Huawei may release a foldable Android smartphone as early as next year, according to its Chief Executive Officer Richard Yu. The head of the Chinese original equipment manufacturer told CNET that the company's already managed to assemble a functional prototype but still isn't ready to move to commercialization, noting that it may be prepared to officially introduce the device as early as next year. The prototype itself is more akin to the newly announced ZTE Axon M than a futuristic concept of a foldable smartphone that features a single screen which users can bend in half. Huawei opted for a more technologically feasible approach and created a handset with two connected screens which can be folded like a notebook, as suggested by Mr. Yu's comments.
The CEO said that the company still isn't pleased with "a small gap" present between the two display panels and is currently exploring options for how to eliminate it in its entirety. While Huawei's chief didn't share more details on the product, his wording indicates that the two screens are likely connected with a hinge, just like it's the case with the ZTE Axon M. Likewise, even though no official confirmation has been provided, it's likely that the prototype runs Google's Android or will become an Android device once it's commercialized, with Huawei's consumer-oriented mobile efforts being exclusively tied to Google's ubiquitous operating system.
Mr. Yu's interview with CNET also led to a confirmation that the Shenzhen, China-based tech giant is still negotiating with wireless carriers in the United States over potential distribution agreements in a bid to gain a significant foothold in the world's largest market for high-end smartphones. The company's newly unveiled Mate 10 lineup was announced on Monday with no U.S. availability details, though at least one of its members may launch stateside in early 2018, just like it was the case with the Mate 9 which debuted in the country last January, months after appearing in numerous other markets across Asia and Europe. Huawei also isn't the only major OEM that could debut a foldable smartphone next year, with Samsung's Galaxy X reportedly being ready for commercialization after years of development.