Show of hands, how many of you were surprised when Huawei finally overtook Apple last year to become the second largest smartphone brand in the world? I am pretty sure you can find a large number of tech watchers who were anticipating this move ever since the Chinese smartphone brand started pouring its energy into bringing innovation to their devices. Their efforts have finally paid off with the debut of Huawei P30 Pro, a phone that stands mountains away from the Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max.
Though Huawei spent a good amount of time in March teasing the new features of its flagship device through a series of videos and tweets, we couldn’t be less prepared to see the smartphone in action. A day before the launch of Huawei P30 Pro, Huawei Ireland didn’t hesitate to throw shade at Apple who recently hosted its keynote address. The former shared the following photo on their socials.
Then came the Huawei P30 Pro launch event and rules of smartphone innovation saw a new curve as Huawei, for the first-time-ever, introduced four cameras at the back, the company’s monstrous feature created in partnership with Leica that already reigns at the top of DxOMark rankings. This year Huawei ditched the industry-veteran RGB model which has been in use for the past 40 years and introduced a new RYG model which is capable of taking in 40% more light. The phone is armed with 10x lossless zoom and 50x digital zoom and also packs a ToF sensor whose sole purpose is to lend a helping hand via depth mapping which also has AR implications.
The new flagship device which will soon make its way into Pakistan is made for the night and low light shots and during the launch event, we could see a massive difference between the pictures taken by the iPhone XS Max, Galaxy S10+ and Huawei P30 Pro. Richard Yu, CEO Huawei while showcasing the failed attempt at a night shot by Galaxy S10+, also quipped, “Galaxy Phone cannot see Galaxy,” which led to heart laugh from the crowd.
If it was any other brand making that bold remark, we may have questioned their sanity but Huawei has finally reached the place where we can’t afford to take it up as a joke. There was not much said about Apple as the photographic evidence was enough to see all the lackings of the company’s flagship smartphone of 2018, iPhone XS Max which served nothing more than being an upgrade to the company’s 10th-anniversary smartphone, iPhone X.
Apart from the best camera, Huawei P30 Pro also comes with many outstanding features including the world’s first 7nm chipset, Kitrin 980 and 8GB RAM that will make a powerful beast in terms of performance and processing. Moreover, the reverse charging feature can now also recharge different small appliances like an electric toothbrush, shaving machine, etc. Apple and Samsung, the two tech giants that used to dominate the smartphone industry are being ridiculed over their features by a company that got serious about flagship devices and innovation only a few years back.
If it was any other brand making these remarks, we may have laughed them off but Huawei P30 Pro is enough to make us take note. If you are wondering why that is, let’s continue on to see how Huawei is ready to dominate the global handset industry.
Apple and Samsung Losing Supremacy Race
The market leader is undoubtedly decided by looking at the volume of phone shipments but it is not limited to this one factor. Now, when the global smartphone market is getting more and more saturation, offering unique features which can redefine the concept of mobile phones is also a must, an area where the main handset companies are facing defeat.
Huawei’s rise to the top is not a mere coincidence or a stroke of luck rather it is a vision that was translated by the company’s focus on R&D. According to data from the 2018 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, Huawei is number 5 global R&D investor (number one in China) with spending of $13.1 billion only last year. Samsung is on the top of the list but has failed to make an impact on the innovation front. At the MWC 2019, Peng Song, President of Marketing for Huawei’s carrier group revealed that the Chinese firm spends no less than 15% of its total annual revenue into R&D.
Last year, Huawei also broke the seven-year spell of Samsung and Apple of being the only two contenders for title the world’s biggest smartphone company when it overtook the U.S based tech company to claim the second position in the second and third quarter of 2018, according to the data shared by IDC. Although Apple regained its second spot in the fourth quarter, it saw an 11.5% dive in the smartphone shipments as compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
As you can see in the table above, Samsung though maintained the top spot but also suffered a 5.5% decline as compared to the number of shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017. Huawei surprisingly ended 2018 with a staggering 43.9% increase in its smartphone shipments as compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, the highest in the list. The U.S- based tech giant also announced last November that it will stop disclosing iPhone sales, a move that didn’t paint a pretty picture of their market share after Huawei beat them in the second and third quarter of 2018.
According to Gartner’s report published earlier this year, Samsung and Apple are continuously losing their share to Huawei because the consumers are being put off by the high price tags attached to their flagship devices. The U.S company is losing ground especially in emerging markets as the Chinese companies are working towards offering the same or better features while controlling the price.
Innovation Leaders Becoming Followers
When you look at Samsung, the latest innovation that they have offered so far is their new foldable phone “Galaxy Fold,” which was facing the rumor mill for the past few years. In competition, Huawei introduced Mate X, its version of the foldable phone in the same month with features that far outmatched Samsung, translating the whole thing into a big defeat for the South Korean giant which was hyping its foldable smartphone as the “next big thing” in innovation.
Apart from folding technology, there are no new features on the hardware front for Samsung though they are banking on their software to lead the race. The South Korean giant faced many misfires when it comes to hardware mainly Galaxy Note 7, the device that ending up causing literal fires. Afterward, the company played it safe with their battery while Huawei started offering a massive 4000mAh battery in its smartphones. Due to a repetition of almost the same features with slight changes every year, we cannot see a balance or harmony between Samsung’s two flagship series S and Note. In contrast with Huawei, we know that we’ll have to wait for the P series to see the camera innovation and Mate series for performance benchmarks.
Last year, Apple also took a big hit when it failed to wow many in the tech world with its three new iPhones, failing to offer any motivation for upgrading their flagship device. Apple has also failed to provide a major update to iPhone’s battery for the last couple of years and continues to offer relatively smaller battery life than many other much cheaper smartphones in the market. There is also no sign of fast charging feature in the near future of the company’s smartphones (fingers crossed for 2019 iPhones). Additionally, both Huawei and Samsung have showcased their 5G phones, Galaxy S10 5G, and Mate X, while Apple is waiting for 2020 to make its 5G debut, the time when most of the companies will have already smartphones that can work with the new next generation of cellular networking.
For a company that once prided on offering features that the consumers wished they had, it has finally reached a point where it has to look at other companies for ideas, for instance, the dual-SIM feature introduced in iPhones last year. Samsung is no different as we saw the first portrait effect (bokeh feature) in Huawei P10 which was immediately taken on by the tech company and recently it introduced three cameras, a feature which already debuted with the launch of Mate 20 series. If continued this way, this trend of following instead of leading the smartphone innovation will lead the two companies to bend their knee to Huawei eventually.
Huawei’s rise amid all the political and privacy tensions cannot be overlooked or understated. With Huawei P30 Pro, the company has already piqued the interests of techies around the world, putting other brands to rethink their future in the tech industry. The double-digit year on year growth makes the company’s dream of becoming a number one brand in 2019 quite an objective target even without any significant presence in the U.S market.
Huawei, over the years, has built quite an arsenal when it comes to the hardware skills and with the company already involved in the 5G race, we cannot stop but think of the huge advantage the company’s smartphone business will have to test and bring the next big innovation in the market.