Honor’s Zhao Ming: Tech Ambition Fuels Confidence

On January 11, the Honor Magic6 series and the new products by Honor in collaboration with Porsche Design were officially launched at a highly anticipated event, marking the debut of the all-new Honor Magic6 series of smartphones. As the latest flagship iteration of the Honor Magic series, the Magic6 showcases a fusion of cutting-edge technology, fashionable aesthetics, and numerous innovative breakthroughs, establishing itself as a leader in the industry.

Specifically, the Honor Magic6 series leads the pack with six groundbreaking technological innovations across dimensions such as communication, battery life, display quality, glass design, imaging, and AI. These advancements not only represent the continuous evolution and rapid iteration of Honor’s own innovative capabilities but also drive the broader industry to keep pace. Notably, Honor has adopted an open approach, collaborating with the industry supply chain to push technological innovation forward and sharing its breakthroughs with the rest of the industry.

As Honor CEO Zhao Ming mentioned in a media interview after the product launch, the best defense against competitors trying to catch up lies in a deep-rooted desire for innovation and a swift pace of progress. When Honor moves faster, the technology that others try to emulate becomes outdated.

This statement not only reflects Honor’s confidence in consistently breaking new ground and evolving through innovation but also demonstrates its commitment to empowering the industry supply chain and co-creating a win-win situation with the industry.

The confidence and foundation for this approach come from a consumer-centric investment in research and development.

Recently, the data research firm IDC predicted that the Chinese smartphone market would experience a turnaround in Q4 of 2023, marking the first rebound after nearly 10 quarters and continuing to recover in 2024. This illustrates the cyclical nature of the smartphone market and signals an upcoming shift towards “technological domination” in the high-end market segment.

From a broader perspective, this cycle of innovation, rather than economic fluctuation, drives the consumer electronics industry. In this context, Honor represents the perfect example of a company that constantly pushes the boundaries of innovation, leading the industry through its own evolutionary cycle.

For instance, according to IDC’s report for the third quarter, Honor claimed the top spot in China’s smartphone market with a 19.3% share, having previously secured first place with a 19% share in Q2 of 2022. At the time of its independent inception, Honor’s market share had, due to factors beyond its control, plummeted to a low of 3%.

The turnaround can be attributed to multiple factors, but the primary driving force has been the company’s robust foundational research and technological innovation. For example, Zhao Ming mentioned in an interview on January 10 that Honor had allocated 10% of its revenue to product and technology R&D, and by 2023, this proportion had increased to 11%.

Furthermore, over 60% of Honor’s 13,000 employees are involved in R&D, the company has applied for over 17,000 patents worldwide, with more than 300 new patent applications submitted monthly. Honor has also established seven major R&D centers and over 100 innovation labs in Beijing, Xi’an, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Paris.

More importantly, Honor is committed to innovations that are not just piecemeal or material accumulation but firmly focuses on consumer-centric developments that closely align with user needs and breakthroughs at the foundational technology level.

It is because of this consistent investment and innovation philosophy that we have seen Honor creating highly sought-after high-end products over the past three years.

For example, the Honor Magic5 Pro introduced a new experience with its world-first silicon-carbon anode battery technology for flagship smartphones. The folding-screen phone Honor Magic V2 pushed into a new era of ultra-thin millimeter-level design with a folded thickness of 9.9mm and unfolded thickness of 4.7mm, weighing 231g, earning widespread admiration from consumers. Honor V Purse has brought unprecedented fashion to the folding-screen phone market with its innovative “wallet folding screen” design, capturing the hearts of customers at first sight. And now the Honor Magic6 series showcases six leading innovations…

This journey includes technological innovations like the first to the second-generation Qinghai Lake batteries with the self-developed HONOR E1 energy efficiency enhancement chip, the Honor Dujiangyan power management system, the progression from 3840Hz ultra-high frequency PWM dimming Oasis Eye Care screens to 4320Hz versions, and developments from self-developed radio frequency enhancement chips to Hongyan communication technology for direct satellite connectivity, culminating in the platform-level AI enabled by MagicOS 8.0’s intent recognition for human-machine interaction.

Each specific technological advancement is a testament to Honor’s unwavering commitment to considering and fulfilling consumer needs, constantly pushing beyond its limits, and evolving from hardware to system interaction experiences. As Zhao Ming said in an interview not long ago, to constantly “kill its past self” is the sort of spirit that gives Honor the confidence and base to not fear competitors playing catch-up.

Co-creating with the industry for mutual win-win outcomes is at the heart of Honor’s technological aspirations.

In a post-event interview for the Honor Magic6 series, Zhao Ming stated, “Good things will always be followed, but Honor is not afraid of competitors ‘copying its homework’; as long as we move fast enough, we don’t fear being followed.”

While continuously breaking its own innovation boundaries, Honor also makes its innovative results public, allowing rivals to follow suit. For example, Honor’s Oasis Eye Care Display technology has become a hot topic for industry adoption, and now, with the release of the Honor Magic 6 series, Honor is prepared to share its Hongyan communication technology with the industry.

There are two important reasons for this approach. First, Honor focuses on real pain points and issues that have yet to be addressed within the industry. These innovations naturally guide industry direction. The saying “a single flower does not bring spring, but a garden full of flowers does” encapsulates this philosophy—only when other brands also innovate can consumers truly benefit from these technological advancements. This is not only a necessity for the industry’s development but also a reflection of Honor’s selfless philosophy.

Second, Honor has always adhered to open innovation. They believe that embracing globalization is the only way to resonate with global innovation and challenge the dominance of brands like Apple in the high-end market. Consequently, Honor has been empowering the supply chain with leading technology to drive its upgrade and expand into broader market opportunities. This is key to the high-quality development of China’s technology sector.

For instance, the commercialization of Honor’s Qinghai Lake battery has enabled a technological breakthrough in silicon-carbon anode production in China, giving new life to partners who had previously been in despair over battery technology development and marketing. It also advanced the technical level of the entire mobile phone battery supply chain.

Honor’s Oasis Eye Care Display technology, through collaborations with industry organizations, academic and research institutes, medical institutions, and screen manufacturers, has established the Honor Oasis Eye Care Lab and led the development of a new industry around healthy display screens.

Similarly, Qualcomm, as a giant in smartphone chip supply, introduced its Snapdragon Seamless technology based on Honor’s MagicRing Trust Circle technology on the third-generation Snapdragon 8 mobile platform.

Introduced with MagicOS 7.0, this technology facilitates a credible interconnection across multiple devices and systems based on an identity authentication system, receiving widespread acclaim from consumers and the industry. To let the entire industry experience the revolutionary MagicRing Trust Circle, Honor proactively shared the technology with Qualcomm.

This is, in essence, a harmonious resonance between the Chinese industrial chain and the global industrial chain.

The key to driving high-quality technological development in China lies in technology innovation as the driving force, leading to the coordinated evolution of the entire industrial chain. This is the “technological ideal” embraced by Honor, yet in an environment where most brands are building competitive barriers, being “open” is certainly the correct yet difficult path. Honor understands that only with intense competition in the Chinese tech industry can we see a grand spectacle of “thousands of sails racing.”

In conclusion, China needs more world-leading enterprises and global high-end brands, and Honor’s choice is to be “the strongest smartphone manufacturer, the most powerful consumer electronics brand” in the world.

Over three years, Honor has consistently fulfilled this promise with each flagship smartphone’s breakthroughs and innovations. It is in these continuous advancements and surprises to consumers that we see an increasingly confident, powerful, and vital Honor stepping onto the world stage.

And it is this kind of “Honor” that China’s tech industry needs more of, to withstand the fierce competition of the future and stand strong on the world’s tide.

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