Huawei is apparently in the process of designing a new, and very large, smartphone. According to a report from Korean source The Bell, Huawei has put in an order for 6.9-inch OLED screens with Samsung, and they’re destined for use on a smartphone, and not on a small tablet. This isn’t uncharted territory for Huawei, which is no stranger to oversize smartphones, or even tablets that are made to double as phones.
It’s then speculated the eventual device will be part of the Mate family, which has traditionally debuted near the end of the year. In 2017, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro arrived in October, suggesting we should expect the replacement phones to come around the same time this year. The Mate 10 Pro is hardly a small phone with its 6-inch screen, but if the Mate 20 or whatever the sequel will be called increases this to nearly 7 inches, it’ll be larger than most other phones available today. It’s worth remembering that Huawei’s Mate series usually includes two devices, and the 6.9-inch model may be labeled Pro, and come alongside a slightly smaller phone.
If the Mate 20 does have a 6.9-inch screen, it will also be bigger than several other rumored devices coming this year. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which often takes the crown for the largest screen, is expected to be a little smaller than 6.4 inches, while the possible Apple iPhone X Plus may stretch to almost 6.5 inches. These two phones, along with the Pixel 3 XL, will set the trend for big-screen devices later this year, and Huawei doesn’t want to miss out on being able to say it has the largest screen when compared to the competition.
Big screens usually mean big bodies, but due to the P20 and P20 Pro, Huawei now has experience with slim bezels, alternative aspect ratios, and screen notches. And for the upcoming 6.9-inch handset, it looks like the Chinese tech giant may have a new trick up its sleeve.
Dutch tech site Let’s Go Digital reports earlier this year Huawei applied for a patent titled “Mobile Communications Device.” The patent claims the fabrication of a nearly bezel-less display is not currently possible due to the way phones are manufactured. Huawei proposes a handset with a slightly recessed, bezel-less display using a novel fabrication technique.
Huawei’s patent describes a display that rests inside a frame that offers support on from the top and bottom. Once the display is in place, metal strips are attached to its side with adhesive or double-sided tape to complete the frame. Handsets created via this now-patented manufacturing technique would continue to waterproof, dustproof, and static-resistant.
Should Huawei choose to use this newly patented fabrication method for the upcoming Mate 20 (or Mate 20 Pro) it would likely mean the overall footprint would not be significantly larger than some current 6-inch-plus handsets on the market.
Huawei has a difficult task ahead with the Mate series. The P20 Pro is so accomplished, it eclipsed the Mate 10 Pro very quickly, leaving us less excited about future Mate phones than usual. A big screen is a start, but will it be enough to pull people away from the other 6-inch-plus phones coming this year? We’ll know more as 2018 progresses, and also discover whether Huawei is planning to use this screen on a Mate phone, or an entirely new line altogether.
Updated on June 19: Added patent information.