Product Launch by Andrew Kameka on Thursday June 12, 2014.
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Huawei's large presence in Asia continues to grow, but the company has practically no recognition in North America when it comes to smartphones. In an effort to grow its brand in the US, the company today made two key announcements: GetHuawei.com is the company's new direct-to-consumer ecommerce site, and the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE is now available for pre-order on the site.
GetHuawei.com is the new path for Huawei's mission to make it in America. The company has spent several years as an ODM building phones that were carrier-branded, so millions of people have used its phones without ever knowing. Huawei is passing on the billion-dollar ODM business and focusing on releasing smartphones that have its own logo. And because dealing with US carriers presents challenges and negotiations that Huawei doesn't want to deal with at the moment, the company has built its own website to sell phones to consumers (carrier deals are still being pursued but the website is the immediate distribution plan). At GetHuawei.com, consumers will be able to purchase unlocked phones and get additional content or customer support for their devices.
The Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE is the first phone to test this new model. The phone is available for pre-order now at $299 without contract. Orders placed by June 22 will include a $50 SIM card, and buyers will also receive a free case and unique cable that supports charging a second device from the phone. Orders typically arrive one week after purchase.
With a 6.1-inch display at 1280x720, the Ascend Mate 2 4G LTE has a large body. It also comes equipped with a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor (Snapdragon 600), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a 32GB microSD slot, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a 3,900 mAh battery. The software is Android 4.3 but Huawei plans to upgrade its Emotion UI to Android 4.4 in the future.
The Ascend Mate 2 is a large phone but it has a comparatively small price at $299. Huawei says its able to keep that price low because it doesn't blow so much on a marketing budget. However, it will still need to spend to get people to recognize the brand, and newly appointed President of Huawei Device USA Zhiqiang Xu recently told a group of reporters that's exactly what he'll do. Huawei plans to focus on online marketing and targeted event sponsorship. More devices are in the pipeline, so the company expects to build its website into a viable alternative to reaching customers rather than relying on carriers. It's a strategy that will take a while to catch on in the US, but Xu seems confident. At a briefing I recently attended, he tongue-in-cheekily said:
"I'm not sure if we can beat the No. 2 [smartphone manufacturer] Apple...but we can definitely beat the No.1, Samsung."
- 6.1-inch IPS display with 1280x720 resolution
- 1.6 GHz quad-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 600), Adreno 305 GPU
- 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 32GB microSD slot
- 13-megapixel camera with BSI and 2.0 aperture
- 5-megapixel front camera
- 161 x 84.7 x 9.5mm (6.34 x 3.33 x 0.37in)
- Weight 202g (7.12oz)
- 3,900 mAh battery
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.