Huawei Technologies on Monday showcased a series of new products from a gold smartwatch to a smart car but disappointed viewers by not revealing more details about its new Mate 60 smartphone series, prompting an outpouring of complaints online.
The event, held in a stadium and watched by millions online, was expected to see Huawei break its silence on the smartphone, which has been hailed by Chinese state media as a sign the firm had overcome US sanctions that since 2019 has cut its access to advanced chipmaking tools and crippled its smartphone unit, Reuters reported.
The smartphone was launched without any fanfare last month during US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo's visit to China. Some users and analysts who bought the Mate 60 Pro say it uses a Chinese-made chip and is capable of 5G speeds.
Huawei has so far not commented on the full capabilities of the Mate 60 series, which is seen as its first major effort since the sanctions to challenge Apple's dominance in the smartphone market.
Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, however, did nod to the smartphone in his opening remarks when he gave a "special thanks to the whole nation for their tremendous support, especially since the (Mate 60 Pro) Pioneer Program was launched".
As Yu spoke, members of the audience chanted "far, far ahead" - a phrase that has gone viral on Chinese social media since the Mate 60 Pro's launch as a take on Huawei's competitiveness.
"Our products have been well-received and trusted by everyone after hitting the market. We are working overtime urgently to manufacture more so that more people can buy our products," Yu said.
But as the two hour-long event progressed, commentators on the livestream began asking when Yu would talk about Mate 60 as he presented a series of new products ranging from a tablet product to a ultra, high-end brand called 'Ultimate Design'.
By Monday afternoon, after the event ended, the topic "Huawei's press conference did not mention smartphones" began trending on the Weibo social media platform and was among the top ten most read hashtags with more than 8 million views.
"Why didn't they talk about it? Everyone watched it because of the smartphone," one Weibo user Maniler said.
The event ended with a group of people on stage waving Mate 60 smartphones with flashlights switched on, as they sang "Glorious Years", a Cantopop hit by Hong Kong rock band Beyond whose lyrics speak to the struggles Nelson Mandela faced in South Africa.
Another Weibo user said such an ending, combined with the lack of discussion of the smartphone, left him baffled.
"What kind of move is this?" he said.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its decision to not discuss the Mate 60 Pro during the event and on the social media reaction.