BERLIN (Reuters) - China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] unveiled a new smartphone on Wednesday, taking aim at the high end of the market, which is dominated by Apple and Samsung Electronics.
The Mate S, launched on the sidelines of Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, IFA, in Berlin, has a 5.5-inch display, a 13 mega pixel rear camera and fingerprint security. Huawei says it is one of the first smartphones to include a Force Touch display, which can distinguish between a light tap and deep press, enabling access to more functions just by pressing harder.
Apple is also expected to introduce iPhones featuring Force Touch technology next week.
Huawei became the world’s third-biggest smartphone company by sales last month, according to research firm Gartner, overtaking Chinese rival Lenovo, and aims to become the first Chinese firm to sell more than 100 million smartphones this year.
But it is still far behind Samsung, which had 21.9 percent of the market in the second quarter, and Apple, on 14.6 percent. Huawei’s share rose to 7.8 percent from 5.4 percent in the first quarter.
Huawei’s Mate S phone will retail for 649 euros ($732) — comparable to some higher-end Apple iPhone 6 series models — with a premium version for 748 euros, the Chinese company said.
“Huawei aspires to be the next Samsung, successful with both premium design and by shipping large numbers of smartphone models,” said IHS analyst Ian Fogg, who expects Huawei to ship about 109 million smartphones this year.
“2015’s Huawei smartphone launches show the company is finally coming close to meeting these market goals which Huawei set some years ago.”
The top of the smartphone market is a tough environment, as Samsung has experienced. While it remains the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Apple is reaping most of the rewards. The U.S. company is estimated by some analysts to earn 90 percent or more of the industry’s profits.
Margins at Samsung’s mobile division fell to 10.6 percent in the second quarter, from 15.5 percent a year earlier, despite the April launch of its critically acclaimed Galaxy S6 range.
Huawei has its roots in telecoms equipment gear where it competes with the likes of Ericsson and Nokia, but it has invested heavily in consumer devices in recent years.
Its Mate S will be available in more than 30 countries including China, Germany, Israel, Japan, France, Germany and Spain and can be pre-ordered in Western Europe from Sept. 15.
($1 = 0.8862 euros)
Reporting by Harro ten Wolde and Nadine Schimroszik; Editing by Susan Fenton and Mark Potter