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Huawei joins the Alexa-powered smart speaker club with the AI Cube

"Cube" is a misnomer we'll have to try to get over.

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Huawei reimagines the cube.

Katie Collins/CNET

Forget everything you know about a cube being a 3D regular hexahedron with six identical square faces. Chinese tech giant Huawei is here to redefine the cube, and the first thing you need to know about its interpretation is that it's… round.

Huawei unveiled the AI Cube on Friday at IFA, joining the ranks of phone makers turning their hands to crafting smart speakers. The Alexa-enabled home hub is a (currently, at least) Europe-only rival to Apple's HomePod, the Google Home and the OG Alexa speaker, Amazon's very own Echo.

We can argue until we're blue in the face about whether Huawei would have been better off naming the AI Cube the "AI Cylinder," the "AI Colonnade" or the "AI Barrel With A Tapered Bit At The Top," but what does it actually do? The premise is simple: It combines a 4G router with smart home assistant support from Alexa (that's the AI bit) and, of course, a regular speaker.

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Huawei boasted about the speaker's sound quality.

Katie Collins/CNET

According to Huawei it's the sound quality that sets the AI Cube apart from its rivals. The company, which at least until now hasn't been known for its expertise in audio, has incorporated its own proprietary tech, called Histen, into the Cube, which apparently allows the original timbre of music to be respected.

We'll leave it to our audio experts to make a call on whether Huawei's boasts about this tech live up to expectations in our full review. In the meantime, there's no release date or pricing available yet for the AI Cube, although it will be on sale by Christmas.

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The Huawei Locator is about the size of a modern car key.

Katie Collins/CNET

Huawei also used IFA as an opportunity to unveil a palm-sized curiosity it's calling the Locator. This black, pebblelike object is a tracking device you could attach to your pet, pop inside your luggage or stick on your valuables to keep tabs on them in real time.

With a long standby time (up to 15 days), precise positioning skills due to the support of four different global location systems and global roaming, the device is designed to ensure you never lose track of your belongings again.

As with the AI Cube, the Locator seems, for the moment at least, to be for the European market only, and there aren't any details on pricing or availability just yet.

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