Psst. Hey kid. Want a lipstick? Huawei slips new earbuds into cosmetics case

New products out as firm attempts to stay relevant in face of US sanctions

Marketing strategies have taken an interesting turn for Huawei this week as it launched a wireless noise-cancelling earbud in the Chinese market that is designed to look like a lipstick.

The Chinese tech giant announced the Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick last month, hawking it as combining "luxury design with cutting-edge technology." The company said the gold-accented cylinder was designed by a multinational crew from the fashion, automotive and digital industries.

The product itself has AI-adaptive audio technology pitched as intelligently optimizing sound quality for the price of ¥1,699 ($266, £198, €235). Other aspects of the earbuds include an ergonomic shape designed through extensive stress testing, support for EMUI 12+ device OS, proximity Bluetooth pairing, dual device connections, on-ear touch controls via the Huawei AI Life App, up to 48 kHz HD recording, and up to 22 hours of music playback when the noise cancellation feature is disengaged.

But let's face it, it's mostly about that "smooth as a mirror" charging case with a magnetic fastener that clicks like a lipstick case, packaged up in a "scented gift box" that opens up to reveal a very lipstick-y shade of red.

While the product may seem gimmicky, at the very least Huawei seeks to differentiate itself from other existing products, unlike its earbuds in the past, which looked eerily like products from a company whose name rhymes with "Dapple."

It's an interesting choice of direction, and one that may work for the Chinese market. Meanwhile, earbud trends in the US seem to be headed in the opposite direction - less Sex in the City and more towards a "normcore" approach. The Wall Street Journal reported this week about the incoming trend for "retro" wired earbuds, complete with musing on whether the trend is a form of virtue signaling or an attempt to keep strangers from approaching by making it dead obvious the wearer is otherwise engaged.

Other products unveiled by Huawei this week include a ¥1,488 ($233, £173, €206) WATCH GT3, wearable sports products that support heart rate, sleep and pressure monitoring with upgrade potential for altitude sickness, atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea-risk screening (that's when you suddenly stop breathing at night while you sleep – if you're known for snoring and then suddenly "stopping", go to the doc and get that checked out), and a ¥2,188 ($243, £255, €303) WATCH GT Runner, which provides comprehensive evaluation for physical fitness and fatigue in runners to help them better train.

There was also the ¥5,999 ($940, £698, €830) MateBook E, a 2-in-1 tablet with a bundled smart magnetic keyboard. The device has a 12.6 inch OLED screen and runs on Windows 11.

Smartphones were not left behind, as Huawei launched a ¥18,999 ($298, £220, €263) 5G smartphone with 12GB RAM, 512GB storage and a folding screen, called Collector's Edition Mate X2. Huawei claims the unit sold out in seconds. The foldable uses a Kirin 9000 chipset and HarmonyOS 2 software.

The all-in-one desktop MateStation X was also brought into the market, inclusive of a 28.2 inch IPS LCP display.

Lastly, there was Huawei's VR Glass 6DoF, a two dedicated controller 90-degree field of view gaming VR headset.

Attempts at product diversification have become increasingly important in the face of US sanctions. The US has not been shy about targeting Huawei in particular since its 5G infrastructure kit was banned both in the US and the UK.

The bans and sanctions keep coming, the latest last week as the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) closed what their commissioner literally called the "Huawei loophole" by disallowing US regulators from even considering the issuance of new telecom equipment licences for companies deemed security threats.

Huawei has taken many measures to stay profitable and relevant since then, including selling off parts of its business.

In Q2 of this year, Huawei reported a 29.5 per cent year-on-year revenue plunge which the company's chairman Eric Xu attributed to "a decline in revenue from our consumer business caused by external factors." The company then saw a 38 per cent year-on-year slide in Q3 revenue, although it maintained overall profitability. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Zuckerberg sued for alleged role in Cambridge Analytica data-slurp scandal
    I can prove CEO was 'personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect privacy', DC AG insists

    Cambridge Analytica is back to haunt Mark Zuckerberg: Washington DC's Attorney General filed a lawsuit today directly accusing the Meta CEO of personal involvement in the abuses that led to the data-slurping scandal. 

    DC AG Karl Racine filed [PDF] the civil suit on Monday morning, saying his office's investigations found ample evidence Zuck could be held responsible for that 2018 cluster-fsck. For those who've put it out of mind, UK-based Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of people's info via a third-party Facebook app, revealing a – at best – somewhat slipshod handling of netizens' privacy by the US tech giant.

    That year, Racine sued Facebook, claiming the social network was well aware of the analytics firm's antics yet failed to do anything meaningful until the data harvesting was covered by mainstream media. Facebook repeatedly stymied document production attempts, Racine claimed, and the paperwork it eventually handed over painted a trail he said led directly to Zuck. 

    Continue reading
  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022