­It’s Just Another Smartphone Factory™

In a very typical stereotype, the campus in Shenzhen for Huawei has around 30,000 employees over 2.5 square kilometers, with some of them located in housing nearby within the local area. Perhaps quite interesting is that there are Foxconn offices across road, to the extent that at one T-junction there was a sign for left saying ‘Foxconn’ and a sign for the right saying ‘Huawei’. It has been noted that Foxconn has manufactured products for Huawei before, and thus I can imagine being so close to each other has its own benefits.

Make sure you make the right turn

Needless to say, a campus this size is very difficult to ‘tour’ around, especially as we had special presentations and meetings with the President of Huawei’s watch division discussing the Huawei Watch, lunch with the Director of Global Relations as well as a tour of the testing facilities during the short time there.

The standard rules apply for a company of this nature – there are tall corporate buildings with product areas and descriptive walkthroughs of what the company does, with professional meeting rooms that have in-house catering, whereas the technical offices and data center management are generic looking concrete places that are mostly no-go areas for media visits. This dichotomy between ‘on-show corporate’ and ‘the general workforce’ is mirrored in companies around the world, to the extent that we also had lunch in a special canteen for guests with a background band as you entered.

Musical accompaniment in the executive dining hall reception

During lunch we ate and talked with the Director for Public Relations, rather than eating in the casual employee canteen and experiencing the potential mêlée that comes with that. However, the campus is designed with an element of beauty in mind, under the premise that the CEO has a degree in architecture, and wanted the campus to reflect an element of style rather than be another box hidden in a corporate mountain. It was at this point that it was suggested by Andrei that the ultimate tech press clickbait article would be ‘An In-Depth Look at Huawei’s Architecture’ and it being about the buildings and landscapes of the campus, rather than insights into the company's silicon or devices.

Part of the tour was also to one of the smartphone testing laboratories, although we were not allowed to take images inside of the facilities. If any of our readers have seen our articles in the past about this (such as ASUS), the usual array of drop tests, twisting tests, insertion, vibration, high temperature, low temperature, humidity cycles and battery presses were also present on site, although RF testing is performed on a different campus than the one we visited. So when this page started with ‘It’s Just Another Smartphone Factory’, the reality is that almost all of them are like this, as they all need to perform similar tests dictated international and industry standards. The key here is individualization - most of the key elements to what a company does with their product is in the hardware design stage or software, rather than product testing, unless water/dust resistance is a key factor, or additional MIL-SPEC (military standard) is needed. Even then, for MIL-SPEC, one would assume that the testing would be outsourced if it only applied to a few devices, rather than purchasing all the equipment.

Why We Went It’s Just Another Smartphone Manufacturer™
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  • s.yu - Sunday, December 6, 2015 - link

    Why you certainly hold yourself to high standards! If you have $1000, you could try to get dirty rich with it, or you could try to fulfill some proper dream and make yourself some money in the progress. Their business practices make it very clear that they're preying off the ignorance of the masses, and they try very little to conceal it. That's why it's repulsive.
  • buhusky - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Did you bring a burner phone and laptop with you?
  • tipoo - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    I agree with this entirely -

    "My argument was slightly different, especially if we compare to the industries I regularly write about; from my perspective, I’d prefer to test the popular devices. With a $600 smartphone, everyone has an opinion on the design, the hardware, the benchmark results, or simply fanboyism, but not everyone has $600 to spend. While a lot of users might discuss the virtues online, or debate over small details, the reality is that a good portion will opt for something around the $250-$300 range for their main device or family devices, depending on contract, region, availability and other features. This is similar to when we get $2000 laptops, or $500 motherboards – lots of discussion, but in reality fewer people will buy them and go for the $800 2-in-1s or sub-$160 motherboards."

    Budget-mid range laptop and smartphone reviews are just as interesting to me as the flagships.
  • Communism - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - link

    Indeed. Spending 600 USD on a phone made up of ~100-120 USD worth of essentially commodity parts is a reflection of the complete lack of consumer awareness or care for anything and everything other than fashion.

    Fashion being a primary concern of consumers is incompatible with capitalism as the only regulatory mechanism in capitalism is the consumer's purchase of the product (Homo economicus).
  • V900 - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - link

    That is literally one of the dumbest things I read in the comments here for a very long time...

    The price of the materials and wool in a high quality, custom fit 400$ suit is also around 20$...

    Because guess what, there are many other factors involved in the retail price of something, than the price of the components involved.

    Even Apple, who have the highest margins in the business only makes about 200$ on a 6-700$ phone, which goes to show how meaningless BoM guesstimates of the price of components are...
  • s.yu - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - link

    One-up that.
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Interesting read but actually more due the information what you (and potentially whole leading countries on this planet) do not know about Huawei than some new facts.
  • Amandtec - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    I was believing everything until you said the VP's name is Bruce Lee. April fools. Ha ha. You got me.
  • davegraham - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    did they mention their founder's ties to the PLA at all? I'm curious since that seems to be fudded around a bit and was one of the primary reasons why Huawei has had almost no penetration in the US MSP, Gov't, and other (I2, ES2, etc.) backbone space. Honestly asking, not trying to fluff.
  • name99 - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    "Throughout all of this, it becomes clear that there is a white elephant in the room."

    Mixed metaphors. You can have a "white elephant" (a pointless project pursued for the sake of vanity and showing off) or "an elephant in the room" (an obvious point that everyone is aware of, but everyone is also embarrassed to bring up) but it's extremely rare that you want both in the same sentence and certainly not (yet) in this case. (IF Huawei's push into the US is very expensive and very unproductive, and becomes generally known as such, then in five years or so the sentence WOULD work and would be witty --- but not yet.)

    At least you didn't also mix blind men and elephants, or pink elephants, into the sentence!

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