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Smartphone giants battle for market share with new releases

By Jevans Nyabiage | March 7th 2017
Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu holds up the P10 at the Mobile World Congress. [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Tech giants were back to show their might at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry.

The gathering, held in Barcelona, Spain, last week also serves as a launch platform for the year’s latest smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.

At the event, the world’s third-largest handset maker, Huawei, unveiled the P10 smartphone as part of its strategy to dislodge South Korea’s Samsung and America’s Apple from the top slots by next year.

Portrait photography

In a move to woo photo lovers, the Chinese firm’s flagship smartphone features a front-facing camera that counts how many people are in shot. If it detects there is more than one person taking a selfie, it automatically changes to a wide-angle mode. Further, the phone’s rear camera uses 3D depth-sensing technology to help enhance portraits.

And to address smartphone battery woes, the P10 comes with supercharge technology that allows it to get a full battery after a 90-minute charge.

“With Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, we have created a smartphone that revolutionises and redefines portrait photography. Thanks to the evolution of our partnership with Leica, camera users now have an incredible Leica front camera on their Huawei device in addition to the rear,” Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu said at the Barcelona launch.

Last year, Huawei shipped 139 million smartphones, a 30 per cent year-on-year rise, cementing its place as the third-largest mobile player in the world by market share, after Apple and Samsung, according to figures from research firm IDC.

A 64 gigabyte (GB) P10 will cost €649 euros (Sh71,000), while the P10 Plus will cost €699 euros (Sh76,200), with the 128GB iteration coming in at 799 euros (Sh87,000).

The phones will be released this month in a number of markets, including Europe, Malaysia, Mexico, Australia and South Africa. The Kenyan launch is yet to be disclosed.

The firm teamed up with US colour systems firm Pantone for colour options that include Dazzling Blue and Greenery.

Other handset makers like Motorola, Sony, LG, Samsung, BlackBerry and HTC also unveiled their flagships in the race to capture a smartphone market dominated by Samsung, Apple and Huawei.

Hong Kong-based consumer electronics brand TCL introduced its first BlackBerry-licensed phone – KeyOne – marketed as the most secure Android phone in the world.

TCL is counting on the new device to revitalise the diminished BlackBerry brand. BlackBerry was once a powerhouse, but the Canada-based smartphone maker fell on hard times after the iPhone came along.

The iconic Nokia 3310 phone was also re-launched at MWC, nearly 17 years after its first debut.

The 3310 is making a nostalgic return with a more modern variant that has better battery life and basic Internet. Before it was discontinued in 2005, just five years after its launch, it had sold more than 126 million units, making it the most popular feature phone then.

Premium segment

LG unveiled its G6 smartphone that succeeds the G5, which was released last year but failed to make much of an impact in the premium segment. With the release of the G6, LG hopes to regain some market share from the likes of Apple and Samsung.

Lenovo-owned Motorola launched two new smartphones – the Moto G5 and G5 Plus.

Samsung, on the other hand, did not make much of a splash at MWC, which it has used in previous years to showcase new releases of its Galaxy S series.

Following the high-profile crash of its fire-prone Note 7 last year, the South Korean firm delayed the rollout of its latest smartphone, saying it would launch the Galaxy S8 at a separate event on March 29. However, it unveiled the Galaxy Tab S3 and Samsung Galaxy Book two-in-one in Barcelona.

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