Huawei un­veils AI-en­abled smart­phone

Firm says hand­set can sense its en­vi­ron­ment, learn from owner’s pat­terns of be­hav­ior

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By MA SI masi@chi­

Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd un­veiled an ar­ti­fi­cial-in­tel­li­gence-en­abled smart­phone on Fri­day, as the world’s third big­gest hand­set maker ramped up its re­sources to ex­per­i­ment with cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy and new in­dus­trial de­sign.

Honor Magic, re­leased by Huawei’s sub-brand Honor, comes with dual cam­eras in both the front and the rear. It is also equipped with the Shen­zhen-based firm’s lat­est fast-charg­ing tech­nol­ogy which prom­ises over 90 per­cent of bat­tery strength with a half-hour charge, faster than most ri­val prod­ucts.

Zhao Ming, pres­i­dent of Honor, said it took four years for Huawei to de­velop the new hand­set so that it can not only au­to­mat­i­cally sense its en­vi­ron­ment, but also have the abil­ity to learn from an owner’s be­hav­ioral pat­terns and use.

“For ex­am­ple, as soon as you ar­rive at a movie theater your e-ticket will au­to­mat­i­cally pop up on the smart­phone screen, be­cause the phone knows that you have ar­rived at your des­ti­na­tion,” Zhao said.

Huawei says that the longer own­ers use the hand­set, the smarter it be­comes. “If I send out a mes­sage say­ing ‘ let’s meet at our reg­u­lar bar’, the phone will know which bar I am talk­ing about and can au­to­mat­i­cally map the best route to get there,” Zhao added.

The new model, priced around 3,700 yuan ($531), comes amid in­creas­ing con­cerns about whether the smart­phone sec­tor has hit the ceil­ing point for in­no­va­tion, as prod­ucts in­creas­ingly look and op­er­ate sim­i­larly.

In Oc­to­ber, Xiaomi Corp un­veiled its con­cept phone MIX, whose dis­play fea­tures a 91.3 per­cent screen-to-body ra­tio, ar­guably the high­est on any smart­phone, as part of its ef­forts to dif­fer­en­ti­ate its hand­sets.

“Although Ap­ple has al­ready achieved some sim­i­lar AI func­tions on its iPhones, the of­fer­ings on Honor Magic are more in­tel­li­gent and more suit­able for Chi­nese con­sumers,” said James Yan, re­search di­rec­tor at Coun­ter­point Tech­nol­ogy Mar­ket Re­search, in a writ­ten com­ment.

Yan said Huawei was provid- ing con­sumers with one-stop AI ser­vices for dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios, such as trav­el­ing, shop­ping and go­ing to movies, rather than scat­tered AI ser­vices.

“But it is also of cru­cial im­por­tance to pro­tect user data and pri­vacy,” Yan added.

Es­tab­lished in 2013, Honor was ini­tially de­signed by Huawei as an in­ter­net brand to com­pete with Xiaomi. But as on­line sales hit a ceil­ing, it is also try­ing to gain ground in the bricks-and-mor­tar mar­ket. So far, Honor has been sold to over 100 mil­lion users.

Jin Di, re­search man­ager at In­ter­na­tional Data Corp China, said in a re­port that bet­ter AI ser­vices would be one of the key ar­eas for smart­phone ven­dors to fo­cus on go­ing for­ward.

Honor Magic be­came avail­able in the Chi­nese main­land on Fri­day evening.


Zhao Ming, pres­i­dent of Honor, shows the lat­est smart­phone, Honor Magic, at Fri­day’s re­lease.

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