STORY: Huawei is rethinking its retail strategy to do battle with Apple.

The Chinese tech giant is opening or revamping stores as part of a bid to take top spot in the country's smartphone market.

Some of the new outlets, including this one in Shanghai, are directly opposite Apple.

The Huawei branches aim to outdo its rival with unusual features, including a gym.

Four such stores have opened just since December, and it marks a big change of strategy for the firm, which used to rely on licensed distributors.

Counterpoint research partner Neil Shah says it's a sign the firm is serious about grabbing market share:

"I think Huawei has stepped up in terms of where they want to go. And it's very clear with their execution and the choice of design, which they have embraced within the store all different type of portfolios, experiences they're focusing on, rather than just a singular product on a table. But it's more focusing on experience and involving the consumers within the store, right? I think that is a completely novel approach."

Other attractions at the stores include a coffee shop, and a huge living space.

It all comes as Apple's iPhone sales slide in China.

They were down 6.6% over the first quarter.

Huawei, by contrast, saw its shipments jump 110%, and overtook Apple as the number two smartphone seller in China.

Local media have hailed the rebound as a triumph over years of U.S. sanctions on the company.

Huawei is also seeking to produce its own chips as part of moves to counter the restrictions.