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NIO Wants To Make The Smartphone Tesla Won't

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  • Posted on 09th Aug, 2022 09:45 AM
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NIO, the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, is getting into the phone-making business, and its phones will be designed to work with its cars.

Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, NIO, wants to start making smartphones in 2023, and early details paint a picture of a flagship Android smartphone. NIO was founded in 2014 and is sometimes referred to as the 'Tesla of China.' Based in Shanghai, it is one of China's three top EV makers with the other two being XPeng and Li Auto.

NIO's lineup of electric cars includes SUVs and sedans which are not only sold in China but also in some European countries as well. The company plans to expand its services to up to 25 countries by 2025, but hasn't explicitly said whether it will bring its cars to North America. While its cars are not yet sold in the US, NIO actually has a team of employees based there. For example, the Chinese company reportedly has its R&D team working out of San Jose in California.

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It was confirmed in July 2022 that NIO plans to make its entry into the smartphone space, particularly the flagship segment. According to CnEVPost, NIO's founder, William Li, revealed the company's plan is to launch one phone per year in a fashion similar to Apple. However, the decision to make a smartphone seems to be an attempt to create a device that works with its cars better than the iPhone (or any other smartphone), claiming 60% of its users own one. The smartphone subsidiary is reported to be called NIO Mobile technology and has been registered with a capital of $100 million.

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NIO Phone Likely To Be Powered By A Snapdragon Chip

There aren't many details regarding the specs and features of the upcoming NIO smartphone but a few key specifications have surfaced, according to a report by Auto Stinger (via CneEVPost). The unnamed device is reported to have a 2K resolution display with an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner and a punch-hole for the front-facing cameras. The phone is also expected to pack camera sensors similar to what's available on high-end smartphones.

In terms of processing power, the NIO smartphone will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. Since the phone is slated for launch in 2023 it is speculated that the chip will either be the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2, depending on if it launches in the first or second half of the year. NIO already has an existing relationship with Qualcomm as its vehicle software system is understood to be powered by the SA8155P, a 7nm automotive SoC manufactured by Qualcomm. With this in mind, it makes sense that its smartphone will also be powered by a Qualcomm chip.

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The smartphone should also feature super-fast charging technology. It is not yet known if it will be a proprietary solution or if it will be Qualcomm's Quick Charge 5 which supports 100+W fast charging. The battery capacity is speculated to be between 4500mAh and 4800mAh, and should be able to charge from empty to full in about 25 minutes. As for pricing, the smartphone is expected to cost between CNY5000 (~$740) - CNY7000 (~$1037). All of these specifications sound great on paper, but NIO's main challenge will be designing the software that allows the phone to work seamlessly with its EVs.

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Companies such as Tesla have a companion app that allows users to control a variety of functions, check the battery level, monitor charging, and even summon the car. NIO will have to build all of these features and more natively into its smartphone to make it worth considering. Its cars run a custom UI called NIO OS, and it remains to be seen if that's the name the phone's custom UI will go by. It is interesting to note that while NIO plans to make a smartphone, fellow EV maker, Vingroup (VinFast), shut down its smartphone business to focus on electric vehicles.

NEXT: The Tesla App Has A New Self-Diagnostic Feature

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Source: CnEVPost 1, 2, South China Morning Post

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