Huawei Technologies CEO Richard Yu presents the 5G CPE (customer-premises equipment) Pro during a Huawei launch event ahead of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, February 24 2019. Picture: STEFAN WERMUTH/BLOOMBERG
Huawei Technologies CEO Richard Yu presents the 5G CPE (customer-premises equipment) Pro during a Huawei launch event ahead of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, February 24 2019. Picture: STEFAN WERMUTH/BLOOMBERG

Barcelona — Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on Sunday unveiled a phone with a folding screen, just four days after rival Samsung became the first major handset maker to offer the feature.

The phone, Mate X, will be compatible with the new fifth-generation wireless networks that are starting to be installed around the world, said Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group.

“Our engineers worked on this screen for over three years,” he said at an event to present the new phone in Barcelona ahead of the start of the four-day Mobile World Congress trade fair in the Spanish city on Monday.

The phone will be available in mid-2019 and has a price tag of €2,299 ($2,600).

Yu acknowledged the price was “very expensive” but said the company was working to lower it.

The Mate X’s display can fold back on itself to become a 6.6-inch display, slightly bigger than the screen on the foldable phone Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone seller, unveiled on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Several other smaller companies are rumoured to be presenting their first foldable phones at the trade fair in Barcelona this week.

Handset makers are looking to folding screens to reverse falling smartphone sales as consumers hold on to their devices longer due to a lack of innovations, but analysts predict the market for the feature will be limited, at least in the early days.

Huawei, the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker ahead of Apple, sold 206-million smartphones in 2018, compared to just over 150-million in the previous year, Yu said.

AFP