/Can Huawei still lead the industry with its lingering supply chain issue?

Can Huawei still lead the industry with its lingering supply chain issue?

If Huawei wants to stand out in the smartphone battle in China, the company has to do a lot more than tackle its supply chain issue.

Huawei, China’s mobile phone manufacturer giant, has seen criticism over its use of smartphone chips and lack of technical breakthrough after it launched its latest mobile phone models P10 and P10 Plus.

Due to the shortage of Universal Flash Storage (UFS) memory card supplies, Huawei has been applying eMMC cards to its new mobile phone devices. It is crucial for users to have a seamless experience playing high-resolution games or watching media content, and UFS cards can do a much better job than what eMMC cards can achieve. The former are able to run and process up to three times faster than the latter.

Now, Huawei’s P10 phones are equipped with either type of the flash memory card models. You will be lucky if you happen to purchase the ones with UFS cards. There has been talk in the industry claiming that Huawei has been shipping its latest mobile phone devices with cheaper flash memory cards, but Huawei has denied this.

Yu Chengdong spoke at Huawei's Media Open Day on Tuesday. Photo by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech.
Yu Chengdong spoke at Huawei’s Media Open Day on Tuesday. Photo by Timmy Shen/AllChinaTech.

“The cost difference between an eMMC card and a UFS one is only about USD 0.40 to 0.50. People said that we use eMMC to save costs which is impossible as there’s not much of a cost difference,” said Yu Chengdong, Huawei’s consumer business group chief, to the press in Shenzhen on Tuesday during the company’s first ever Media Open Day.

“We make sure the [phone’s] performance is not compromised for those equipped with eMMC memory cards,” said Yu. “Integrity is our first priority.”

Given that Huawei is now selling more than 100 million phones annually, according to Yu, the smartphone manufacturer has to improve stability of its component supply chain. “Huawei might not directly manufacture the components, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have the core technology to do so,” said Yu.

Another thing that consumers are seemingly not so satisfied with is the lack of technological breakthroughs in the P10 phones and its variant models. The latest phones released in March do come in six different colors and feature its new dual camera technique developed with Leica, but there are few new functions.

“We are a front-runner in developing the dual camera technique,” said He Gang, Huawei’s product line head, during the Open Day. “The new devices are equipped with more advanced lenses as compared to our previous model.”

Indeed, Huawei shed light on how well its phones perform in terms of mobile photography. Huawei’s major rival Xiaomi has recently released its new phone model which also features a dual camera system. Oppo, another smartphone manufacturer in China, boasts its phone camera capability as well. It is fair to say that having a better phone camera can be a game changer for companies wanting to stand out in this battle.

“Users do care about phone cameras,” said He. “Our new dual camera system is something we are particularly proud of.”

(Top photo screenshot from Huawei.com)

Timmy contributes at AllChinaTech. He's passionate about photography, education, food and all things tech. He holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.