Samsung has famously delayed its Galaxy Fold smartphone due to hardware problems that resulted in damaged screens on early units. Now, to try to avoid similar hardships, Huawei has chosen to delay its foldable Mate X smartphone from June to September. The news comes via reports out of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal who both spoke to Huawei about the announcement.
According to the articles, Huawei wants to be more “cautious” around launching such an ambitious product. “We don’t want to launch a product to destroy our reputation,” a rep said to CNBC. Despite the delay, Huawei says it’s “confident” it will eventually ship the Mate X to customers.
Huawei saying it wants to be “cautious” about launching the Mate X and the potential real reason the device is getting delayed are two completely different things. While the company is blanketing its reasoning by “being safe,” it may actually have to do with the United States ban on using Huawei equipment.
Right now, Huawei remains on the US Entity List which restricts third-party businesses from working with the listed companies. That meant Google had to revoke Huawei’s Android license, blocking the company from using such apps as the Play Store and Gmail. This consequence alone is enough for the Mate X and any future Huawei phone to become dead on arrival (DOA). Since September is a month after Huawei will lose access to its temporary license agreement it made with Google, it seems there may be a chance the company hopes to have found a solution in the meantime.
If Huawei can’t fix things with the United States before it ships the Mate X, there’s a chance the foldable might come with the company’s own OS. Huawei told CNBC “[they] don’t want to go for [their] own systems; [they] still very much like the co-operation with Google in the past few years.
“If we are forced to do it by ourselves, we are ready,” Huawei continued. “We can do it in the next six-to-nine months.”
That sounds ambitious, but it’s important to remember Huawei has been cooking up its own OS for a number of years as a safety net if anything went sideways between the company and the US. Because of this, there’s a chance behind closed doors, Huawei has its own system in place ready to deploy on hundreds of thousands of Mate X units. I’m unable to confirm this, but it’s certainly a plausible suspicion.
Again, it’s important to note Huawei didn’t specifically say it’s delaying the Mate X because of the issues with the US. It’s actually comparing itself to Samsung in which it doesn’t want to screw up its own launch. But because of the enormous shadow being cast on the company by its issues with the States, it’s hard to tell whether Huawei is simply playing a PR game here. Only time will tell as we approach the Mate X’s anticipated launch this fall.