Honor may not be as free from Huawei as it claims

Honor clearly knows the industry is watching. At the launch event for the Honor 50, his new flagship smartphone (a rebadged Huawei Nova 9 with a slightly different camera), he pointed out that he has entered into more than 1,100 long-term cooperation agreements with partners. strategic and more than 30 suppliers. He also invited a Qualcomm spokesperson on stage to discuss the chip powering his new phone, while hammering out the very specific Honor-exclusive adjustments he made to the camera.

However, with the Huawei Nova 9 and Honor 5 ahead of us, it’s clear that Honor hasn’t been able to differentiate the software in time for its new flagship global launch. The main Huawei apps (email, browser, etc.) are virtually identical on both phones, even featuring the same illustrations guiding you on first use.

The Honor 50 camera is also worse than that of the Nova 9. This could be due to the different sensors used on the two phones and could also reflect Honor’s lack of access to Huawei’s photography processing IP. .

More alarmingly, the phone’s “exclusive” camera feature designed by Honor, the multi-channel video architecture, which allows two cameras to feed split-screen video, is virtually identical to the Nova 9’s Vlog mode. Yes, there is. slightly different user interface, but the options are the same: video front / rear, rear / rear, and picture in picture.

In China, the Honor 50 launched before the Nova 9, so technically Honor came first. But scratching the barrel with the camera modes within the modes highlights the struggle Honor faces to differentiate itself in its post-Huawei state.

This challenge was inevitable. Honor has to rework her entire offering. He can’t go out of business, and why would he? As the No.3 smartphone manufacturer in China, it has existing customers to service and sell.

So, as the company goes through awkward puberty, the question remains: is there any hope for the Honor brand outside of China? The first signs are mixed. On the one hand, Honor is taking positive steps, revealing that a redesign of MagicUI, Huawei’s replica of EMUI, is underway. It also announced this week the opening of its own manufacturing plant to manufacture its own products. On the other hand, we have yet to see a device manufactured. entirely by Honor, so the next handsets that will be launched will certainly reveal more than the Honor 50.

The main concerns are R&D and manufacturing. An industry insider told WIRED “One of the reasons OnePlus and Realme shared so many design features and / or charging technologies with OPPO was that OnePlus had to use OPPO manufacturing lines, and machines. used there are incredibly expensive “.

Indeed, most of the advantages of the Honor 50 are its Huawei features: a high-end design, fast charging and an excellent screen. We no longer know which phones Honor actually makes, or who Honor is as a brand.

Faced with the Herculean task of retaining its customers; define its new brand identity without Huawei; cement strategic partnerships; create a product portfolio; plug the IP holes; and distribution management, to name just a few priorities, all in an industry facing a shortage of components, the stakes are high. CounterPoint VP of Research, Neil Shah, puts it plainly: “[Honor] worked well in China. But replicating that success on the outside is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. “

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