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INTERVIEWS
By 6 April 2018 | Categories: interviews

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In the world of new flagship phones, two devices getting a lot of attention of late are the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, both of which were unveiled at a global launch in Paris on 27 March. Sporting a new design, bezel-less displays, screen notches, new camera setups and interesting colour options, much is anticipated from Huawei's latest flagship offerings. 

Now the pair have landed locally, and at the South African debut event last night, we sat down with Huawei SA's marketing director, Akhram Mohamed, to find out more.

TechSmart: Huawei opted to forego releasing a flagship phone at MWC. Why? 

Akhram Mohamed: We felt that the shift from P10 to the P20, which is also part of the naming decision, was so significant that whether or not other manufacturers were releasing devices at MWC, the new phones deserved their own space. It's a big leap forward for the company, and as such needed its own time. 

TS: This is the shortest wait since launch that a Huawei device has taken to get into the country. How significant a step is that for Huawei Mobile South Africa?

AM: It's a huge step, not just for Huawei Mobile South Africa, but also the country. We're proud of the fact that we could bring the phones into SA so close to the global unveiling, and have it available, as today (5 April) is our launch event for the P20 and P20 Pro. 

We're also hoping to have more of the same going forward. During our media briefing last month we spoke about our local warehouse plan. That again feeds into the idea of having devices available sooner to the local consumer, as well as having enough stock and ensuring we can provide the necessary after sales service.  

TS: Obviously Huawei has certain goals in mind for the P20 and P20 Pro. Are you expecting to sell larger volumes of the device compared to previous flagships?

AM: We're extremely optimistic. All I can say at this stage is that we have not looked at exact numbers, and doing so would be a little premature. That said, we do believe that these devices will be more successful than the previous generations.

To give you some idea of what the early reaction has been, pre-orders for the phones have been up for the past couple of days now, and we already have a few thousand consumers ready and waiting to pick up their devices from carriers across the country. We've had a similar pre-order strategy with previous phones, but for the P20 and P20 Pro we decided to increase our number of offerings and it's paying dividends already. 

TS: Given the standout features on the Pro compared to the P20, do you think local consumers will still be interested in buying the latter?

AM: The operator confidence on both these products has been great. In terms of the number of devices we've secured for the country, this is actually one of the first times we can say that both phones are fairly on par. 

If you take last year's P series devices for example, there was a higher demand for the P10 than the P10 Plus. This time round we expect demand for both the P20 and P20 Pro to be about the same. 

TS: Much has been made of the triple lens and 40 MP camera on the P20 Pro. What makes it such a standout feature?

AM: Well firstly when it comes to the megapixel count it's not just about the numbers. For us it's about the user experience and how the 40 MP camera can enhance it. 

One of the key aspects of the P20 Pro's camera setup is pixel fusion, so if you're not necessarily utilising a 40 MP shot, and perhaps you have a 10 MP one, the balance of the pixels are used to draw in more light and improve the overall low light performance.  

Another important element of the 40 MP camera is the ability to zoom in on pictures and not lose quality. When you start to crop or manipulate an image from a camera with a smaller megapixel count, you sometimes get pixelation or lose detail. With the 40 MP RGB lens on the P20 Pro, that's no longer an issue. 

For consumers that you take their mobile photography a step further, the P20 Pro has the camera setup to do that. 

TS: On the AI front, Kirin 970 has viewed as a game changer. Do you think more Mobile AI functions will be coming on the platform soon, because the Mate 10 Pro was a tad underpowered on that front?

AM: At the time it was introduced on the Mate 10 Pro, it was a first for the mobile industry. We found the developer market quite restrictive in that regard, with one manufacturer and one model featuring the chipset, there was not enough incentive for people to develop for it.  

Now that we've added that Mobile AI platform to the P series with the P20 and P20 Pro, it opens up more opportunities and greater desire for developers to create solutions and applications for these devices.

We also have maintained our partnership with the likes of Microsoft, and have added offline native operation for applications like Prisma, which was not provided previously on the Kirin 970 chipset. 

As such, it's an evolution and the more devices we can bring to the Mobile AI platform, the more solutions we can deliver.

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