2018 wasn't an easy year for anyone, but it was a particularly rough ride for Huawei. The Chinese phone manufacturer saw its American dream die, was repeatedly named a threat to national and international security, was caught cheating benchmarks and faking smartphone photos, among other troubles.
But it seems none of that has stopped consumers buying its products, because the company has just broken its own record for the number of phones shipped in a year.
Huawei and its sub-brand Honor apparently shifted 200 million handsets in 2018, which it puts down to "the enthusiastic support of consumers and partners around the world, as well as the strength of the smartphone products, including the Huawei P20 and Mate 20 series and Honor 10."
We're not sure UK consumers could be said to give Huawei "enthusiastic support," but they certainly support low-cost, high-spec smartphones with their money, and that's what Huawei has continued to provide this year.
Upcoming phones also generated lots of buzz, including the hole-punched Nova 4 and the long-rumoured folding phone. Huawei's equivalent of the MacBook Pro, the MateBook X Pro, also proved popular -- with thanks in no small part to deals like a Black Friday offer just two months after release.
Huawei's rise to power is certainly impressive -- these figures are in millions:
But the company still makes cringeworthy mistakes that we wouldn't see from an Apple or a Samsung. The Mate 20's dancing hellspawn come to mind, and even the press release about the sales record contains a clanger:
"Further, the outstanding cosmetic design of the Huawei P20 series has won over a large number of female users. Since its release in March, global shipments have exceeded 16 million units, with female users accounting for nearly half of that number."
Instead of crediting women with a modicum of tech intelligence and interest, the only reason they could possibly be buying half the P20s is that they look nice, right?
Huawei Consumer CEO Richard Yu comments:
"Looking to the future, Huawei's consumer business will focus on the core concept of 'consumer-centric', and will dare to keep innovating, and make every effort to become a pioneer and leader in the next wave of the smartphone revolution, as well as constantly create new value for consumers, let our consumers better enjoy their lives, and truly make Huawei a brand that is beloved by consumers the world over."
Hmm. Beloved is a bit of a stretch, we reckon. You can sell a tonne of products without anyone loving your brand -- yes, Huawei makes good tech and it's relatively affordable, but that doesn't mean anyone's getting the logo tattooed on their arm. It's got a long way to go before it's genuinely admired like Apple or Google, especially with all the negative stories popping up about national security.
Still, at this point Huawei phones are apparently used by a third of the world's population, so whether the US wants to be friends or not, it might be time to learn how to pronounce the name -- looks like Huawei's here to stay.
Main image: Huawei UK via Facebook