In June and July, Huawei, for the first time ever, passed Apple in terms of global smartphone sales share, making them the second largest handset manufacturer in the world (Samsung is number one for those keeping score).
Now, these number don’t include the very important Q4 when Apple announces and generally sells the majority of their devices, but regardless, it’s no small feat. The funny thing is, when I tell most people I know about it, they go, “Who’s Huawei?”
A lot of the reason for that comes down to the fact that the vast majority of those sales are made in Huawei’s home market of China.
Today though, Huawei showed me their latest flagship phones, and while I only had a very limited time with them, from what I saw, it’s about time people learned their name.
This is the new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. And, to me, they show how serious Huawei is about going after Apple and Samsung.
They both feature Huawei’s in-house made Kirin 970 chipset that was announced recently that has an 8-core CPU, 12-core GPU, and an NPU–or Neural Processing Unit a term we will all become familiar with across the industry.
The concept here is similar to what Apple has along side their CPU/GPU combo in the A11 Bionic chipset and what undoubtably Qualcomm and others will begin releasing soon, as well.
The overall concept here is the idea that while the CPU and GPU are handling our normal operations, the NPU is handling the very complicated machine learning aspects. Things from image recognition to AR applications, etc. can all utilize the NPU for the super intensive AI aspects and let the GPU and CPU display graphics and do other computations instead of being bogged down by doing both.
Paired with the new chipset is a decent 6GBs of RAM on the on the Mate 10 Pro and 4GBs on the Mate 10.
Besides brains, the devices really don’t look bad either.
Both devices have the same general shape and size interestingly enough. The Mate 10, however, has a smaller 5.5″ 2560×1440 LCD display in a 16:9 aspect ratio set above the fingerprint sensor, while the Mate 10 Pro moves the fingerprint sensor to the back of the device to accommodate a larger 6″ 18:9 aspect ratio 2160×1080 OLED display making for a much smaller bezel at the top and bottom that fits in line with the latest trends in flagship phones, that I, for one, love.
Also, both devices’ screens support HDR10.
Around back both have a multi-axis curved (aka are sort of dome-shaped) backing made out of a reflective glass and with their new dual cameras set in a vertical orientation inside a “signature stripe” section at the top of the device (something I’m also not mad at).
We have one 20MP monochrone camera and a 12MP RGB camera and both are a super fast f1.6 aperture and can record up to 4K.
And thanks to the NPU Huawei showed off an interesting twist on their camera’s auto mode. In addition to the camera doing it’s normal automatically adjusting of settings like any phone when set in auto, it also has image recognition built in to be able to identify scenes and adjust the color, exposure, etc. based on what is in the photo.
Some of these modes, like the two separate ones for dog and cat (what settings need to be changed specifically for each of those animals I don’t know) seem a little gimicky, but things like Sunset, Snow, Water, etc. make a lot of sense to me. Often times when shooting things like that where the light coming in can be varied greatly within the scene, regular Auto mode will adjust the entire scene to accommodate for one part of the photo whereas, the idea with this is that if it can identify what you’re shooting it can adjust specifics within the image to bring a better overall shot.
We’ll have to see how it does in the real world, but the concept is novel and using the demo units, it recognized things pretty quickly and accurately.
Powering both devices is a pretty beefy 4000mah battery. To put that into comparison, the iPhone 8 Plus has a 2690mah battery and the Galaxy Note 8 has a 3300mah one. Huawei is claiming 20 hours of LTE web browsing which would be nuts frankly, so we’ll have to test that out, of course.
Huawei has also fitted them with Huawei SuperCharge tech that they claim can get it to 58% in 30 mins (and keep in mind that 58% of a 4000mah battery is pretty damn fast).
The devices are running the latest version of EMUI (version 8), Huawei’s custom UI on top of Android, and I have to say compared to previous versions I’ve used the UI itself is getting a lot more refined and less in my way like some custom UIs tend to do.
They’ve also managed to put in some interesting features that might look oddly familiar to those found in specific other manufacturer devices but seems as if Huawei’s engineers were like, “Oh yeah? We can do that and one up you”.
For example, the Mate 10 Pro has Split Screen for apps but with the added ability to automatically go split screen if you’re, say, watching a movie and get a text and tap the notification to reply.
And things like a desktop mode (that looks oddly familiar to another company’s) where you can plug the phone in and have apps display as windows you can drag and drop but you don’t need a dock. Any cable that has USB-C on one end supports DisplayPort 1.2 (and the keyboard and mouse would connect via Bluetooth).
Speaking of the USB-C cable, the Mate 10 Pro has that as it’s only port and it’s IP67 certified while the Mate 10 has USB-C and a headphone jack and is not IP rated.
Also network-wise, the devices support dual SIMs with LTE, 1.2gbps cat 18 LTE, as well.
At the time of filming this there wasn’t any pricing or availability announced but at the announcement today they should have given a bit more info which I will add to the article for this on my site below.
All-in-all, I have to admit specs-wise the Mate 10 Pro is up there with any of the big boys and from my limited time was snappy, felt premium, and the photos they were showing looked pretty impressive, too. The big question for me is will these devices both be coming to the States and with all of these features intact, as well as, what they’ll cost. If they come as I saw them, are priced competitively, maybe have carrier support (since here in the States your average person never sees a device unless it’s in the carrier store), and they do a marketing push of some sort, it could a big step for Huawei to get Westerners to be able to pronounce their name correctly.