HONOR recently revealed its proprietary technology behind manufacturing the HONOR Magic 4 Pro premium smartphone. HONOR allowed us, and several other media members, to get a closer look at its HONOR Intelligent Manufacturing Industrial Park in Shenzen. During the interview, HONOR revealed its manufacturing capabilities and showed how it delivers cutting-edge innovation.
Before we get started, you might want to find out more about the devices that we’re going to talk about in this article. The HONOR Magic 4 and Magic 4 Pro were announced at MWC 2022. The Magic 4 Pro comes with a few industry-first innovations, such as the 100W HONOR Wireless Supercharge technology that can wirelessly charge up the device to 50% in just 15 minutes.
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Opening the HONOR Intelligent Manufacturing Industrial Park was a significant milestone for the company, and George Zhao, CEO of HONOR, had this to say:
“The opening of the HONOR Intelligent Manufacturing Industrial Park last year was a significant milestone of our success in integrating our R&D capabilities into our manufacturing processes. The consolidation allows us to better harness our expertise across both fields, […] “In addition to bolstering our manufacturing capacities, the smart-manufacturing facility houses world-class production, testing and quality control equipment that ensures our premium products live up to our customers’ high expectations.”
R&D and Manufacturing
The HONOR Intelligent Manufacturing Industrial Park opened its door in September 2021, and it’s the company’s first self-funded factory. The factory is equipped with “cutting-edge” manufacturing and testing facilities, and it has all of the tooling, materials, and other equipment required to put together smartphones. The company also shared that 20% of its staff is assigned to work in R&D (Research and Development) to develop new technologies and equipment to manufacture devices.
The Park is highly automated and digitized. As a fun fact, HONOR shared that 75% of its production line is automated and fully autonomous to minimize the risk of human error. Additionally, more than 40% of the automated production equipment is developed by HONOR itself. The company also shared that it’s not planning on getting rid of human workers. HONOR wants to “pursue the most suitable combination with automated and human workers for the best quality.”
When it comes to numbers, HONOR didn’t disclose how many people are working at its park, but it shared that 20% of the employees are allocated in the R&D department and that each production line has 24 people assigned to produce smartphones.
The park also houses multiple laboratories where HONOR tests over 200 reliability tests on the HONOR Magic 4 Pro to ensure it meets industry high standards and HONOR’s stringent expectations. The reliability tests include friction tests, short-distance drop tests, durability testing, crush, and soft pressure tests, high temperature, humidity, water testing, and many more.
We also had a chance to directly ask HONOR about how long it takes to manufacture a single HONOR Magic 4 Pro smartphone. HONOR disclosed that there are more than 100 steps in the manufacturing process to produce a single unit, using the highly automated production line. On average, it takes about two days to complete a device.
Manufacturing the HONOR Magic 4 Pro also comes with a wide variety of challenges, and it’s not as easy as putting a device into the oven, and taking it out two days later as a finished product. HONOR broke down the main culprits into three technical challenges.
- “First is the Multi-camera fusion photography testing equipment that we need to develop for all focal ranges. The second one is the AI privacy call feature that requires high precision mounting. The other one is for the 3D Quad-Curved LTPO screen assembly.
- For example. for the multi-camera fusion technology, we need to make sure we provide the best quality in imaging. That’s why we doubled the testing equipment so we can calibrate any two of the cameras and we can calibrate them 100%. Secondly we have developed our automated testing system and technology to make sure the results are consistent.
- Thirdly, our testing system can collect more than 300 types of parameters on the go using big data analytics. Then we can identify any deviation in real-time and provide alert, so as to make sure the entire process is more precise so that eventually the consumers will have the best experience with the image.”
Sustainability & Environmentally friendly materials
HONOR shared that it’s aware of its carbon footprint and it’s using environmentally friendly materials to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. The company shared that it’s “always exploring new possibilities using new materials.”
- “For instance, we’re using green packaging material to make sure they are light weighted. They are reduced in size and they’re environmentally friendly using recyclable resources. For all the packaging material for Magic 3 and 4，we have chosen to use wasted sugarcane as the raw material for the tray, replacing the conventional plastic trays, hugely reducing carbon dioxide emission. Our chargers and cables are using paper film instead of plastic ones, which is not used by most of our competitors.
- And for all the packaging material and manuals, we use soybean ink to print, instead of non-renewable traditional petroleum-based ink, and we’ve reduced carbon dioxide emission by 80 tons.”
The display assembly is also a challenging process, and it’s one of the most expensive components on a modern smartphone. HONOR uses six-axis robotic arms and several high precision cameras to mount the panel with an accuracy range of ±0.075mm, which outputs products with a low manufacturing tolerance of 0.1mm.
What is AI Privacy Call?
When you listen to a phone call, the sound goes in all directions, making it impossible to have a private conversation when you’re out in public in a closed environment, such as an elevator, small room, or restaurant. That’s where the AI Privacy Call comes into play. It lets users turn on the feature, enabling the sound to focus on the owner’s ear in one direction. This reduces sound leakage, making it difficult for others nearby to listen in on the calls and hear the person on the other end.
How does it work?
To develop AI Privacy Call, HONOR made an Intelligent Dual Sound-Emitting Unit, which includes a bone conduction component using piezoelectric ceramics that’s mounted directly to the display. Due to the brittle display, it requires extreme precision, as even a tiny mistake could cost the entire panel, which isn’t cheap to begin with. HONOR tells us the R&D team overcame the challenge in about three months. It created an automated, high-precision mounting equipment to accurately and precisely mount the tool. It uses computer software and optimized algorithms to achieve an accuracy of 0.01 mm and a yield of 99.99%.
Ultra Fusion Computational Photography
HONOR also took extra time to talk about the triple camera setup, including the Ultra-Fusion Computational Photography technology. The technology involves using all of the camera sensors simultaneously, fusing the images together to improve the final result. This allows the small sensor to capture more data, which yields a higher-quality image. This also prevents companies such as HONOR from using larger sensors, saving space for other essential components.
The new technology required HONOR to double its camera calibration equipment. The new system provides many additional benefits, such as improved calibration and testing procedures. It uses enhanced AI algorithms to deliver more detailed images across the supported focal range.
HONOR Magic 4 Pro
HONOR Magic 4 Pro is the latest flagship smartphone from the company. It comes with all the high-end specs, including Snapdragon 8 Gen1, 50MP triple-camera, and 100W wired and wireless charging.