All posts in “huawei”

There’s always a bigger fish

Hall One at Mobile World Congress – a single space more massive than most conference centers in major cities – contained only a few displays. Although a quarter of the room housed small phone and mobile manufacturers, Huawei controlled the rest, creating a walled-off compound patrolled by women in folk costumes from many lands.

The Small World After All jollity stopped at the gates. This was Huawei’s war room. Mere mortals were not allowed to tread its hallowed ground as the ladies at the gate kept out all but the invited and kept folks from crossing through the booth. Sure, whatever lay behind those electronic gates were simply phones and the company recently bungled a carrier deal in the US but the company also recently surpassed Apple as second biggest phone manufacturer in the world.

If I were Samsung I’d be quaking in my boots. But it should also be a lesson to startups attempting to take on giants and giant ideas in the next few years.

There’s always a bigger fish.

I bring this up while thinking about the future of technology and, more specifically, incumbent companies. If there is anything we have learned about modern tech it’s that everything is in flux. Today decentralized applications are considered crypto moon shots or, worse, moon bat fiction. In a few years – I’d wager by 2020 – they will be a valid alterative to centralized data storage and application control. Today the token economy is a white-hot mess. In the future it may be the de facto standard for early company-building.

There are waves that pass through the tech industry that are, if you’re looking, quite visible. Some years it’s a color – piano black was quite popular before the financial crisis – and some years it’s a true innovation. There haven’t been many clear waves of late as CES was a dud and MWC was essentially an attempt for small app and service providers to make a little extra money this year, but I sense a change in the air that I last felt when Linux was slowly entering the mobile space.

We went for a ride in a Huawei smartphone-controlled self-driving Porsche

Huawei didn’t have a new phone to show at MWC this year, so it did what any good smartphone maker would: it put the Mate 10 Pro in an autonomous car and drove it directly at a dog.

Of course, the promotional video was a lot more dramatic than what the company was actually demoing at the show itself. And while the company insisted to us that the dog in the video was, indeed real and not the result of a few clever film cuts, the poor confused pup was never actually at risk during its trials.

At its MWC trials, the company brought along big cutouts of a dog, cyclist and soccer ball (okay, okay, football). The company invited us for a quick ride along to test what was essentially a clever promotion for the smartphone’s baked in AI processing capabilities. If nothing else, it was an excuse to go for a quick ride in a Porsche Panamera during our time in Barcelona.

Essentially the phone’s neural processing unit (NPU) is being used to identify objects and telling the car how to react when they’re in the way. The demo consisted of two short drives. The first was roughly five miles an hour, with the camera identifying objects. Here we were asked to assign one of three different reactions: swerve left, swerve right and stop, each corresponding to a different cutout.

With the second trip, which ramped things up to school zone unfriendly 30 miles an hour, we drove directly at one of the objects choose by the team, who picked it up and walked in directly into the path of the car. As promised, the system spotting the cyclist and swerved to the right.

It’s a simple demo, but it was flashy enough to get the point across. The NPU utilizes that sort of image recognition to help take better images — kind of like the new version of the LG V30. The system was built out in around five weeks, according to the company. It certainly looks jury-rigged together, with a cable snaking from the phone sitting on the dashboard to the equipment on top of the room.

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As Global Senior Product Marketing Manager Peter Gauden was understandably quick to point out during our conversation today, this shouldn’t be taken as any sort of indication that the company is planning to get into the driverless car business.

Good thing, too, because it would probably have a tough time selling them in the States.

Huawei, Asus embrace the smartphone notch

The notch is here to stay. Two upcoming phones are reported to sport the awful, disgusting notch at the top of the screen. Huawei and Asus are following Apple and Essential down the notch hole.

Neither of these phones are confirmed or officially announced yet. Both the Huawei and Asus models appeared online ahead of their official unveiling. They sport, among with what I assume are top-tier specs, a screen that stretches from corner to corner minus sizable notches on top of the screen to house the cameras and earpiece.

It’s easy to see this trend hitting other gadgets. Laptop screens? Sure. Tablets? Yep. TVs? I hope not, but who knows anymore.

There’s another trend appearing, too: Pop-up cameras. By building the cameras into hidden doors and panels, makers are able to offer even smaller bezels and best of all, no notches. While only available on one production device and in one concept device, this trend could become an alternative to the notch.

Huawei launches its new MediaPad M5 tablets

Tablets may not be the most exciting product category these days, but they also aren’t quite as dead as some pundits would like you to believe — and for Huawei, they are actually a growing business. Indeed, the company argues that it’s now the third largest tablet maker in the world. It’s no surprise then that the company today unveiled two (or three, depending on how you want to count) new tablets under its MediaPad brand at its annual Mobile World Congress press conference in Barcelona.

Unlike Huawei’s new MateBook laptops, which feature a rather odd camera that’s built into the keyboard, we’re talking about some pretty standard tablets here.

The new MediaPad M5 tablets will come in two sizes: 8.4 and 10.8 inches. For the most part, the smaller and larger tablets have exactly the same specs, with 2560×1600 displays (for a 359 and 280 PPI rating, respectively), Kirin 960 quad-core processors, 4GB of RAM and either 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage space. They also come with pretty standard 8MP front cameras and 13MP rear cameras, all the usual sensors (including a fingerprint sensor) and Android 8.0. All of the SKUs also offer an SD card expansion slot that can bring the total on-board storage up to 256 GB.

There is a third version, too, the 10.8-inch MediaPad M5 Pro, which features the exact same specs as the regular 10.8-inch M5, but with added support for Huawei’s M-Pen. As the company stressed during a briefing ahead of the event, the pen features 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and support for tilting and shading. The Pro will also support a detachable keyboard.

All versions of the tablet are available in, as Huawei notes, “two iconic colors: Space Gray and Mystic Silver.” LTE support is an option on all versions, too.

We had a bit of time with all of the tablets ahead of today’s announcement. It’s hard to get excited about tablets these days, but the M5’s look like perfectly solid choices if you’re in the market for an Android tablet, with both the build quality and screens being the stand-out attributes here.

Gartner reports first ever global decline in smartphone sales

Global smartphone sales have not been firing on all cylinders for several years now but Gartner’s latest figures record the first ever decline since the analyst began tracking the market all the way back in 2004. (Though it’s not the first analyst to call a decline.)

Gartner’s figures peg sales of smartphones to end users in Q4 2017 at nearly 408 million units — a 5.6 per cent decline over its Q4 2016 figure.

It says No.1 ranked smartphone maker Samsung saw a year-on-year unit decline of 3.6 per cent in Q4, while sales of Apple’s iPhones fell 5 per cent in the holiday quarter, though it says Cupertino stabilized its second-place marketshare.

Gartner says two main factors led to the Q4 sales drop: A slowing of upgrades from feature phones to smartphones due to a lack of quality “ultra-low-cost” smartphones; and existing smartphone owners selecting quality models and keeping them for longer, lengthening the replacement cycle.

Apple’s performance in Q4 was also impacted by the later availability of its new top-of-the-range iPhone X, which drove slower upgrades of its other two new smartphones, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. While component shortages and manufacturing capacity constraints also contributed to a long delivery cycle for the iPhone X.

Gartner says it’s expecting a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018, now that the flagship’s delivery cycle has returned to normal.

It’s also expecting a boost for Samsung in Q1 as it unpacks its successor Galaxy flagships.

For full year 2017, Samsung carved out a 20.9 per cent marketshare to Apple’s 14.0 per cent.

Far East

Last month analyst Canalys reported a first annual decline in smartphone shipments in China — which for years took up the baton on smartphone growth from saturated Western markets. But even Chinese buyers appear to be getting tapped out.

It’s still a growth story for Chinese OEMs, though. And Gartner says the combined market share of Chinese vendors in the top five increased by 4.2 percentage points in 2017, while the market share of the top two, Samsung and Apple, remained unchanged.

China’s Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to actively increase their market shares in Q4, according to Gartner, with year-on-year unit growth in the holiday quarter of 7.6 and 79 per cent, respectively.

The analyst credits Huawei’s uplift to broadening the appeal of its portfolio with new handset launches in the quarter. It also says Xiaomi’s “competitive” portfolio accelerating its growth in the emerging APAC market and helped it win back lost share in China.

Huawei remained in third place in the global smartphone vendor rankings, taking a 9.8 per cent share in full year 2017 and shrinking the gap with Apple and Samsung.

Overall, Gartner says total smartphone sales exceeded 1.5 billion units in 2017 — a year-on-year increase of 2.7 per cent.

On the OS front, Google’s Android platform extended its lead in 2017, taking an 86 per cent share of the total market, up 1.1 percentage points from a year ago. While iOS took 14 per cent. (The “other OS” category shriveled to a nearly non-existent 0.1 per cent.)

And as the world’s biggest mobile tradeshow, MWC, rolls around again, there will be some fresh Android-powered handsets being unboxed in the coming days — including from Samsung, Nokia-branded HMD and others.