Google Gives Huawei a US Device Boost

Huawei's gadget mojo in the US got a boost Tuesday with a Google Nexus flagship smartphone launch amongst a deluge of other devices and software updates that the search giant unveiled.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is already the third-largest smartphone maker in the world after Samsung Corp. and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), according to IDC . The company, however, has previously been accused of not taking the US market -- where it sells phones directly to consumers rather than through carriers -- seriously.

The new all-metal Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Nexus 6P smartphone could help to change that. The 5.7-inch screen device has a 12.3 megapixel camera with large pixels that Google says will let the camera take better pictures at night or indoors in lower-light conditions. The 6P will be available later in October, starting at $499 for the 32GB model, up to $649 for the 128GB version.

For more on past smartphone launches, visit the mobile devices/smartphone section here on Light Reading.

The 6P is just one of the many device and software updates Google made Tuesday. A second smartphone, the 5X -- from LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) -- rounds out the new Nexus line-up.

Google is also building on the success of its Chromecast TV streaming dongle with new and revamped models. The search giant revealed that it has sold more then 20 million of the gadgets since the initial launch in 2013. (See Chromecast Gives Google a Home Run and Chromecast & the Battle for the Living Room.)

Now, the Chromecast TV dongle has been revamped with a new rounded look and updated apps. Google is going after Sonos and others that produce dedicated -- and often expensive -- audio systems for streaming music in the home.

Google is introducing a $35 Chromecast Music unit that connects to traditional stereo speakers and allows them to interface with PCs and other devices in the home and stream music via WiFi. Its logic is that that only 5% of US homes have speakers that can connect to the Internet, whereas most every household probably has a stereo system or two knocking about.

Google people talk in depth about Chromecast and the other devices in this YouTube launch video, if you have an hour and a half to kill!

[Ed note: Google originally had live chat comments scrolling on the right-hand side of the video but that option was stopped late in the presentation... possibly because they were so needlessly personal and unpleasant?]

If that wasn't enough, Google also introduced a gaming-friendly two-in-one tablet -- the Pixel C -- with a detachable $149 keyboard. The high-end tablet looks more like a Microsoft Surface device than an iPad, although Google must hope that it fares more like the Apple tablet in the marketplace. The tablet will arrive in the coming months.

You can top off this rich stew of Android devices with the official launch of version 6 of the operating system next week. Google says that a new power-saving mode can eek up to 30% more battery life out of existing Nexus devices. (See Google Updates Android, Delays Project Ara, Walks the Robots.)

Google didn't forget its own Project Fi virtual mobile network operator (MVNO) project either. Both the new Nexus devices are unlocked when bought and can be used with the Google service. (See Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here.)

In fact, if you had been wondering if Google was going to get out the of the device business, the answer appears to be: Not in the foreseeable future, chum.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 9/29/2015 | 6:53:28 PM
Motivation? In fact, if anything, Google seems to ramping up devices. Interesting strategy. I wonder how much Chromecast sales were a factor.

Full disclosue: Looking forward to trying Chromcast audio dongle thingy myself.
DHagar 9/29/2015 | 7:58:05 PM
Re: Motivation? Dan, Google definitely remains a leader in innovation.  This burst of devices either has to be a new strategy or as you say, a smart market development for Chromecast.  Maybe they are positioning for IoT?

I will be interested to read your report on the "thingy"!

Note:  I had no idea Huawei had that much US presence - interesting.
Kruz 9/30/2015 | 3:37:50 AM
Re: Motivation? It has been a while now since Samsung(biggest Android player), has been trying to emancipate from Android as an OS, pushing its Tizen to TVs, SmartWatches and devices.

Google, without a mobile device unit, has to make sure this will not have an impact on the longer run and it is teaming up with OEMs to provide its latest devices.

Kudos to Huawei for the 6P, though Im not a fan of its back and the weird bump.
DHagar 9/30/2015 | 12:45:14 PM
Re: Motivation? Kruz,

That's a smart move on the part of Samsung.

Google has the market presence to pull that off.  They can become a key "platform".

Interesting on Huawei's latest device.  Do you think they will improve on their product design?  Or don't they need to?
Atlantis-dude 9/30/2015 | 1:02:30 PM
If they were serios about Fi they should have gone with a proven partner. Too many unknowns.

How does t-mo and sprint regulate Fi's devices from accessing their LTE? Do they de-prioritize them compared to their own subs?
DanJones 9/30/2015 | 6:06:43 PM
Re: Motivation? I don't think they have that much US presence. Seems like most of their sales come from other parts of the world. Just a hunch though, I haven't seen a breakout of the figures.
DanJones 9/30/2015 | 6:07:55 PM
Re: Motivation? Yeah, interesting that they seem to be working their way through all of the other major Android OEMs now.
Kruz 10/1/2015 | 12:12:02 AM
Re: Motivation? Since the ecosystem is available, they definitely need to work on the design as it all comes down to this. Chinese OEMs are creating excellent devices and imho, I beleive they will dominate the scene in the upcoming years. The problem is they need identify and recognition, and a clear naming scheme. The hardware Huawei desigsn is excellent though the software layer it adds to Android stock is yuk but will definitely improve with time.
Gabriel Brown 10/1/2015 | 6:55:51 AM
Re: Motivation? Huawei makes some good phones, but I agree the "skin" (Emotion UI) it puts on Android doesn't really add much, and in my experience removes some critical features -- so this new phone looks like a big deal.

As a Nexus 5 owner (my main phone), I'm thinking of upgarding to the 5X made by LG because its a size I like, and it's cheaper...

But if I get some hands-on time with the Huawei Nexus 6P and like it, I'd think about getting one. 

I had the Huawei Mate 7 which is HUGE... It's a decent device, but the Huawei "skin" meant I didn't really get on with it. For example, there was no way to import my contacts from Google!

Might get a Chromecast this time around -- the audio one especially.
Kruz 10/1/2015 | 7:49:10 AM
Re: Motivation? But the 5X is still a phone made of polycarbonate in times where aluminium, magnesium (upcoming S7) are becoming a standard. I still wonder why it is still an option now for a flaship device made by Google.
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