“Samsung is giving away a Huawei smartphone???” asked one incredulous Weibo user.
“Lucky draw for a what?” said another.
There’s a reason why Samsung is choosing to give away a handset from one of its fiercest rivals. As the company explained, the Huawei nova 4e actually houses Samsung’s ISOCELL image sensor, and the marketing campaign is aimed at promoting the chipset.
Samsung is one of the few smartphone makers that design and sell chips to competitors. In Xiaomi’s “transparent” Mi 8, for example, you can see one of the cosmetic chips on the fake motherboard is labeled Samsung.
But this also comes as some companies have found themselves becoming victims of rising nationalist sentiments in China. As Huawei faces the fallout from the Trump administration’s tech war against Beijing, even domestic brand Lenovo has been accused of being unpatriotic, following unfounded rumors that it withheld supplies to Huawei.
It hasn’t always been this way. During its heyday, Samsung held around 20% of the Chinese market. But thanks to the Galaxy Note 7 battery debacle, as well as rising competition from domestic brands that cater better to local tastes, Samsung has experienced a dramatic fall from grace in China.
Earlier this month, Samsung revealed it was trimming production at its last remaining phone factory in China. One employee told the South China Morning Post that the number of workers there has fallen from 9,000 to 4,000 over the past six years.
Efforts like these to woo Chinese consumers seem to have paid off.
The company sold 40% more smartphones in the first three months of this year than the previous quarter, according to Counterpoint Research. But with closest rival Apple still holding 9 times the market share of Samsung, it’s still a long way to go before Samsung can come close to regaining its former glory.