Huawei unveils smartphone ‘with edge’

Firm attempting to capitalise on growing demand in China and Western Europe

 Huawei’s new smartphone, the Ascend P7, launched by China’s Huawei Technologies during a presentation in Paris yesterday. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Huawei’s new smartphone, the Ascend P7, launched by China’s Huawei Technologies during a presentation in Paris yesterday. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Thu, May 8, 2014, 01:10

in Paris

Chinese tech firm Huawei has entered a new competitor in the hotly-contested smartphone market

with its new Ascend P7 smartphone.

Promising “excellence with edge”, the company is attempting to capitalise on growing momentum for its products in China and Western Europe, as its shift towards a more premium smartphone begins to pay off.

Huawei unveiled the new flagship smartphone at its global launch in Paris yesterday, promising it would “redefine excellence to give people an edge”.

That promise took the form of an improved camera, craftsmanship and connectivity, along with some of other novel features.

The latest handset comes with a 5-inch screen, high-definition video and an improved front-facing camera that will take better self-portraits. The camera brings the five-piece aspherical lens system used in Huawei’s 13-megapixel rear camera to improve the clarity and colour and reduce distortion on the image. It also provides what Huawei described as a smart preview window that will not only show how the finished image will look, but also aligns the eye automatically with the camera.

Among the features the company is hoping will appeal to consumers are the ability to take what it termed “groufies” or self-shot group photos . The device has a faster camera that will capture an image in only 1.2 seconds even when the handset is locked, and improved 4G connectivity.

The camera’s low-light performance has been improved too, a chief complaint of cameraphone users, Huawei said.

The P7 is getting an overhauled user interface to match a sleek new look that sees it slim down to become thinner than the iPhone 5S and the Galaxy S5. The lightweight phone uses Corning’s third generation Gorilla Glass in its design.

The quirkier side of Huawei was shown when it unveiled a mirror option, complete with the ability to fog it up and draw on the screen.

Speaking about the phone’s design, Huawei’s vice president of mobile design Joonsuh Kim said the company was a “young tiger in the smartphone industry”.

Huawei is trying to gain traction in an increasingly saturated smartphone arena. Pitching its phones at the premium end of the market, it unveiled its first Ascend handset in 2012, following it a year later with the Ascend P2 in February 2013. The Ascend P6 was unveiled last June, and has sold more than four million units in 100 countries worldwide, the company said, making it one of Huawei’s best selling premium smartphones.

“Consumers expect new and better products,” said Huawei’s head of consumer brands Richard Yu. “They want to go beyond excellence.”

Huawei is currently ranked number three globally in terms of smartphone shipments, according to the company, with its brand recognition growing steadily in key regions such as China and Western Europe.

The Ascend P7 follows the trend set by rivals Samsung, Sony and HTC for increasingly larger screens and improved cameras as smartphones take over an ever increasing number of features as a more convenient option for consumers.

“Around one billion photos shared on social networks every day, with 70 per cent taken by smartphones,” Huawei’s head of technology planning Changzhu Li said. “The camera function is extremely important in the smartphone. Our design philosophy is to help our users to keep the moment, to help use smartphones to keep the moment.”

The company said it had also improved the battery life of the phone to ensure that it would stand up to a day of heavy use.

The phone is expected to cost about €449 and will be available throughout Europe in a matter of weeks. Ireland will be among the first markets to the device, with it expected to hit the shops by the end of May.

Huawei is also planning a range of accessories to go with the handset, from its wearable Talkband B1 and portable batteries to cases and screen covers.