China’s Huawei unveils Ascend P7 smartphone in Dubai

Huawei (pronounced wah-way), the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, on Wednesday night unveiled its latest device, the Ascend P7, which runs on Google’s Android operating system.

The Huawei Ascend P7 smartphone. Courtesy Huawei
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Huawei (pronounced wah-way), the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, on Wednesday night unveiled its latest device, the Ascend P7, which runs on Google's Android operating system. At a glittering event in Dubai, Huawei showed its 14th unveiling in just two years. The phone's starting price of Dh1,699 doesn't shock as it looks a bit like an iPhone 5S might if it were made by Samsung.

“We have only been in this business for two years as a brand,” said Ashraf Fawakherji, vice president of Huawei Device Middle East. “In the UAE we have done extremely well.”

A 14.9 per cent share of the country’s booming smartphone market in just two years is impressive indeed.

In the UAE, he said, “the gap we are trying to close is big behind the big boys of Apple and Samsung.”

Huawei is building as many bridges across that gap as possible, with 14 phones available in the Emirates at prices ranging from Dh259 all the way up to the P7 at Dh1,699.

“We have all the price points covered in the market, our biggest seller is the mid-range, the G Series, from Dh500-Dh800. Most of them are dual sim phones,” Mr Fawakherji says.

The precursor to the Ascend P7, the P6, was a breakthrough selling 4 million devices globally, 3 million outside China.

The new P7 has a 5-inch screen and at 6.5mm is thinner than the already Kate Moss-like 7.6mm iPhone 5S.

“Our design is heavily weighted towards customer feedback,” said Mr Fawakherji. “Any negative point highlighted in the P6 plus the research and requirements of seven different markets, one of them the Middle East, are registered and built into the design of the new phone. Our power button is on the side of the phone, specifically asked for by research of our customers. Now all the buttons are on one side so you can stand the phone in landscape aspect and watch the screen. It’s not a miracle, it’s basic, we have met the requirements of what people asked for.”

Smartphones in the region are thriving not only because of the array of different models and cheaper handsets. The region’s telcos are increasingly looking towards data plans as a revenue driver. A range of low-cost plans are encouraging the switch from feature phones to smartphones.

“We are in every channel ready for customers to see us and realise we have a value offering that stands up against all the others, ”said Mr Fawakherji. “We are nor focusing on numbers, we want to provide an excellent product and service and the numbers will come. This market is so dynamic there is always something new next week so we have to be at the edge, at the correct price point and in the correct channels.”

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