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Honor released its Magic V2 foldable on July 12, 2023, starting with the China market.
BEIJING — On Chinese e-commerce site JD.com’s “hot sales” smartphone rankings this week, the Honor Magic V2 foldable vies with Apple iPhone models for the top three spots.
Honor, spun off from Huawei, launched its Magic V2 on July 12 with a starting price of 8,999 yuan ($1,245).
Sales officially began Thursday. But a week of pre-sale demand has pushed delivery times for new orders to mid-September, according to JD.com’s app, a commonly used platform for buying electronics in China.
The Magic V2’s 9,999-yuan model ranked second in popularity among JD.com smartphone sales as of Thursday morning, while a 7,799-yuan Apple iPhone 14 Pro ranked first. The iPhone 13 held third place.
Honor’s new device folds up to be nearly as thin as an iPhone — 9.9 millimeters versus the 14’s 7.85 millimeters, without a case. That means the Magic V2 is about three-eighths of an inch thick when folded.
Importantly, the foldable phone was able to balance thinness with “reasonable battery life,” said Ethan Qi, associate director at Counterpoint Research. “From my perspective, the biggest highlights [for the phone] are the industry’s thinnest body (9.9mm) and lowest weight (231g).”
Honor claims the Magic V2’s battery is just 2.72 millimeters thick and can support about 14 hours of video watching on the phone’s unfolded large screen. The iPhone 14 claims about 20-30 hours of video watching on a single battery charge, depending on the bar phone model.
“The Magic V2’s pre-sales figures in China are a positive indicator and shows the resilience of the premium segment, which bodes well for foldables growth in the country,” Qi said.
“The premium segment is not very big, but it’s the segment everyone wants to win.”
Samsung is set to release “slimmer and lighter” foldables at a July 26 event, according to a blog post tease. The company is also promoting that “Join the Flip Side” launch event livestream in China.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold4 sells for 10,999 yuan on JD.com, while its Galaxy Z Flip3, which opens up like a flip phone, lists a price of 4,699 yuan.
Huawei, Xiaomi and Vivo also sell foldables in China in a premium price range.
Foldables are a bright spot in a shrinking global smartphone market.
In the first quarter, China’s foldable market more than doubled from a year ago to 1.08 million units, according to Counterpoint Research.
That helped boost the global foldable smartphone market, with 64% year-on-year growth in the first quarter, Counterpoint said.
In contrast, the global smartphone market fell by 14.2% in the first three months of the year, and China’s fell by a milder 8%, the data showed.
Honor also sells internationally, but it’s not yet clear what specific plans the brand has for the Magic V2.
In China, Honor is selling across major e-commerce platforms, including Douyin, the local version of TikTok that’s becoming a growing portal for selling via livestreams.
As of Thursday morning, Honor had sold more than 10,000 Magic V2 units on Douyin.
Livestreaming has become a growing portal for sales in China. The country’s livestreaming sales reached about 17.7% of overall online retail sales in the first half of the year, or about $180 billion, according to Ministry of Commerce data released Thursday.
Honor also sells its phones on Alibaba’s Tmall e-commerce platform and the Kuaishou short video app. Both platforms, as well as JD, support livestreaming sales.
The smartphone company was previously a brand under Huawei. But after U.S. sanctions on the telecommunications giant, Honor was sold to a group of buyers that included the government of Shenzhen, where the company’s headquarters are.
— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.