How Huawei and Honor Test their Devices During the Design Phase
Honor has been around for three years and already sold over 100 million devices worldwide. With the Honor 7, 5x, and 8 bringing brand awareness to Europe and the U.S., they are beginning to make waves with their devices. Independent, Open Source Development on the 5X and 8 has been coming along over the last year, and with new devices looming, it’s looking like 2017 could be a great year for Honor.
This past week was Honor’s third anniversary, and I was privileged to be able to head to Honor’s HQ in Shenzhen as part of their “Honorversary” celebrations. One of the key events involved visiting the HQ of Huawei, Honor’s parent company, and taking a look at their mobile operations. A highlight of the day was getting access to Huawei’s Environmental & Reliability Lab.
One of the advantages for a company like Honor is having a solid, reputable parent company which grants them access to the full range of resources. In the testing lab we were walked through the processes that each phone goes through during its design phase, and it is certainly quite extensive – though without having been to another testing lab it’s hard to know how their testing matches up with their competitors. When asked about that very thing, the confirmation was that Huawei (and Honor) meet or exceed the industry standards on everything.
Seeing as the processes and machinery and such are all very private, we were unable to take pictures, so I will relate some of the key points and tests. I should also make this disclaimer that the names of these tests are not exact, but instead convey the thought or purpose for the test.
Tumble Test, aka Run and Jump Test
This test had a phone in a rotating cylinder which simulates a phone falling out of your grasp while you’re running, or the phone tumbling down stairs. The structure of the phone is tested to make sure that it remains intact after the test cycle, consisting of being dropped over a hundred times from a height of 1 meter in the cylinder.
Throw Down Test
From a height of 1 meter a phone is forcefully dropped, similar to throwing your phone down in anger at Verizon or AT&T requesting a bootloader unlock for your favorite device. A machine holds the phone in its vise-like grip and then forcefully accelerates it towards the ground. After each test, a test engineer makes sure the device still works — if it does the device, passes. Each side and corner of the device is tested, resulting in 12 total tests.
The goal here is to find out the friction a device encounters when in a woman’s purse or in the pockets of coats or jeans. It’s another cylinder test, similar to a clothes dryer, that contains multiple items like fine grains of sand, coins, etc. As the cylinder is rotated, over two thousand times, the phone comes in contact with these items and as collisions happen, it encounters friction and impact. The phone is then examined for scratches and/or anything that might affect how the phone works or any negative results of friction.
A phone is placed into the back pocket of a pair of jeans and then the machine presses down with a 25kg force into the center of the pocket causing it to bend. This is done over two thousand times and then the device is checked to see if it has bent, like an iPhone 6, or if it has retained its form.
Charger Plug Test
This test involves a phone being placed flat as the machine tests the plug mating of the USB connector into the phone over five thousand times. What the engineers are looking for is the socket’s strength and connection to the internal board.
USB Cable Test
When you plug your USB cable into the phone, oftentimes you can be putting stress on the cable itself. This test takes the cable and twists it multiple angles, from 30 to 180 degrees and to the right and left, all while being plugged in. If the cable is not found to still be working, after ten thousand tests at each angle, it is discarded.
Power Button and Touchscreen Button Test
In order to make sure that the power button on the side of the phone turns on the screen and then that the touchscreen works to unlock the phone, the combination is tested one million times over 12-13 days.
Extreme Environment Tests
Devices are placed into large machines which control the temperature ranges from -22°C to 55°C and -40°C to 70°C over 2 days. This ensures that the devices will still work after being subjected to drastically-changing temperatures. Other machines control exposing the devices to 96 hours of humidity, while others control the atmospheric pressure.
Adapter Burn-in Test
This will test how well the adapters can survive while being used with different voltages. Two hundred and eighty eight adapters are tested in temperatures of 40°C to 70°C for 480 days, and if an adapter fails for any reason while being used during the tests it is discarded.
Solar Radiation Test
The devices are tested while sitting in a chamber where solar radiation is applied at a temperature of 40°C for 3 days. They are looking for discoloration of the surface of the devices or expansion of the casings.
In conclusion, one thing that really stood out to me was the lengths that both Huawei and Honor go to in order to ensure that the devices you get in your hand meet the most rigorous standards possible — and it’s likely that the same case applies to other big OEMs as well. A story was told by the CEO of Honor, George Zhao, of a time a few years back where the tires on one of their device transports caught fire along with $20mil in devices inside. No one was hurt, and the devices were saved and not damaged, but Honor made the decision to destroy the entire shipment instead of possibly putting someone in danger or negatively impacting their image by shipping them out.
It was a very interesting time, and one I was fortunate to have been able to attend. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!