Honor places SA as key to MEA growth trajectory

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 19 Jul 2023
The Honor 90 5G has been launched for the Middle East and Africa region.
The Honor 90 5G has been launched for the Middle East and Africa region.

After Saudi Arabia, South Africa is the second-largest market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region that Honor plans to develop.

This is according to Daniel Wang, president of Honor MEA, speaking to South African media on the sidelines of the Honor 90 series launch event in Dubai last night.

At the regional launch yesterday, Honor unveiled the latest range of mid-tier smartphones – Honor 90 5G and Honor 90 Lite – that are scheduled for a September release in South Africa.

The technology brand also unveiled additional devices: the Honor Pad X9, Honor Watch 4 and earbuds.

According to Honor, it experienced shipment growth of 500% in the first quarter in MEA. Additionally, it achieved year-over-year growth of 388% in the first half of this year (H1), a signal of continued market share growth in the region.

Based on third-party insights, the company says growth in the local market was 207% in H1 this year, compared to last year.

According to Wang, Honor has a long-term business plan for the South African market that includes launching smartphones, internet of things products and other devices.

“From our region, South Africa is the second important market for us,” he said. “We know South Africa is a different character market, compared to the open market in the Middle East. We will cooperate with our operator partners to understand consumers’ behaviour and how end-users use the smart devices.”

For the postpaid market, Honor works with the likes of Telkom, MTN and Vodacom, with plans to start its cooperation with Cell C “very soon”, working with all the mainstream operators in the country.

The company also intends to target the prepaid market with partner companies such as TFG, Edgars and Ackermans.

Breaking away

Honor spun off from Huawei in November 2020, amid the sanctions faced by the latter in the US. Huawei decided to sell Honor to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology, in an effort to save the brand.

Huawei said the sale will help Honor's channel sellers and suppliers make it through the difficulties at that time.Under new ownership, Honor’s devices are equipped with Google Mobile Services, which are the Google apps that often come pre-installed on Android devices.

Since re-introducing its smartphones to the Southern African market in late 2021, Honor has tried to carve its own path away from the shadow of its former parent company.

Much like other Chinese brands that have prioritised rolling out devices with artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G capabilities, Honor’s latest 90 series has similar features, with photography positioned as a drawcard.

The company says with a 200MP “ultra-clear” camera, its Honor 90 5G smartphone represents the brand's vision for 2023 and its commitment to AI technologies. It also has a 50MP selfie camera, 5 000mAh battery and 66W super charge.

The Chinese smartphone maker added a ‘lite’ version to the series range launch, bringing out its Honor 90 Lite 5G, which features a rear 100MP triple camera system, 6.7-inch edgeless display, 13GB (8+5) RAM plus 256GB ROM storage and 4 500mAh battery.

“The Honor 90 5G and Honor 90 Lite are set to make their debut in several countries across the MEA region, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Iraq, South Africa and other selected countries,” it notes.

According to Wang, the Honor 90 5G is priced at $599 (about R10 698) for 19GB (12+7) RAM plus 512GB ROM, and $499 (R8 912) for 13GB (8+5) RAM plus 256GB ROM.

The Honor 90 Lite costs $299 (R5 340) for the 13GB (8+5) RAM plus 256GB ROM version.

“The Honor devices will be launched in the region − including UAE, KSA, Iraq, South Africa, Kuwait and other countries − as per each brand’s plan for each country,” says the company.