Sandeep Saihgal  - VP Huawei Device ME (1)

Huawei held a regional launch event in Dubai to introduce the Mate 8 and M2 tablet. Sandeep Saighal, Vice President of Huawei Consumer Business Group commented on the brand’s performance to date, “2015 was a successful year for the Huawei Consumer Business Group here in the Middle East, and we anticipate 2016 to be an even bigger one with immense growth in the region following the launch of these two flagship devices,” said Saighal.

“The Mate 8 is the ultimate high-end smartphone designed for the professional, striking the perfect balance between high performance and long battery life. And when designing the M2, we equipped it with an impeccable sound system to take the user’s experience to the next level. Both of these devices reflect Huawei’s continued dedication to bringing the latest innovation and style to our consumers.’’ In 2015, with 9.7% market share, Huawei became the number 3 smartphone brand worldwide behind Samsung and Apple. In the UAE where smartphone adaptation is exceptionally high, Huawei claimed the number 2 spot but there’s little time to slow down for a celebration.

Thanks to an influx of affordable options (smartphones priced under 1000 AED) by both established and new brands, the UAE smartphone market is changing. Saighal isn’t concerned with Huawei’s ability to compete in the ring of low-priced mobiles because the focus is on meeting the needs of a particular segment of the market – calling the device the right phone for the right segment. “With the success we had with Mate 7 and Mate 8 coming in, we think this is the right price solution because the product has got everything that you need for that price point. You have a 6-inch display, it’s a slim phone. You have a 4000mAh battery which can last a few days for you. You have a dual Octacore processor so the [speeds] are there for you. You’ve got the fingerprint for security. You’ve got some other features for example like the microphone, when you’re recording, [it] can cut down on noise. See the speaker who’s calling. Talk to that person or have a conference call or you can have document straightening when you take a photograph from the side – it straightens the document. So, all of these features which go into the product, which is for the people who need that in that segment; people on-the-go who need a faster processor, who need a bigger screen size to see the messaging, who need a larger battery to keep them going for days. It’s the right segment, and the right phone for that segment.”

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It’s true that the Mate 8 is packed with desirable features and its specs are on par with competing devices in the same price range but, what sets it apart? Huawei is confident that functions like automatic document adjustment, omnidirectional recording and improved fingerprint technology are the bells and whistles that will make Mate 8 the buyer’s choice. Saighal explained how the company has innovated aspects like fingerprint technology which now offers more flexibility of security. Instead of simply unlocking the smartphone, your fingerprint can initiate scrolling, take a selfie, encrypt data and even manage guest mode which keeps your files protected while the phone is being used by someone else.

And the improvements don’t stop there. Huawei is spot on in terms of embracing the Internet of Things (IoT). While more items are being connected to the internet daily, wearables are still the IoT frontrunner. When asked about the brand’s commitment to developing for IoT, Saighal spoke about the widely-praised Huawei Watch. “We have a lot of R&D which we do and we believe in connectivity. A smartwatch was something which we launched and has been regarded as one of the best smartwatches, bringing fashion and tech together. How the phone connects with that wearable is also important, so yes IoT is a priority for us.”

A welcomed variation of the Huawei Watch was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 in Las Vegas – a version for ladies. The new version is just as attractive as its counterpart and promises to be just what ladies desire in a wearable. Although, I’m personally excited for the launch of the ladies’ edition, I was also skeptical that this was simply marketing. Is this a truly researched effort or just another round table for the boys on what we might like? Saighal assured me that every design element was taken into account and noted, “We worked closely with Swarovski and one of the family members of Swarovski was on stage to talk about the watch. So you can see the excitement of the partners. It’s not just a small watch or a thin watch, like you said, it’s a watch ladies would want with the Swarovski design and everything.”

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