Does the fact that Honor is the former subsidiary of Huawei have a negative impact on the image of the brand? Not really, the brand tells us, which has some interesting arguments to defend.
The Honor Magic 5 Pro (which we took up) was presented with great fanfare at the MWC 2023 in Barcelona. Undeniably high-end, already topped in photos by DXOMARK, this smartphone has enough to bother heavyweights like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Chinese brand does not hide its ambitions: it does not intend to play second fiddle.
Especially since the major technology fair was also the occasion to reveal the official price in euros of the Honor Magic Vs that will start to animate the foldable smartphone market in France. The Honor Magic 5 Lite can’t be beat with its very long battery life. In short, a plethora of announcements to prove that Honor is more present than ever in the world of smartphones and that it is hungry. Reading these lines, some may recall that there is still a thorn in Honor’s side: its past ties to Huawei.
Honor became independent from Huawei in 2020. However, a question may rightly arise. Is the general public aware of this information? Does he know that he can now buy an Honor smartphone without fear of the same drastic usage restrictions as on a Huawei device? Faced with our questions, spokespersons for the brand explained to us that it was, in fact, a false problem.
Honor and the embargo against Huawei
Let’s get a few facts straight. In 2019, the United States imposed a very heavy embargo on Huawei and its subsidiary Honor. The US intelligence services then accuse the company of espionage activities on behalf of China through its network infrastructures. Huawei is basically a telecom giant in addition to selling devices to the general public. Results of sanctions imposed by Washington: Huawei and Honor smartphones can no longer offer an Android experience that is considered classic outside of China. No more Play Store, no more Google apps or apps that rely on certain Google solutions to work. A terrible blow to the image of the brand and to sales.
Despite solutions – sometimes clever, sometimes flawed – that Huawei has put forward to compensate, history will mostly remember that the US embargo has tightened over time. Gradually, the supply and production lines of devices were affected, then the brand’s smartphones could no longer offer 5G – such as the Mate 50 Pro – and now the group is even losing its last licenses authorizing work with US companies. He should therefore no longer be able to install Windows on his laptops.
However, since the resale in 2020, all these new episodes of the Huawei affair technically no longer concern Honor, which has found all its US partners. For example, the Honor Magic 5 Pro likes to use 5G and the Play Store. The former subsidiary is no longer under the yoke of US sanctions and it is a speech its spokespersons are not afraid to hammer on when asked. Except that such a story that mixes geopolitical interests and economic influences necessarily leaves traces, even if we leave it behind, right? Well no, Honor explains.
The story doesn’t matter
This is where we get to this idea of a false problem. When we asked this question, we necessarily had the point of view of media specialized in new technologies. A news site that closely follows these stories in several episodes, all twists and turns. We therefore necessarily have a history well in mind, it is part of our work. Our interlocutors, on the other hand, explain that, unlike us, the vast majority of consumers do not bother to remember all the details of these stories. The general public has already forgotten that Honor was a subsidiary of Huawei at the time.
So, according to Honor representatives, the typical purchase process is very simple. A person who learns about a branded product is simply seeing if it meets his needs for his budget. He does not question whether some of the effects of the embargo are still visible at Honor. The brand therefore does not need to complicate this information by reminding that it is independent. It is not necessary to know the whole story, the main thing is the product. “It is very clear to the general public that Honor and Huawei are two different brands‘ said a representative. So what we’re being told here is that the majority of people who look at Honor’s products don’t think of Huawei, just as they don’t think of Samsung or Apple in particular.
As for more tech-savvy people, who have followed the whole soap opera closely, they finally already know that Honor smartphones no longer present any particular problems in the user experience.
The influence remains
One question remains: Honor’s smartphones will continue to resemble Huawei’s. For example, the Magic 5 Pro has a round and wide photo module at the back and runs on MagicOS. The design is therefore reminiscent of that of a Mate 50 Pro, while the interface remains very close to that of Huawei, EMUI. The brand had already explained itself in 2021, arguing that thousands of R&D engineers migrated from Huawei to Honor at the time of its independence. So they just continued working on projects they had already started. That’s where the similarities come from.
However, we are now in 2023 and the similarities remain. Honor refines its explanation a bit more in light of this observation. “We started from a similar base, not from a blank sheet. So there are definitely similarities. Honor doesn’t want to stand out just to stand out. We want to make changes when they are in the interest of the user and the product‘ said a representative. So understand that we should continue to see some similarities in the coming years. The distinctive developments will happen gradually, only if they have a more relevant justification than the simple desire not to act like Huawei.
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