Huawei's P9 not for the 'boring'
A fashion show in Bali is hardly the usual hangout for hundreds of tech-heads but Huawei wants to impress.
Forget the catwalk models, the main attraction here doesn't need clothes. It’s the rather photogenic P9, a phone with a little added x-factor.
"To choose a phone is almost choosing a lifestyle," says Glory Zhang, Huawei's Chief Marketing Officer, at its South Pacific launch. "People are so much about the phone you're using, the apps you've got."
The Chinese tech giant's flagship offering for 2016 has not one but two camera lenses. Not any old lenses either. The P9 has been co-engineered with German camera maker Leica, a partnership that's set to be ongoing.
"It was a marriage made in heaven," said Huawei's Luke Au, Director, Handset Product Marketing, South Pacific Region.
Huawei's decision to focus on camera technology couldn't come at a more opportune time.
According to the company's research, in 2015, over 1 trillion photos were taken. By 2017, nearly 80 percent of photos will be taken using mobile phones.
On the P9, one of the lenses is for colour, the other for black and white. Huawei claims that when combined they achieve a greater level of depth and detail, and great low-light performance. Each camera has a 12-megapixel sensor, an LED flash and hybrid autofocus.
"A photograph must have life, energy and most importantly tell a story. The P9 will reinvent smartphone technology," said Mr Au.
In the global battle of the smartphone manufacturers, the Chinese tech giant currently sits at number three. It shipped more than 100 million smartphones last year.
Cool features aside, can phones from Huawei oust Apple and shove aside Samsung aside?
"We do not care about position," Ms Zhang told Newshub. "What we care about is satisfaction from our customers."
To help promote the brand, the tech giant hired Hollywood heavyweights Scarlett Johansson and Henry Cavill.
It wants to show the P9 is as much about style as it is about substance.
So who is the ideal P9 user?
"Chic, culturally sophisticated and a lover of life," says Ms Zhang. "They're not boring. They care more about how tech can change their life."
Spark's head of mobile marketing David Redmore was among the Kiwi contingent at the South Pacific launch. He's initially impressed with the P9 and the direction Huawei are taking.
He told Newshub that when most people are phone shopping, after brand, what they care about most is screen, battery life, and camera, and all in that order. The P9 seems to tick all boxes.
"From a marketing point of view Huawei have put a lot of investment into emotional marketing. If the cool kids are happy to have a brand with Huawei on it then they’re in with a shot."
Kiwi tech commentator Scott Bartley said Huawei had made good inroads with the P9's predecessor, the P8, a high end phone in a mid-range price bracket. But this goes a step further.
"In terms of quality the products are right up there. Now they just have to build image."
The P9 certainly looks and feels good with a 5.2 inch screen and thin all metal casing. There’s a fingerprint scanner and for those wondering about the cameras there's no bumps at the back.
As for being water resistant? Not really although it did get drenched by a glass of water by a very enthusiastic Peter Tong, Huawei's president of the South Pacific region. Dropping it in a toilet and expecting it to work is not an option.
Huawei's tagline is the "the new choice". Will the P9 be yours? You can find out at the beginning of June when it is set to go on sale in New Zealand. Prices have yet to be announced.
Also on show at the South Pacific region launch was something for the ladies.
Huawei has done well with the unisex smartwatch it launched last year. Now it's giving the girls a special look in. In keeping with its growing fondness for collaboration, it's partnered with Swarovski to produce an attractive range of ladies watches with faces ringed with jewels.
I got a quick look at Huawei's Matebook, a 2-1 tablet PC that runs full Windows 10.
It has lots of substance without compromising on style. It's thin at 6.99mm and it weighs just 640 grams.
It also looks a lot like the iPad, but a nice touch is the stylus with laser pointers which is great for presentations.
The cover with built in keyboard is also very easy to use with nicely spaced keys -- again great for presentations.
NZ prices and release dates for both the Huawei ladies watch and Matebook will be out soon.