Apple and Samsung’s domination of the smartphone world is being challenged like never before, with Chinese companies muscling in with cheaper and just as innovative devices.
In an ominous sign for the tech titans — whose iPhone and Galaxy handsets have had a stranglehold on the almost $500 billion market for years — China’s Huawei Technologies Co. has unseated Apple to become the world’s second-largest smartphone maker. Now, it’s setting its sights on No. 1 Samsung, which has seen disappointing profits as Chinese phones gain share of a market that looks increasingly like it has peaked.
And others are not far behind. Here are the players — and phones — to watch:
Huawei: The Big Threat
Based in the southern Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen, Huawei is plowing cash into bolstering its phones’ camera capabilities in a quest to dominate. Its flagship P20 Proboasts a three-lens camera that was co-engineered with the 104-year-old German camera maker Leica. Huawei also offers a shiny, rainbow-effect handset finish known as Twilight, differentiating their product from the many monotone smartphones on the market.
Like most of the Chinese devices, the P20 Pro is also cheaper. It retails for about $800 in China, compared with the $1,000-plus cost of an iPhone X. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 — which debuts on Thursday in New York — is expected to be priced at at least $1,200, according to reports in the tech media. Active in more than 170 countries, Huawei has managed to outstrip Apple on smartphone shipments despite being almost entirely absent from the U.S., where it’s failed to strike a distribution deal amid security concerns.
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