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Techilicious with Rajiv Makhni: Should you buy a Huawei or an Honor phone?

Here’s clearing the air and telling you why you should go ahead

brunch Updated: Jun 08, 2019 23:58 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Huawei,Honor,innovative products
In 2018, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world’s second largest smartphone vendor

It’s the biggest, most burning question in the world of tech worldwide right now. Huawei and Honor make some of the most innovative products and phones – but should you buy one right now? If you’re confused as to why not, then obviously the rock you’ve been living under must have been a very nice one since you’ve been there for so long. Here are the most detailed answers to every question you have in your mind about a situation that threatens the tech world like nothing else has before.

What’s going on with Huawei?

It got banned. By the US Government and Donald Trump. From doing any business with any US-based company. The main reason given for this is that Huawei is a “Chinese spy” and posed a “risk to national security”.

I’ve heard this before. Is Huawei really a spy company?

No real proof has ever been given. Even then, the accusation was mainly against their networking equipment. For their phones and consumer products, they’ve not even been accused. This is very little about tech, but completely about politics and trade wars. Huawei has basically become an unwitting victim of the relentless war between the US and China. By threatening Huawei, the US is showing an example of what it can do if China doesn’t come around to its way of thinking.

How does the ban affect Huawei?

It’s a crippling blow. Huawei has lots of partnerships in place with American companies like Google (all their phones are on the Android OS), Intel (laptop chipsets), Qualcomm (mobile chipsets) and many more. And the US doesn’t want this ban to apply just to US companies. It’s strong-arming all its allies, including European companies, to follow suit. Effectively, one of the biggest tech companies in the world has to literally rethink its entire portfolio and strategy.

Is it really one of the biggest tech companies in the world?

Huawei is huge and also one of the fastest growing companies in the world. In 2018, Huawei shipped 200 million smartphones worldwide. It surpassed Apple to become the world’s second largest smartphone vendor.

Huawei is dominant in all tech categories, including laptops

In 2019, it was growing faster than anyone else worldwide. And in literally every category including laptops and smartwatches, it was dominant.

So why is this a threat to the entire tech world?

Lots of reasons, and each of these affect us as consumers too. First, let’s be very clear here. This really isn’t about Huawei. It’s all about politics. If they can do this to Huawei, they can do it to any other company. Which tech company will be next?

Second, hurting Huawei hurts innovation across the industry. This is a company that in the last two years has showcased some serious R&D. Huawei is one of the world’s largest patent holders, with around 87,805 patents granted. They spend serious money on taking tech to the next level. They came up with the world’s first 7nm chipset, the world’s first Leica triple-camera with AI, the world’s first 5G enabled chipset, the world’s first FullView notebook – the list is long. Innovations like these have made life for consumers easier and brought prices down. The reason why we can buy a phone today for 10K that has the features of a full- fledged flagship is because of innovations like these.

So should I buy a Huawei or Honor Phone?

The billion dollar question. Here’s a simple, straight answer. Huawei got banned and then it was given a 90-day respite. Within that lies the answer. This 90-day lease of life is an obvious negotiation tactic. The US has thrown down the gauntlet, shown its might, threatened to take away partnerships and now expect China to come around in these 90 days. And that is what will happen. In these 90 days, things will get sorted out and no ban will come into play.

China can retaliate far more brutally by banning sales of all US products in China including Apple

Huawei is too big, too important, too effective, too large in the tech universe to be taken down. Second, China can retaliate far more brutally by banning sales of all US products in China including Apple, plus withdrawing rare earth mineral sales to the US (rare earth minerals are used in high-tech devices, the automotive industry, clean energy and defence, and China produces 70 per cent of the world total). So, the ban will never come into play.

China could withdraw sales of rare earth mineral used in high-tech devices, the automotive industry, clean energy and defence if US bans Huawei

Thus, if you like the existing devices from Huawei and Honor, then go ahead and buy them. You will get security updates and all the Google services now and even after 90 days. I have that from reliable sources across platforms.

But this weaponisation of a company and threat to innovation in the world of tech, is worrisome. These foolhardy tactics played by immature politicians could hurt the most important period in the world of tech. We live in the golden era of innovation and stupid political game play could bust the tech bubble and throw us back many years. Let’s make sure we never let that happen.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

Techilicious appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, June 9, 2019

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First Published: Jun 08, 2019 21:25 IST