Huawei really has a thing for design. Unfortunately, its preferences seem to run toward the designs of other companies. At an event in China last week, the Chinese tech giant introduced its latest smart speaker, called simply the Huawei A.I. Speaker, according to Engadget. You might notice a few similarities between the speaker and a certain one from Apple.
Yes, the Huawei A.I. Speaker looks pretty darn close to Apple’s HomePod. It has a short, sturdy, and cylindrical design just like the HomePod. It has physical controls right on the top of the speaker just like the HomePod. (Apple’s only has a clear “+” and “-” button on its top but those can be used to input a number of touch and gesture-based controls, while the Huawei A.I. Speaker has a “+” button, “-” button, mute button, and a button to accept calls.) And it has a mesh fabric cover just like, you guessed it, the HomePod.
There are a few ways the Huawei A.I. Speaker separates itself from Apple’s offering. First, it uses Huawei’s own artificially intelligent assistant Xiaoyi to handle all of the voice commands. Xiaoyi makes it easy to integrate the A.I. Speaker into existing Huawei products as part of the company’s HiLink system for connected devices. Perhaps more importantly, the A.I. Speaker has a much different price tag than Apple’s HomePod. While the HomePod goes for $350, Huawei’s speaker will be priced at 399 yuan ($60). That’s a much friendlier approach to your wallet.
This isn’t the first time that Huawei has drawn inspiration from a competitor’s design when creating a smart speaker. The company’s A.I. Cube, which is one part speaker with voice assistant and one part Wi-Fi router, looks pretty darn similar to the Google Home, Google’s initial offering in the smart speaker market. It also looks nothing like a cube. In addition to offering extra connectivity with its built-in router, the Huawei A.I. Cube also had Alexa on board.
Huawei has apparently decided to depart from third-party voice assistants with its newest smart speaker, which is great if you’re already in the company’s ecosystem but less ideal if you like to keep your options open when it comes to A.I. assistants.