Chinese Companies in Fierce Competition Over 5G at MWC

6 min read 

It’s the weekend before the official kick off of MWC 2019, and Chinese companies are already competing vigorously against one another in becoming the first to dish out a 5G device. It’s really no surprise since 5G is widely regarded as a turning point in the mobile phone industry. The next-generation network technology promises to crank up connection speeds by folds compared to 4G, allowing us to not only be able to download high resolution movies within seconds, but also make applications that require lightning fast transfer speeds such as cloud gaming a reality. Smartphone manufacturers have all been racing against time to ready their devices, hoping to be the first to announce a working 5G device and get a leg up in establishing better brand image. Thus, even though MWC is yet to begin, it’s interesting to take a close look at what some of these Chinese companies have already announced.

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 and Mi 9

Coming up first is Xiaomi who today announced its first 5G-ready smartphone, Mi MIX 3, which will be available in May. The Mi MIX 3 will be using the latest Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 Mobile Platform with the Snapdragon X50 modem, providing users with a transformative 5G experience. And following that, Xiaomi launched the international version of its newest 5G flagship Mi 9, which had already been announced in China’s Mainland last week. The Mi 9 features an AI triple camera setup, an astonishing 20W wireless charging and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform.

Xiaomi Mi 9 (Image Source: Xiaomi)
Xiaomi Mi 9
Xiaomi Mi 9 (Image Source: Xiaomi)
Xiaomi Mix 3 (Image Source: Xiaomi)
Xiaomi Mix 3
Xiaomi Mix 3 (Image Source: Xiaomi)

Although Xiaomi has launched 2 handsets that are 5G ready, it’s interesting to note that the company is in fact thinking ahead on a macro-level and shooting for a futuristic and truly interconnected experience with AIoT. As mentioned by the company’s senior Vice President Wang Xiang during the product launch, “Xiaomi’s future strategy will be focused on ‘smartphone + AIoT’”. Besides smartphones, Xiaomi has designed a whole spectrum of products for its ecosystem that can all be interconnected such as its Mi LED Smart Bulb, air purifiers, smart speakers and more. And even though Wang’s live demonstration of smart home devices ended in a rather awkward failure, as the air purifier on-site did not turn off at voice command, it did give us a glimpse into a potential futuristic living that we may be marching into in the coming decade or so, depending on the rate of 5G development. And it also shows that Xiaomi is not solely focused on the massive speed improvement brought along by 5G, but also thinking about its other potential applications and ability to interact with different devices.

OPPO’s 10x Lossless Zoom on newest 5G smartphone

OPPO is next on the list for having also announced a 5G phone for 2019. At the MWC 2019 press conference, OPPO said its first 5G device will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and X50 modem. Besides the very little specs info given, OPPO only teased that the unnamed device will be launching in Q2 2019 and work with the following four carrier networks: Swisscom, Australia’s Telstra and Optus, and Singtel in Singapore.

OPPO 5G smartphone (Iamge Source: OPPO)

OPPO actually teased its new to-be-released device over the official launch of its 10x Lossless Zoom technology on Saturday. Its newest 5G smartphone will be equipped with the new camera technology capable of bringing your distant subjects super close up. The 10x lossless zoom technology is achieved using three cameras: wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lenses. That means photos taken will retain much more detail and look A LOT crisper even when you zoom in at extreme levels. For those who love taking photos, this could mean seeing every last crease and groove on the trunks of the trees standing at the very back of your ultra-wide scenic photo of the Alps in France.

Even though OPPO has announced plans to include this new and fascinating technology in its 5G smartphone that will be released later this year, one can’t help but wonder about the price of such an advanced product. The 5G tag on any smartphone already carries with it a good sum of money to be paid, and now it’ll have a brand new 10x lossless zoom slapped on top of it? It wouldn’t be surprising if the final product costed a hefty sum. It will certainly be interesting to see how OPPO will face up to its competitors on this front.

Huawei’s Mate X

And squeezing itself into the spotlight right before MWC is Huawei with its foldable phone, the Mate X, which is priced at a rather pricey amount of €2,300 (that’s about $2,600). Huawei’s Mate X features an 8-inch screen, three cameras, and an interesting design that gives you a grippable base for one-handed use. Needless to say, the Mate X is also 5G-ready and will begin selling sometime during May or June of 2019. The Mate X houses the company’s own Kirin 980 processor and Balong 5000 5G modem chip for establishing a 5G connection. Right now Huawei says that the Mate X will download content four times faster than the current 4G connection, so this is roughly 1GB every 3 seconds. If say a regular high definition movie is around 1.5GB, then the Mate X can technically download one in about 2 seconds. And finish downloading a BlueRay movie in 10 seconds more or less.

Huawei Mate X
Huawei Mate X (Image source: Huawei)
Huawei Mate X
Huawei Mate X (Image source: Huawei)

Foldable phones, or rather bendable displays, have been the craze among Chinese manufacturers recently with Xiaomi, Royole and even ZTE’s sub-brand Nubia announcing foldable devices. Though many are eager to compare Huawei’s new Mate X to Samsung’s own foldable device, it should be noted that there are many other Chinese companies who will also be joining the fray with their own creative foldable handsets. On the one hand foldable phones may be a breakthrough in smartphone concepts, seeing as smartphones are beginning to hit a roadblock in terms of designs. On the other hand, it may potentially be a new channel for revenue for companies due to the inherent property of being both a phone AND a tablet, making it a great portable hybrid entertainment system. But this new era of bendable screens also represents the wild west of phone design: A phone could fold inward or outward, down the center or on two sides, or even bend back around your wrist like a watch, like what Nubia has been hinting at with its wearable smartphone. At this rather early stage of development, it’s hard to predict what direction foldable phones will develop into and whether or not it will be popularized.

Featured Image Source: OnePlus

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