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The Sound X is a round speaker with colorful lights on top… a little like the HomePod from Apple. Probably just a coincidence. (Picture: Huawei)

Huawei to launch Sound X smart speaker globally, but you can’t talk to it

Without access to Google’s AI voice assistant, Huawei’s new smart speaker is the latest victim of Trump’s Huawei ban following the P40 smartphone series

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Some four months after it debuted in China, Huawei’s latest smart speaker is slated to roll out globally in the coming months. It’s packed with most of the same goodies except for one key feature you’d expect from a smart speaker: A voice assistant.

Just like the Chinese version, the Sound X comes with fancy push-push woofers and Speaker Active Matching (SAM) tech from French audio tech company Devialet -- known for its $2,000 Phantom speaker. The dual woofers minimize sound distortion caused by speaker vibrations, while SAM is designed to reproduce sound exactly as it was recorded.

Huawei’s Share function lets you use the Sound X as a 360° speaker for music or video played on a Huawei handset. All you have to do is tap the phone to the speaker. And when someone calls you, the speaker pauses automatically.

The Sound X is a round speaker with colorful lights on top… a little like the HomePod from Apple. Probably just a coincidence. (Picture: Huawei)
But as Huawei’s teaser video shows, users still have to pick up the phone to take the call. In contrast, nearly all other major smart speakers let users make and receive calls by voice command.
Before the US blacklisted Huawei last May, the Chinese giant had been working with Google on a Huawei-branded smart speaker targeted at overseas consumers, The Information reported last year. But with access to Google services now cut off, Huawei has been forced to scramble for alternative solutions, including building its own app store and smart assistant.

Five things you need to know about the Huawei P40

Although Huawei announced its new AI assistant Celia on Thursday when it unveiled its new P40 smartphone, it looks like it won’t be available on the Sound X at first.

Richard Yu, Huawei’s head of consumer business, said Celia will launch in more countries eventually, but “in the beginning, you can use [Sound X as a] Wi-Fi, Bluetooth speaker.” He added that “in future, with our new software upgrade, you can make it an AI speaker.”

Huawei hasn’t yet announced a launch date or price for the international model. The speaker currently sells for 1,999 yuan (US$280) in China -- much cheaper than a Devialet speaker but pricer than an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

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