Huawei launches Android smartphone, tablet and a price war

Huawei on Tuesday announced what it claims is the thinnest Android smartphone on the market, the IDEOS X3. It also showed off an updated tablet, the IDEOS S7, with a 7-inch touchscreen.

The IDEOS X3 runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), the company's first phone to run the latest Android OS, released in December. It sports a 3.2-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen and a slim 11.2mm profile. It's equipped with a 3.2 megapixel camera and the Huawei Handset Over-the-Air and Online Upgrade (HOTA) sync software, which the manufacturer says will make it fast and easy to perform OS upgrades. This is an entry level phone that will first ship to the Japanese market in the spring. Last month, the company launched the IDEOS X5, too. X5 is a GSM 3.8-inch touchscreen smartphone running Android 2.2.

Our first thought was why on Earth does the world need another Chinese hardware manufacturer making a line of Android smartphones? Huawei has a good answer: it's time to start a price war. This device, like Huawei's others, will be priced at under $200 ... and possibly closer to $150. The company launched its first Android smartphone in September 2010, and hyperbolically named it the "World' s First Affordable Smartphone" for Android. There are certainly other cheap Android choices, but the IDEOS did earn praise from reviewers for not feeling like a cheap phone.

Huawei may be onto something. The company sold more than one million handsets in over 70 countries within 2 months after launch, it says. Executives say they plan to sell 10 million smartphones in 2011. To do that, they are going to have to battle on price, because their phones aren't offering spectacular hardware, though sometimes less is more when it comes to the size of mobile phones.

The company is showing off an updated entry level Android tablet at MWC, too, the Ideos S7 Slim. The previous S7 is based on Android 2.2, known as Froyo, though Huawei is saying next-to-nothing about the new Slim's technical details except that it will be 12.5-inch thick.

We can't believe any manufacturer would release a Froyo tablet mid-year 2011 when the famed tablet-specific Honeycomb (3.0) is on the horizon. The new 7-inch is rumored to be running a Snapdragon processor with 256 MB RAM and will support 3G and Wi-Fi. Again, its biggest selling point is supposed to be its price tag, but we're not so sure Huawei got it right on this one. The price is expected to be under $300, but we've also heard rumors that it could be priced at over $500. It will be available in April.

In addition to the new smartphone and tablet, Huawei also said it will be shipping a new datacard, the HiLink and Mobile WiFi Smart Pro modem, both to be available in Q2.