back to article The Honor's a defo gamechanger, but good luck buying one

China has been threatening to up-end the phone business for a while, without coming up with a convincing end product. Finally, though, it has, and I expect to see a rapid shakeout of top tier handset manufacturers, already reeling from years of losses. The doomsday scenario for established vendors was that the Chinese would do …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Honda

    "In the 1970s, Honda cars were cheap and cheerful (and pretty nasty, I remember), but twenty years later they were associated with reliability and quality."

    True story, may have mentioned it here already. Back in those same 70s, an acquaintance inherited a load of money and boughts a Rolls-Royce. He asked his wife if she wanted one too. No, she wanted one of those Honda Civics. She insisted...she got her way.

    In the first year the Royce was in the garage for 7 months being fixed and waiting for parts (for a new car.) The little Honda just went on and on.

    Four years later, the Royce was still unreliable and the Honda had done 40 000 miles plus with only routine servicing.

    In the same period someone else bought a new Austin-Rover group vehicle which was also a Friday before bank holiday car (5 months off in first year.)

    ...but not all Japanese manufacturers were equal. A colleague's Datsun ran very reliably for three and a half years and then rusted beyond economic repair in a few months.

    Now the relevance of this is that Honda actually involved itself in the UK and learned what were our special requirements (which is how they took over the motorcycle industry.) They were up against fat complacency, but although they have been moderately successful (and as a UK company too) they have not taken over the world. The Japanese manufacturer who got nearest that, with its fanatical approach to reliability, is Toyota.

    The question is whether the part-Statist and part wild West Chinese economy is yet ready to do either of those things (as Orlowski is asking). Huawei seems to be involving itself in the UK rather as Honda did, but is it going to learn all the lessons of that in very short order?

  2. V 3

    security fixes

    One thing companies like Huawei are getting very wrong is their attitude to security updates to the OS. I have just hopped from an iPhone 5s to a Sim Free Huawei P7 in part while I wait for Sim Free iPhone 6S's - as yet unreleased of course - to become available here in Japan, but also to make make sure that my local eco-system is reasonably cross platform and not too tied in to Apple.

    It is a nice enough, cheap enough handset, with a decent screen - and I am very happy with it. But there is no fix for Stagefright on the horizon, or any of the other Android nasties hanging their hats on the - ah - hatstand... (At least, as far as I know: http://www.huawei.com/en/security/psirt/security-bulletins/security-advisories/hw-448928.htm)

    Which means I won't be getting another Huawei, whatever the price and spec. Apple, for all their diverse faults, release security fixes for the last few generations of handsets. Leaving aside all other considerations that is a big, big plus and something I will willingly pay for. Samsung and Google branded devices and a few others do of course, but then you are paying premium prices again - and for that, I would want a guarantee that a handset will be updated with security fixes for at least 3 years.

    Companies that are serious about the Android market really have to be prepared to support several generations of handset if they want punters to stay with them and to recommend them to elderly maiden aunts, and the like... Or at least, be very specific about their policies, and stick to them.

  3. Bloodbeastterror

    "it's got a USP: a clever sensor that genuinely helps with ease of use"

    And that is...?

    1. garetht t

      Re: "it's got a USP: a clever sensor that genuinely helps with ease of use"

      Presumably Andrew had a description of the sensor that was too large to fit in the margin.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "making a phone today is much easier than making a car. Anyone can make one....For Sony and HTC and others, there are big manufacturing costs and high marketing and corporate overheads, for products that are harder and harder to differentiate."

    If anyone can make one then it's difficult to see how Sony, HTC etc can have higher manufacturing costs. It must come down to marketing and corporate.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problems in Belgiumshire

    it is listed on the website of Bellgian/Dutch electronics mail order house C**lBl** as in stock, 349 Euro's, and ready for next day delivery

  6. Tromos
    FAIL

    I've got them for half that price

    Special offer until stocks arrive

  7. SuccessCase

    "The big budget, winner-takes-all flagship model looks broken, and only Apple and Samsung continue to make profits."

    Clearly when one of the two biggest handset manufacturers is the world's highest cap company the model looks broken !

    No the only thing that is broken, is race to the bottom, razor thin margin handset supply where the business of creating new handsets is commoditised. We've had it for years with laptops. All the oxygen is sucked out of the market and the quality will take a dive into the handset equivalent of a plastic HP branded widescreen piece of electronic breeze-block with a ton of crapwhare like Form added for good measure. Which company is competing with a business model that has prevented the market taking a dive along precisely those lines? Hint: it isn't Samsung. And you think China commoditising handsets even further and pumping them out at ever lower prices (but more crucially with ever lower margins) will help the consumer? This is one of the greatest fallacies and conceits of current tech popular opinion. It *only* helps when you are considering your purchase in relation to a single axis. Price.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Well, price is a rather important axis for a bloody large amount of people.

      1. SuccessCase

        Of course. My point is simply if the whole market is commoditised and starts competing on price, it actually ends up being worse for the consumer than many people realise. Running a company can be risky and when margins are razor thin, companies tend to do stuff simply to ensure they survive. That's why laptops got to be made of flimsy plastic and pre-installed with crapware and/or worse. I for one am extremely happy there is Apple competing on other axes than price. My beef is with the statement "The big budget, winner-takes-all flagship model looks broken" when it looks anything but (and as stated accommodates the highest market cap in the world - so if that's broken, give me some of it please). And the recommendation for this broken model, is more commodity priced handsets on a model that *is* broken, because outside of China, very few handset manufacturers are in the black. Especially because they don't own the whole stack and end up trying to differentiate via the crapware route (they have no margins to invest in R&D to truly differentiate).

        If the consumer is driven too much by price, the same will happen inside China as well.

        The handset market currently has far higher quality standards than the laptop market reached and Apple and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been a major contributing force (Apple is I think also now helping to improve the laptop market as few did before them - maybe Sony,IBM/Lenovo and to a very small extent Dell).

        I just found the broken model remark to be either uninformed or unintelligent, or quite possibly both.

  8. Anomalous Cowturd
    Holmes

    They've staked a claim on my money...

    I checked my "online payments" account and it shows a £210 discrepancy between the balance and cash available, although my account status on their website still shows as "not processed".

    I'm hoping to hear from them tomorrow as to expected delivery date.

    I'll report back here. If I haven't heard anything by the end of the week, I may go for a Wileyfox Storm instead.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: They've staked a claim on my money...

      That's known in credit parlance as a hold. Gas pumps are best known for it. Basically, they tell the credit company they're calling dibs and to reserve the amount until the transaction goes through, at which point it officially posts. It's not all bad, though. If it falls through, it's easy enough for them to rescind the hold.

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Unhappy

        Re: They've staked a claim on my money...

        This news just in...

        Dear Customer,

        Thank you for your recent interest, and subsequent order placed with vMall, for the much anticipated Honor 7.

        Honor appreciates your custom and is committed to providing you with up to date product delivery information. To avoid you having to contact our customer service team, here is the latest update on your pre-order.

        Due to unprecedented interest in the new highly anticipated Honor 7, all pre-ordered devices are expected to be fulfilled between 2-3 weeks. There is no action required from you, our team will keep you updated, and aim to despatch your Honor 7 as soon as stock becomes available.

        Thank you for your patience. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service team by calling us on our customer service numbers found here.

        Sincerely,

        Your vMall Team.

        support-uk@vmall.eu

        But I want it NOW! (Sad face)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It would be a game-changer if the battery was removable. Until then, no deal.

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Strange, OnePlus has great sucess with not letting people 'just buy' their phones. Why do you think Huawei won't do the same?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you mean "Oppo" ?? A well established Chinese phone maker.

      By accident, I am currently the owner of TWO Chinese smart phones, an Umi Zero and a Xiaomi Red Rice, both are very good phones for the money.

      The £140 Umi is a sleek and sexy alloy job with a glorious screen that feels like it should cost a lot more. Lollipop is only a beta option, but it is so fast it doesnt matter.

      The Xiaomi is a solidly made workhorse that cost me £94; as a "copy" of the Galaxy Note 4, it offers 80% of the performance for 20% of the price. It will get even closer to the Samsung when it finally gets Lollipop - a recent UI update to MIUI v6 increased its Antutu score by 50%.

      Except, unlike the Samsung, it has dual SIM, a micro SD slot, and a removable battery.

      Both are rooted out of the box, and both are being supported with numerous updates and custom ROM options.

      I think anyone paying over £200 for a phone, on or off contract, is a mug.

      1. flearider

        "The Xiaomi is a solidly made workhorse that cost me £94; as a "copy" of the Galaxy Note 4"

        where did you get this ????

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Most of these end up in various outlets in southeast Asia. I was recently in the Philippines and you could find a lot of them there in various marketplaces. Thing was, it's hard to sort out the decent stuff from the cheapos. I ended up obtaining one that seems a bit underpowered for its specs and the GPS unit in it was crappy, not to mention it's set up all funky and seems to contain some under-the-bonnet stuff that smells of sniffing, but it's better than nothing, it's a genuine dual-SIM (with separate MicroSD slot) and it's not like I paid a fortune for it (only about ~$70). I keep it as a car GPS unit and media player these days. I couldn't reflash it because of its obscurity, but rooting it was enough to whip it into some semblance of shape.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Car dealers

    When Japanese car makers were looking to expand into the UK the big established brands had a cull of dealerships, which effectively handed the Japanese a cheap established dealership network.

    Also agree with the comment in security and updates for android, my wife won't have one after buying a Motorola android that was a relatively new model (less than a year) only to have them drop support for the next version of android that their support site had said they would support and then no other updates of any sort.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    economics of shipping from China

    Not a comment about phones (or this particular one) per se, but it just struck me to wonder about how shipping costs from China don't mount up to make goods unaffordably expensive? Sure, the old man has bought printer ink and various dodads on ebay and the costs haven't been prohibitive, but my own experiences of buying direct from Korea have incurred significant costs (even before import duty).

    I understand that for shipping to be economical, the carrier has to be able to carry stuff on both legs of the journey. There was a time that they could get away with filling the holds with opium on the return leg, but what does the UK/Europe have to offer that's anything better than ballast these days?

    </idle musing>

  14. Chairo
    Meh

    The phone might have good features

    but my personal experience with Huawei tells me to buy something else next time.

    My 2 1/2 years old Honor 2 had just two updates after release. The first to 4.1 was so buggy that it was unusable - their fix was to offer a downgrade to 4.0. The second update to 4.2 came after one year. It was actually usable. It was also the last update this phone ever saw. At least in the international market.

    Looking at the P6 and P7 update availability, the situation might have changed somewhat, but they are still not really giving an acceptable after market service outside of China. Given the latest security bugs in Android that's a killer for Huawei in my book.

  15. CaptainBanjax

    Cost...

    Is relative. The thing with well known brands is their stuff has resale value (and they probably know this) so its not quite as expensive as you might think to keep up with the latest branded kit (unless it is your first purchase).

    Im using a Galaxy Note 3 which is a very expensive phone. Its served me well so far and apparently it will be getting Android M! In fact its such a good phone I havent felt compelled to upgrade at all for ages (I love my tech and I suffer from severe technolust from time to time).

    Ive had this phone since launch (September 2013, happy birthday phone!) and I suspect ill have it for at least another 2 years...or until something compelling comes along!

    I sold my Galaxy Note 2 to buy this phone so I probably ended up paying around £100 for it. The Note 2 I got by selling my Galaxy Nexus and so on...right back to my Motorola Startac in days of yore. Which I got as part of a contract.

    I miss that phone scorching my skull.

    I have no particular loyalty to Samsung they've just had a good run up until the Note 4. Not quite sold on the Edge or the S6.

  16. Cosmo

    Marketing / Brand Recognition is important for the masses

    Us tech geeks can look at the specs and price of a phone and use that information to make a decision on the product. But half the reason why Apple / Samsung and Sony hold big swathes of the market is obviously the swanky marketing, but the brand recognition too.

    I can guarantee that neither my girlfriend or any of her friends will have even heard of Huawei, and if the Honor 7 isn't available somewhere like CPW or other carrier's stores, then it's not going to get much traction.

    As a side note, I did have a Huawei Ascend G300 (and still do as a backup phone) which worked perfectly well when it was my main phone. It started out iwth Gingerbread and did get an upgrade to ICS.

    However, in line with other posters, I'm unconvinced about the likeliness of security updates and support. My concern would be, if you attempt to buy this phone directly from Huawei and their website isn't setup to cope with even buying a phone, how would it cope with having to send a phone back, owing to a fault?

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