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China is into foldables — and Honor’s CEO thinks the rest of the world is ready, too

Honor plans to launch its second foldable next year, and unlike the Honor Magic V, the company hopes to actually launch the device outside of China. Honor’s CEO, George Zhao, confirmed the plans in an interview to the edge ahead of this year’s IFA trade show in Berlin and the company expects to launch its next foldable device in the first quarter of next year.

“Next year, in Q1, we have decided that we will bring our latest foldable smartphone to international markets,” Zhao said. The CEO did not confirm any specifics or details for the new device but hinted that Honor’s main areas for its foldables are making them thinner, lighter and more affordable.

Honor will launch its first foldable device the Honor Magic V in the first quarter of next year, almost a year after it was launched. The company is one of several Chinese smartphone brands that have launched foldables recently, along with the likes of Oppo’s Find N. Xiaomi’s Mix Fold and Huawei’s Mate X devices.

However, surprisingly most of these devices are exclusive to the Chinese market. In the West, only Samsung and Huawei have made serious foldable pushes, and of those, it’s only worth considering Samsung’s devices; Huawei continues to be sold without Google apps and services as a result of ongoing US sanctions. As a result Chinese customers have a wide range of foldable devices to choose from.

China is into foldables — and Honors CEO thinks the

Honor’s Magic V is available exclusively in China.
Image: Hon

When I asked Zhao why Honor and other brands are prioritizing China for their foldables, he said that the vast majority of popular apps in the country are optimized for foldable devices. China has a unique Android app market dominated by domestically produced apps such as WeChat, and it also has a unique version of TikTok (named Douyin) in the country. The situation makes it easier to work with developers to optimize their apps for new form factors.

“We have a very good relationship with ourselves [China-based] App providers,” Zhao explained, adding that this relationship means developers are willing to work with Honor to optimize their apps for foldables. Unlike the rest of the world where users download Android apps from the global Google Play Store, users in China access them through several app stores unique to the market.

But with Google’s recent initiatives to improve the Android experience on large-screen devices, Zhao believes international markets are catching up. For starters, Google recently released Android 12L, a new version of the mobile operating system optimized for tablets and foldables. It is also working to optimize its own apps for larger screens and says it is working with third-party developers to improve the experience of using apps like TikTok, Zoom and Facebook. “Google is making a lot of efforts in this direction,” Zhao said.

One place where Honor still doesn’t plan to sell its foldables is the United States. Although the company entered the US market half a decade ago, for now, it is focusing its limited resources on regions like Europe where it already has a presence and more experience.

In the more immediate future, Honor continues to build a family of devices across several different product categories. Today saw the global launch of its latest midrange smartphone, the Honor 70 (see our full review here), along with a new tablet and laptop. The former is the 12-inch Honor Pad 8 tablet, which was launched in China earlier this year, and there’s also the 14-inch MagicBook 14 laptop, which is powered by a 12th-gen Intel Core H-series processor and can be optionally specified with. An Nvidia RTX 2050 GPU.

After years of seeing the international market for foldables dominated by Samsung, next year, we may finally see some real competition. Well, as long as the CEOs of China’s other tech brands are also impressed with Google’s efforts to improve Android app support for tablets and foldables.

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