Huawei unveils iPhone X, Galaxy S9 challenger

5.8-inch P20 smartphone features an edge-to-edge display, and a 6.1-inch Pro model also has three camera lenses on the back
5.8-inch P20 smartphone features an edge-to-edge display, and a 6.1-inch Pro model also has three camera lenses on the back
By Bloomberg
Wed 28 Mar 2018 08:56 AM

Huawei Technologies introduced its challenger to Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy S9, amid the company’s fallout with US retailers, wireless carriers and government officials.

The 5.8-inch P20 smartphone features an edge-to-edge display, and a 6.1-inch Pro model also has three camera lenses on the back: one for colour, one for black-and-white shots and one designed for close-ups. The screens of both versions feature a "notch" at the top similar to that seen on the iPhone X but avoided in Samsung’s latest designs.

Huawei sold the third most smartphones globally last year with 11 percent of the market, trailing Samsung’s 22 percent and Apple’s 15 percent, according to data from IDC. Huawei is also the only one of the top three players to consistently gain market share year-over-year since 2014, according to IDC.

But no matter the P20’s competitive potential, officials in charge of the NSA, FBI, and CIA, have all recommended that US citizens don’t use Huawei devices. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. -- the top two US phone carriers -- have also decided to not sell the company’s products following government concern. As most phones in the US are bought via carriers, the move puts China’s top phone maker at an innate disadvantage.

Still, Huawei has been able to sell phones in the US through direct sales channels such as Amazon. But that too may be short lived: Best Buy Co., the largest electronics chain in the US, has severed ties with the company and plans to stop selling all of its products in the coming weeks. Huawei doesn’t currently plan to sell the new model via its remaining US channels either.

That leaves only Amazon and Walmart to handle online and brick-and-mortar sales respectively, said Jia Mo, a Canalys analyst based in Shanghai. "Both channels are mainly responsible for sales of affordable devices and that doesn’t help improve Huawei’s brand image," he said.

Earlier this week, Huawei got more bad news when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a ban on allowing US wireless carriers to use government subsidies toward telecom equipment from China-based manufacturers such as Huawei.

The US ban is unlikely to have an immediate impact on Huawei’s business as its growth in the region has been close to flat while it "has gained share year-in and year-out on a global basis," said John Butler, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

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Last Updated: Wed 28 Mar 2018 12:17 PM GST

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