Huawei launches its new MediaPad M5 tablets

Tablets may not be the most exciting product category these days, but they also aren’t quite as dead as some pundits would like you to believe — and for Huawei, they are actually a growing business. Indeed, the company argues that it’s now the third largest tablet manufacturer in the world. It’s no surprise then that the company today unveiled two( or three, depending on how you want to counting) new tablets under its MediaPad brand at its annual Mobile World Congress press conference in Barcelona.

Unlike Huawei’s new MateBook laptops, which feature a rather odd camera that’s built into the keyboard, we’re talking about some fairly standard tablets here.

The new MediaPad M5 tablets will come in two sizes: 8.4 and 10.8 inches, starting at 349 and 399 Euro respectively. For the most part, the smaller and larger tablets is precisely the same specs, with 2560 x1600 showings( for a 359 and 280 PPI rating, respectively ), Kirin 960 quad-core processors, 4GB of RAM and either 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage space. They also come with fairly standard 8MP front cameras and 13 MP rear cameras, all the usual sensors( including a fingerprint sensor) and Android 8.0. All of the SKUs also offer an SD card expansion slot that can bring the total on-board storage up to 256 GB.

Gartner reports first ever global decline in smartphone sales

Global smartphone sales have not been firing on all cylinders for several years now but Gartner’s latest figures record the first ever decline since the analyst began tracking the market all the way back in 2004.( Though it’s not the first analyst to call a deterioration .)

Gartner’s figures peg sales of smartphones to end users in Q4 2017 at virtually 408 million divisions — a 5.6 per cent deterioration over its Q4 2016 figure.

It tells No. 1 ranked smartphone maker Samsung insured a year-on-year unit deterioration of 3.6 per cent in Q4, while sales of Apple’s iPhones fell 5 per cent in the holiday quarter, though it says Cupertino stabilized its second-place marketshare.

Gartner says two main factors led to the Q4 sales fell: A slowing of upgrades from feature phones to smartphones due to a lack of quality “ultra-low-cost” smartphones; and existing smartphone owneds selecting quality models and keeping them for longer, lengthening the replacement cycle.

Apple’s performance in Q4 was also impacted by the later availability of its new top-of-the-range iPhone X, which drove slower upgrades of its other two new smartphones, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. While component shortfalls and manufacturing capacity constraints also contributed to a long delivery cycle for the iPhone X.

Gartner tells it’s expecting a delayed sales boost for Apple in the first quarter of 2018 , now that the flagship’s delivery cycle has returned to normal.

It’s also expecting a boost for Samsung in Q1 as it unpacks its successor Galaxy flagships.

For full year 2017, Samsung carved out a 20.9 per cent marketshare to Apple’s 14.0 per cent.

Far East

Last month analyst Canalys reported a first annual decline in smartphone shipments in China — which for years took up the baton on smartphone growth from saturated Western marketplaces. But even Chinese purchasers appear to be getting tapped out.

It’s still a growth narrative for Chinese OEMs, though. And Gartner tells the combined market share of Chinese vendors in the top five increased by 4.2 percentage points in 2017, while the market share of the top two, Samsung and Apple, remained unchanged.

China’s Huawei and Xiaomi were the only smartphone vendors to actively increase their the shares in Q4, according to Gartner, with year-on-year unit growth in the holiday one-quarter of seven. 6 and 79 per cent, respectively.

The analyst credits Huawei’s uplift to broadening the appeal of its portfolio with new handset launchings in the one-quarter. It also says Xiaomi’s “competitive” portfolio accelerating its growth in the emerging APAC market and helped it win back lost share in China.

Huawei remained in third place in the global smartphone vendor rankings, taking a 9.8 per cent share in full year 2017 and shrinking the gap with Apple and Samsung.

Overall, Gartner says total smartphone marketings exceeded 1.5 billion divisions in 2017 — a year-on-year strengthening of 2.7 per cent.

On the OS front, Google’s Android platform extended its lead in 2017, taking an 86 per cent share of the total market, up 1.1 percentage points from a year ago. While iOS took 14 per cent.( The “other OS” category shriveled to a nearly non-existent 0.1 per cent .)

And as the world’s biggest mobile tradeshow, MWC, rolls around again, there will be some fresh Android-powered handsets being unboxed in the coming days — including from Samsung, Nokia-branded HMD and others.

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U.S. intelligence agencies are still warning against buying Huawei and ZTE phones

Things are still appearing pretty bleak for Huawei’s plans to subdued the U.S. marketplace. Earlier this week, half a dozen top each member of intelligence agencies, including the FBI, CIA and NSA reaffirmed surveillance concerns about the company and fellow Chinese smartphone maker ZTE.

All of this is nothing new, of course. The companies’ troubles date back at least as far back as 2012, when a House Intelligence Committee cited both as a potential security hazards over close ties to the Chinese government. The following year, the latter are both barred from selling product to the U.S. government.

FBI director Chris Wray echoed those concerns during a hearing Tuesday, stating, “We’re deeply concerned about health risks of permitting any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.”

Huawei has since issued a reply, accusing the government of “inhibiting[ its] business in the U.S. market” and adding, “Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity danger than any ICT vendor, sharing as we do common global supply chains and production capabilities.”

The letter closely echoed the statements of an angry Richard Yu on stage last month at CES. “We’ve won the trust of the Chinese carriers, ” Yu fumed at the company’s keynote. “We’ve also won spots on all of the European carriers.”

That off-the-cuff speech came as an AT& T deal fell through last second, seemingly at the behest of the same lawmakers warning against purchasing the company’s hardware. It was a big jolt for the company, bearing in mind the fact that a majority of U.S. phone purchases still run through carriers.

Meantime, Huawei has attempted to doubled down on non-carrier retailers here the Country. That aggressive pushing, however, has put the company in even more hot water, as fake reviews for its flagship the Mate 10 Pro have reportedly surfaced on Best Buy’s website, apparently linked to a Facebook contest spurred on by Huawei.

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