Ray Guo, CMO, HONOR, says personality and content are taken into consideration when new phones are launched. Image Credit: Alex Abraham / Gulf News

Chengdu: Fresh from the launch of two new phones and the first flagship store in Chengdu, China, Ray Guo, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, has plenty to reflect on.

“When we launch new phones, it is not the age of the person that we focus on. We think of the spirit,” he says when asked if the HONOR 200 and 200 Pro were developed with a particular segment in mind. “These days, when social media is pervasive, it is not the age that is important, it is the personality and the content that are important.”

Guo was speaking to a select group of journalists on the sidelines of the launch of the new phones.

So how does one position a brand in the vast, challenging landscape of a seemingly endless range of smartphones?

“If a user is satisfied with their current device and has an ecosystem to run multiple devices, it is difficult to get that person to change. But if a person is bored or finds it cumbersome to carry multiple devices while traveling, we might have an opportunity to convert that person to a single device.”

He was referring to the HONOR Magic V2, the foldable smartphone that can practically do the work of many devices and serve as a mini computer that one can carry in their pocket. “The folding phone was challenging and is a gamechanger,” he says.

The new HONOR 200 and 200 PRO smartphones use AI for various purposes. Image Credit: Alex Abraham / Gulf News

Guo credits the success of the brand to a strong R&D heritage it inherited from Huawei, and an ecosystem that is open to the global industry. “Also, there is a market outside the country (China) that is vast and open in the premium section. The challenge is to be sustainable in such an environment.”

The launch of the new phones and the new flagship store was a huge success.

At an event in a packed Phoenix Hill Sports Park in Chengdu recently, HONOR CEO George Zhao launched the HONOR 200 and 200 Pro smartphones, which use AI for various purposes, including recreating pictures with amazing clarity.

In a first, HONOR worked with Harcourt Studios in Paris, a studio known for taking photographs of celebrities, to incorporate the portrait feature into its new smartphones. The result: professional photographs at your fingertips, without the need to go to a studio.

It does this with the help of three rear studio-level portrait cameras – a 50MP portrait main camera, 50MP telephoto camera, and a 12MP ultrawide and macro camera. In the front is a 50MP portrait selfie camera.

The results are stunning, with professional Harcourt portrait modes – vibrant, color, and classic.

“Portraits were earlier used for the affluent because they were the ones who could afford them. Now we are bringing that alive, so our camera systems, the AI Magic engine, and technology can serve everyone. That’s why this feature is available not only on the Pro but also on the regular HONOR 200,” Guo explains.

In the new phones, HONOR has focused on perfecting portraits to capture memorable moments. Image Credit: Alex Abraham / Gulf News

The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 mobile processor and operated by AI-powered MagicOS 8.0, based on Android 14.

Guo highlighted the importance of AI in the new phones.

Read more

“We don’t want to make AI a selling point; we want to make it a buying point. The product should be able to travel and sell on its own. It is not only about generative AI, it is about the whole tech stack – the battery, the kernel of the system, everything has AI in it,” Guo says.

Flagship store

The new flagship store in an old part of Chengdu is a mix of culture, modernity, and heritage. Set in the scenic Kuanzhai Valley, the store, at the entrance of a busy valley frequented by tourists and locals alike, took three years to come to fruition.

HONOR flagship store Chengdu
The new flagship store in an old part of Chengdu is a mix of culture, modernity, and heritage. Image Credit: Supplied

So will this kind of flagship store make its way to the Middle East?

“We are not just going to replicate what we do here in other regions. The Middle East is unique, very energetic, and super young. So we will do it more relevantly,” Guo says.

“We are looking for a more mature ecosystem, more partners, and more flagship stores in the Middle East.”