berlin ifa

Huawei is relishing their spot in the tech world right now. They’ve ousted Apple as the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in terms of shipments but are showing no signs of slowing down. At their IFA 2018 keynote presentation, Richard Yu announced a plethora of new additions to the Huawei family.

Huawei AI Cube

There are two ways to enter the smart speaker market. The first way is to develop your own smart assistant then develop your own hardware, before marrying these together to create something very special. Google and Amazon have already achieved this through their respective Home and Echo devices. This is not an easy route to take and even Apple and Samsung have learned that having either inferior hardware or software can be a recipe for disaster with Apple’s Homepod being rather disappointing because of Siri and no one caring less what Samsung do because we all know it’ll just be another Bixby powered piece of…

Anyway.

The second way to enter the market is to leverage one half of the formula that’s already been extremely successful and then add your own flair to the situation. This is what Huawei is going for with their AI Cube.

Huawei AI Cube: Features

The Huawei AI Cube is designed to tackle a few modern home problems. The first is entertainment.

Audio

The AI Cube can produce great audio, perfect for your living room and will be able to flex muscles to scare both Amazon Echo and Google Home devices for space on your shelf. Huawei’s own audio software, Histen, also features in the speaker to provide additional sound settings and quality controls.

Amazon Alexa

With the P20 Pro came Huawei and Amazon’s first public display of affection. Using screen gestures, you can quickly search for products that you see on the screen, but only through Amazon. Now, with the AI Cube, Huawei is providing a new smart speaker for Alexa to live within.

It’s a bold but understandable move from Huawei given the global smart speaker base is set to swell to 225 million units in the next two years. Given lack of love Siri gets and the outright hatred Bixby gets, Huawei has done the smart thing and focused on the hardware. Speaking of which…

Connectivity

The AI Cube also doubles as a router. Pop a 4G sim card into the speaker and you’ll enjoy download speeds up to 300 Mbps. Now, I know most people will never use it, but wouldn’t it be lovely to bring something like that on holidays with you and pop a sim card into it? WiFi, sounds and a smart assistant all bundled into one.

While all of this is extremely exciting, Huawei wasn’t done yet.

Huawei Locator

I lose shit. I lose shit, a lot. This is why I have a Tile on my keyring. Even when things are lost now, they’re not really lost – they’re misplaced. Huawei feels my pain and also announced their Locator at IFA 2018.

It’s very simple. You attach the Huawei Locator to something you don’t want to lose and it’ll track it around the world. The Locator uses four different major global navigation systems including the well-known GPS system along with nano SIM and eSIM technology. Combined with global roaming and near-real-time location reporting, it’s unlikely you’ll ever lose anything connected to the Huawei Locator.

The examples given at IFA included attaching the Locator to your dog or suitcase, but I remember a friend of mine having a much more convoluted setup for a device which was attached to his motorbike following the theft of his previous bike.

The Locator will notify users when it more than 10 meters away from a paired smartphone or when it leaves a geofenced area. It’s IP68 too so don’t worry if your dog is a bit mad.

Huawei Mate 20 Lite and Mate 20 Series

I wanted to see a handset launch and while I had my fingers crossed for the Mate 20, I wasn’t left to disappointed. All in the same Berlin keynote, Huawei announced the Mate 20 Lite. The spec to price on this thing is insane. Going on sale in October for €429 sim free, the Mate 20 Lite has ridiculous front-facing dual cameras with 24MP and 2MP lenses capable of delivering the elusive front facing bokeh effect. That’s where you’re nice and crisp but the background is blurry.

The front-facing cameras are actually slightly more powerful than the read facing 20MP and 2MP lenses. Huawei really is bonkers when it comes to camera layouts, but after seeing how well their mad ideas worked for the P20 Pro, I say keep ‘em coming.

The Mate 20 Lite will pack a 3750 mAh battery and all of this will be housed behind a 6.3-inch screen.

I’ll reserve further opinions on this until I get a full hands-on look at it, but early suggestions are this slightly high to mid-range phone is going to be an absolute beast.

It’s funny. I’ve been writing about tech now for a few years and I can only assume that how I feel about Huawei is something like what a football manager feels when he brings a youth player through from the development squads. Huawei has gone from the entry level underdog to an absolute world beater. Samsung and Apple have had it pretty easy for a long time, but it looks like those days are well and truly finished.

I’m still waiting on confirmation for Irish pricing and launch dates for both the AI Cube and Locator but will update this article when I get them.

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