US-sanctioned Huawei Technologies unveiled a slew of new products at a widely-watched release ceremony on Monday but kept quiet on its latest smartphone, which is powered by a home-grown chip that is seen as a breakthrough in the country’s hi-tech self-sufficiency drive.
The Shenzhen-based company named Hong Kong movie star Andy Lau Tak-wah as ambassador for its new luxury brand, Ultimate Design, and unveiled a new gold smartwatch at the event, but it made no comment on the make-up of the powerful chip behind its Mate 60 Pro smartphone.
Other new products included a tablet called MatePad Pro, an enormous 98-inch smart television screen, named V5 Pro, and ear pods FreeBuds Pro 3. “Today is a special day. [We want to] thank the great support from people around the country,” said Richard Yu Chengdong, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business unit and chairman of its car unit.
Huawei also showed a teaser of a new luxury smartphone, the Mate 60 Rs, and launched the new gold-inlaid smartwatch, which was demonstrated by Yu. No technical details or price points for the Mate 60 Rs were given.
Huawei routinely holds a major launch event in the autumn, where it updates its latest consumer products including smartphones, smart home devices and cars. The company last released a 5G smartphone, the Mate 40 series, in the 2020 autumn event before skipping an update in 2021. It launched the Mate 50 handsets last September with only 4G capabilities.
This year’s event received intense consumer and industry scrutiny, amid mounting speculation about the technology and manufacturing process behind the Kirin 9000s chip integrated within the new 5G-capable Mate 60 Pro handset.
The Mate 60 Pro began presales in late August, followed by the top-of-the-line model Mate 60 Pro+ handset in early September. To date, Huawei has refrained from giving further details on the Kirin 9000s chip.
The US Commerce Department said it was working to get more information on the “purported” 7-nanometre processor behind the chip earlier this month.
Launch of the Mate 60 Pro coincided with the second anniversary of the homecoming of Meng Wanzhou, rotating chairwoman at Huawei and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, who returned to China in 2021 after nearly three years under house arrest in Canada.
Meng’s release, which followed a deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice over accusations that she misled banks to violate sanctions against Iran, was hailed domestically as a Chinese diplomatic victory. Her red-carpet arrival at Shenzhen International Airport was broadcast live on state television.
The Mate 60 Pro has been hailed by domestic consumers as a symbol of China’s ability to withstand tough US trade sanctions, and many have been rushing to snap one up. Huawei has raised its smartphone shipment target for the second half of 2023 by 20 per cent, according to a report by Chinese newspaper Securities Daily.