David Wwang, UAE country manager, Huawei consumer group at the launch of Huawei Mate 20 series. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Huawei has launched two premium smartphones – Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro — and a smartwatch in Dubai on Wednesday to strengthen its number two ranking in the market.

Each phone has distinguished characteristics such as display size, battery capacity, Leica camera sensors and battery charging techniques but powered by its seven nanometre 2.6GHz Kirin 980 artificial AI processor with dual NPUs (neural processing units, the brain behind the AI).

The Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch display (2244x1080 pixels) with 18.7:9 screen ratio, coupled with a dewdrop notch and houses 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage capacity.

The Mate 20 Pro has a 6.39 inch OLED display (3120x1440 pixels) with 19.5:9 screen ratio and houses 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage capacity.

Prices, availability

The Mate 20 is priced at Dh2,599 while the Mate 20 Pro at Dh3,299  and will be available from November 8. 

The pre-ordering will start on Thursday (Oct 25).

The Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro support Huawei's 256GB nano memory card, which are 45 per cent smaller than microSD card but has the same shape as the nano SIM.

The devices run on Android 9 Pie out of the box with EMUI 9.0 skin on top of that.

All the devices have triple rear camera set up, similar to P20 Pro, but in a square format.

According to DxOMark camera tests, P20 Pro is still rated as the top phone with a camera at 109 while Apple’s iPhone XS Max is at 105 and Samsung Note 9 at 103.

The Huawei’s Watch GT has a 1.39-inch AMOLED and  be available in two designs – Sport and Classic. It is priced at Dh799.

Pre-ordering phone customers will get the watch free.

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, told Gulf News that Huawei is setting the bar high and the Mate 20 Pro is a very solid device.

“From a photography point of view, it is pushing the envelope in what can be achieved from a phone and with artificial intelligence,” she said.

With AI-powered photography, the phone can recognise more than 1,500 scenarios and 25 categories and the front has a 3D depth sensing camera, similar to iPhone, to create an AI live model and for facial recognition.

In-screen fingerpint

Mate 20 Pro incorporates in-screen fingerprint sensor to unlock the device.

When it comes to low-light photography, Cozza said that P20 Pro was the best and with Mate 20 Pro, it has taken the photography technology further.

“It won’t be easy for Huawei to push the three rear cameras feature unless they can take advantage of it by having apps such as augmented reality and computer vision to support it. The camera feature on the smartphone can still be improved and unless Huawei puts use cases around it, it will be difficult to market,” she said.

With competition heating up in the camera space, Samsung has launched its A9 with four rear cameras in certain markets.

“Some users are finding it hard to understand the three cameras and now you have four cameras. You need use cases with benefits; otherwise, it will be a gimmick. I think by the end of next year, most of the vendors will have one device in the premium end with four rear cameras,” she said.

However, she said that Huawei is offering an alternative premium phone to challenge Samsung in the Android space.

“Even though Xiaomi and Oppo are challenging Samsung in other markets, Huawei is the credible challenger. I think, Huawei is still not a strong brand as compared to Samsung and Apple to command such a high price,” she said.

However, she said that Huawei has gone a long way to improve their brand image.

In Western Europe, she said that it is an acceptable brand and Huawei is the number two vendor in some European countries and shipping more than Apple.

“To command such a high price, Huawei needs to put more value into their brand and I don’t think it is as aspirational as Apple is at present. However, when a user goes into a shop, he can appreciate the product when he can touch and feel the product,” she said.

According to research firms Gartner and International Data Corporation, Huawei is the number two mobile phone manufacturer in the world, overtaking Apple in the second quarter of this year after Samsung.

Cozza said that Huawei can end the year as number two as they sell in the lower-end also but when it comes to the premium devices, Huawei cannot overtake Apple soon.

“Apple will see a good replacement cycle within the iOS space with iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, but, definitely, Huawei is closing the gap with Samsung in the premium end,” she said.

I think by the end of next year, most of the vendors will have one device in the premium end with four rear cameras.

With Apple pushing the barrier of $1,000, she said that the market is now seeing other vendors also doing the same.

Even Oppo, which is growing but still not a brand in Europe, has crossed the $1,000 mark with its Find X device, she added.  

“It is hard to think that the average selling price will go up further and will the user spend such a very price every year for a phone but when you put three and four cameras, naturally, the price has to go up. Chinese players are finding a sweet spot to increase their margins, Cozza said.

She said that prices are going up despite any major innovations happening in the smartphone space to justify such a high price.