­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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  • krumme - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Great article for us that develops business :) - thanx
  • zeeBomb - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Wow... A beautifully written journal of your past experiences Ian! First time I've actually get to see the Anandtech bunch in a photo too. Great story man!
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, December 5, 2015 - link

    In the interest of transparency, I have removed 3 comments from this discussion thread. I don't believe attacking my editors or other editors based on their looks is appropriate, even with our liberal comment policy.
  • Amazing2u - Sunday, December 6, 2015 - link

    Ryan, Seriously?! WOW... some people really have no class! WTH gives anyone the right to comment on the looks of someone else? how shallow can you be. geez.
  • JKflipflop98 - Tuesday, December 15, 2015 - link

    Only every person you've ever met or ever will meet. The first thing they (and you) do when meeting people is judge them by their looks. It's automatic.
  • AndrewJacksonZA - Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - link

    That caused me to raise an eyebrow.

    Thanks for curating Ryan.
  • AndrewJacksonZA - Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - link

    Err, moderating.
  • Scipio Africanus - Wednesday, December 9, 2015 - link

    Wow really? Who'd do that? You guys need more group photos. Its cool to see after reading this site for so long. The guys from Ars have always had a smattering of group photos through the years.
  • jjj - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    In 2014 Huawei's R&D spending was 40.8B CNY so some 6.5 billion $ at the time and about the same as Apple.Ofc for Huawei it was some 14.5% of revenue while Apple is at a bit above 3%.

    In the end Huawei is not really Chinese, they behave just as bad as Western companies, eager to ripoff their customers and sell them overpriced garbage if they get the chance. This year pretty much all their devices are that.
    In design at least they might get it that hey need to shrink the upper and lower bezels or that home buttons are insane but they haven't shown more than that so far.No innovation that matters, not even the minimal inspiration to use a fast SoC in almost everything. The 950 should be used across the board, all in all it would be a huge upside for them. But they won't do that because they are just as blind as Samsung and all the others and given their pricing 2016 is likely to be a poor year for them.
    So, for now, Huawei is yet to show us that the world would be poorer without them. Nobody needs another Apple or another Samsung or LG. We have way too many of those already.
  • jjj - Friday, December 4, 2015 - link

    Source for the R&D numbers (get the PDF, check page 37) http://www.huawei.com/en/about-huawei/annual-repor...

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