Huawei to launch foldable 5G smartphones by middle of next year
Chairman Ken Hu claims new generation of models will be ‘100 times faster’
Huawei Technologies, China’s leading smartphone maker, has revealed the new flagship design feature of its next generation 5G handsets – they will be foldable.
As Shenzhen-based Huawei strives to narrow the sales gap with global market leader Samsung Electronics, its rotating chairman Ken Hu told a 5G panel at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin on Tuesday the company’s flexible 5G smartphone will be introduced by the middle of next year, offering faster speeds and lower latency.
“At 100 times faster than today, [buyers] are also going to enjoy an amazing high-definition video experience with a big screen on your smartphone,” Hu said.
Huawei is chasing down Samsung after outstripping Apple by number of smartphone shipments earlier this year.
The privately held firm has estimated total sales of its two main smartphone brands – Huawei and Honor – surged 15.8 per cent in the second quarter this year from 11 per cent in the same period last year, compared with Samsung’s 20.9 per cent and Apple’s 12.1 per cent this year.
Huawei’s second-place ranking in global smartphone shipments has come against the backdrop of a saturated overall market which reported a 1.8 per cent decline in shipments from April to June this year, according to research firm IDC.
Other Chinese smartphone vendors, including Oppo and Vivo, have also announced plans to introduce 5G handsets as the new technology edges towards full commercialisation, which is expected in 2020.
New smartphone innovations, however, have largely flatlined in recent years, with the latest offerings merely updating earlier versions, according to Sissi Chu, vice-president of mobile big data consultancy Aurora Mobile.
“Smartphones with a foldable screen could be one of the few major technology innovations expected in the near future, and they could help boost sales again as consumers yearn for change,” she said.
Samsung is also expected to unveil its own plans for a foldable 5G smartphone.
Samsung’s mobile division chief executive, DJ Koh, said earlier this month that it was “time to deliver” on a foldable device after consumer surveys carried out by the Korean electronics giant showed the market was ripe for such handsets.
ZTE Corp, the Hong Kong-listed telecommunications equipment manufacturer and smartphone vendor, released with plenty of fanfare its Axon M dual-screen 4G smartphone nearly a year ago, but it failed to excite the industry.