Huawei's new Mate makes sense, creates sensation with advanced features
People have been flocking to Huawei stores across China, trying to get their hands on the company's flagship model Mate 60 Pro, the most anticipated smartphone in the Chinese market, since its surprising start of sales last week.
The Mate 60 Pro models, which haven't been released officially yet, boast 5G capabilities and advanced chip-making process. Before that, most Huawei smartphones featured 4G only after the United States imposed tech sanctions on the Chinese company four years ago.
The new phone's release may mark a return of the former smartphone market leader and a meaningful breakthrough in China's chip-making technology, industry insiders suggested.
At Huawei's flagship store in Shanghai, there was a long queue of people looking to buy the phone. Each customer is limited to purchasing just one handset and is required to pay 1,000 yuan (US$137) as pre-order fee for the models, whose cost start from 6,999 yuan.
Nationwide, people have been thronging Huawei stores for the "most powerful Mate model ever," said the Chinese tech giant, which has sold more than 100 million high-end Mate smartphones globally.
On Huawei's online stores, buyers are required to pay 1,000 yuan now and make the final payment on September 10 and wait for the shipment.
The Mate 60 Pro frenzy comes just ahead of Apple's release of iPhone 15 next week.
Besides 5G, consumers also favor other Mate 60 features such as the new HarmonyOS system and satellite communication, which allows users to maintain contact in rural regions or parking lots where mobile signals are absent.
"The HarmonyOS system is my favorite (system) now. The frosted material feels great in my hands," said a lady at the Shanghai store, who became a first batch owner.
Huawei's Mate 60 Pro total sales will surge to hit 16 to 17 million units, supply chain sources said on Tuesday. Normally, a model with sales of over 10 million can be regarded as a "best-selling model."
Return of Huawei
This surge in popularity is nothing new for Huawei. At its peak, the brand used to be the leader in China with about 35 percent market share. Huawei was also one of the top three vendors globally, and was often seen a direct competitor to Apple and Samsung in the high-end market.
But all that changed after Huawei was hit with US tech sanctions in 2019, which prohibited the company from using any US-related chips and technologies, including 5G chips.
Huawei then faced a "dark time" as it struggled for survival. Only a few of its smartphones had 5G features, which were developed using limited stockpiled chips.
The situation has changed and improved this year.
In the second quarter, the Chinese smartphone market declined 2.1 percent year on year, greatly narrowing from the double-digit decline in the previous quarters, researcher International Data Corp or IDC said.
As a highlight, Huawei returned to the No. 5 position and its sales grew 76 percent in the quarter. Popular models, like P60 and Mate X3, helped the company gain share in the high-end market segment of above US$600, according to IDC.
In the first half of this year, Huawei posted a net profit of 35.6 billion yuan, jumping 209 percent year on year, thanks to a rebound in consumer business.
5G and chip-making breakthroughs?
Based on online videos posted by Mate 60 Pro owners, the peak download speed of the phone hit almost 1 Gigabyte per second or Gbps. It's in line with 5G phone level and 10 times faster than the normal 4G phone.
Huawei didn't reveal the chipset and detailed network used in the new phone, citing the fact that the model hasn't been released officially.
According to a test by TechInsights, the Mate 60 Pro is powered by a new (5G-enabled) Kirin 9000s chip that was made in China by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), according to a Reuters report.
"It suggests the Chinese government is making some headway in attempts to build a domestic chip ecosystem," the research firm said.
"It's an exciting moment (for Huawei). It will strengthen the whole industry's confidence," said a CCTV commentary.
The news has also propelled Chinese semiconductor shares.
STAR-listed SMIC closed 2.23 percent down to 55.63 yuan on Tuesday, but it has surged about 15 percent since last week following the Mate 60 Pro debut. SMIC is currently the top firm by market value in the innovation-oriented Shanghai STAR Market.
Dan Hutcheson, an analyst with TechInsights, called the development a "slap in the face" to the US, Reuters reported.