Gene Jiao, president of Huawei Consumer Business group Middle East and Africa; Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, and Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, at the launch of Huawei Mate20 Series at Burj Park. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: The Mate range is cementing Huawei’s place as a key innovator in the smartphone market, and deserving of a major share of the premium handset market it can win from Samsung or Apple, tech analysts said.

“Mate shows that Huawei deserves to be considered on the same level as Samsung and Apple in terms of technology,” said Daniel Gleeson, senior analyst for consumer technology at Ovum. “Its Mate 20 series continues to boast some very impressive technology — the new camera system, in particular, is very interesting and provides a unique design element.”

The world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer launched two premium smartphones — Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro — and a smartwatch in Dubai late on Wednesday to strengthen its ranking. “In the last few years, we have been growing in high double digits annually,” said avid Wang, UAE country manager for Huawei Consumer Business Group. “Our target is to keep the same pace of growth in the next two years.

“Our AI cameras can now recognise all scenarios, both photos and videos, and it has embedded all the interesting landmarks and paintings in the UAE. The AI can also calculate your calorie intake by just pointing the camera at your food and using HiVision. Our intention is to sell more than double of what we sold with the P20 series.”

Kevin Ho, president of the Handset Business at Huawei Consumer Business Group, had said in September that they sold more than 10 million P20 devices globally.

Can Huawei maintain its ranking in the fourth quarter?

“It will be very difficult for Huawei to catch up with Apple, as Q4 is Apple’s strongest quarter by far,” said Gleeson. “Apple and Huawei are not really competing for the same customers though, and Huawei will likely be more interested in how well it performs versus the likes of Samsung, Oppo and Vivo.”

However, Huawei’s AI technology will almost certainly have greater long-term impact than the array camera technology. (Camera array technology is only really possible due to the improvements in AI image processing.)

“Huawei is close to Samsung and Apple in technology, though it’s software execution is lagging behind Apple,” Gleeson added. “To be fair, every other handset manufacturer is too.

“The problem for Huawei is its brand and the general perception that Chinese products have poor quality. These factors take a long time to overcome — Samsung’s own journey from a value brand to premium brand took decades.”

For any handset brand to be able to maintain a healthy operating margin in the long term, it needs to provide genuinely impactful, unique technologies — that is how Apple has maintained high margins despite the rest of the handset market struggling to turn any profit at all.