Huawei said it built a folding phone similar to Samsung's Galaxy Fold — but killed it because it was so bad

  • Huawei's consumer CEO, Richard Yu, told Business Insider that his company had prototyped a folding-phone design similar to Samsung's Galaxy Fold but "killed it" because it was so bad.
  • Huawei's Mate X folding phone has a single, flexible display that folds and unfolds between smartphone and tablet formats.
  • Samsung's Galaxy Fold is configured a little differently, with a dedicated smartphone screen on the front of the device and a separate larger screen for tablet mode.
  • There's a lot of debate about which device has the better design, but the Forrester analyst Frank Gillett noted that, either way, most people wouldn't be buying conceptual devices that cost about $2,000.

A senior Huawei executive took a shot at the company's biggest rival in mobile, Samsung, as the two companies go head-to-head in showing off their new foldable phones.

The CEO of Huawei's mobile business, Richard Yu, told Business Insider that Huawei had originally prototyped a folding phone with a similar design to Samsung's Galaxy Fold but killed it off because it was "not good."

"I feel having two screens, a front screen and a back screen, makes the phone too heavy," Yu told Business Insider of the Galaxy Fold.

"We had several solutions, but we canceled them. We had three projects simultaneously. We had something even better than that, killed by me."

"It was bad," he added.

Read more: We compared the Samsung Galaxy Fold with the Huawei Mate X — and the winner was clear

Huawei's Mate X folding smartphone includes a single, flexible display that folds and unfolds to turn the device from a smartphone into an 8-inch tablet.

You can see how that looks here:

The Galaxy Fold works a little differently, with a small front screen that acts as a smartphone display when the device is folded. The phone then opens like a book to reveal a second, tablet-size screen.

Here's how that looks:

Huawei hopes to achieve Samsung's position as the world's biggest phone maker.

Samsung has occupied that top slot for years, while Huawei tends to rotate between second and third place with Apple. But Huawei was the only company of the three to gain market share in the holiday quarter of 2018.

The differences between the Mate X and the Galaxy Fold have sparked some debate about which phone has the better design.

Some see the Mate X as more delicate because the screen folds outward, perhaps leaving it vulnerable to scratches. Others point to the Galaxy Fold not quite shutting flush, which could allow dust and other potentially damaging objects into the gap.

Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester, noted that no one had yet had a chance to test either device properly but said Huawei's initially looked like the better design.

"Huawei's folding tablet looks better at first glance simply because it's thinner and has a larger screen in phone and tablet mode," he told Business Insider. "And it's likely the fold-out design stresses the screen less than Samsung's fold-in display, though only time will tell.

"It's too early to argue about which one is better until we can all try out production units. These were clearly prototypes, which never look as good as they will later."

Folding phones are still out of reach for the average consumer, Gillett added. The Mate X costs a whopping 2,299 euros, or $2,600, in Europe. The Galaxy Fold costs $1,980 in the US and 2,000 euros in Europe.

"These devices won't last as long as today's smartphones, because the hinging display and mechanisms simply won't last as well a today's candybar smartphones," he said.

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