Huawei Mate Xs leather case unboxing and first impressions

Originally included with the Huawei Mate X, the leather case for the Mate Xs has to be purchased separately, further increasing the price of the foldable phone.

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At the beginning of this month, we published an article unboxing the Huawei Mate Xs, as well as giving our first impressions of the second foldable phone of the Chinese manufacturer. In this article, we pointed out that the Mate Xs didn’t come with the leather case found with the Mate X, instead coming with a plastic/rubber frame to protect the device against minor bumps. However, in some countries, Huawei gifted the leather case with pre-orders, while in others, such as in Belgium, the only gift was the 50GB of free cloud storage for 12 months.

As such, those interested in the leather case have to purchase it separately, which, in many cases, can be difficult, due to how exclusive the phone itself is, with, for example, no real means of obtaining it in Belgium, at least for now. We did, in a previous article, mention that this one was available through Amazon, although it is now marked as “unavailable”, likely due to the coronavirus pandemic disrupting some supply chains. Regardless, the Huawei Mate Xs leather case officially retails for 119€, being made of genuine leather. This is cheaper than the leather flip cover for the Mate RS Porsche Design, which, back in 2018, retailed for 149€.

Here are some official renders of the leather case, taken from Huawei’s marketing:

Before going any further, we want to make it clear that we purchased both the Mate Xs and the leather case ourselves, covering the cost in full, and without Huawei knowing that it would end up being reviewed, to avoid any preferential treatment. Now that this is out of the way, let’s come back to the unboxing. The leather case was purchased directly from Huawei, with the shipping process being flawless and the product being well protected, with the product box still inside a plastic bag:

The box itself feels very premium, reminding us of the box of the leather flip cover of the Mate RS Porsche Design, and coming with two seals to prove the box has not been previously opened:

On the back of the box, we find a basic description of the product, claiming that it “Features an envelope-like appearance, high-quality leather materiel, elegant craftsmanship, and a microfiber lining to protect your device at all times.”:

Once opened, we find the leather case wrapped in some kind of protective paper, with a very premium feel, with even the sticker keeping it together having the brand’s name printed in a golden colour:

As previously mentioned, the unboxing experience is reminiscent of the unboxing experience of the leather flip cover of the Mate RS Porsche Design, which we reviewed in mid-2018:

For instance, we find the same instructions manual inside the box, which includes a bit more information about this product, some warnings, as well as maintenance tips to keep the case clean over the long-term. The manual says:

This protective case has been meticulously crafted with high-quality leather. It is normal for wear and tear to occur, and for the color to fade slightly over time. However, the following tips can help protect your case, and prolong its usage life:

  1. To prevent your case from being stained, avoid directly exposing your case to liquids, such as alcohol, makeup, or oils.
  2. To prevent your case from being scratched, avoid placing it case next to sharp objects.
  3. To prevent discoloration and warping, avoid exposing your case to direct sunlight for an extended period of time, or using it in high-temperature or high-humidity environment.

If your case is stained, wipe it gently with a clean and soft damp cotton cloth. Then wipe the water off of the case, and dry it in a well-ventilated place. If you are not planning to use your case for an extended period of time, apply leather oil to it and place it inside a moisture-proof bag.

Some of these recommendations are rather ironic, as the goal of the case is to protect the device against most of the things listed, such as scratches, sunlight or accidental spills. However, from our experience with the Mate RS leather case, which we used for over a year without treating it in a special way, scratches and minor bumps are hardly visible, thanks to the texture of the case, and oil or other liquids are easy to clean and don’t leave any visible traces, thus we doubt the situation will be different this time around.

Speaking of the texture, this one looks and feel like other leather products that can be found on the market. The description of the product did not lie either, with the case finish being perfect and the seams looking not only identical but also flawless:

To close the case, Huawei has put a magnetic stripe on each side, which is strong enough to prevent the phone from falling off from the case if, for whatever reason, we hold it “wrong” (it makes more sense to hold the case from the “thicker” side, where it closes, as it is easier to grip):

Thanks to the interior being covered with a microfiber lining, we can be sure the display will not be getting scratched when putting the phone in and out of the case, unless some foreign material makes its way in, such as sand. The choice of the material also makes it relatively easy to slide the phone in and out, opposing minimal resistance:

The case doesn’t become any bulkier with the phone in or out, although the weight does increase by some 300 grams.

Something that we failed to properly cover in our previous unboxing and overview was the plastic/rubber frame included with the Mate Xs. While we say it is made out of rubber, the material is actually plastic, with only the middle part connecting both frames being made of some kind of flexible, rubber material. Even without using the tape areas that stick to the phone, the frame holds properly, although it isn’t very aesthetic. The frame also leaves space around the power and sound buttons, the charging port and the various other holes for the antennas and microphones. The frame also doesn’t go around the extremity of the display, allowing us to still properly fold the device but still protect the display, by not making this one touch any flat surfaces. Here are various pictures, although keep in mind we haven’t removed the tabs to use the tape, as we do not intend to use the frame and will instead stick to the leather case:

The reason why we say we do not intend to use the included frame and will instead stick to the leather case is because, while it is possible to use both at the same time, the frame makes the device slightly thicker and bigger, making it more difficult to put inside the leather case, actually having to force it in. It is clear Huawei did not think about this when releasing the leather case, which, let’s face it, is the same as the one for the Mate X, except with an extra letter on the box, for “Xs” instead of “X”.

Lastly, if we put the phone inside the case the way the marketing material suggests we do, the charging port remains accessible, meaning we can both charge the device or use type-C headphones, such as the Huawei ANC-3, although, in both examples, one should be careful: charging the phone inside the case can be dangerous due to the heat, and using wired headphones while the device is inside the case could damage the port, if we hit them or put too much pressure on the connector in the wrong direction.

Using the leather case also comes with various downsides. Pricing-wise, we feel it is justified, even if it remains expensive. However, with the device itself costing 2499€, and the screen replacement of the Mate X costing 7080 yuan (900€, it is unclear how much the display of the Mate Xs costs, at least here in Europe), 119€ is a small price to pay to avoid scratches or damaging the display or the device. However, a bigger downside is the fact that it is not possible to use the device while this one is inside the case, forcing us to take it out each time we want to reply to calls, notifications or do anything on the phone.

Another downside is the size of the case. The Mate Xs is 161.3 millimetres tall, or 16.13 centimetres, being essentially the same size as a P30 Pro with the official flip cover case on. This is already quite big, but the leather case increases this size to 19 centimetres (192 millimetres, according to the product specifications), making it a lot harder to put in a pocket. Huawei could have solved this issue by choosing a different design, by, for example, bending the corners instead of sewing them together, giving the case a similar look to a flip cover case, except opening as an envelope.

This is just an example of what we are referring to when talking about a “flip cover case”.

Ultimately, and as previously mentioned, we believe it is better to spend the 119€ and going through the hassle of taking the device in and out of the case each time, instead of having to deal with scratches on the display or other damage to the device. We can just hope that future generations of foldable phones will come with stronger displays, comparable to glass displays found on regular smartphones, or that Huawei will release different, more compact cases, making it easier to use and carry the device around.

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