Huawei’s former budget brand Honor has a new phone and partnerships with Qualcomm, Intel and AMD, revealing one option for dealing with US restrictions

23-Jan-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Honor has announced a new 5G smartphone, the View40, and partnerships with global semiconductor companies, including Intel and Qualcomm, revealing that the company is no longer subject to US restrictions after spinning off from former parent company Huawei Technologies Co.

The View40, unveiled at a launch event on Friday, is the first new phone from Honor since being sold by Huawei, which lost access to Google apps and services when the US put the company on its so-called entity list in 2019. The company has not confirmed that an international variant of the View40 will include Google Mobile Services, but analysts expect that it will.

While Google was not mentioned at the launch event, Honor confirmed that it is resuming partnerships with a number of international suppliers. The company said it is working with US companies Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, and Micron Technology. Honor also listed South Korean companies Samsung and SK Hynix, Taiwan-based MediaTek and Japan-based Sony.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

Most of these companies either design or manufacture chips. Access to Qualcomm, the world’s largest smartphone chip vendor, is considered especially critical for many mobile device makers.

The partnerships show that attempts to cut off Chinese companies from US technology still have workarounds that could be used in the future if the relationship between the two countries does not thaw under US President Joe Biden, who came into office on Wednesday.

At the launch event held in Shenzhen, Honor CEO Zhao Ming said the company has weathered extreme difficulties over the last five months. Honor, originally launched as a budget brand under Huawei, aims to move further into mid-tier and high-end devices, Zhao said.

Starting at 3,599 yuan (US$557), the View40 is a mid-tier device that comes with several features that could be considered premium, a traditional hallmark of Honor and competitors like Xiaomi, OnePlus and other Chinese brands. The View40 includes a 4,000mAh battery that can be fully charged in 35 minutes using its 66W charging. The curved display has a resolution of 2676×1236 pixels and a 120Hz refresh rate, a feature typically found in much more expensive devices.

With Honor now separate from Huawei, the View40 is not powered by its former parent company’s Kirin chips. Instead, the phone’s 5G functionality comes courtesy of the MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ system-on-a-chip.

Honor has not announced international availability, but it started selling the phone in China on Friday.

When Huawei sold Honor last November to a consortium of over 30 agents and dealers, some saw the company as cutting off its arm to ensure its survival under tightening US restrictions. Last August, the US introduced new rules making it more difficult for Huawei to obtain any chips made with US technology.

Launched by Huawei in 2013, Honor quickly became one of China’s most popular budget smartphone brands before expanding abroad. By 2020, the brand had more than 200 million users worldwide.

In 2019, Huawei shipped a total of 240 million smartphones, including Honor devices, a 16 per cent increase over 2018. Huawei and Honor smartphones together made up 17.6 per cent of global smartphone shipments in 2019, second only to Samsung.

With the two brands now separate, neither is likely to command such a large market share in the near future. Analysts expect Huawei to fall to seventh place this year as the company continues to struggle under US sanctions.


Category: China

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.