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Huawei puts Honor above Android at new smartphone launch

Credit: REUTERS/CHINA STRINGER NETWORK

Huawei put uncertainty over the future of its devices business to one side on Tuesday with the launch of new Honor smartphones, in a confident display of the Chinese firm's technology.

By Paul Sandle

LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - Huawei put uncertainty over the future of its devices business to one side on Tuesday with the launch of new Honor smartphones, in a confident display of the Chinese firm's technology.

The world's second-biggest phone maker runs its devices on Google's Android platform outside China, but the U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei HWT.UL from buying U.S. goods last week, throwing future software updates into question.

The United States temporarily eased restrictions on Huawei on Tuesday, granting it a licence to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19, meaning that updates of Google GOOGL.O apps like Gmail and YouTube can continue until then.

George Zhao, president of Huawei's youth-focused brand Honor, told hundreds of reporters, bloggers and analysts that he was "really happy to see so many friends".

"No matter what happens, no matter what kind of challenges ... just smile and overcome them," he told the audience, a mantra that could apply equally to Huawei as to its young customers.

"We will talk and communicate with the world using our products, technology and innovation," he added, as he showed off the Honor 20 Pro, which features four rear cameras, including wide-angle and telephoto, and a 48-megapixel main camera.

Francisco Jeronimo, associate VP for devices at IDC, said Honor had been successful for Huawei with an appeal that went way beyond the young customer they were targeting.

"It is a very important brand for them to address lower price points without damaging the Huawei brand. But with the decision on Sunday, everything changes. There are many questions that no-one can answer yet," Jeronimo said.

Zhao highlighted a triple-layer back panel that gives an illusion of depth to colours such as "Phantom Blue" and "Phantom Black" on the 20 Pro.

A Huawei spokesman said the smartphones had already been certified by Google before it announced any restrictions.

The Honor 20 Pro will soon be available at a price of 599 euros ($669), Zhao said, while the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Lite, would retail at 499 euros and 299 euros respectively.

($1 = 0.8957 euros)

(Editing by Georgina Prodhan, David Evans and Alexander Smith)

((paul.sandle@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 6843; Reuters Messaging: paul.sandle.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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