Everyone should take Huawei seriously, and not just because it recently topped Apple

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Everyone should take Huawei seriously, and not just because it recently topped Apple
When Huawei announced a couple of years ago that it was gunning for the global smartphone market’s silver medal, the company’s own Consumer Business Group CEO admitted his plan could seem crazy to the outside world.

But here we are, less than two years later, scratching our heads in disbelief as Huawei has already managed to surpass Apple in Q2 2018 smartphone shipments around the world, fully intending to retain its second place on the vendor podium when yearly figures are tallied, and going after Samsung next.


Becoming the largest smartphone manufacturer around is another incredibly ambitious (read crazy) goal, although if you think about it, Huawei has every reason to dream big. Well, almost.

Two brands, one vision


Founded way back in 1987, Huawei took an interest in the consumer mobile device industry years after some of its top rivals. In 2003, when the networking and telecommunications equipment specialist established its handset department, Nokia shipped an estimated 180 million mobile products globally, 5.4 million of which were considered smartphones by that era's standards. Samsung was already the third-largest handset vendor, and Sony (Ericsson) ranked second in smartphone sales.


But Huawei didn’t make a splash right away either, unveiling its first 3G-enabled design in 2005, joining the Android ecosystem in 2009, and standing in tenth place in worldwide 2010 mobile device sales.

After shipping less than 50 million smartphones in 2013, the company jumped to around 140 million units just three years later, posting a marginal 2017 growth, but aiming for as many as 200 million shipments in 2018.
 
From 8th place in 2011, Huawei made 2014’s top five, breaking onto the podium the next year, and gradually narrowing the gap to Apple ever since. It was really only a matter of time until the Cupertino-based tech giant had to concede the volume battle.

After all, how could three or four new iPhones a year hope to fend off about two dozen Huawei and Honor-branded releases? We’re talking every design in the book, a wide range of mid-end models, all the entry-level handsets you could need, and quite a bit of high-end choice too. 


Huawei's designers have come a long way from 2009's U8230 to 2018's Honor 10

Although the Honor sub-brand technically operates independently, its sales numbers are still added to Huawei’s total, designs and ideas are clearly shared, with the two basically covering every little niche, specific need or customer requirement, and all conceivable price points.

Trendsetter or trend follower? Why not both?


Let’s not kid ourselves, everyone copies everyone in today’s mobile tech landscape. Unless someone can come up with a phone capable of cooking dinner or literally ruling the world, we’re bound to watch various companies refine each other’s (unoriginal) ideas for many years to come.

Of course, there’s a big difference between HTC’s early execution of the dual camera concept, for instance, and all these portrait shooting powerhouses that are around nowadays. In other words, it’s not always important to be first. It is however essential to be good.


Those screen cutouts are not exactly original, but most people can live with them

Case in point, Huawei’s flagship build quality is pretty great. The three rear-facing shooters on the P20 Pro are feature-packed and incredibly versatile. And the increasingly prevalent notch will do just fine for the time being.

Only one of those three things is (somewhat) innovative, but at the end of the day, Huawei P20 Pro owners couldn’t care less they purchased the world’s first triple-lens smartphone. What matters is the three cams are powerful and fast, taking sharp photos both at a distance and in challenging lighting conditions.

In-house chips and high-profile partnerships


Don’t you find it interesting that Samsung, Apple, and Huawei all play a key role in the production of processors powering (most of) their devices? Could that be the key to success? Not exactly, although it can crucially contribute to a company’s prosperity, stability, and independence.


Unlike Apple, which merely designs A-series chips that are then manufactured by others, Huawei builds Kirin SoCs based on external designs through its HiSilicon subsidiary. Unlike Samsung, which doesn’t exclusively use Exynos processors, instead relying heavily on Snapdragons, Huawei sees Qualcomm as an enemy rather than an (occasional) partner.

It wasn’t always like that, of course, but the Kirin family grew and expanded over the years, now including both impressive flagship models and frugal mid-rangers. The Kirin 970 was the world’s first smartphone chipset to come with a built-in NPU (Neural Network Processing Unit) for key AI advancements, while the 980 has just been confirmed as the first 7 nm-based SoC.


If that doesn’t prove Huawei is a technological force to be reckoned with, I don’t know what can. Check that, I do know - strategic partnerships with market leaders like Leica. The German optics manufacturer is probably the unsung hero behind the top-notch camera of the P20 Pro... and Mate 10 Pro... and P10.

But what about the US?


Well, what about it? It’s true that it sometimes feels like the US still makes and breaks tech companies. But we’re talking about the world’s third-largest smartphone market now. A market that’s reached a stability, nay, stagnation point a while back.
 
Huawei would obviously wish the political climate was different, allowing it to establish alliances with major local operators. But if that’s not possible, the company will simply increase its focus on China, India, and Europe. The Western part of the old continent has started to warm up to P-series high-enders, while low-cost Honor phones are huge in Asia.


The unlocked Honor 7X is also extremely popular stateside, where it’s available via Amazon, Newegg, B&H Photo Video, and the brand’s own regional e-store. US carriers no longer monopolize phone sales, so as long as Trump lets Huawei do business, the company has nothing to worry about. At least as far as consumer devices are concerned.

Still, there’s absolutely no way to know if Huawei will be able to challenge Samsung’s global domination anytime soon. Both companies are well-positioned in terms of groundbreaking new technologies, and strategically, they appear to have their ducks in a row. The safe bet would be to expect seeing them in first and second place for quite some time.

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60 Comments

68. shihte

Posts: 61; Member since: Sep 02, 2013

Only samsung or pixel personaly dont trust chinese manufacters they using personal data even its product may made from not healthy materials

67. shihte

Posts: 61; Member since: Sep 02, 2013

chinese spy ,no thank you ,my private is more important then shiny coloured case

66. Telemike

Posts: 44; Member since: Nov 30, 2012

I bought the Honor 10 View. Not big on EMUI, but it is fast and fluid.

55. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2289; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Huawei are thieves of Samsung's path they created. Again I have said it for the past 7-8 years. Android is dog eat dog. As an Android vendor you can never stay on top as their another Android vendor willing to take the top spot.

40. p51d007

Posts: 706; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

I've had 3, but, since the U.S. government threw them under the bus, the Mate 9 will probably be my LAST one. That, and they are LOUSY with keeping the software up to date (security patch) wise. Google really needs to drop the hammer on manufacturers & carriers to support and stick to the Project Treble idea on updates/patches.

61. walauweh

Posts: 9; Member since: Aug 08, 2018

now they r good in security patches, just not exactly in time for all, some get it in time, like august 2018 patch, some a month late, still in july 2018 patch. that is other part of the world except us, which i believe due to the banning/warning by the us gov

27. shnibz

Posts: 522; Member since: Sep 18, 2011

I do. Before my current phone I had a Mate 9 I got in Amazon and it was absolutely amazing. Granted Nova Launcher was very necessary but everything else about the phone was great.

26. maherk

Posts: 7084; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

My first Huawei phone was the Honor 8, and it lasted only 10 days in my pocket before I went back to Samsung phones. I loved it back then, but I was used to Samsung's flagships and I felt way too many things were missing, hardware and software wise. Then this year, Huawei surprised me with the P20 Pro, the moment I held it in my hand in a store nearby, I knew I was ditching my S9 for it, and now I'm hooked on Huawei phones, mainly for 2 things, camera and battery life. And I will definitely be skipping the Galaxy Note for the 1st time since the Note 1 was released, as I'm looking forward to getting the Mate 20 Pro. Now, are there room for improvements within their flagship phones? Yup. 1-They should start by working on their software, get rid of the cartoonish and iOS like UI. Better notifications management out of the box. Get rid of the extra and useless bloatware. Stop messing with key Android features. 2- Glass back imo should always come along with a wireless charging capabilities underneath. 3- Overexposing selfie cameras simply because that's the way people in Asia like them. Well, if you want to compete outside of Asia, make sure your UI and features please people outside of that region as well, make two separate softwares like other Chinese manufacturers do, one that is targeted towards Asian consumers, and another that is targeted at the rest of the world. I for myself know how to tweak my phone and get over the things I just mentioned above, but in order to grab the average consumer's attention, you need to give him a software that won't keep him scratching his head for days in order to get things setup for his own liking.

24. Loubielou

Posts: 603; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

"Notch" up to scratch yet

10. jacure619

Posts: 45; Member since: Aug 16, 2018

Mate 20 is going to b nice.

8. Voodooman

Posts: 27; Member since: Oct 20, 2017

In Android world, what comes around goes around. Yesterday was Samsung, now it's Huawei,tomorrow could be Xiaomi or someone else.

14. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

I personally don't care who is on top. I am only going to buy the product that brings me the best value and options, for what I am willing to pay. Price isn't the issue, it is what I get for the price. Huawei is bring decent quality at a decent price, but its not an iPhone or a Galaxy no matter how much they sell. Huawei would need to do more than sell at a lower cost. They gotta bring the heat. The P20 was a very good start.

7. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Sure, I most certainly would. However, since President Adulterer has signed a ban on them being used by the US Gov't, and the FCC has asked carriers not to carry them; we won't get that chance. In all honesty, I think the ban is not about security, it is about protectionism for Apple. Here is why. Huawei has come out of nowhere as a Chinese Android OEM, under-cutting everyone and copying the iPhone to the point, it sales have increase substantially. Since the President is at war with China on tariff, he is gonna have no choice but to include apple's products.and if Trump excludes the iPhone or any Apple product, that would be blatant and likely illegal. But banning a competitor to insure they can't effect your market-share, mean Apple can pay the tariff with no issue because they would expect no huge drop in sales. Huawei's only alternative for the US, is to sell their phones directly on their own website, eBay, Amazon or similar. Since the carriers have all banned together to help protect Apple, then Huawei may have to consider opining its own stores or talking with options like Best Buy and Target, Costco and Sam's to carry their options. With the US market, Huawei could easily topple Samsung as well, especially in the low and mid-range as they are already doing. If Huawei makes it to the USA, with there $600 or less looking iPhone X, Apple will surely have a much more harder time selling the X for $999. Because all people will see is 2 phones that look alike with the only difference is price. And they are going to buy the lesser costing model. If the US Gov't didn't want to use Huawei options, then they don't have too. But they shouldn't have taken the consumers choice away. That's pure BS and I bet that is what trump and Cook were doing. Cook is probably praising Trump for the move.

13. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"If Huawei makes it to the USA, with there $600 or less looking iPhone X, Apple will surely have a much more harder time selling the X for $999. Because all people will see is 2 phones that look alike with the only difference is price. And they are going to buy the lesser costing model." Only difference is price? :) All wrong, Huawei would do big harm for Samsung, not for Apple. People buy iPhone because of iOS. Where i live Huawei already overtook Samsung and Samsung flagship sales been hurting a lot, but it hasn't had any noticable impact for iPhone sales, iPhone sales still very strong and huawei been big player for two years already here.

16. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Like a typical fan you missed the point. This isn't about Apple loyal fanbase. It is the same reason Windows PC's outsell Mac's. Until you understand that, you will always miss the point. Samsung is losing sales on the low to mid-range phones, solely because of price. Stop thinking like a fan and think as a consumer. Consumers shop based on value for the price, and what they actually can afford. When you place 2 products that side by side offer similar features and capabilities, the only difference to them is price. Consumers don't care about brand loyalty or logos. Until you understand that, it is pointless for us to speak.

32. GreenMan

Posts: 2704; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Cheap, broke blokes such as yours truly don't care about brands or more importantly; loyalty! My cellphone brands (In chronological order): Nokia. Nokia (Chosen due to price-tag; not branding or lyalty!) Blackberry. Google Nexus. Samsung. And... I'm not entirely sure but my next phone 'might' be either an iPhone 6S or 7. Old phones I know; but I can't afford a $600 toy! Oh well, G'Day!

38. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"Samsung is losing sales on the low to mid-range phones, solely because of price." Again wrong, Samsung is losing in flagship sales because of the price. Low and mid-range still selling very well. "Consumers don't care about brand loyalty or logos. Until you understand that, it is pointless for us to speak." Thats one of the most stupid thing i'v heard in a long time. People overall are used to buy same brand over and over again, no matter what the product is, they find the good one and keep buying same brand because they know what they get or the brand is just everywhere in their lifes.

31. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Situation 1: someone has iPhone because of iOS Situation 2 : someone has iPhone because it is considered fancy. Trust me, situation 2 happens way more often than 1.

36. mrochester

Posts: 1048; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

I doubt it. Situation 1 is likely to happen the most.

54. domfonusr

Posts: 1106; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

C'mon people! Situation 1 only happens because situation 2 happens for a while first. So, really, it is reversed. Situation 1 should be called "situation 2" and situation 2 should be called "situation 1" if we were to be truly honest with ourselves on the order of things, and how things end up... "Situation 1" must become established as antecedent in order for "situation 2" to come forward, but then "situation 2" takes over as the apparent reason for those who have been in the process all the way to completion.

47. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

4 years at Verizon, situation 1 was far more common. I've sold many iPhones to someone who preferred an Android phone design, but wanted iOS, or needed iOS. For years Android had no real competition to Facetime, it still has no answer to iMessage, and the convenience of iCloud is unmatched. There are still select apps available only on iOS, the app gap dropped dramatically years ago, but iOS still has an app advantage. Then throw in the parental controls, and some of the other Apple ID related features for family sharing, and there are plenty of reasons a person would buy an iPhone because they want/need iOS.

52. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"4 years at Verizon, situation 1 was far more common." Android boys just can't accept the fact so they have to invent those excuses why people buy iPhones.

17. ZombieHunter

Posts: 270; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

When did Bill Clinton sign a ban on Huawei? Oh, and you need to learn about economics, you are wrong on your info and why tariffs are being used. Sad really, but typical liberal repeating the nauseous liberal talking points. Also, I don't remember being at war with China... when was that declared? on CNN?

6. midan

Posts: 3261; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Most of people who i know replaced their Samsung phones with Huawei phones. Huawei got the branding and price point right and they are most talked Android phones currently, it's quite incredible that they could do that from zero name.

28. maherk

Posts: 7084; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

For once, I can agree with you on something. Samsung used to dominate the mid-range and budget phone's market in my country, until Huawei decided to step in 3 years ago. Now they are the ones dominating, their flaghip's Lite version and the Nova lineup are selling like hot cake, were as Samsung are struggling with the overpriced A series. The Mate series is also a major success, the Mate 9 was the start for them here where people started recognizing that they can get an Android flagship, for at least $300 what they would've had to pay to get a Samsung flagship. The Mate 10 Pro for example was sold for $615 with tax included, compared to the $980 you had to pay for the Note 8.

57. thedizzle

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 05, 2017

Yeah, samsungs prices for these mid range phones are kind of ridiculous.

4. Ellio74

Posts: 74; Member since: Mar 22, 2018

I'll start taking Huawei seriously when they'll stop acting like children with other brands by bashing them to show that they are better (according to them), when they'll improve their software, when they'll actually deliver on what they say they do (fake 960 FPS for example) and so on.

11. BLUEBLASTER

Posts: 960; Member since: Feb 23, 2014

You spelt Samsung wrong.

22. Ellio74

Posts: 74; Member since: Mar 22, 2018

Samsung or Huawei, more or less the same thing ;)

62. GalaxyLeads_iCrapFollows

Posts: 216; Member since: Nov 29, 2017

You mean apple and huawei are more or less the same thing. Both companies are thieves that steal from Samsung. huawei is only doing well because they steal Korean tech. But of course the chinese are simply thieves and will never surpass the ones they steal from.

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