Counterpoint will be attending MWC Las Vegas from September 28 – 30
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Understand how mmWave is unlocking the full potential of 5G, and hear about deployment best practice from some of the industry’s leading experts.
Between now and 2025, a staggering $5 trillion will be contributed to the global economy by mobile technologies and services – with 1 billion 5G connections forecast by the end of 2022 alone (source GSMA Intelligence).
5G mmWave is a key element of the 5G technology mix, providing maximum data capacity at very high speeds and very low latency –thereby facilitating reliable and high-quality connectivity in busy areas and for high-traffic scenarios, such as densely populated residential areas, public transport hubs, large entertainment venues and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in homes.
At MWC 2022, HONOR announced the Magic 4 series flagship smartphones, TWS earbuds, and a smartwatch. The company also showcased its first foldable, the Magic V. We got to try out the smartphones and other products, and here are some thoughts.
HONOR Magic 4 Pro: A Flagship Smartphone to Compete with OPPO Find X5 Pro, realme GT 2 Pro
The Magic 4 Pro with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage is priced at €1,099.
The smartphone comes with quad-cameras at the back and dual cameras on the front.
It also supports 100W fast wired and wireless charging.
HONOR is going all out with its premium smartphone offering to make the Magic 4 Pro as competitive as possible. From top-notch hardware to the latest Android 12 OS with Magic UI 6 skin on top, to high-resolution cameras, the Magic 4 Pro is a great challenger to the OPPO Find X5 Pro and the realme GT 2 Pro that were launched at the MWC 2022.
HOT TAKE: HONOR Magic 4 Pro, A Key Device for HONOR in Europe This Year
Under the hood is a flagship SoC from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, paired with 8GB/12GB RAM options, and 256GB/512GB storage to choose from. The smartphone will be offered in at least five different color options. It comes with a bold design with curved edges on both sides (waterfall display). The back is made of glossy glass, which attracts a lot of fingerprints, but otherwise adds to its premium look and feel. The giant, circular camera module at the back housing four sensors offers a distinct look and feel. It also reminds me of the Nokia 9 PureView that featured five cameras at the back.
The camera setup on the HONOR Magic 4 Pro is interesting. It features a 50MP wide, a 50MP ultrawide, and a 64MP periscope style zoom lens (90mm) with 3.5x optical zoom. HONOR is also using two more sensors – one is a dToF (Time of Flight) depth sensor, and the other is a flicker sensor which improves image focus, speed, and accuracy, according to the company.
The talking point of the cameras is the “Ultra Fusion Photography” algorithms which combine the photos shot on the wide and ultra-wide cameras to boost colors for better accuracy and also correct the distortion. Besides photography, HONOR also highlighted video recording capabilities, such as a 10-bit 4K 60fps log with IMAX Enhanced certification for smooth video capture and playback.
There are significant improvements that also come on the display side where the smartphone features a 6.81-inch LTPO panel. It has an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz, and LTPO technology means the refresh rate can be adjusted between 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the on-screen content. There are other features like MEMC that upscales 30fps content to 60fps to offer a smooth content viewing experience.
With a 4,600mAh battery, HONOR is offering 100W fast wired charging which can fully charge the battery in 30 minutes. And while we saw fast-charging solutions from OPPO and realme offering 150W and even 240W with a wired charger, HONOR has stepped up a notch by offering 100W wireless charging. It can wirelessly charge the battery to 50% in about 15 minutes. There is support for reverse wireless charging too.
WATCH: MWC 2022: Fast Charging – A Key Trend This Year
Clearly, fast charging will be one of the marketing strategies that smartphone OEMs will be using this year to promote the innovations they have been bringing to the consumers. We did cover this topic at length in our recent webinar, talking about fast charging, new battery materials, battery health and, autonomy. Do watch it here in case you missed catching the live stream.
While HONOR also announced the more affordable Magic 4 with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for €899, it wasn’t showcased at the demo zone. These smartphones are scheduled to go on sale in Europe in Q2 2022.
HONOR Earbuds 3 Pro & Watch GS 3: Expanding Availability of Ecosystem Products in Europe
Along with the smartphones, the company announced pricing for its TWS earbuds and a smartwatch that it is bringing to the European market. First is the Earbuds 3 Pro TWS, priced at €199. These are the world’s first TWS earbuds with a body temperature monitoring system. HONOR says that the accuracy of monitoring temperature is +/- 0.3 degrees Celsius.
With these COVID-19 pandemic times, continuous temperature monitoring has become important, and these earbuds support this feature. This is also a big differentiator for HONOR when compared to competitor TWS earbuds in the market. These earbuds can offer up to 24 hours of music playback, and fast charging offers two hours of music playback with just five minutes of charging.
It also supports features like dual device connection and adaptive active noise cancellation – with different scenarios like Ultra Mode (46dB) for airplanes or subways, General Mode (30dB+) for cafes and streets, and so on.
Up next is the HONOR Watch GS 3, which is priced at €229 for the Black color variant, and €249 for the Blue or Gold color variant. It comes with support for over 100 workout modes, continuous SpO2 monitoring, and dual-frequency band GNSS that improves the GPS positioning speed and accuracy. HONOR claims that the positioning is accurate enough to track not only that you’re running on an athletics track, but which of the eight lanes you’re running in. We have not been able to check this claim, but if true, it would up the ante among sports watches on which the location tracking accuracy can be variable.
It also features a 1.43-inch AMOLED touchscreen. The colors were punchy, the screen was quite sharp, and the touch felt smooth and responsive too. Though the UI felt like Huawei’s HarmonyOS. But overall, the smartwatch felt quite stylish and premium in its look and feel.
HONOR Magic V: A Challenger to Existing Foldable Smartphones
Now, while HONOR did not reveal the pricing of its first foldable smartphone, Magic V, for the European markets, it did showcase the device at its MWC booth for media and analysts to try out. After using the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for over five months now, the HONOR Magic V instantly felt a bit bulky and heavy.
The 6.45-inch cover screen is bigger and wider than the Galaxy Z Fold 3 which is, kind of good, as you get more screen real estate. The folding screen inside is also bigger at 7.9-inches, appearing more like a square, compared to 7.6-inch one on the Z Fold 3, which feels a bit rectangular. But the big difference with the HONOR Magic V is its teardrop style hinge which perfectly folds with the screen in a curve without leaving any gaps. This also ensures that the crease is barely visible, unlike in the case of the Z Fold 3, where the crease is more prominent.
While we did not get much time to spend with the Magic V, using apps in split-screen and multi-window felt smooth. The smartphone also offered a good overall experience, but how more apps take full advantage of that big screen real estate we will only come to know with longer usage.
HONOR’s Europe Strategy – Interaction with CEO George Zhao
We attended a round-table with HONOR CEO George Zhao following the Magic 4 Pro launch. George Zhao is clearly relishing the more expansive potential that HONOR now has following the spin-off from Huawei. Under Huawei’s ownership, HONOR was somewhat restricted in the market segments it could target and was always half a step behind Huawei in accessing the leading technologies. Freed from those restrictions, we get the sense that HONOR is accelerating into the space left by Huawei and that has not been fully absorbed by other Chinese OEMs.
Internationally, HONOR is targeting growth in several global regions and, according to George Zhao, will specifically target between 16 and 20 countries including many in Western Europe as well as in MEA, SEA and Latin America. Russia has historically been a strong market for HONOR. Unsurprisingly given the Ukraine conflict, George did not want to say much about its immediate plans in the country.
In terms of channel strategy – HONOR is aiming for a balanced approach to both online and offline channels, claiming 30,000 points of sale already – mostly in China, and it will be pursuing partnerships with mobile operators. HONOR claims to have more than 200 operator partners including over 90 in Europe alone.
HONOR will be launching mid- and low-tier products from its X series later in the year for international markets, however, HONOR’s Play sub-brand will likely be limited to China for now. HONOR does not have any immediate plans to develop its own silicon solutions – preferring to work closely with partners such as Qualcomm.
Ahead of MWC 2022, OPPO announced the flagship Find X5 and Find X5 Pro series smartphones. Both smartphones were showcased at OPPO’s booth along with other products which include the fastest smartphone charging solutions, AR Glass, and 5G CPE Device. Fast charging on smartphones is becoming a key trend to watch out for this year with OEMs racing to offers the fastest charging solution on the market.
OPPO Find X5 Series
OPPO has always introduced new, premium experiences with the Find series smartphones. From a pop-up camera to a periscope style zoom lens to a microscope camera system, and a compact foldable smartphone, OPPO has done something different with every new device. This year, OPPO is focusing on improving the photography experience, and to achieve that, it has now partnered with Hasselblad for the Find X5 series. The partnership aims to improve mobile photography using Hasselblad’s color science for natural color calibration.
In addition, the Find X5 and Find X5 Pro smartphones also come with OPPO’s own MariSilicon imaging NPU. It unlocks features like 4K Night & 4K Ultra HDR video recording, AI Noise Reduction to improve night photography. The dedicated NPU also helps in speeding up other AI-based image processing tasks.
The Find X5 Pro features a triple rear camera setup which includes a 50MP primary sensor with 3-axis sensor-shift and 2-axis lens shift technology from Cambridge Mechatronics. It helps in compensating the shaky hand movements when clicking photos, and jerks when recording videos, thus allowing you to capture blur-free photos and videos. There is also a 50MP ultrawide lens and 13MP telephoto lens completing the camera system.
The Find X5 Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, 5G connectivity, and a 6.7-inch AMOLED LTPO display that can refresh between 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the on-screen content.
WATCH: MWC 2022: Quick Look at OPPO Find X5 Pro
150W and 240W Fast Charging Solutions
OPPO also introduced the industry’s fastest smartphone charging tech. First is the 150W SuperVOOC flash charge, fast charging solution that can charge a 4,500mAh battery to 50% in just five minutes, whereas a full charge will take about 15 minutes. OnePlus’ smartphone with 150W fast charging will be launched in Q2, 2022. Next is the 240W fast charging tech which can fully charge a 4,500mAh battery in just nine minutes.
Now, on one hand, we have the fast-charging tech with which smartphone OEMs are trying to address one pain point. But there are other concerns related to the battery life and the damage that fast charging could induce. To allay these concerns, OPPO is also packing a Battery Health Engine tech with the Find X5 Series, which the company says can retain 80% of the battery’s original capacity even after 1,600 charge cycles. This is more than the industry standard which is around 800 cycles. So, if we consider the average smartphone replacement cycle of about 28-30 months, the smartphone battery should be good enough until the users upgrade to a new smartphone.
BONUS VIDEO: Fast Charging – A Key Trend This Year at MWC 2022
OPPO AR GLASS
At MWC 2022, OPPO also showcased a demo of its AR Glass 2021. These AR (Augmented Reality) glasses are much closer to the casual eyewear that most of us are used to wearing. These glasses feature an 0.71-inch OLED display which brings 90-inch TV viewing experience just three meters away. As these are AR glasses, the display is transparent, allowing you to see the surroundings as well.
These AR glasses draw their power from a tethered OPPO smartphone with Snapdragon 865 SoC and above. I tried connecting a couple of other smartphones like the Huawei P50 Pro and an iQOO smartphone, and while the smartphone screen was mirrored on the glasses, it could not adjust the resolution and aspect ratio to the required one, possibly because it needs ColorOS and a dedicated app.
Otherwise, the display experience was good. Content is limited for now, and though it has built-in speakers, I was unable to hear clearly as the floor was too noisy. But maybe these are good to use at home and in the office meeting rooms. One other thing about these OPPO AR Glasses is that you can get lenses matching the eye power of your prescription glasses. The AR and XR (extended reality) space is seeing increasing development, but there are still many significant hurdles to overcome before mainstream adoption can occur.
5G CPE Device
Lastly, OPPO also introduced a 5G CPE T2 device, basically, a 5G Hub built to convert 5G signals into LAN or Wi-Fi network connection. The device could be ideal to use in a small office or home office environment where there is no existing broadband infrastructure. With a 5G SIM card installed, the CPE device can let multiple devices like smartphones, TVs, laptops, and more to connect and access fast 5G internet.
OPPO mentioned that the device is made from recycled materials. It also comes with O-Reserve 2.0 smart antenna technology and is integrated with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X62 5G Modem-RF system. The hardware architecture is designed in a way where the X62 5G modem can be swapped with the Snapdragon X65 modem depending on operator needs. There is no word on the pricing, but the OPPO 5G CPE T2 will be available in H2, 2022 across the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and Europe markets.
Over the last couple of years, Huawei has been facing headwinds after the US sanctions, followed by component shortages, leading to a sharp decline in smartphone market share. But despite these challenges, Huawei is going strong as it looks towards creating new business opportunities with connected consumer devices. And at MWC 2022, Huawei announced new products as a part of its “Super Device” smart ecosystem.
Building on the idea of “better together”, these products aim to offer seamless connectivity supported by Huawei’s software and hardware services. The new devices include a printer, a laptop, a couple of tablets, and an All-in-One PC. The highlight of all these “Super Devices” is how they wirelessly connect for screen sharing and extension, drag and drop file sharing, and much more.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
Huawei refreshed its flagship laptop, MateBook X Pro, with improved aesthetics over 2021 model. The laptop now features a slightly bigger 14.2-inch, 3.1K resolution touchscreen display with very thin bezels to offer an immersive viewing experience. It also gets a 90Hz screen refresh rate, compared to the 60Hz one on the previous model.
The trackpad also gets new gestures where swiping one finger up or down on the right increases/decreases the volume. Similarly, swiping one finger on the top from left to right lets you forward or rewind the video/song that you are playing on apps like YouTube.
The MateBook X Pro is powered by Intel’s 11th Gen Core i7 processor, paired with 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD storage. It is priced at €1899 (roughly $2,155).
Huawei MatePad Paper
A competitor to Amazon Kindle, the MatePad Paper is Huawei’s first tablet with an E-Ink display. Featuring a 10.3-inch display, the tablet is designed for reading eBooks. Huawei mentioned that the Huawei Books marketplace has close to two million books in over 20 languages to choose from. It also supports the M-Pencil which unlocks the notetaking experience as well. The MatePad Paper can also be used as a storage device to drag and drop content from other Super Device products.
We had limited time to check out the MatePad Paper in the demo zone and were impressed with its regular tablet form factor with a big screen. The text and icons looked sharp. As this is an e-Ink tablet meant especially for reading books, it has a very low refresh rate, as the screen only refreshes when you turn the page.
We also tried out the M-Pencil to scribble and take notes. However, a slight lag was noticeable, despite the screen having 26ms latency. It takes about a couple of seconds before the text you scribble appears on the screen.
In terms of input methods, the MatePad Paper also supports voice recording, handwriting and there is a handwriting-to-text conversation feature too. Users can even have Split-Screen notes, add annotations, sign documents, and do much more. It is priced at €499 (roughly $570), which also includes a folio cover and M-Pencil.
This was one of the most interesting products that Huawei launched at MWC. The MateStation X is an All-In-One PC featuring a 28.2-inch 4K+ resolution display with very thin bezels. It is designed with home and office users, and content creators in mind.
The display has an anti-reflective layer to minimize glare. It is also a touchscreen supporting 10-point multitouch. The screen is very sharp, the colors looked vibrant and the viewing angles were good too. When connected with the MateBook X Pro laptop, you can drag and drop content like photos, videos between devices, and also use the screen as an extension.
One of the other notable highlights of this AIO PC is the aesthetic design with no noticeable ports. It comes with a built-in speaker which is quite loud and delivers crisp audio. The PC is powered by AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor under the hood, with 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD, and is priced at €2,199 (roughly $2500).
Huawei PixLab X1
Another interesting product launched by Huawei is the PixLab X1 laser printer. It’s designed for homes and small offices and does tasks like taking printouts, scanning, and works as a copier too.
The printer has features like remote printing, tap-to-print, and pop-up pairing, making it easier to wirelessly print from Huawei’s tablets and smartphones.
Huawei says that the PixLab X1 is also the industry’s first printer to feature a toner cartridge drawer design for easy pigment replacement. Priced at €329 (roughly $275), the printer comes with a drum and toner. While not finalized, Huawei said it would use a typical printer business model where the printer itself is relatively low cost, but toner cartridges will be relatively expensive
Along with these devices, Huawei also launched a Windows 11 powered MateBook E 2-in-1 PC featuring an OLED display. It supports M-Pencil Stylus and Huawei’s Smart Magnetic Keyboard. The price starts at €649 (approximately $740) for Intel i3 version. The top model with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD is priced at €1399 (roughly $1,590), which also includes a smart magnetic keyboard.
Next, is the HarmonyOS powered MatePad tablet starting at €279 (approximately $320), and a Sound Joy Bluetooth speaker co-engineered by Devialet. With an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance, a four-speaker-unit system, and an 8800mAh battery that can offer up to 26 hours of playback, it is priced at €149 (roughly $170)
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