei P60 Pro.

Performance and Benchmarks

Powering the Mate X3 is a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset which was specifically manufactured by Qualcomm for Huawei, sans the 5G modem. The octa-core processor is paired with an Adreno 730 GPU. Our unit comes with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 512GB of UFS 4.0 internal storage.

Antutu v9, Antutu Storage and PCMark Work 3

GeekBench 6, GeekBench 6 Vulcan, GeekBench OpenCL

Benchmark Scores:
Antutu v9: 1,020,569
Antutu Storage: 1,949MB/s (read), 1,432MB/s (write), 256MB/s & 285MB/s (random)
PCMark Work 3.0: 11,406
GeekBench 6 CPU: 1,396 (single), 3,981 (multi-core)
GeekBench GPU: 6,335 (Vulcan), 5,019 (OpenCL)

The combination of a powerful Snapdragon chip, 12GB RAM and 512GB of super fast storage makes the Mate X3 a foldable phone that operate smoothly and almost flawlessly. Playing games at moderate to high settings is a breeze although expect some dropped frames once in a while due to that large 7.86-inch display.

The device feels fast and snappy, even with multi-tasking on split windows running several apps, the Mate X3 works just fine.

Connectivity and Battery Life

Connectivity options include WiFi-6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, GPS and an IR blaster. As mentioned earlier, the Mate X3 does not have a 5G modem and only use 4G. This could be an issue for someone who relies on 5G connectivity very heavily.

It has two nano SIM card slots with the 2nd one that also supports an NM card (up to 256GB).

For battery, the Mate X3 is packed with a 4,800mAh Li-Po that supports 66W SuperCharge (wired) and 50W wireless charging.

Since we are working with a foldable device, the battery life will be heavily dependent on the case use and how often you’d unfold the device.

In our synthetic benchmark, the Mate X3 lasted 14 hours and 49 minutes when folded but that drops down to almost half when unfolded at 7 hours and 42 minutes.

In our video loop test, the battery lasted 12 hours and 53 minutes when unfolded and 17 hours and 13 minutes when folded. All the battery tests are done with the screen at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode.

For the most part, the cover screen of the Mate X3 is more than enough for our daily needs — SMS, calls, social media, emails and the likes. The only time we’re compelled to open the entire full screen is with gaming and watching videos not because of necessity but because of the immersive experience. Otherwise, we’re okay with the cover screen 90% of the time.

Conclusion

This is probably the very first time we’re very impressed with a foldable smartphone — both in design and engineering. Plus points for managing to seal it enough to be water resistant and tougher than all other foldables in the market today.

Nonetheless, some will find the absence of 5G connectivity and feeble support for Google apps thru GBox a significant shortcoming into thinking twice before considering this phone.

But, if you can look past the inconvenience, then the Huawei Mate X3 is an excellent foldable smartphone that showcases Huawei’s engineering ingenuity and photography expertise.

The Huawei Mate X3 is available for pre-order in online Huawei Stores, authorized retail outlets, and leading e-commerce sites. Suggested retail price is PHP 109,999 and with the pre-order promo from May 12 – 25, you can get the Huawei Watch G3 worth Php 12,999 for free.

What we liked about it:

  • IPX8 Rating, the 1st in any foldable
  • Ultra-thin profile
  • Large, vivid display
  • Great camera performance

What we did not like:

  • No 5G connectivity, just 4G
  • Requires GBox to run some Google apps

Huawei Mate X3 specs:
6.4-inch OLED, 120Hz @ 2504 x 1080 pixel Cover Display
7.85-inch Foldable OLED Inner Display, 120Hz @ 2496 x 2224 pixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 4G
Adreno 730
12GB LPDDR5 RAM
256GB, 512GB UFS 4.0 internal storage
50MP f/1.8 main camera
13MP f/2.2 ultrawide
12MP f/3.4, 5x telephoto
Leica optics
16 MP, f/2.2 front camera
Dual-SIM 4G/LTE
WiFi-6
Bluetooth 5.3
GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS, NavIC
NFC
IR sensor
IP68 dust and water resistant
EMUI 13.1
USB Type-C 3.1, OTG
4,800mAh Li-Po, SuperCharge 66W wired, 50W wireless charging
156.9 x 141.5 x 5.3 mm (unfolded, dimensions)
156.9 x 72.4 x 11.8 mm (folded, dimensions)
241 grams (weight)
Black, White, Light Blue, Rose Gold

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Avatar for Abe Olandres

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He is one of the pioneers of blogging in the country and considered by many as the Father of Tech Blogging in the Philippines. He is also a technology consultant, a tech columnist with several national publications, resource speaker and mentor/advisor to several start-up companies.

7 Responses

  1. Avatar for Cie Cie says:

    I’m excited to get mine and experience the awesome quality of the unit.

  2. Avatar for Beverly Chantal Beverly Chantal says:

    mahina nga 3G samin 5G pa kaya. Oks lang 4G. Beke nemen telco, palagay po maayos na 4G at 5G signal sa amin.

  3. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    With that foldable gadget developed with lightweight device also the camera specification with also Ai technology to boost additional options for photography and also using the Kunlun glass screen. I have to say WOW!

  4. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    I’ve recently learned that switching from a Leica to an Xmage camera was too effective to get great results with your subject.

  5. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    The P60 is a fantastic phone and the best in its class. The P60 phone produces technically excellent photos.

  6. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Huawei camera is definitely the best.

  7. Avatar for Beverly Chantal Beverly Chantal says:

    may nanalo na sa camera this year!

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