Chinese company focuses on wearables and launched one of the best smartwatches. But there’s also the new Mate Xs 2 foldable smartphone. “Huawei is no longer a smartphone company, but a company that has created its ecosystem.” This can be summarized as the transformation of Huawei over the past three years, after the ban imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce due to alleged ties of the company founded by Ren Zhengfei with the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, considered for this reason a threat to U.S. national security (but Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada have also blacklisted Huawei, along with ZTE, as companies to avoid).
Recounting Huawei’s new course is Pier Giorgio Furcas, Deputy General Manager of Huawei Consumer Business Group Italy, whom we met on the sidelines of House of Huawei, a European event held in Milan in which the Chinese presented their latest products. On the launchpad are two smartwatches, a smart band and the new foldable phone, Mate Xs 2, which from June will be available only in Germany (at 1,999 euros for the 8GB ram and 512GB Storage model), then perhaps in other European markets. As much as they remain the best certification on the Shenzhen company’s build qualities, smartphones are currently only a part of the ecosystem created by Huawei, which for the short- to medium-term future aims to gain relevant market share among wearables on the one hand and notebooks on the other (with new models coming in late June).
The decision to hold the European presentation event in Italy (instead of Germany) was not a random choice, as Italy remains an important market for Huawei in Europe. Here it has taken the top spot among smartphone manufacturers and here it continues to have a large following among users. “Italy is the country that keeps the pace most for the development of our ecosystem. In addition to customers, many partners believe in the return of Huawei. One figure among several that I consider significant: there are still 10 million active Huawei smartphones in Italy even today, three years after the U.S. mandate. This is an exceptional result due to work done with customers, which started with the smartphone and expanded to other devices and market segments thanks to the symbiotic work between the local division and the international department that travel hand in hand.”
The forced separation from Google has scuttled Huawei’s mobile division, forcing the company to accelerate the change process devoted to the development of a homegrown alternative. App Gallery and HarmonyOS are the two pivots around which the Huawei ecosystem is developing, with the results certifying steady progress. “On the App Gallery, there are not only apps, because we also have music, video and storage. And soon the advertising part will also arrive, allowing companies to hunt for resources to promote projects and find an alternative showcase to social media, TV and radio.” Demonstrating the growth of the interested audience, Furcas specifies that there are 6.3 million monthly users on App Gallery, where the most profitable section remains gaming, while in China companies implementing HarmonyOS are increasing, with the third version expected to be launched in September in the local market.
It seems paradoxical, but the U.S. ban has been suitable for Huawei regarding new talent to bring into the company. The allegations rained down by China’s enemy par excellence “has strengthened the protective culture of the Chinese toward their own companies, particularly among young people,” Furcas declares in this regard. However, this remains unanswered when faced with the possibility of turning back or continuing to focus on its operating system and related app store, should the U.S. diktat fall and Google’s resources become available again on Chinese smartphones. “With the premise that the relationship with Google is always very good, the choice is up to Huawei’s top management, but it would not be easy because on the one hand there are the numbers in the smartphone market in which we were dominant, and on the other hand there is a series of huge investments with which we created an alternative to the current platforms.”
The image of Huawei’s transformation from a company that looked into other people’s houses to a company that wants to put forward its style and be looked at by others can be traced to the construction choices, from materials to design, that led to the development of the products unveiled in Milan: the Watch GT3 Pro, Watch Fit 2, and Band 7, as well as the foldable smartphone Mate Xs 2.
Watch GT 3 Pro
The spearhead of wearable products, it is the best smartwatch made in Shenzhen and with which Huawei aims to increase its global market share, which is stuck at 7.7 percent at the end of 2021 (with Apple at 30 percent and Samsung at 10 percent). Featuring lines that harken back to the tradition of the analog watch, and therefore very beautiful to look at, it is available in dual versions in titanium and ceramic, with the latter dedicated to the female audience. The titanium model has a 1.43-inch color display with a resolution of 466 x 466 pixels, 32GB of memory, and the 46mm version weighs 54 grams without a strap. Protecting the case is a sapphire crystal, while on a practical level there are more than 100 training modes that the smart watch recognizes, including golf and cross-country skiing as well.
Training and condition monitoring are the two goals of the smartwatch, which can detect heart rate and the amount of oxygen in the blood. These are valuable measurements to understand how one’s body is doing, although one must go through doctors and professional instruments for more in-depth assessments. The autonomy is good, ranging from 7 to 10 days depending on more or less intense use, with the lesser battery performance for the ceramic model (4 to 7 days of autonomy). Prices: the 46mm titanium version is on promotion at Huawei Store until June 26 for 369.90 euros, with a black fluoroelastomer strap and a gray leather strap. Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro in titanium is on sale for 499.90 euros, while the ceramic version with ceramic strap costs 599.90 euros (free with both models; you will receive FreeBuds Lipstick earbuds, a strap, an extended 1-year warranty.
Huawei Watch Fit 2
Less pretentious than its big brother but with many shared elements and features. With a 1.74” AMOLED display, 32GB of storage, and 292 mAh battery for at least 7 days battery life, Watch Fit 2 is an ally for measuring heart rate, sleep quality, stress level, and menstrual cycle tracking. There is no shortage of training features, with the Running Ability Index (RAI) for runners who want to follow a professional path to improve times and performance. Prices: range from 149.90 euros for the Active Edition to 249.90 euros for the Elegant version, while the Classic Edition is on sale for 179.90 euros.
Huawei Band 7
Huawei’s thinnest and lightest signature smartband is 9.9 millimeters thick and weighs 16 grams, excluding the strap. Ninety-six workout modes are supported and sleep tracking to identify and try to remedy disturbances, irregular sleep cycles, and awakenings during the night. As with other wearables, there is heart rate tracking, stress monitoring, and battery life of up to 14 days.