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Huawei delays foldable phone launch until September to do extra tests after Samsung's troubles

Key Points
  • Huawei said that its foldable phone, the Mate X, will launch in September.
  • The company had initially targeted a June launch, but a spokesperson told CNBC, that it was doing extra tests after Samsung's foldable smartphone broke down earlier this year during reviews by the media.
  • Huawei's spokesperson said the company was more "cautious" after Samsung's foldable device, the Galaxy Fold, began to break when tested by reviewers in April.
Huawei's Mate X
Benjamin Hall | CNBC

Huawei said its foldable phone will launch in September, slightly later than it was reportedly set to, as it does extra tests following the debacle Samsung went through with its rival device.

A spokesperson for the Chinese technology giant told CNBC on Friday that the company is trying to launch the Huawei Mate X globally, focusing on markets that are rolling out next-generation mobile networks known as 5G. The Mate X, which starts at around 2,299 euros or roughly $2,600, is a 5G-capable device.

The Mate X was unveiled in February but has yet to go on sale. Huawei had initially targeted a mid-2019 launch date and in April, Chinese media reported that it was looking at June. But the spokesperson confirmed the official launch will take place in September. He said that the company was doing extra testing with mobile carriers around the world and developers to make sure their apps work when the device is fully unfolded.

Huawei's spokesperson said the company was more "cautious" after Samsung's foldable device, the Galaxy Fold, began to break when tested by reviewers in April. Samsung and some of the carriers selling the Galaxy Fold have canceled pre-orders that consumers had already placed.

"We don't want to launch a product to destroy our reputation," the spokesperson told CNBC.

The launch will give a boost to Huawei after CNBC reported it was forced to scrap a planned launched of a new laptop because it was unable to deliver the product due to being on a U.S. blacklist. The so-called Entity List restricts American firms from selling components, software and other technology to Huawei.

Experts said the move threatens to hurt Huawei's global smartphone ambitions. On Tuesday, Shao Yang, a top executive at Huawei's consumer division, said that it would take longer than expected for the company to realize its ambition of being the top smartphone player in the world. It is currently in second place — behind South Korea's Samsung.

Huawei's spokesperson said that even with the blacklisting, it is "confident" it can deliver this device to consumers. He added that the Mate X will run Google's Android operating system because it was launched before Huawei was placed on the Entity List.

The Chinese firm has been making contingency plans, including creating its own operating system that could replace Android if it is cut off from using the software. Huawei's consumer business CEO Richard Yu told CNBC recently that the operating system could be rolled out in China this year, but it was "plan B," and the company would prefer to use Google. This was reiterated by Huawei's spokesperson on Friday.

"We don't want to go for our own systems; we 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. We can do in the next six-to-nine months," the spokesperson told CNBC.