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Reassuringly expensive fashionology - Huawei goes upmarket with new smartphones

huawei P8s

These days we don’t normally do any phone or gadget reviewing on TelecomTV. Three reasons: we’re primarily about looking through the other - network and business - end of the telescope; secondly, there are literally scores of sites dedicated to phones and gadgets and already doing a fine and nerdy job; and finally, there’s just not that much to say about individual smartphones these days (they all look and function pretty-much like the iPhone) unless a particular launch illustrates something very new.

Huawei’s recent launch of its own smart watch and large format smart phones, just about falls into the ‘interesting’ category because Huawei has grasped the nettle of ‘design’ and appears to be attempting to out-Apple Apple in terms of  the way the design might be described. What it all means and stuff like that.

So the following verbiage is not for those with a low BS threshold (Mr Warwick, look away now).

“The Huawei P8 takes beauty to the next level, striking a flawless balance of artistry and creativity,” runs the press announcement penned to flesh out the launch event at London’s Old Billingsgate, ‘renowned arts and fashion venue’.

“Based on a deep understanding of human-machine design, the Huawei P8 delivers a new level of usability for applications impacting everyday life – at work and at play. With craftsmanship that pushes the bounds of possibility and new revolutionary light painting modes, the Huawei P8 provides consumers with an inspiration for creativity.” It also talks of something called ‘fashionology’ - fashion and technology together.

In fact it is a nice-looking phone design (I think). It turns out that there are two sizes, very much like the latest iPhones. The P8 is the flagship 5.1 inch screen-sized smartphone. It has an all aluminium body and is driven by Huawei's own 64-bit, 2GHz octa-core Kirin 930 CPU. There’s 3GB of memory and facilities for two SIM cards.

Huawei’s fashionology - with the phone’s blend of ‘artistry and creativity’ - isn’t all hot air though. Huawei is making much of its 13 megapixel camera and associated software. It claims "best-in-class" optical image stabilisation, a dual-color temperature flash and all sorts of techy camera goodies which enable the owner to do things like capture long exposures and even to ‘pair’ up to three other Android smartphones to simultaneously video from different angles. It will cost €499 for a “standard” version, and €599 for a 64GB version. That’s the core smartphone, a real break from Huawei’s Ascend line.  Then there’s the big screen ‘phablet’ and the watch.

The phablet is the ‘P8 Max’ and it’s a monster, with a 6.8 inch screen. But because of that it does have cavernous insides so is capable of hosting a large 4360mAh powered battery which Huawei claims returns two and a quarter days of normal use on a single charge. It’s not cheap - €649 for the premium model with all the memory, but not much more than the top of the line P8.

The watch is very much part of this fashion family too. Announced earlier this year and due in the summer it’s arguably more classically stylish than Apple’s. Whether it is a good gadget is another matter of course.

Taken together, the three Huawei products add up to a serious stab at ‘fashionology’. Apple’s weak spot now is simply the problem of success. Selling millions of watches and iPhones may be good for Apple’s overseas bank balances, but the sales success will surely dilute the exclusivity factor (if the products still have any). Huawei can come into the Apple end of the market with a product just as expensive and automatically claim the exclusivity and novelty that Apple has lost.

That’s assuming that the global public likes the style and sales actually start to take off.

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