Honor Bets on Evolutionary Phone Design

Huawei’s sub-brand prepares to launch new phones

The law of diminishing returns has almost certainly kicked in for smartphone design. Over the past decade, smartphones have moved toward a single dominant design. Some manufacturers are trying to deviate and pull the market in a new direction, with the most high-profile example of these efforts recently being folding smartphones. But as we’ve seen, it’s not easy starting a shape-shifting revolution (see Folding Pains).

For the most part, smartphone makers continue to work on making small improvements, trying to figure out the best placement and optimal combination of sensors. With the goal of reaching a 100% screen-to-body ratio, manufacturers have been shrinking the bezels by using tricks such as notches and teardrop and circular shapes to house the front-facing camera, and by repositioning the fingerprint sensor, microphone and speakers. These are small changes, but not uncomplicated. Smartphone makers are looking to find a balance between form and function.

One series of new smartphones we look forward to learning more about is the Honor 20 family. Huawei’s sub-brand has been teasing its upcoming devices and is expected to release at least two new smartphones. Based on information that has surfaced, it seems these will be the culmination of what can be achieved with the latest smartphone technology trends on a limited budget.

There will be an official unveiling of the new Honor phones in London on 21 May, which CCS Insight plans to attend, and Honor has shared a few photos and some details before the event.

Despite being a brand that’s aimed at cost-conscious customers, the company seems to be throwing lots of evolutionary improvements into its phones, maximizing screen space. For example, the fingerprint sensor will be positioned on the right-hand edge of the frame to “complement the natural placement of fingers when one picks up a phone”.

The “Honor 20 Pro” could include a complex multicamera set-up on the back, adding several features found on Huawei’s flagship P30 Pro. It’s expected to include a 48-megapixel main camera, optical zoom, a wide-angle sensor and a dedicated macro lens. It may also support Huawei’s night mode, exploiting the advanced imaging technologies of its parent company.

Honor is a brand in the low end of the market, and its upcoming devices remind us how far smartphones have come and how difficult it is to impress consumers. The launch event won’t be an earth-shattering occasion for the smartphone world, but these devices will do more than most of us could have imagined a decade ago. Gradual change numbs emotional responses.