Huawei Technologies made headlines on Monday when it unveiled a series of exciting new products, ranging from a sleek gold smartwatch to a futuristic smart car. However, the tech giant left many of its eager viewers feeling disappointed by not sharing more details about its highly anticipated Mate 60 smartphone series. This omission prompted an outpouring of complaints on various online platforms.
The event, held in a grand stadium and watched by millions online, had been eagerly anticipated as the stage for Huawei to finally break its silence on the Mate 60 smartphone. This device garnered significant attention, especially in Chinese state media, as it was seen as a symbol of Huawei’s resilience in the face of the challenging U.S. sanctions imposed in 2019. These sanctions had severely curtailed the company’s access to advanced chipmaking technology and had a profound impact on its smartphone business.
Interestingly, the Mate 60 smartphone series had already made a low-key appearance in the market, quietly launched during a visit by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to China. Some users and industry analysts who got their hands on the Mate 60 Pro noted that it was equipped with a Chinese-made chip and boasted impressive 5G capabilities. However, Huawei had remained tight-lipped about the full capabilities of the Mate 60 series, which was widely seen as the company’s major effort to challenge Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market.
During the event, Huawei’s CEO of the consumer business group, Yu Chengdong, acknowledged the smartphone’s existence in his opening remarks, expressing his gratitude for the tremendous support received, particularly since the launch of the Mate 60 Pro Pioneer Program. This acknowledgment was met with enthusiasm from the audience, who chanted “far, far ahead,” a phrase that had gone viral on Chinese social media in recognition of Huawei’s competitive spirit.
As the event unfolded over two hours, however, viewers grew increasingly impatient, wondering when Yu would delve into the details of the Mate 60 series. Instead, they were presented with a range of other new products, including tablets and an ultra-high-end brand called ‘Ultimate Design.’
The disappointment reached a crescendo after the event, with the topic “Huawei’s press conference did not mention smartphones” trending on Weibo, China’s popular social media platform. It became one of the top ten most-read hashtags, garnering over 8 million views. Frustration was evident in comments like, “Why didn’t they talk about it? Everyone watched it because of the smartphone.”
The event concluded with a somewhat baffling scene: individuals on stage waving Mate 60 smartphones with their flashlights switched on, singing “Glorious Years,” a popular Cantopop hit by Hong Kong rock band Beyond. This ending, coupled with the lack of discussion about the smartphone, left many viewers puzzled and questioning the purpose of the event.
Huawei, in response to queries about its decision not to discuss the Mate 60 Pro during the event and the subsequent social media backlash, remained silent. Technology analyst Bryan Ma, from consultancy IDC, suggested that it was not surprising that Huawei avoided the topic, given the controversy surrounding it. He explained that the event had a packed agenda with many other products to introduce, while the Mate60 had already been available in stores and in users’ hands for several weeks.
Nevertheless, Huawei did update its official website after the event, providing pricing information for the Mate 60 Pro+ (starting at 8,999 yuan, approximately $1,230) and the Mate 60 RS Ultimate Design version (priced from 12,999 yuan). For comparison, Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro starts at 7,999 yuan in China.
The timing of the event added another layer of significance as it coincided with the two-year anniversary of Huawei rotating Chairwoman Meng Wanzhou’s return to China. Meng’s return in 2021 marked the end of her nearly three-year detention over alleged violations related to the sale of Huawei-linked equipment to Iran, which violated U.S. sanctions. Her extradition case had been a contentious issue between Beijing and Washington, and her return followed an agreement with U.S. prosecutors.
Broadcast live across Huawei stores, 156 local media outlets, and various Chinese social media platforms, Monday’s product launch event attracted a substantial audience. Shoppers at Huawei’s flagship store in Beijing even erupted into applause when Yu took the stage. One of these shoppers, 29-year-old engineer Zhang Nianrong, expressed his belief that the Mate 60 Pro carried a significance that extended far beyond its technical specifications. He saw it as a symbol of human technological progress, resilient in the face of even the most severe sanctions. To him and many others, it was an inspiration for the younger generation.
Huawei’s recent product launch may have left some viewers disappointed by its omission of the much-anticipated Mate 60 smartphone series. However, it’s clear that the smartphone, though not extensively discussed during the event, continues to generate significant interest and intrigue among tech enthusiasts and consumers alike.