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2023 has been an eventful year for Honor so far. From Magic V2 to V Purse, they have launched a host of innovative products which were noted for their path breaking design and software capability. Honor CEO spoke to the media on the sidelines of recently concluded IFA 2023 Berlin. Here are some excerpts:

What can we expect from Honor in the next five years?

In just two and a half years, Honor has made remarkable progress. During this time, we have witnessed tremendous advancements, especially in our foldable phone technology, which is rapidly gaining recognition in the smartphone industry. These include the Honor Magic V2 and the new concept phone revealed the other day. The foldable phones offer a unique combination of slimness and substantial battery power at 5000mAh, a feat achieved through years of focused technological development.

We've invested heavily in technology and materials to make these foldable phones not only aesthetically appealing but also highly functional. This demonstrates our commitment and confidence to providing innovative products in the coming five years. When we launched our V Series in Barcelona, it was evident that our technology, battery life, and camera capabilities were setting new standards.

Over the next three to five years, we plan to introduce even more innovations that we've been preparing for over the past five years. We're also working on our product lineup to ensure that we consistently release outstanding products.

Another thing is that Honor approaches product design and innovation differently than some other players in the smartphone industry. While companies like Samsung and Apple often follow a familiar design pattern with improvements in small doses, we aim to be more daring and innovative. For example, our strategy involves transforming traditional bar-shaped smartphones into new foldable designs, offering unique advantages in terms of form factor and user experience.

I can assure you that Honor will continue to lead the way in delivering cutting-edge products, prioritizing design innovation, and meeting the demands of our customers in the years to come.

Are you happy with the progress Honor has made in recent years?

Over the past two and a half years, we've witnessed significant growth in our operations within the global market. Our brand has become an iconic player in the tech industry, and we've introduced products like medium-level and entry-level smartphones, targeting a broader user base in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region. To support our expansion, we've established local marketing teams and maintained distributor and retail channels.

As of August 2023, our global business has thrived, and we are pleased with our progress so far. We've experienced rapid growth, achieving an impressive 150% increase compared to 2020. We remain confident in our ability to cater to a growing number of consumers who appreciate the quality and value of our products.

A model showcasing Honor's concept V Purse at the IFA Berlin event.
A model showcasing Honor's concept V Purse at the IFA Berlin event. Image Credit: Jaya Chandran/Gulf News

Do you think foldable phones are on the verge of becoming mainstream, possibly in the near future? Additionally, what trends do you foresee shaping the industry in the coming year?

It's evident that the industry is evolving rapidly, and consumer understanding of foldable phones is also growing. On the demand side, we've observed a significant interest in foldable phones, particularly in niche markets. Even if someone already uses a traditional smartphone, having a foldable phone as a backup or for specific use cases can be appealing. Foldable phones offer unique capabilities that traditional bar-shaped phones cannot match. For example, the larger display real estate is ideal for multitasking, and the innovative form factor enhances the photography experience. Users can capture photos using the rear cameras while viewing themselves on the unfolded display, providing a fantastic user experience.

However, some challenges exist, such as the inconvenience of carrying a larger device in one's pocket and limited battery life. These challenges can deter users. Our goal is to address these issues and provide a foldable phone that combines the best of both worlds. Our recent launch of the Honor Magic V2 in the market showed a remarkable 100% increase in demand, indicating a strong potential for foldable phones.

While the current price points for foldable phones are still relatively high, we aim to make them more accessible over time. We are looking at a future where foldable phones reach price levels similar to the iPhone 14 Pro Max and eventually become competitive with the iPhone 14 Pro. This gradual price reduction, coupled with ongoing innovation, will help foldable phones gain wider acceptance among consumers, possibly even replacing traditional bar-shaped smartphones in the long term.

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Innovations in both hardware and software are essential to encourage consumers to upgrade their mobile devices. If you had to allocate your investments between hardware innovation and software innovations, which direction would you prioritise?

In terms of our investments, we currently allocate them evenly between hardware and software. I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective that we need to focus on both aspects. On the hardware front, we plan to enhance features such as battery life, display technology, and accessibility, considering the preferences of younger users. For instance, we've noticed that a significant portion of high school students, around 81%, use smartphones with large screens.

Regarding software innovation, we recognise the significance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, especially in network technology. However, implementing AI technology into devices raises concerns about data protection and privacy. We are actively addressing these challenges to ensure the best user experience while safeguarding privacy.

Additionally, we are working on improving the user interface to make smartphones more visually appealing and user-friendly. During the recent launch of our IRB series, we introduced solutions to integrate features more efficiently and offer a seamless experience.

Do you have any plans to develop a phone specifically designed for gaming? 

Absolutely. We have a dedicated team that focuses on meeting the needs and demands of young gamers. They are constantly working on enhancing device performance and optimizing resources to support gaming. Our efforts span both hardware and software aspects.

On the hardware side, we're investing in powerful System-on-Chip (SOC) solutions, robust cooling systems, and high-capacity batteries. These are crucial components to deliver outstanding gaming performance and a superior user experience.

Moreover, we leverage our software capabilities, particularly our strong AI technology, to fine-tune processing capabilities and enhance power efficiency. This ensures a smoother and more efficient gaming experience. Currently, we're collaborating with various partners to optimise resource allocation and improve performance.

As a result, we are already achieving commendable frame rates, and we're working tirelessly to further close the performance gap with competitors like iPhones and other high-end devices. We will continue to improve and provide even better gaming experiences in the future.

Have you taken into account the preferences of your future customers, who may not have the financial resources for high-end phones, while designing the new concepts?

Certainly, let's discuss my strategy for the future. When we design our Honor devices, we prioritise providing users with diverse and personalised design options. We collaborate with designers and artists to create benchmark designs, and we encourage our users to participate in the design process. This empowers them to express themselves and incorporate elements such as their family, hobbies, or favourite designs into their devices.

This approach extends to our future user interfaces. We are committed to giving users the freedom to customise their experiences. So, rest assured, we already have strategies in place to ensure inclusivity and personalization for all users, regardless of their financial capabilities.

Is there still room for significant innovation in the smartphone industry, and if so, do you see this innovation primarily occurring in the hardware or software aspects?

From my perspective as the leader of Honor, I can share that while our market is growing rapidly, our market share remains relatively small. To garner more support and users, we are committed to delivering genuinely innovative products. As a challenger brand, we aim to stand out in the industry. You can already witness this commitment in products like the Honor Magic 5 Pro and the Magic V2.

In our approach to innovation, we recognise the importance of both hardware and software. For instance, our devices are known for their slim and stylish hardware design, with a thickness of less than nine millimetres. However, we also understand that users seek more than just hardware. The interaction between people and smartphones is vital, so we continuously work on enhancing user interfaces to provide a comprehensive and satisfying experience.

In essence, our focus is on innovating in both hardware and software, ensuring that our products not only look great but also offer a seamless and engaging user experience.

After the launch of the concept phone Honor V Purse, do you plan to explore more partnerships with the fashion and artistic world? 

While smartphones have certainly evolved in terms of specifications, such as processing power, battery life, and materials, we also recognise the emotional connection people have with their devices. People want their smartphones to reflect their style and personality. When designing the Honor V Purse, we engaged extensively with trendsetters and sought their input. This approach has transformed our product launches. Previously, tech and financial media would be the primary audience, but now, with the launch of the Honor V Purse, we believe our devices can make a significant impact on the fashion industry. Maybe, all you might need in your purse is just lipstick, and this is likely to be the future trend.

We see even more collaborations with fashion designers and artists in the future. They will play a crucial role in shaping the designs and features of our upcoming products.