I was toying with the title and almost wanted to go with “the best smartphone”, but I realise that new better smartphones are launched every other month. So a better title would be “the best smartphone brand”.
4 years ago, my answer would have been Samsung. Today, I would say Huawei. Disclaimer: this article is not sponsored.
2 years back, when I reviewed the Huawei Mate 9 for the first time, I was wildly impressed by so many functions on the phone, that I picked 30 features that I could do with it. Since then, Huawei smartphone has evolved and more new features are introduced.
Just last month, five colleagues bought the Huawei P20 Pro, thanks also to aggressive subsidies on mobile plans. More impressive: 2 of them were iPhone users. One of them was complimenting non-stop about the numerous features the P20 Pro offers compared to his iPhone.
Huawei is currently on the path to take over Samsung as the most progressive mobile brand. I see parallel to what Samsung did in their ascend to the current top spot, so here’s my breakdown on why Huawei is the best smartphone brand to buy.
Huawei has spent years of fortune building up the brand premium. It was not easy, given many countries are blocking its advancement due to its implied association to the China government. But it was hard work, as Huawei looks for ways to breakout from the image of a national brand to a global brand.
Value For Money
Huawei is aggressive in delivering value. The flagship phones continue to maintain at below S$1200, yet the features exceed most other flagship models for the same price. Vying for the midrange market is its sub-brand, Honor. I bought the Honor 8 Pro last year for around S$300 (at a Lazada sale), and this phone carries the same spec as the Huawei P10, with a few handicaps of course. This year, Honor 10 matches the spec as the Huawei P20 at S$579. And if you still want something cheaper, how about Honor Play at S$429, with the same processor as Huawei P20, but cutting some corners like the camera spec and NFC. This year, Huawei also begins to leverage on its strong brand to target midrange market with the Nova 3i priced at S$398. The campaign is one of the more successful ones in Singapore, selling more than 1000 units on its day of launch.
And unlike Xiaomi who outsources its design and hardware, Huawei develops cutting-edge mobile technology in-house.
Huawei seems to be the leader in camera innovation. For many years, other brands are trying to crack the challenge of getting smartphone cameras to match DSLR quality. From Huawei P9, Huawei collaborated with Leica with its dual lens wide aperture effect to simulate depth of field. Initially, critics were critical (obviously), but then Huawei did not give up, and improved on this idea. Obviously, it got better with each iteration, and now with P20 Pro, Huawei has 3 lenses. This means Huawei is capable of achieving better image quality with digital step-less zoom. For now, Huawei is a few steps ahead of every other mobile player in the market. P20 series remains the only smartphone in the world that can shoot night mode in 4-second exposure handheld.
Desktop UI in a Smartphone
While Samsung Galaxy S9 was the first to announce a Desktop UI in a smartphone, DeX, it is Huawei that offered a desktop UI without the need of any special dock, just a simple USB-C to HDMI converter. Both of them copied from Microsoft’s idea known as “Continuum”, while Huawei is definitely an improved version, where it allows the user to use both the phone and the desktop independently. This feature was copied by Samsung in the Note9, so you see, consumers are the winners in tech wars.
Mobile Processor Development
In the most recent announcement, Huawei announced their newest system-on-chip mobile processor, the Kirin 980, and boasts that it beats the Snapdragon 845 in every way: it claims to be more power efficient, its AI processor and camera processing is much faster, and it supports faster Wifi speed. When a smartphone brand puts in considerable resources to develop its own processor, you know it has the muscle to deliver a better overall user experience end to end.
Conclusion: Huawei Mobile Is Not Hype
2 years ago, I was a skeptic like many consumers, but Huawei Mobile has been consistent in their development and improvements. Today, Huawei has proven themselves to be a strong technological player with its own hardware and technologies that others look to emulate. I am most excited about what they did with multiple camera lens and the desktop mode. They are also quietly improving on their audio processor, and expanding their ecosystem of products, like smart wearables. Their camera A.I. is also getting better and more useful with every iteration.
Now is a very good time to buy Huawei phones, especially pre-owned, because some consumers are still not fully appreciative of the price-value that Huawei is delivering, and it is possible to get some of the best-performing smartphones at a bargain. I did, and bought a perfect-condition second-hand Mate 10 Pro, at half the retail price, for my dad.