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Huawei picks Android for new tablets and smartphones

Asks users to second its Emotion

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IFA 2012 Huawei is betting on Android with its launch of four new smartphones and two tablets all running Google's OS, albeit with a customizable interface dubbed "Emotion" that the Chinese networking giant is opening up for customer's suggestions.

"We have made our choice," the company's decidedly non-Chinese vice president Lars-Christian Weisswange told Reuters at the launch of the hardware at the IFA 2012 technology show in Berlin.

The four smartphones in Huawei's Ascend series range from a quad-core high-end number with all the bells and whistles, down to a couple of inexpensive midrange handsets that skimp on RAM but claim to offer very good battery life, and finally a low-specced "starter" handset.

On the fondleslab front Huawei is putting out a 10-inch and narrow 7-inch model. Curiously, neither seems to come with GPS or Bluetooth, but both are serviceable as most other tablets on the market. Both the smartphones and the tablets run Ice Cream Sandwich, with no upgrade date to version 4.1.

But it's the operating system, and Huawei's attitude to its development that really differentiates its offerings from other Android platforms. The Emotion UI doesn't use a variety of home pages for different functions, but instead adds them all to a single screen if required, sticking all apps in a single folder, along with allowing widgets for things like time and weather.

This isn't a massive change – most smartphones are customizable to an extent – but Huawei is making the interface available for download later this year and wants user suggestions for ways to improve it. The UI was available for download by Chinese-language users this Thursday, and an English version will be out in the last quarter of the year. The new handsets will be out for the Christmas period.

Huawei has been making quiet inroads into Western smartphone markets with a series of mid-range handsets for a number of years but won't be too concerned about its lowly market position. The company has an excellent domestic market, and while the US rules the roost in Chinese smartphone sales for the moment, those days are coming to an end.

With Nokia's sales dying in the Middle Kingdom, local vendors are looking to fill the gap left by the Finns – and Huawei is better placed than many to fill it. ®

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