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Smartphones

Xiaomi, Huawei smartphone chiefs in tit-for-tat over who has best camera specs

  • Xiaomi wants overseas markets to account for more than half its annual revenue
  • Huawei has countered Xiaomi’s lower priced models with the Honor brand
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2018, 10:33am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2018, 1:37pm

Two Chinese smartphone makers have publicly traded barbs over whose camera has the best specs, signalling intensified competition as phone brands face a saturated domestic market coupled with escalating US-China trade tensions.

Lei Jun, the CEO of Xiaomi – the country’s fourth largest phone brand – said at the launch of its Mi Mix 3 in Beijing on Thursday that its camera specifications were better than the P20 Pro from leading local vendor Huawei Technologies.

That prompted a retort from Richard Yu Chengdong, chief executive of the Huawei Consumer Business Group.

“Any smartphone maker cannot surpass Huawei’s P20 Pro in a short period of time. Only we can surpass ourselves,” Yu said in a social media posting. 

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The Huawei P20 Pro, which claims to offer professional-level photo shooting at night, is also the first smartphone in the world market to offer a triple camera set-up, but at a starting price of 5,288 yuan (US$760).

Following its initial public offering in Hong Kong that raised US$5.4 billion in July, Xiaomi – which ranks No 4 globally, has set a goal to further expand internationally, with a special focus on India where it has been the top brand for the past few quarters, according to IDC data.

It wants overseas markets to account for more than half its annual revenue. In the premium market at home, Xiaomi is trying to win share from Huawei with its flagship Mix series that are priced below its rival’s models, while both are eyeing a larger share of the European market.

During the Xiaomi launch, held at the famed Forbidden City, Lei spent most of his time talking about the camera functions of the new phone. “Some people say we don’t have fancy functions this time. Indeed we don’t because we’re strengthening the fundamentals,” he said.

In a reference to Hauwei, Lei also said the competitor’s pricing was too high, adding: “The most expensive ones are not best.” The Mi MIX 3, with a dual-camera on the back, is priced from 3,299 yuan (US$474).

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In the international market, Xiaomi has introduced its stand-alone Poco mobile phone brand to take on industry leaders Samsung Electronics and Huawei in the premium segment.

In the third quarter, Xiaomi had a 27 per cent share of the smartphone market in India, compared with a 23 per cent for Samsung, according to Counterpoint Research.

In the budget segment Huawei has countered Xiaomi’s lower priced models with the Honor brand, targeting a younger group of consumers who have less money to spend on handsets.