Chinese device manufacturer Huawei declared Monday that it would begin an offensive into the high-end market for mobile phones, unveiling at the Consumer Electronics Show what it is calling the world's slimmest smartphone.
The company's Ascend P1 S is 6.68 millimeters thick, with a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen. Fully functional demonstration models on display at CES were noticeably thinner in the hand than existing phones and responded sharply to scrolls and touch commands.
Huawei Chairman Richard Yu said the new device will debut in Europe at the end of March, and in the U.S. before summer, for a price that would probably be around US$400. He said it would take a major marketing effort to convince consumers that Huawei products are on par with existing luxury models, but he expected the phone's performance to speak for itself.
"We want to use hero products to establish our brand," said Yu, referring to products that help to enhance a company's reputation and public image.
The company will reveal a more advanced phone next month at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, he added.
Chinese manufacturers like Huawei are known to consumers for producing lower-end phones and devices, with little experience in major branding campaigns, but are eager to prove themselves against industry giants like Apple and Samsung. While peers such as Lenovo have established themselves by acquiring brands like ThinkPad, Huawei signaled Monday it intends to break through on the strength of its hardware.
"It will take time, but we just have to prove ourselves," said David Mei, a Huawei product manager.
Mei said stronger phones would provide access to top operators, providing more exposure and better marketing opportunities.
The Ascend P1 S comes with 1GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera, as well as support for USB 3.0. Huawei is also releasing a sister device, the P1, which at 7.69 millimeters is slightly thicker but also comes with a slightly larger battery.
The newest Ascend phones will run the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.
Yu said Huawei's long experience in making mobile infrastructure equipment, an area where it is one of the world's largest manufacturers, gave it insights into optimizing the device's algorithms for finding base stations, which in turn provided features such as extended battery life.