Market Insight

Huawei looks to grow its Mid-tier market share with the launch of the powerful Nova 2S

December 14, 2017

Zaker Li Zaker Li Senior Analyst, Smartphone & Mobile

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Huawei launched the Nova 2S on December 7th in Beijing. The phone is an update to the Nova 2, launched earlier in 2017. The device includes a host of trendy hardware features for devices in 2017.


  • Kirin 960 Chipset
  • 6.0 inch TFT-LCD panel with 18:9 aspect ratio
  • 2160x1080 resolution
  • 4GB/6GB RAM + 64GB ROM
  • Dual Rear Cameras: Rear-facing 20MP + 16MP lenses with F/1.8
  • Dual Front Cameras: 20MP + 2MP lenses with F/2.0.
  • 3340mAh battery and 5V/4A fast charge
  • Glass body in back and front
  • Fingerprint and face recognition available to unlock the phone
  • Price: 4GB/64GB: 2699RMB(407.5 USD); 6GB/64GB: 2999RMB(452.9USD)

Our Analysis:  

Huawei’s Nova series first launched in September of 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The Nova series is positioned to focus on young consumers. Nova 2S is the third generation of the series. IHS Markit data shows that the Nova series has, cumulatively, shipped over 10m units since launch. Nova is an important part of Huawei’s product roadmap and is sits alongside the company’s Mate and P series devices with its own design language and feature set.

With the Nova 2S, Huawei is competing directly with OPPO’s R11s and Vivo’s X20.


In addition to the display with 18:9 ratio, Huawei is also using glass on the front and back of the new device – a nod to other flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, Note 8 or Apple’s latest handsets.

The three handsets feature similar hardware specifications, but Huawei is competing by aggressively pricing its new device below the competition. Nova 2S starts $45 cheaper, for the 4GB/64GB version, than the comparable OPPO R11s and Vivo X20 versions. Additionally, Nova 2s has a high-end SOC in the Kirin 960, which Huawei also used in the Mate 9 and P10 series. The Kirin 960 is more powerful than the mid-range Snapdragon 660 in the R11S and X20.

Huawei has been upgrading the chipset in the Nova series since it initially launched with a Snapdragon 625 chip – the same chip used by the competition in the OPPO R9 and vivo X9, which launched at the same time in 2016. Earlier this year, Nova2 launched with the Kirin 659 head-to-head with the Snapdragon 652 on the OPPO R9s and Vivo X9S. Now, Huawei is increasing the pressure on the competition again: not only including an in-house chip, but a higher powered one, while under cutting OPPO’s and vivo’s pricing.

In China, OPPO and vivo are catching up to Huawei. In the last quarter, Huawei shipped 22.3m units domestically, compared to 22m from OPPO and 18.3m from vivo. To stay ahead of the competition, Huawei is utilizing its in-house technology to differentiate clearly from the competition in an attempt to affirm its position as a premium handset maker – even at lower price points. Huawei saw its market share in the mid-tier segment increase last quarter, to 18 percent of devices in the $151-$600 range. The Nova 2S is positioned well to further drive growth for Huawei in this segment.

Although Nova2S is a powerful weapon to attack the direct external competition, the device does complicate the internal product portfolio strategy. Huawei’s Honor brand just launched V10, which has comparable specifications to the Nova 2S: a 5.99 inch panel with 18:9 aspect ratio, 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM and the same price 2699RMB(407.5USD) and a Kirin 970 chipset. For Huawei, the danger is that these two devices will cannibalize sales of each other, hurting the overall performance of the company. The Honor brand and Nova series are targeted at similar user groups. Huawei has to make sure the value proposition is clear for each device and that its product road map does not get too fragmented with similar devices – potentially confusing buyers and driving them away from the brand all together.


Huawei Vivo
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