The global smartphone industry has been and is in decline but in the leadup to HONOR's global launch of the flagship View 20, the company doesn't seem to have gotten the notice. The manufacturer recently unveiled its plan of action for 2019 and touted a 27.1% increase in shipments over 2018 from 2017.
HONOR's gains not only place the company first in online sales for the mid and top-tier segment in the past 12 months but also present the company with an opportunity to lead globally the OEM claims. That's evolution as a company all starts with the launch of its premier handset in just a few days on January 22.
The high-end 2019 device was announced in China at the end of December and is said to be an embodiment of the direction the company plans to go moving forward to maintain its momentum.
Taking AI to the next level and refining design
Available in red and blue colors with a 'V-shape' color gradient that HONOR says is enabled by nanolithography technology, the design changes are much more subtle than the other features enabled by AI. The rear-panel does feature two separate camera housings with a half-inch 48-megapixel sensor — Sony's IMX586 lens — backed by a TOF 3D Sensor and artificial intelligence-powered AI Ultra-Clarity.
The evolution of the front panel is more pronounced since users won't see a notch or an oversized punch hole in the front. Rather than drilling almost completely through the full-view display, the company placed the HONOR View20's camera under a light guide plate to reduce the percentage of the display that can't be used and reduce light bleed. The design is a natural progression from the 18:9 nearly bezel-less screen used with previous handsets or the notch used with the HONOR 10.
The real evolution for the handset and the main focus moving forward centers around how AI is used for that and other hardware.
As with other advances, that's driven on the camera side of things by the dual-ISP and dual-NPU of the in-house Kirin 980 chipset. That builds on the efficiency and performance of the chipset powering the HONOR 10 and that device's Semantic Image Segmentation technology. The tech allowed the HONOR 10's camera to recognize more than 500 individual scenarios across 22 categories in real-time to enable the best possible photos.
That's also a feature that's going to advance further with the HONOR View20 and going forward through the collation of multiple shots when images are snapped. AT the announcement of the upcoming HONOR flagship, the company had claimed that it will improve imaging and camera capabilities by 134-percent and 46-percent respectively.
HONOR is bolstering performance with AI too.
For connections, Link Turbo will use AI to automate and improve the efficiency of network switching based on user behavior and network conditions. The new feature can also utilize both network types simultaneously to boost download speed and network performance.
Link Turbo stacks on top of a performance boost to general performance, which takes the form of GPU Turbo. Unveiled in mid-2018, that reduces the energy consumption of the chip by 30-percent while enabling up to a 60-percent increase in graphics performance. That's also linked to a PC-grade liquid cooling system to improve heat dissipation by as much as 41-percent.
A clear direction in a faltering market
Each of the changes being implemented by HONOR provides a clear indication of where the company is headed. Summarily, the company has taken a look at the faltering smartphone market and reductions in overall global shipments and decided to differentiate and improve instead of waiting for an improvement.
The approach isn't dissimilar to that taken by its parent company. In both cases, AI is playing a key role in delivering relatively big improvements and new features intended to generate a need for users to upgrade their devices instead of waiting it out. The increasing length of time between a consumer buying new handsets is one of the leading reasons that shipments have stalled and are expected to continue stalling.
That's a tactic that appears to have worked for both smartphone makers, with both posting respectable gains in spite of shortcomings from effectively every other participating OEM. It's also allowed Huawei to supplant Apple as the number two smartphone maker in the world. That kind of market upheaval is exactly what the company hopes and plans to replicate with HONOR throughout 2019.