Introducing Huawei’s latest flagship, the Mate X3—a remarkable blend of affordability and top-notch hardware. With its impressive design, the Mate X3 aims to captivate users seeking a foldable phone experience. Undoubtedly, it stands out as one of the best foldable phones released so far.
However, the question remains: can its exceptional hardware compensate for the disparities in software typically associated with Huawei devices? In this review, conducted by GSM Arena, we shall explore and uncover the answer.
As the generations progress, foldable phones continue to evolve into more sophisticated and refined devices. The Huawei Mate X3 exemplifies this trend splendidly. Unlike the clunky foldables of the past, the Mate X3 shines with its compact and lightweight form factor, weighing a mere 239 grams. Impressively, it weighs 24 grams less than its popular counterpart, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
When closed, the Mate X3 is arguably the slimmest foldable phone we have encountered. It boasts a sleek and ordinary phone-like feel when held in hand. Upon unfolding, the Mate X3 impresses with its razor-thin profile, measuring a mere 5.3 millimeters. The device unfolds completely flat, thanks to the advanced hinge mechanism that flawlessly expands and contracts, leaving no discernible gap between the symmetrical halves.
The hinge of the Mate X3 offers the additional advantage of keeping the phone open at various angles, which can prove useful in specific scenarios. While a slight crease is still present on the foldable panel, it is remarkably well-contained and difficult to notice.
Our unit, in the elegant frosted black color, exudes a classy appearance and offers a smooth tactile experience. The Mate X3 provides options for either an Eco leather or glass back, with our model featuring the latter. The aluminum frame, combined with its lightweight nature, contributes to the device’s premium design, making it a pleasure to handle—particularly considering its affordability.
Moreover, the Mate X3 stands out as the first non-Samsung foldable phone to provide ingress protection rated at IPX8. This means that it offers water resistance, although it remains susceptible to dust.
The Mate X3 features slightly smaller displays compared to its predecessors but still offers a larger screen estate than what Samsung provides with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The outer cover screen of the Mate X3 boasts a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution, a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, and the added protection of Kunloon glass. Upon unfolding the phone, you are greeted with a spacious 7.85-inch foldable AMOLED display, again with a 120Hz refresh rate. Both screens deliver vibrant and immersive visuals.
In terms of brightness, the front display reaches approximately 480 nits with the manual slider, and it can peak at an impressive 1160 nits in auto mode. The brightness of the inner display is slightly lower but still provides ample usability outdoors, measuring around 470 nits manually and approximately 930 nits with the auto boost feature.
It is worth noting that both displays are well-matched in terms of brightness and color settings. Any adjustments made to one display will be mirrored on the other, ensuring consistency between the two.
The Mate X3’s color accuracy, overall, is decent, regardless of the chosen color mode in the settings. However, whites may appear slightly bluish, but the content still looks appealing, benefiting from the deep AMOLED blacks.
With the larger inner screen, users are provided with more workspace, and this display surpasses many competitors in terms of sharpness, boasting a pixel density of 426 PPI. Additionally, the Mate X3 supports 10-bit color, although HDR video support is not available.
Both displays offer a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, representing an upgrade from the 90Hz offered by the previous model. However, the adaptive behavior differs between the two screens. On the outer cover screen, regardless of whether you select dynamic or high refresh rate mode, you will consistently experience a 120Hz refresh rate, which decreases to 60Hz when you stop interacting with the phone.
On the other hand, on the inner screen, in dynamic mode, the refresh rate drops from 120Hz to 90Hz during idle periods, while in high mode, it typically remains at 120Hz in the UI. However, in certain apps or games, it may drop to 90Hz.
Audio, IR Blaster, And Fingerprint
The Mate X3 offers the convenience of waking up and unlocking the device using the fingerprint reader integrated into the power button. While the fingerprint reader is quite responsive, it can be slightly harder to reach when the phone is closed.
In terms of audio, the Mate X3 is equipped with a pair of stereo speakers—one located at the top and the other at the bottom of the device. These speakers deliver ample volume and produce excellent sound quality, characterized by a well-balanced frequency response, resulting in an enjoyable audio experience.
Another noteworthy feature of the Mate X3 is its IR blaster, enabling you to use the phone as a remote control for compatible appliances. Additionally, the phone supports video output through its USB-C port via DisplayPort 1.2, allowing you to connect it to a larger screen if you need more workspace or a bigger viewing experience.
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System Interface And Storage Options
The Mate X3 offers storage options of 256GB, 512GB, and even a whopping terabyte of onboard storage. Additionally, the device supports expandable storage using a Huawei NM memory card.
The international version of the Mate X3 runs on EMUI 13.1, which is based on the Android operating system but lacks Google services and apps, including access to the Google Play Store.
Instead, it relies on Huawei’s own apps and services, such as Petal Search and Petal Maps, which provide alternative functionalities. The AppGallery serves as the app store for the Mate X3, and while its app selection continues to grow, there are still some notable omissions compared to Google Play.
However, the AppGallery does integrate Petal Search, which allows you to search for apps beyond the store’s offerings. This feature enables you to discover results for apps available outside of the AppGallery and download them from developer websites or app repositories.
New options, such as G-Box, have emerged as a workaround for the absence of Google apps on Huawei devices. G-Box is a virtual machine that allows users to install and run most Google apps. These apps’ shortcuts appear on the home screen as usual and function well.
However, it’s important to note that Huawei phones still lack the underlying Google services found on regular Android devices. This means that functionalities like Android Auto, Nearby Share, or apps relying on Google location services won’t work on Huawei phones.
Despite this limitation, the interface of the Mate X3 is packed with features and operates smoothly. It includes a separate notification center and control center, similar to those found on Apple or Xiaomi devices. The leftmost home screen page is highly customizable and can display a news feed, weather information, app suggestions, and more, providing users with a versatile and personalized experience.
In EMUI 13, swiping down anywhere on the home screen takes you to the system-wide search page, providing a convenient way to search for content. The operating system also supports large folders, allowing for a more compact organization of apps while still keeping them easily accessible with a single touch.
EMUI 13 introduces Combined widgets, which enable users to merge three widgets into one, or stack widgets on top of each other, providing a flexible and customizable widget experience.
When it comes to multitasking, most default apps support a pop-up view, allowing you to use multiple apps simultaneously. Additionally, the Mate X3 offers a multi-window feature, also known as split screen.
To access this feature, you need to swipe and hold from the edge of the screen to enter the multi-window dock. The split screen can be arranged horizontally or vertically, allowing you to have multiple pop-up apps and two split-screen apps open simultaneously.
The Mate X3 offers a desktop-like UI similar to Samsung’s DeX, providing a desktop experience when connected to an external monitor. This feature enhances productivity and allows for a more expansive workspace.
The Mate X3 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, which is last year’s flagship hardware. However, it’s important to note that the Mate X3 uses a custom 4G version of the chipset due to Huawei’s ban from using 5G modems.
While it may not feature the latest and greatest Qualcomm chipset, the Mate X3 still packs plenty of power under the hood. In benchmarks, the device demonstrates high performance, comparable to that of top Android phones from the previous year.
In terms of thermal management, the Mate X3 may leave something to be desired. During prolonged stress tests, the device tends to experience performance throttling, which occurs frequently and not in a gradual manner.
Despite its compact size, the Mate X3 is equipped with a rather large 4,800mAh battery. The larger inner display consumes a significant amount of power, resulting in an overall endurance rating of 81 hours during screen-on tests. However, the cover display is more power-efficient, providing a considerably better endurance rating of 103 hours when in use.
The Mate X3 supports 66-watt charging, which may not be the fastest available but still offers commendable charging speeds. It can charge from zero to 70 percent in just half an hour. Additionally, the phone supports up to 50-watt wireless charging, providing a convenient charging option. Furthermore, reverse wireless charging is also supported, allowing you to charge other compatible devices using the Mate X3 as a charging pad.
Cameras Specs And Capturing Quality
The Mate X3 features a rear camera setup comprising a 50-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel 5x Periscope telephoto camera, and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera. When the phone is half-folded, the camera’s user interface splits, allowing for easier shooting when the phone is placed on a flat surface for added stability.
By default, photos from the Mate X3’s main camera are captured at 12.5 megapixels due to pixel bending. In good lighting conditions, the photos exhibit impressive detail and natural-looking colors. The sharpening applied is slightly aggressive, but not excessively so. However, the dynamic range could be improved, as it sometimes struggles to capture a wide range of highlights and shadows.
When using the Mate X3 unfolded, the camera app’s layout may result in capturing vertical 3×4 stills instead of the regular 4×3 aspect ratio.
The Mate X3’s portrait mode shots, taken with the main camera, deliver good results. You have access to various bokeh variants and effects to experiment with, providing creative flexibility. While shooting in portrait mode, you can also enable the cover display to act as a secondary viewfinder, allowing the subject to see themselves.
The telephoto camera on the Mate X3 offers impressive performance at 5x zoom. The photos captured with the telephoto lens are sharp, with excellent detail, vibrant colors, and a wide dynamic range. Additionally, there is a 10x toggle in the viewfinder that enables digital zoom, resulting in slightly softer shots but still retaining a satisfactory level of detail, color reproduction, and dynamic range.
The Mate X3’s ultra-wide camera captures photos with a wide field of view. The images from this camera exhibit great detail and colors that match well with the main camera’s output. Moreover, thanks to the autofocus capability of the ultra-wide camera, you can achieve nice-looking close-up shots using the super macro mode.
The main camera of the Mate X3 performs admirably in low-light conditions, even in auto mode. The photos retain plenty of detail, with natural-looking colors and effective handling of light sources. The camera produces minimal noise in low-light situations.
Enabling the dedicated night mode improves the overall performance, taking around 3 seconds to capture a shot. Night mode enhances shadows, restores detail, and delivers satisfying results. However, there may be a slight yellowish tint in the white balance.
The telephoto camera on the Mate X3 captures sharp and detailed photos in low-light environments. While shadows can appear dark, overall performance is impressive. Enabling night mode further enhances the quality of the photos.
The ultra-wide camera performs well in low-light conditions, capturing ample detail with pleasing colors and a surprisingly wide dynamic range. Noise levels are kept low. However, light sources may end up appearing blown out. Night mode can potentially result in a yellowish and overexposed outcome.
As expected from a foldable device, the Mate X3 offers various options for taking selfies. Both the cover screen and the inner screen feature an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, providing flexibility in capturing self-portraits. Additionally, you can use the rear cameras with the cover display as a viewfinder for selfies.
The 8-megapixel front-facing cameras, whether on the cover screen or the inner screen, deliver similar or identical overall quality. The selfies exhibit good detail and colors, with natural-looking skin tones and textures. While the dynamic range could be improved, the results are satisfactory. However, using the main camera for selfies yields the best possible results, as the quality is noticeably superior.
The Mate X3’s main camera supports video recording in up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. The recorded videos showcase superb quality with excellent detail, a wide dynamic range, and vibrant colors. The telephoto camera also excels in capturing 4K video, maintaining high quality. Similarly, the ultra-wide camera delivers impressive 4K videos with excellent detail, vibrant colors, and a wide dynamic range.
In summary, the Huawei Mate X3 stands out with its elegant and slim design, surpassing the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in terms of flatness and thickness. It also offers IP-rated water protection, which is a notable advantage. Although the battery life may be slightly shorter compared to the Z Fold, the Mate X3 compensates with faster charging capabilities.
The absence of official 5G network support remains a drawback, but the availability of workarounds like G-Box has alleviated the impact of the lack of official Google support. Overall, if you are willing to accept these compromises, the Huawei Mate X3 is a foldable flagship device that is worth recommending.