Huawei flags high-end Android play Down Under

Up until now, the company has generally worked through carrier partners to get its consumer-level products rebadged and into Australian hands

After winning a number of significant deals with Australian telcos over the past half-decade since it entered Australia, Huawei this week flagged plans to establish itself as a consumer brand Down Under in its own right.

Up until now, the company has generally worked through carrier partners to get its consumer-level products rebadged and into Australian hands, rather than using its own brand as it does in its home market, as well as inking deals at the network infrastructure layer with the likes of Optus.

A good example of this would be the way that Telstra is currently selling its T-Touch Tab Android tablet, which is a rebadge of a Huawei device. Vodafone, too, has re-badged Huawei mobile broadband dongles for sale locally.

But at a glitzy launch event in Sydney this week, Huawei flagged plans to change all that.

“More than half of all Australians are already using Huawei’s products, including mobile phones, tablets and wireless dongles, which are customised and rebadged by the operator,” said Mark Treadwell, head of devices marketing at Huawei Australia. “While we will continue to work closely with our key partners, Huawei will now also have a brand of its own.”

Spearheading Huawei’s push into the local consumer market next year will be its IDEOS X5 and X6 handsets, which are expected to hit Australia in the second quarter of 2011. Huawei is currently talking with telcos and channel partners about how the devices will sell locally.

Both handsets feature similar specifications to high-end Android mobiles available from rival vendors like HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG locally. For example, both devices run on version 2.2 (Froyo) of the Android operating system. The X5 comes with a 3.8″ capacitive touchscreen and a 5 megapixel camera and supports the HSDPA mobile broadband standard.

The X6 features even higher specifications — with a 4.1″ screen, HD video recording capability, Dolby mobile surround sound and HDMI features, and supporting peak download speeds of 14.4Mbps. Like other high-end Android smartphones, it also has a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU.

Despite the high-end approach, though, Huawei hasn’t shed its reputation for cheap prices.

“We believe that people have been paying too much for the latest mobile technology,” said Treadwell, “and we can give consumers a choice of affordable mobile devices without compromising on innovative design and cutting-edge technology. This is about making high-tech devices within everyone’s reach.”

The Sydney event was held at the Simmer on the Bay restaurant. Local band Hungry Kids of Hungry played, and street artists Beastman and Max Berry erected an artwork for the night.

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