For better or worse, the smartphone landscape in Europe and Asia has changed dramatically over the past few years due to Hauwei’s legal struggles with the US. The brand went from one of the top players to being nearly forgotten in the charts as it faces hardware restrictions for its new devices while also being barred from using the Google Play Store.
Those same restrictions nearly pulled down Honor as well, until the sub-brand was sold off and restructured into an independent company. While the newly-independent Honor has been making a name for itself and quickly regaining market share in China and Europe, the remnants of its Huawei past still feel present in the hardware and software of its latest devices.
The new Honor 70, unveiled at IFA 2022, looks strikingly similar to some of the newer devices Hauwei has released. We’ve covered these similarities quite a few times already, but we had the opportunity to talk with Honor’s EU President Tony Ran during a roundtable discussion the night before the Honor 70 was first shown off in Berlin.
According to Ran, Honor is still working on getting its footing right as it moved out from the shadow of Huawei. The company has been independent since the middle of 2021, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before we will see new devices that represent the direction Honor will be taking.
Differentiation with Honor OS 7.0
The first true step differentiation we’ll see from the company will be Honor’s new software that will be released in Q4 of 2022. Dubbed Magic OS 7.0, Honor’s new build of Android, presumably built on the back of Android 13, is said to “look and feel totally different from Huawei devices.” When reviewing the Honor Magic 4 Pro from earlier this year, the software was one of the main features holding the phone back. With the latest Magic UI 6.1 on the Honor 70, things have already shifted in the right direction, but Honor has a huge opportunity with Magic OS 7.0 to prove that it’s finally ready to let the past go.
We’re not quite sure what Honor has planned with Magic OS 7.0, but we’re definitely eager to see what they have in store for us.
Hardware, innovation and Foldables
When it comes to the hardware of its smartphones, Clement Wong, Managing Director of Marketing Communication for Honor Europe explained that the similarities that we currently see between Honor and Huawei devices will soon start to fade. The production cycle for smartphones can range from 18 to 24 months. This means that many of the devices being released now were in early development stages when Honor became independent.
The same goes for the components that are used to build the devices. Honor’s current supply chain is roughly the same as it was when it was under Huawei, but that will slowly shift as well over time. They were quick to point out that the new Honor 70 is the first smartphone announced with Sony’s new IMX 800 imaging sensor. The company is working to partner with other component suppliers to ensure that its upcoming devices are well-equipped with leading-edge technology.
Both Ran and Wong emphasized that Honor’s approach will be to deliver innovative devices with leading 5G, imaging, and display technologies. Honor is also looking at the foldable smartphone category with a successor to the Honor Magic V. According to Wong, most foldable smartphones these days are being used as a secondary devices, alongside a traditional smartphone. Honor is working to “make a foldable phone that can serve as a primary phone.”
Focusing on Europe
While Honor has managed an incredible comeback in China by taking the number one spot during the first two quarters of 2022, the brand is still working to ensure the same results across Europe. When asked about possibly opening physical retail locations in the European market, as it already has in China and other Asian markets, Ran said that it is under consideration. That being said, the approach may be slightly different, with the retail locations acting to build brand awareness among the general public.
In 2019, Honor managed to capture as much as 7% of the smartphone market share in Europe. As of 2022, most of that market share has evaporated, but Honor is putting the work in to reclaim what it lost.