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Huawei and OnePlus race to be first with a 5G phone in Europe

Paul Lipscombe
November 19, 2018

Chinese manufacturers lead from the front in putting 5G in the hands of consumers next yea

Huawei will launch its first 5G smartphone at MWC in Barcelona next year, the company revealed at its Eco-Connect Europe conference in Rome on November 8.

The revelation follows OnePlus CEO Pete Lau’s claims that it will be the first manufacturer to sell a 5G handset in Europe in the first half of 2019.

So far, the two Chinese manufacturers are the only vendors to have given a timescale for launching a 5G phone.

Huawei Western Europe president of the consumer group Walter Ji says Huawei has already begun testing the device and isn’t concerned about OnePlus’ ambitions.

Ji said: “We plan to launch our 5G commercial product at MWC in 2019. This year, we launched our own 5G chipset; next year, we will go further with a phone. We are currently testing it ahead of that.”

Huawei is currently second for global smartphone shipments, according to IDC, after holding second spot for the past two quarters ahead of Apple. Huawei shipped 52 million smartphones in the last quarter, a 33 per cent rise year-on-year.

The company was recently the first manufacturer to introduce in-screen fingerprint sensors, followed by reverse wireless charging with the Mate 20 series.

In the run-up to 5G, EE has made the bold claim that it will be the first operator in the UK to launch the technology, announcing plans for a 16-city 5G rollout across the UK in 2019.

London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast are all included in the company’s initial line-up of cities.

At the Eco-Connect event, Huawei also announced that its Huawei Assistant and Huawei Pay services will arrive in Europe in the new year.

Huawei Assistant, a virtual AI assistant, is already live for over 300 million users in China and aims to give users a more intelligent service.

The Huawei Pay deal follows an extension of the Visa agreement between both parties, with Huawei looking to replace the physical credit card with a simplified digital ID.

Huawei mobile services Europe vice president Jaime Gonzalo said: “We are launching offline payment which aims to be a replacement for the physical credit card. With Huawei Pay, we are trying to advance mobile payment in Europe.”

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