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P50 Pocket foldable phone signals Huawei’s consumer tech defiance

Huawei P50 pocket

Embattled Chinese tech vendor Huawei has released a set of new products based on the HarmonyOS operating system.

The P50 Pocket is a clamshell style foldable smartphone that has a circular external display designed for notifications. Of the new products, this has been getting most of the attention from the consumer tech press, probably because foldable touch screen technology is one of the few visible innovations smartphones have had since they all became identical black slabs.

Elsewhere, the Huawei Watch D is a wrist mounted ECG and blood pressure recorder, built with a micro air pump and an airbag which apparently provides more precise blood pressure measurements.

Huawei Eyewear looks as if it is a Google Glass type AR product, though it is described as an audio smart life assistant. The release says: “Multiple functions can be controlled over by simply double-tapping, swiping, and pinching; Super Device and audio connection centre facilitates more convenient device connection and management, opening up a new entrance for personal voice interaction in the IoT world.”

A more recognisable product, the Huawei MateBook X Pro is a high-end 14.2 laptop, build with various features to help it synch easily with other HarmonyOS products.

As well as all the consumer electronics, Huawei announced that the Aito M5– a new hybrid SUV – will be kitted out with various Huawei tech. This includes the first-ever HarmonyOS Smart Cockpit, which has navigation, music, can report on the vehicle’s condition, and has AI based voice interaction tools.

Huawei DriveONE is supposed to improve the Aito M5’s battery life. The release says: “Based on lab data, it can go as far as 1242 km in a CLTC cycle when fully charged and fuelled up, which is almost as far as from Beijing to Shanghai, so you no longer need to be worried about fuelling it up.”

Well, until you get to Shanghai.

The products will obviously launch in China – but there is no information on if they will be available elsewhere. It’s a little moot with regards to the west – the Android ban placed on it by the US government would seem to make it hardly worth it, since they all run on the firm’s proprietary HarmonyOS which doesn’t have much uptake outside of China.

The whole spirit of the release almost feels like a reply to this ban and the ‘sanctions’ it has been slapped with, which alongside chip supply issues have been devastating for its consumer electronics division. It feels like Huawei is planting a flag and saying, if we can’t have Android’s marketplace then we’d better start making HarmonyOS a selling point in itself, not a consolation prize.

At the live launch, CNBC reports Executive Director Richard Yu addressed this with the closing statement: “Many rounds of sanctions of the past three years have plunged us into the longest winter, because no winter is as long as three years. In spite of the great difficulties we have received strong support from consumers and partners across the globe.”

The firm claims that 220 million Huawei devices are currently running HarmonyOS, and the shipment of HarmonyOS connected devices increased by over 100 million in 2021. That’s no small potatoes. Despite the severe challenges it faces in the CE space, it’s clear Huawei is determined to put up a fight.


One comment

  1. Avatar TomE 01/01/2022 @ 3:51 am

    The US will find itself further lagging behind in technology, and will regret the day it chose politics over potential engineering advances.

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