- New AI chip to enhance photo taking, voice calling and translation
- Easy Projection mode allows phone to be used with monitor as a desktop device
JUST when you thought all the major flagship smartphone had already been announced this year, along comes Huawei. The fast-rising Chinese phone maker has taken the wraps off its latest flagship phone the Mate 10 (pic, left) and Mate 10 Pro (pic, right).
In the same manner that many premium smartphone makers split their flagship phones down to two release schedules, Huawei has done the same with its P-series taking up the first half of the year while the Mate series takes the spotlight during the third quarter of the year.
Traditionally, the P-series focuses on Huawei’s innovations in camera technology while the more performance driven Mate series usually packs Huawei’s top-of-the-line internally developed Kirin chipset.
As its name denotes, the Mate 10 Pro is the creme de la creme of the series and features an extra large 6-inch screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio Full HD+ resolution that stretches the display to the very edges of the phone.
The Mate 10 meanwhile has an equally impressive though slightly smaller 5.9-inch screen that has HD quality resolution and a more standard 16:9 aspect ratio.
Though the Mate 10 Pro shares the same processor and camera as the Mate 10, the key differentiating factor is that the larger model is rated IP67 water and dust resistant. It also ditches the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack so you will need to use wireless headsets or opt for a USB Type-C compatible headphone.
Another thing to consider about the Mate 10 Pro is that it has no expandable storage. The on-board 128GB of memory is what you are going to have live with but that is plenty of space. The Mate 10 on the other hand has 64GB of on-board storage and a microSD card slot to expand its memory.
While Huawei’s P-series usually get endowed with latest in camera optics, the Mate 10 series has also received upgrades to its dual rear cameras that feature Leica Summilux lenses and wider f/1.6 aperture on both to allow more light in.
Looking at them more closely, the Mate 10 series cameras consist of a 12-Megapixel RGB sensor (with optical image stabilisation) paired with a 20-Megapixel monochrome sensor. They now feature dual image signal processors (ISP) for quicker focusing and the ability to capture depth information to produce ‘bokeh’ (blurred background) filled Portrait mode images.
While there is no optical zooming with the cameras, Huawei assures that its Hybrid Zoom feature that allows for lossless quality zooming on photos is present just as it was in the Huawei P10 series.
Huawei prides itself as a networking company so it comes as no surprise that network connectivity is a key focus. The company claims that it is the first in the world to have a 1.2Gbps throughput, which is faster than most home networks. Adding to that it will have 4 x 4 MIMO multiple antennas that combine bandwidth to receive data.
The Mate 10 Pro and Mate 10 both pack massive 4,000mAh batteries that feature Huawei’s SuperCharge technology that is said to charge the phone up to 58% within just half an hour. Realising that battery safety is of the utmost importance, Huawei was quick to point out that the Mate 10 series batteries were tested and certified by TUV Rheinland, a German consulting and certification body.
An extra boost thanks to AI
Ushering in the age of AI, Huawei’s Kirin 970 is said to be the first mobile processor with a focus squarely on AI. Huawei claims the Kirin 970’s CPU is 20% more efficient than its predecessor while the GPU is 50% more efficient.
But the biggest improvement on the chipset is the inclusion of a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that takes on all the AI processing functions of the phone, enabling it to perform real-time computer vision, augmented reality and language translation near instantly.
Huawei’s implementation of AI into the Mate 10’s functionality span across several key areas. The first is the enhancements brought to the Mate 10’s photography capabilities. Using AI vision, the Mate 10’s camera is able to quickly detect what object or scene is in front of it.
This results in a pumped up Auto mode feature that raises the contrast when taking food pictures, enhance colours of the sky and trees when outdoors, focuses on the fine detail of a pet dog’s fur or accurately expose for a night scene; just to name a few examples.
Another significant though less prominent AI enhancement is Easy Talk that uses the AI to detect the conditions around the user during a call. For example, if the environment is noisy, the AI will enable noise reduction to enable the caller to hear the receiver’s voice clearer. Conversely, in a quiet environment, it will boost the user’s voice so that they don’t have to raise their voice.
The third application of AI within the Mate 10 was the ability for the smartphone to translate up to 60 different languages using a customised version of Microsoft’s Translator app that taps on its NPU to provide even quicker translations than the regular edition of the app.
The most interesting feature on the Mate 10 series has to be its Easy Projection mode that allows the smartphone to function like a desktop PC when connected to a monitor via a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter. There is no need for a fancy dock connector and users can still use their phones independently even when in desktop mode.
During Huawei’s demonstration, users could still interact within the desktop mode with the Mate 10 with the screen acting as a giant touchpad and it even brings up the onscreen keyboard when you need to type.
Of course, for longer form typing you can connect with a Bluetooth keyboard or via the USB port of a Type-C to HDMI adapter. Huawei did not disclose how many apps are officially optimised for Easy Projection’s desktop mode but apps like Google’s Chrome are able to open multiple tabs just as you would on a desktop PC.
Even better, Huawei stated that nearly all Android apps on the Google PlayStore can be used in desktop mode though certain apps may still display with black bars on each side if they don’t support landscape view.
In terms of colours, Huawei didn’t go all out to elaborate on the different colours the Mate 10 series would be in. Quite plainly, each model will come in four distinct colours with the Mate 10 sporting brown, gold, pink and black while the Mate 10 Pro will be available in black, grey, gold and brown.
Huawei has yet to announce the price and availability of Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro within the region.
Huawei wants to go big on AI with its Kirin 970 SOC
Four cameras headline the new Huawei Nova 2i
Huawei P10 Lite opens door to the P-series