In the era of mobile phones, Nokia with its proven endurability was the poster-boy for quality. In the era of smartphones, Huawei resumed the mantle and became the standard-bearer for quality, which is attested by the company’s official data.
Declining repair rate and growing reputation testify to Huawei’s consistent quality improvement. But looked at internally, what eventually put the stamp of “reliable quality”on Huawei smartphones is none other than its own principle to make quality a top priority. All Huawei people know that at Huawei quality is supreme, and quality can never be compromised to lower cost or increase profit. Huawei even put in place a series of extremely stringent quality standards so that no products with any defects in quality could ever reach the consumers.
Stringent quality standards earned the company its reputation in the industry. Huawei often adopts standards that are higher than required by the country or common in the industry. Researchers at Huawei released a set of data, revealing that in the lifecycle of a smartphone on average button presses are within 100,000 times for average users and 200,000 times for heavy users, and the connectors are plugged and unplugged within 1,000 times for average users and no more than 2,000 times for heavy users. If a product meets the above standard, it can be said of good quality. But Huawei took it to extremes, often testing its products with standards that are 10 times as harsh, which is considered incomprehensible by many other companies, because higher testing standards not only imply higher cost, but only put more pressure on product R&D and manufacture.
In a recent quality-themed internal meeting, Mr. Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, reiterated the quality priority principle, and furthermore the necessity to safeguard quality with a quality management system applied consistently throughout the entire product process, which meant the company’s quality standards were about to go a whole level higher. The whole process quality management system covers every chain in production process including sourcing of materials. An industry insider revealed that to be qualified to supply to Huawei, the supplier would have to be in the top 5 of its business.
Accordingly, outstanding partners also facilitate quality improvement at Huawei. For example, when working with Leica, the world’s foremost camera-maker, in developing the dual-camera, Huawei was subjected to Leica’s impossible standards. To ensure the quality of the smartphone camera, Leica proposed to test smartphone cameras with testing equipment and methods reserved for professional DSLR cameras, which was a big challenge for smartphone cameras, and the suppliers naturally protested. But Huawei accepted Leica’s proposal and worked with suppliers to relentlessly improve its camera. In the end, the Leica-certified smartphone camera brought leap-frog development to smartphone photography. DxOMark, a respected third-party testing organization, gave very high remarks on the performance of Huawei smartphone cameras.
Stringent standards are already very impressive on their own, but when Huawei carry them out in practice, people are often in for a shock. Huawei developed a smart-watch tailored to sports enthusiasts which went through savage tests before it was mass produced. To figure out how the watch would perform against human perspiration in real life and its anti-erosion properties, the testing team subjected it to 16 hours of submersion in artificial human perspiration and then 8 hours in a 55 ℃, 95% relative humidity environment. The 24-hour test routine was run 7 times in a roll. The watch would only pass the test if it was functional, air-tight and without metal parts erosion after the painfully long and demanding test. For this test alone, Huawei threw in over 300 units of this watch.
For most users, quality may not be the decisive factor in their purchase decision, but quality has a bearing on product reputation, user experience and the future of the brand which are all very important to Huawei.