SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – Huawei is joining hands with Korean mobile carrier LG Uplus for the official introduction of its latest premium smartphone variants, the P9 and P9 Plus. The phones, for which prices have yet to be revealed, will hit the local market exclusively via LG Uplus on December 2, Huawei said Wednesday.
Huawei entered the Korean market in 2014, but only with its mid to lower-priced line-up, making the imminent launch the first of its kind for the company.
The P9 series, which was unveiled in April in the U.K., is best marked by its dual rear camera, which it co-engineered with famed German camera and optics maker Leica.
The phones are equipped with the latest version of Huawei’s in-house chipset, the Kirin 955, and the world’s first virtual triple antenna setup, which guarantees high connection quality. The P9 has a 5.2-inch display and a 3,000mAh battery, while the P9 Plus boasts a 5.5-inch display and a 3,400mAh battery.
The P9 series have been a big success for Huawei. Over 9 million units of the phones have been sold since its launch, which helped the company triple its global market share for premium smartphones from 1.2 percent in Q2 2015 to 3.5 percent in Q2 2016, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Huawei has a long relationship with LG Uplus, which has been its Korean telecom partner of choice since it launched its Korean operations, and helping the Chinese phone maker expand its business on the peninsula. The two companies also teamed up recently for an R&D venture dedicated to developing chipsets for narrow-band IoT.
“Our cooperation with Huawei has helped us to build trust over the years,” said an LG Uplus official. “Their products are highly competent, as proved by the global audience, and it’s a worthwhile investment for us to target Korea’s premium smartphone market, which is split primarily between Samsung Electronics and Apple.”
Nonetheless, industry watchers are skeptical that Huawei will achieve success in Korea.
Although opportunity exists, given the stagnant premium smartphone market here since the launch of the iPhone 7 series, Huawei’s local image as a budget phone manufacturer could have a negative influence on sales of the P9 series.
The fact that the local market has long been a challenging one for foreign smartphone companies besides Apple is another stumbling block that Huawei will have to overcome.
Given the circumstances, Huawei and LG Uplus are considering adjusting the prices of the new phones compared to Europe, where they were priced between 599 and 749 Euros.
“A strong perception still exists among local consumers that Chinese smartphones are budget products,” said an industry official. “How they market their brand image, on top of their pricing policy, will be the deciding factors of Huawei’s success here.”
By Joseph Shin (email@example.com)