Six short months ago, everyone thought that 2020 would be the year that Huawei quietly disappeared from the European and American markets. Castigated in the USA for their supposed privacy and data protection breaches, named personally by President Donald Trump as being spies for the Chinese government, and faced with suspicion regarding their role in the creation and roll-out of the UK’s 5G network, Huawei as suffering from a storm of bad publicity that no company ought to be able to survive – and yet it has. Not only has Huawei survived a twelve-month period that would have destroyed most other companies, but it appears to be going from strength to strength.
Part of the reason for that is the Huawei P40. The Chinese manufacturer’s latest creation is, by some distance, the greatest phone it’s ever come up with. The Pro version of the phone has been given gushing reviews by just about every publication that has a voice worth hearing, and it might even have the best camera and best battery life of any smartphone of its generation. Given how popular it’s been as a purchase, we can now say that smartphone users aren’t too concerned about the potential for their phone to be spying on them so long as that phone happens to be good looking and powerful. The P40 meets the mark on both counts.
The other thing that’s gone in their favour is that they may have found a way around the now-notorious ‘app ban’ that threatened to make their phones worthless. In theory, being banned from access to the ‘Play Store’ and also being denied access to the latest versions of Android’s operating software should have made Huawei’s phones obsolete. Had Huawei not come up with a solution, it probably would have done, but they now offer their phones with an ‘open source’ version of Android and access to the same apps you’d get through Google with their own-brand app store. You still can’t get the Gmail or Google Maps apps, but so long as you’re happy with sourcing replacements for them, you shouldn’t even notice the difference.
Having established that their phones are desirable and remain capable of running almost any app or program you’d get on a Google or Samsung phone, Huawei is now looking to the future – and it seems that they have even bigger things on their mind. Not content with going toe to toe with Apple and Samsung in the mobile phone market, they’ve now decided to take on Spotify in the music streaming market – and despite the fact that Spotify has more than one hundred million subscribers all over the planet, this is a fight that Huawei genuinely believes that it can win.
We’re several years into the streaming revolution now when it comes to music, and for better or worse, Spotify is currently the industry’s biggest player. Spotify is the app that managed to make it to the top by copying the way that online slots websites offer their entertainment. When you log in to the home page of any slot site UK, you’ll find hundreds of games in the same place waiting to be played, all accessed via the same username and password. There’s no reason for people to use physical slot machines anymore – online slots have made them virtually obsolete. Spotify is rapidly doing the same thing to sales of physical music. Very few people choose to buy an album on CD anymore when they can hear the whole thing with just a few clicks of a button or touches of a screen – and that’s the simplicity that’s pushed Spotify to the top.
We’ve seen Spotify challenged before – and by no less a name than Jay-Z and his ‘Tidal’ streaming service – but even with celebrity backing and a high-profile launch, Jay-Z couldn’t knock Spotify off their perch. Huawei thinks they can do it because they have a gargantuan library of music available right from the very start. At the time of writing, the company has already confirmed that Huawei Music contains more than fifty million tracks, separate across more than one million albums. They promise that the music is available without any interruption in the shape of adverts – always a bug-bear with Spotify – and that the stream rate never drops below 320kps. That means that the quality of their sound should always be two things – clear and consistent.
In this age of social media, Huawei has also promised that its music streaming service will be as social as it gets. A song being played on a Huawei phone can be streamed across the company’s phones, tablets, speakers, and watches in an instant. We’re even promised a ‘surround sound’ experience through headphones thanks to something called a ‘Histen 3D equalizer,’ which applies an effect to the sound to create a ‘surround’ sensation where none would normally be possible. At the same time, the software on your phone will identify bass, drums, and vocals and give you the opportunity to amplify or lower the volume of any aspect of the track individually if you so desire.
Even with all this innovation, Huawei isn’t done yet. We’ve all heard of a ‘running playlist’ before, but nothing like the way Huawei does it. Instead of providing you with a generic playlist for your jog or requiring you to put a playlist together before you set off, there’s a mode in Huawei Music that allows a playlist to be generated based on your running pace. As you speed up, it will play faster and faster songs, and as you begin to slow down and cool off, it will respond in kind.
These are all big promises, and some of them sound too good to be true – but Huawei has made them in writing, and so they’re committed to them. The best way to find out whether or not they’re as good as their word would be to try the service for yourself – and as it’s currently free for three months with VIP access, there might not be a better time. Replacing Spotify as the world’s preferred music streaming choice might be too big an ask- but it’s not going to stop Huawei from trying!