Those of us on holiday in China this week may have missed the launch of the latest Nexus devices from Google on Thursday, and the subsequent Weibo trends that ensued.
Among the new Nexus range was a first-time entrant Huawei. Google’s newest flagship phablet, the Huawei Nexus 6P, is the first collaboration project between Huawei and Google within the Nexus range.
The matchup with Google is a win for Huawei who are looking to shake of their rocky start in the U.S. market and expand their smart device brand. However the marketing director for ZTE, a fellow Chinese telecoms company looking to do exactly the same thing, was less positive about the Google-Huawei device.
Liu Qian Hao used the social media platform to point out to Huawei CEO Yu Chengdong that the Nexus 6P looks a bit too similar to the ZTE Grand S. The comment attracted a lot of attention, sparking responses from both Huawei and ZTE fans.
Admittedly the external design has some similarities, though it’s a bit of a stretch to compare the actual meat of the phones to each other. The Nexus 6P appears to be sleek and well thought out (we are yet to try out the UI), with an all-metal design that is thinner than its predecessor. It has a 5.7-inch display, making it slightly smaller than previous phablets, and of course comes with Android’s 6.0 Marshmallow.
It’s powered by a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 8-core processor and features Type-C USB charging. The Nexus 6P will also include Goggle’s ‘Sensor Hub’, their recent processor upgrade which is designed to more efficiently monitor the phone’s sensors while sleeping.
While the screen is a tad smaller, it actually covers 74% of the device, more than the Nexus 6, which Google claims they added because it was more “immersive.” The model also includes the ‘Nexus Imprint’ fingerprint sensor positioned on the back of the phone.
The camera portion of the phone looks similar to the ZTE Grand S, but as far as we can tell, that’s really the extent of the potential overlap, and it’s certainly not the closest copy we’ve seen between Chinese smartphones.
Management teams in Chinese tech companies are not shy when it comes to openly criticizing competing products on social media, though the vitriol is often directed at easier targets, like Apple. In April this year LeTV CEO Jia Yueting took to Weibo to compare Apple to the Hitler, before posting a relatively high-budget remake of Apple’s iconic 1984 ad to playfully smear the U.S. company.
Huawei has not returned fire at this point, either on social media or elsewhere. The Chinese company has been banned from operating its core telecoms operations in the U.S. since 2012. At the time the company was accused of using their equipment to spy on behalf of the Chinese government, an allegation Huawei denies.
While Huawei has been unable to overcome its impasse with U.S. Congress, they have been able to sell their consumer smartphones. It may sound like a minor concession prize, but having a U.S. market, however small, is something many Chinese smartphone makers, including Xiaomi and LeTV, haven’t yet been able to achieve.
ZTE is also pushing hard to expand its presence in the U.S. The Chinese company is seeking to sell more phones under the ZTE brand, rather than rebranding devices under carrier brands. They’ve teamed up with Blackberry and U.S. design teams to launch their most recent flagship phone, the 5.5-inch Axon.