LIVE FROM HUAWEI MATE 10 LAUNCH, MUNICH: Huawei officially announced its Mate 10 series devices, which use the company’s latest artificial intelligence (AI)-optimised processor, with consumer head Richard Yu stating the line is “designed for ultimate performance”.

As is the norm for a Huawei event, Yu was quick to take aim at rival devices, and again it was Apple which was firmly in his sights: “iPhone X is really amazing, the full front is a screen. They have achieved an over 81 per cent screen to body ratio. But we are even higher than that. And we have no notch,” he said.

While iPhone X features an 81.36 per cent screen-to-body ratio, this compares with 81.79 per cent for Mate 10. The comparisons with iPhone 8 Plus were even more stark.

The executive also questioned Apple’s adoption of face recognition technology for device unlock, arguing this is a three-stage process (lift phone, look, and swipe screen) compared with a single stage for a fingerprint (as used with the latest Mate products).

Adding intelligence
There was significant emphasis placed on Mate 10’s AI capabilities, underpinned by its Kirin 970 processor and EMUI 8.0 software, the latter of which (built on top of Android 8.0) was said to be “designed to unleash the potential of mobile AI”.

Kirin 970 was unveiled by Yu in a keynote presentation at IFA2017 in Berlin early in September. The silicon includes a dedicated neural processing unit, intended to improve its performance for AI. This puts Huawei ahead of key rivals Apple and Samsung.

The China-based vendor argued for the benefits of using on-device processing for certain machine learning tasks, citing boosts in areas including performance and security.

Yu’s first example – image recognition – was familiar from the IFA presentation. With a benchmark of 100 images, the five seconds of Mate 10 was faster than the nine seconds of iPhone 8 Plus and 100 seconds for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.

Other demonstrations included real-time scene and object recognition (with the ability to detect 13 image types, including food, flower and pet photography, and automatically select the most appropriate mode); and an AI-accelerated translation feature, initially offered in partnership with Microsoft, which is said to deliver up to 300 per cent faster translations, with more than 50 languages supported – online and offline.

The company also trumpeted the ability to use on-device machine learning to improve the performance of the smartphone: “Using AI, we can improve system response speed by 60 per cent, and operation smoothness improves by 50 per cent,” he said.

Mate 10 family
Mate 10 comes in two primary versions. The standard Mate 10 features a 5.9-inch edge-to-edge 2K (2560×1440 pixel) display, while Mate 10 Pro offers a 6-inch full HD screen.

Introducing Mate 10 Pro Yu said, for a smartphone: “full HD-plus resolution is high enough for your eyes. You cannot distinguish between the 2K and full HD plus on this screen. But at this resolution, you get a longer battery. With a 2K display, the battery consumption is much higher”.

However, introducing the similarly sized, but 2K, Mate 10, he said the use of a RGBW display reduces power consumption due to the large amount of white traditionally found in web pages and applications.

Mate 10 includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while Mate 10 Pro features 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There is also a Porsche Design version, which echoes Mate 10 Pro except for its design and 256GB of storage.

Both Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro pack a 4000mAh battery with fast charging capability: the company said its SuperCharge technology is “the world’s first…to receive TUV Fast-Charge Safety Certification”.

With wireless charging something of a hot topic at the moment, again thanks to Apple, Yu was clear on the limitations – it is significantly slower: “Wireless charging looks a good story, but in real use you find it’s too slow,” he said.

Mate 10 features a “new Leica Dual Camera”, as part of its partnership with the iconic imaging brand, with f/1.6 lenses to improve low-light performance. It provides a 12MP colour and 20MP monochrome camera – the same as Huawei’s P10 flagship.

The new line sees Huawei become the latest vendor to ditch the standard 3.5mm audio jack for Mate Pro. This, it said, was to enable high quality audio delivered via USB-C.

For mobile connectivity, the device supports category-18 LTE, offering speeds of up to 1.2Gb/s, through a combination of 4×4 MIMO, 5CC carrier aggregation, and 256QAM modulation. The dual-SIM device also offers dual LTE and dual VoLTE compatibility.

Also talked-up were Mate 10’s enterprise capabilities. It offers a no-dock PC mode, enabling content to be displayed easily on a screen; and zero-touch provisioning, enabling IT departments to remotely configure devices. Support for LinkedIn contact synchronisation is also on-board.

Availability details
Colours for Mate 10 are champagne gold, black, pink gold and mocha brown. Mate 10 Pro is available in grey and midnight blue, as well as pink gold and mocha brown.

Huawei is also being aggressive with its pricing (for a flagship device). With iPhone X coming in at €1149 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 at €999, the €699 price of Mate 10 and €799 for Mate 10 Pro almost looks like a bargain – also undercutting LG’s V30.

Mate 10 availability begins this month in “more than 15 countries and regions”, including Spain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Mate 10 Pro will be available from mid-November in “more than two dozen countries”, including Germany, France, Italy, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 10 will also be available from mid-November, priced at €1,395. It comes in diamond black.