I have been pondering this question since MWC. When I ask other tech journalists, there seem to be two points of view. Either you list a competitor and discuss marketing strategies and the frequency of flagship releases. Or look at Huawei as a whole and find that the reason for the US embargo is Huawei’s crucial role in 5G network expansion.
Let us briefly address the first question.
Who manages to beat the Huawei P40?
Samsung was the global leader in the smartphone industry in 2019. The manufacturer offers a wide range of products aimed at many different types of buyers. For example, the current Galaxy A series delivers solid performance and is tailored to the needs of the broad mass of potential buyers – despite all this, the Galaxy S20 series falls short of expectations. The Galaxy S20 Ultra is basically a tech demo – even 100x zoom, 5G and 120Hz display couldn’t get the smartphone community to look at Samsung in a similar light to Huawei.
If you’re bothered by this brief assessment, don’t worry, we’ll take a closer look at Samsung’s overall situation.
Chinese smartphone manufacturers are trying to find their way into the European market this year. They now have a huge advantage over Huawei, as the manufacturer has to sell its devices without Google services due to the US embargo.
Xiaomi is on the list of companies that could compete with Huawei. This week, Xiaomi managed to steal Huawei’s third place in the Chinese market– compared to last year, Sales for February fell by 70% at Huawei, while Xiaomi’s sales fell by only 30%.
The CEO and founder of Xiaomi announced on Weibo earlier this month: “We will do our best in the high-end segment.” – Huawei has had an 80% market share so far.
As for industry-leading features, Xiaomi is currently focused on winning the race for the best hardware. The cameras are fine but basically offer only the same performance as most other Qualcomm devices. The battery life is good, but what is simply missing at the moment is the “magic” Huawei offers with its cameras.
In order to summarize the situation of the Chinese smartphone market, I would like to take this opportunity to quote from a conversation with Andrea Nepori of La Stampa Bring:
“The only potential candidate for succession is not a single company, but all the companies that are part of BBK: Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus and Realme. All four companies are investing more in the European market and, despite the current situation, are ready to supply Europe with equipment for every possible price segment. As long as the US embargo is maintained, Google services will be a key selling point for consumers in Europe.” Andrea Nepori
But at the moment all four manufacturers have the problem that their cameras simply do not match those of Hauwei.
However, there is a smartphone that manages to keep up with Huawei in terms of the camera: the Google Pixel. The camera may not be as versatile, but it delivers comparable high-quality images. Battery life is average, but the price is extremely competitive. Only Google is not interested in the high-end segment so far, but I could change that with the release of the Pixel 4a.
At this point, I would like to devote myself to a matter that provides a much more exciting answer to the question surrounding Huawei’s succession.
Huawei is not only a smartphone manufacturer, but also a 5G provider
If Huawei were to produce only high-quality smartphones with excellent battery life and industry-leading hardware, they would not have fallen victim to the US-China trade dispute. This is due to Huawei’s industry-leading 5G technology.
As far as 5G is concerned, no one can get the water out of the company.
I contacted Luca Annunziata from Startup Italia Entertain. He is a technician and one of the few who, in his answer to my question, has paid particular attention to Huawei’s 5G technology.
After our meeting at MWC, he published some of his thoughts on this topic on his blog. Because the article is written in Italian, here is a brief summary:
There is hardly a company that has invested as much money in research and development of 5G technology as Huawei to be ahead in terms of infrastructure and hardware. The telecommunications industry is all about FRAND licenses and patents – and Huawei has a lot of patents. If you look at the competition today, you will find that it is almost impossible to build a serious 5G infrastructure without Huawei.
Over time, other companies will be able to fill the gap left by the US embargo. Because it is fundamentally possible to build a network without Huawei – the first attempts are already being made. But Huawei’s solutions are cheaper and more efficient. With a single Huawei antenna, we can cover a spectrum twice as wide with a competing model. Nokia and Ericsson are potential candidates for similarly efficient solutions. In Europe, we can wait for other technology companies to catch up, but no one in China and South Korea is waiting.
For the countries that are currently waiting, the downside is that many forward-thinking companies, startups and services need the 5G standard.
But what about Samsung?
Actually, I thought that Samsung is the only company that could succeed Huawei in full.
Samsung and Huawei are the only two providers of end-to-end 5G solutions, including chipsets, base stations, virtual solutions, and 5G-supported smartphones.
There are three mobile operators in South Korea, where Samsung provides more than 80% of the commercial 5G network. By 2025, 66% of the country is expected to receive 5G coverage. The world’s largest mobile operator is Jio from India – the provider has 400 million customers and transmits more than 11 GB of data per user per month. Jio also uses 100% of Samsung’s technology.
Samsung has the opportunity to invest in research and development and has sufficient patents in the field of 5G telecommunications. Whether the company can stand up to Huawei in terms of patents is a question to which I was unfortunately unable to find an answer. But you throw a A look at sales figures, it is found that Samsung has a market share of only 6.6%, while Huawei has a market share of 31%. Despite the US embargo, Huawei is still receiving orders.
So, who will be Huawei’s successor?
This question is so easy to answer. If smartphones were not to lack Google services, we would not have to ask ourselves this question in the first place. We’d sit happily and happily at home and take stunning zoom photos of the moon – but unfortunately politics still plays a big role in our purchasing decisions.
If we look at the overall situation, I think Samsung is the only company that could replace Huawei holistically. I’m tapping this item on my Galaxy S20 right now, but I still don’t get the feeling that Huawei’s P40 is more likely to inspire the confidence to become the industry’s leading smartphone maker.
At the moment, I don’t think anyone can be Huawei’s successor , at least not this year.