Honor chief boasts Magic 2 phone is so sophisticated it beats any handset out there – including the iPhone
- New Magic 2 series is Honor’s most expensive handset to date
- Phone has a new intelligent assistant, Yoyo, powered by Kirin AI chip
Honor, one of the two smartphone brands owned by Huawei Technologies, released its most expensive handset to date on Wednesday, packed with a dozen of the Chinese company’s most advanced technologies and aimed at beating any handset in the market.
“While we were designing Honor Magic 2, we did not even see [Apple’s] iPhones as a competitor,” said Zhao Ming, Honor’s president, during a media briefing in Beijing on Wednesday evening.
The Honor Magic 2 series, which “carries the scientific and technological idealism” of Honor’s engineers, according to Zhao, contains a slew of innovative and advanced features. These include a 6.39-inch sliding full-view display without a notch, an almost 100 per cent screen-to-body ratio, sliding camera solution, 3D biometric facial unlock technology, as well as an in-display fingerprint feature that allows users to unlock the phone either through face unlock or tapping on the screen.
It also has a new voice assistant “Yoyo”, similar to iPhone’s Siri, an AI feature that is able to develop and grow through self-learning thanks to Huawei’s self-designed Kirin 980 processor, empowered by the world’s first dual-core NPU processor, according to Honor.
With Apple’s iPhones losing steam in China, China’s leading smartphone makers have started to offer their own innovations on handsets to acquire more market share, as well as lifting retail prices to bolster profitability. However, Apple chief executive Tim Cook recently indicated that the company’s more affordable iPhone XR is apparently doing better in China than its recent high-end flagship released in September.
Meanwhile Apple’s App store, which offers an ecosystem of mobile apps across the globe, is also still seen as a key competitive advantage for the Cupertino, California-based company versus its array of Android-based competitors in terms of brand loyalty.
Many of China’s leading smartphone brands, such as Huawei’s Honor, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi have recently developed alternative screen designs to Apple’s notch solution, which was widely copied after the iPhone X was unveiled in 2017.
After Vivo launched its NEX phone in June, which has a pop-up camera that can appear and hide automatically, Oppo released a flagship Find X model, which is equipped with an automated sliding camera module that can slip in and out of the phone body when needed without compromising front screen space.
Magic 2’s new assistant is clever enough to help consumers solve many issues. When a user is talking to someone over the phone who speaks a foreign language, Yoyo can translate instantly into a language that the user understands – and that is all the user will hear – according to a demo showcased during the press conference.
The full-screen solution adopted by Honor’s Magic 2 phone is similar to Xiaomi’s latest flagship model, the Mi Mix 3 unveiled last week, which hides the selfie camera in a slider mechanism that only pops out the top of the phone through sliding it by hand.
Chinese smartphone brands are also trying to lift prices on these higher-spec models in a move away from the strategy of cutting prices to grow market share. Honor, which used to price most of its handsets in a 1,000 to 3,000 yuan range, offers the Magic 2 entry-level model for 3,799 yuan, while the premium one retails at 5,799 yuan.
Honor's Zhao acknowledged that the aggressive pricing of the Magic 2 could be “challenging” for the brand, which normally offers handsets in the mid-market space. But he said the feature-packed phone was worthy of a higher price tag.
China’s four leading smartphone brands all reported market share gains in the second quarter this year, while Apple, the fifth-biggest smartphone vendor in China, saw its share fall to 6.7 per cent from 7.2 per cent for the same period last year, according to an IDC report in August.
Samsung, which leads in global smartphone shipments, has a share below 1 per cent in China.