In context: Huawei joins the ranks of Amazon, Google, Apple and others with its first smart speaker, but so far there’s not much to differentiate it from the rest.
As a result of a new partnership between Huawei and Amazon, the Huawei AI Cube will be a smart speaker with full Amazon Alexa integration. The only feature that makes it different from an Amazon Echo is its ability to use a 4G LTE Sim card to become a home Wi-Fi router.
Also if you didn’t notice from the picture above, it’s not actually a cube...
While there are no independent reviews out yet, Huawei claims this is a "high-end" and "groundbreaking" wireless 360-degree speaker, with a powerful sound system. It has four microphones and is pretty much the same size and shape as an Amazon Echo, so we’ll have to see if it really does sound better.
The Wi-Fi functionality is an interesting concept, and something Huawei has delved into before – I happen to be online through a Huawei router connected to 4G right now – but it is limited.
The AI Cube, like my router, has theoretical speeds of 300Mbps and 802.11ac dual band but your speeds are limited by the 4G support in your area. This can be anywhere from 10Mbps to 70Mbps but it is quite dependent on how many people are using the 4G network in your area, and you can’t have more than say 3 or 4 devices using the Wi-Fi heavily at once. The 4G network can also be more expensive for heavy usage, so I’d only recommend using the AI Cube as a router if there’s a small number of people that would be using it.
Pricing was not part of the announcement, and so far Huawei has only said that Europe will receive the device for the Christmas season. A US release is still in question, and China won’t receive a model using Alexa, but may see something similar in the future.