SINGAPORE: It’s the season for new smartphone launches, and Chinese tech giant Huawei was the latest to do so, unveiling its Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro smartphones in Munich, Germany, on Monday (Oct 16).
At its global launch in Munich, Huawei said its Mate-branded devices, which are aimed at professionals and business users, come equipped with artificial intelligence-related innovations thanks to its Kirin 970 chipset.
The processor has a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that allows for in-device machine learning, according to Mr Samuel Huang, marketing director of Huawei’s South Pacific Region Consumer Business Group.
This means the phone will pick up the user’s behaviour over time in areas such as handwriting recognition and Web browsing.
This, the executive said, will offer consumers a better user experience.
Additionally, the NPU will help to improve the battery life of the Mate 10 smartphones. Mr Huang said. Today’s mobile processors are configured with a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), which are not ideal for in-device machine learning, using more processing power for such functions.
By comparison, Huawei’s 970 chipset combines the CPU, GPU and its NPU to optimise processing these functions and it also allows for smarter allocation of computing resources, he said.
This echoes what Mr Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, said at the annual IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin last month. He said the Kirin 970 chip’s speed and low power consumption can translate into features that will give its phones an edge over Apple’s iPhone 8 series and Samsung’s top-line smartphones, while the company claimed the chip will help preserve battery life on its phones by up to 50 per cent.
The processor was designed by the company’s HiSilicon unit and built by contract manufacturers TSMC, making Huawei just one of three manufacturers - Samsung and Apple are the others - that design their own mobile processors.
Other business-centric features include its EMUI Desktop, which allows users to plug their phones into any screen and turn it into a desktop. The difference between other options such as Samsung’s Dex dock, which allows the S8, S8+ and Note8 to connect to a monitor for a PC-like experience, is that the EMUI Desktop allows people to still use their phones when they are connected and working on the screen while the Dex does not, explained Mr Huang.
Huawei will be bringing to Singapore the 64GB Mate 10 model in Black and Mocha Brown, the 128GB Mate 10 Pro variant in Midnight Blue and Mocha Brown, as well as its collaboration with Porsche - the Mate 10 Porsche with 256GB in Diamond Black.
Mr Huang said pre-orders for the smartphones will take place between Oct 17 and Oct 23, while the official Singapore launch will be on Oct 26. The Mate 10 will have a retail price of S$888, but the pricing details for the other devices will be revealed later on.
The Mate 10's launch comes after rival manufacturers such as Google, Apple and Samsung all unveiled their respective flagship devices - in the hopes of catching the end-of-year festive shopping season.
According to market analyst IDC, Huawei’s global market share rose to 11.3 per cent in the second quarter of this year, making it the third-largest phonemaker behind Samsung and Apple. “Looking ahead, Huawei will still need to successfully penetrate the US market at the carrier level if it wishes to surpass either Apple or Samsung at the top,” it added.
Huawei’s Consumer Business Group revealed in its half-year financial results in July this year that sales revenue was up 36.2 per cent year-on-year to 105.4 billion yuan (S$21.6 billion), while smartphone shipments rose 20.6 per cent year-on-year to 73.01 million units.