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Huawei Mate 10 Pro is an AI-powered phone with a unique design

China’s top smartphone maker, Huawei, has recently overtaken Apple in global smartphone sales and it’s second just behind Samsung. 

But with their new, most ambitious smartphone yet — the Mate 10 — the Chinese company is finally ready to take on the competition from all sides. 

The first thing that really strikes you about the Mate 10 and its more powerful variant, the Mate 10 Pro, is the snazzy, sleek, compact design, particularly compared with the past models.

Both the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro have an aluminium frame, glass back and front which is slightly bent around the edges and really slim bezels on top and bottom.

On the back, the Leica-branded vertical dual-camera module is encased in a horizontal strip that is in a lighter colour compared to the rest of the phone.

In the Pro version that strip, situated just above the fingerprint sensor and combined with the almost bezel-less screen, gives the phone a unique flavour, putting it on par with the new Note 8 or the LG V30. 

Image: huawei

Another important development on the Pro is the massive 6-inches, 18:9 display with 2160×1080 resolution and — finally — OLED technology. Until now, Huawei had obstinately refused to improve full HD, which is still the screen resolution of the Mate 10 version. 

But with the OLED screen, the Mate Pro is telling the iPhone and others things are getting serious. 

In September, after Apple launched its brand-new iPhone X with a much-talked about facial recognition feature, Huawei mocked the American tech giant with a Facebook video which branded their new device #TheRealAiPhone. 

And certainly, in the pre-briefing attended by Mashable, the Mate 10’s AI features took the biggest part of the Chinese company’s PR effort. So what’s all the fuzz about? 

The Mate 10 Pro will have Huawei’s new Kirin 970 chipset and according to Huawei it will be the “world’s 1st smartphone with dedicated neural network processor unit”. 

The chipset has a dedicated AI chip, called NPU or Neural Processing Unit, which is able to simultaneously process complex computing while interacting with its surroundings. Huawei claims the NPU has 25% improvement on performance and 50% on efficiency compared to the normal CPU chip. 

A chart produced by Huawei showed that in a minute the Mate Pro is able to recognise 2,005 photos, while the iPhone 7 Plus 487 and the Samsung S8 just 95. 

Among other things, this means the AI engine is able to give you smart tips based on the hour of the day, prioritising apps you’re more likely to use for example, or switching to low-light or eye-care mode. 

Image: HUAWEI

With Microsoft’s translation app, pre-loaded in the phone, the NPU is able to give fast real-time translation replacing the original text in augmented reality mode while pointing at anything that needs translation. 

But it’s with the camera — Huawei calls it “intelligent photography” — that the NPU has a vast area of applications. 

The phone replicates the 12-megapixel colour/20-megapixel monochrome combination of the Mate 9, with Bokeh effect, digital zoom and optical image stabilization. 

This time, though, those first-class Leica optics will have an impressive f/1.6 lens aperture, just like the LG V30, meaning that in low-light situations the camera will perform better than the f/1.8-equipped iPhone 7, allowing 25% more light. 

Huawei prides itself of the AI-powered object-recognition function that lets the camera identify objects in real-time so that it can swiftly change its settings and adjusts its metrics accordingly. 

At the moment, the categories are: snow, food, sunset, cat, dog, flower, plant and portrait, but Huawei claims the machine-learning system will add more categories as they become available. 

It is not clear whether these functions will overall improve your pictures or they’re just gimmicky.

Mashable briefly tried out the phone’s AI-fuelled camera system and while some features are actually useful — it seemed to swiftly and simultaneously detect night mode + portrait + words, and automatically adjust hue, temperature and sharpness — in other examples, such as the distinction between plant vs flower, it all seemed a bit preposterous. 

Image: HUAWEI

A professional photographer in the room explained how the camera’s intelligent core can help you shoot more accurate pictures of a green field at sunset, for example, as the colour “green” notoriously messes with your camera settings. Only time and a more throughout review will tell the truth. 

The Mate 10 will be available in four colours — Mocha Brown, Champagne Gold and Pink Gold — while the Mate 10 Pro is available in: Midnight Blue, Mocha Brown, Titanium Gray and Pink Gold. 

The Pro will have 6GB RAM + 128GB of memory while the Mate 10 will have 4GB RAM and 64GB memory. Both will have a 4,000mAh battery.

There will also be an exclusive Porsche design variant in Diamond Black. 

The Mate 10 costs 699 euros while the Pro will be at 799 euros. The Porsche design is at a staggering 1395 euros. 

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Chinese smartphone makers closing the gap on iPhone, Samsung


While Samsung and Apple continued to occupy long-time number one and two spots in the global smartphone market in the second quarter of the year, Chinese Android OEMs Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi are continuing to close the gap.

Analyst Canalys’ latest smartphone market figures show third placed Huawei now nipping right at Apple’s heels. It said Huawei shipped 38 million units in the quarter vs Apple’s 41 million iPhones, with year-over-year growth at 20 per cent and two per cent respectively — the latter despite anticipation building for a significant iPhone refresh later in the year.

Apple reported strong earnings itself yesterday, with investors especially excited about signals of a mega Q4 in its pipeline. Yet consumers evidently didn’t hold off buying iPhones entirely in Q2.

In terms of growth, Canalys said Oppo and Xiaomi were the top performers in the quarter, taking fourth and fifth spot, and growing shipments 44 per cent and 52 per cent respectively. (Late last month the analyst also reported a notable sales spike for Xiaomi on its home turf, estimating it shipped 15M smartphones in Q2 in China, ranking fourth — though Huawei maintained first place with shipments of 23M units.)

Global smartphone market leader Samsung shipped more than 79 million units in the quarter, although its year over year growth was “relatively flat”, and its lead is also being eroded by faster growing Android OEM rivals.

The analyst suggests its therefore hitting a pricing ceiling for its Galaxy brand as multiple rivals work against premium pricing in the Android space — a competitive factor that may even limit Apple’s room for making upward price manoeuvres when it refreshes the iPhone.

“Shipments of the [Samsung Galaxy] S8 have been strong in some regions, but there are signs that demand has been overestimated,” noted Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling in a statement. “Canalys’ channels research has revealed inventory buildup in Europe, which when combined with discounting in the U.S., indicates Samsung may be testing the limits of Android smartphone pricing.”

“As Apple looks to refresh the iPhone, even with its unique user experience, it too must justify any significant price increases with tangible improvements to both feature set and design,” he added.

Overall, more than 340 million smartphones shipped in Q2, an increase of almost 4 per cent year on year. Although the analyst noted that smartphone markets in India and China both slipped into decline in the quarter.

In North America, it said smartphone shipments in the second quarter increased around 7 per cent, year on year, while Apple grew iPhone sales by 10 per cent — again despite consumer anticipation for a flagship update in fall (and the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 flagships).

This hot MacBook replacement is from a company you’ve never heard of

Laptops are hot fire once again.

Microsoft announced its first laptop, the Surface Laptop, earlier this month, and now Huawei, the world’s third-largest phone manufacturer, is getting into Windows 10 laptops, too.

Though Huawei is known mostly for its budget and midrange phones (more recently with its Honor sub-brand) in the U.S., the Chinese tech giant has made more concerted efforts to be seen as a premium device maker.

The company’s flagship P10 phone sits with the best Android phones. Hell, Huawei’s even hired former “Get a Mac” actor Justin Long to push its products.

Last year, Huawei dipped its toes into the PC world with its MateBook 2-in-1 Surface Pro competitor. It was a decent device, but like all first tries it had its shortcomings such as poor battery life.

Huawei’s new MateBook X — the company’s first clamshell laptop — is aimed squarely at Apple’s entire MacBook lineup. 

Thinner than MacBook

Image: huawei

More ports than MacBook

The MateBook X has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

The MateBook X has two USB-C ports and a headphone jack.

Image: huawei

Like its flagship phones, the MateBook X has a unibody aluminum design and is built for thinness and lightness. The 13-inch laptop measures just 0.49 inches at its thickest point — thinner than the MacBook (0.52 inches) and MacBook Pro (0.59 inches). It only weighs 2.31 pounds compared to the MacBook Pro’s 3.02 pounds.

Thin as the laptop is, it’s still plenty powerful inside. The 13-inch non-touchscreen IPS display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass and boasts a 2,160 x 1,440 resolution. And, yes, the keyboard’s backlit.

Image: huawei

Under the hood, it’s packing a fanless 7th-generation “Kaby Lake” Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, Intel HD Graphics 620, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 256GB or 512GB of SSD storage. Huawei also claims up to 10 hours of battery life for watching 1080p-resolution video. There’s also Dolby Atmos Sound inside.

For ports, the MateBook X has two USB-C ports, a power button that doubles as fingerprint sensor (fancy!), and a headphone jack. In the U.S., Huawei’s including the MateDock 2, which includes a full-sized USB port, USB-C, VGA, and HDMI port. Also bundled is a USB to USB-C dongle.

I haven’t seen the laptop in person so I can’t say how the device feels. But if the old MateBook tablet and Huawei’s excellent industrial design for its phones are any indication, the MateBook X could be the laptop to keep any eye on when it launches this summer. Plus, it comes in rose gold. Hopefully the price is lower than a MacBook, too.

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Huawei MateBook D

Huawei MateBook D

Image: huawei

The MateBook X isn’t Huawei’s only laptop. Alongside the 13-incher is a the MateBook D, a 15.6-inch Windows 10 laptop.

While not quite as premium as the MateBook X, the MateBook D is still a decent machine with an all-aluminum body, a full HD resolution display, a discrete graphics card, and a full range of ports.

No dongles needed on this laptop!

No dongles needed on this laptop!

Image: huawei

Specs for the MateBook D include seventh-gen Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage with several configurations split combining a traditional hard drive and SSD, and discrete graphics (up to Nvidia 940MX). Battery life is pegged at around 8.5 hours of local video playback.

The MateBook D has two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port.

The MateBook D ships this summer. Pricing is also TBD.

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The MateBook E.

The MateBook E.

Image: huawei

In addition to the new laptops, Huawei’s also updated its 2-in-1 to the MateBook E. 

The new 2-in-1 has the same 12-inch screen as the old one, but this time around the 1080p screen’s been upgraded to 2K (2,160 x 1,440) resolution. 

Performance gets a boost across the board with seventh-gen Intel Core m3 or Core i7 processors, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage. The company advertises up to 9 hours of video playback.

Huawei says it’s also improved the 2-in-1’s less noticeable features; the magnetic connector for the keyboard is stronger thanks to a reduction in pins from seven to three, and the included folio case is adjustable from 10 degrees to 160 degrees, compared to the original folio case’s three angles.

The MateBook E also ships this summer with pricing TBD.

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Chinese trio carve up a quarter of global smartphone sales in Q1: Gartner


The global smartphone market grew 9.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to Gartner’s latest stats, and growth is being driven by a trio of Chinese device makers.

Smartphone sales in the quarter totaled 380 million units, with China’s top three mobile makers, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, collectively carving out almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those sales, according to the analyst, up seven percentage points year on year.

The analyst says smartphone buyers are spending a bit more to get a better device, which is pushing up the average selling prices of devices and positively affecting the three makers as they have focused on adding higher end features at affordable price points.

Aggressive marketing and sales promotions have also helped the three grow by taking share in markets such as India, Indonesia and Thailand.

The top two smartphone makers by global marketshare, Samsung and Apple, faired less well. Samsung’s sales declined 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, to leave it with 20.7 per cent of the market. While Apple’s sales were flat, meaning its marketshare shrunk to 13.7 per cent down from 14.8 per cent year on year.

While Samsung has said preorders for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus were up 30 per cent year on year, Gartner flags the absence of the Note 7 — which the company recalled and ultimately discontinued last year after problems with exploding batteries — as a contributing factor to its Q1 sales decline, along with what the analyst dubs “fierce competition” at the entry level smartphone segment that’s playing into the hands of the Chinese device makers.

Apple is also increasingly facing fierce competition from Chinese brands, Gartner says, dubbing its performance in the market as “under attack” — and noting that third placed Huawei edged closer, racking up sales of 34 million units in the quarter.

Despite Huawei holding third place in the global smartphone ranking steadily for multiple years it’s also under pressure from domestic upstarts, with Oppo continuing to catch up — growing its sales 94.6 per cent in the quarter and retaining its number one position in China.

Fourth placed Oppo’s focus on selling via a large network of bricks-and-mortar retailers is helping it beat market incumbents such as Samsung and Huawei, according to Gartner, while its focus on camera, fast charging and offline retail has helped it grow sales internationally.

Fifth placed Vivo sold close to 26 million smartphones in the quarter, grabbing 6.8 per cent marketshare, with growth of 84.6 per cent. Gartner says it’s seeing growth from emerging markets in Asia/Pacific, including India, where Vivo’s sales grew more than 220 per cent.

How far can Android go?

On the OS front, it’s very clearly now a tale of two: Android and iOS, with Chinese smartphone makers’ success helping Google’s platform grow its share by two per cent in the quarter, to take 86.1 per cent of the market. While iOS declined from 14.8 per cent to 13.7 per cent, year over year.

Gartner says it expects continued growth from Android thanks to Google’s announcement of Android Go, which targets the entry-level smartphone segment. So the question really is how far can Android go in terms of marketshare?

The ‘other’ smartphone OS category shrank to just 0.2 per cent marketshare, clocking sales of around 820,000 units in the quarter.

CEO of company that makes smartwatches: Smartwatches are pointless

Huawei smartwatches, which are useless, according to the company's own CEO.
Huawei smartwatches, which are useless, according to the company’s own CEO.

Image: Stan schroeder/mashable

There’s firm, tough leadership, and then there’s … whatever this is. 

Calling one of your company’s newest high-profile releases essentially useless probably isn’t the best way to boost team morale — but that didn’t stop Huawei Deputy Chairman and rotating CEO Eric Xu Zhijun from trashing even the concept of a smartwatch. 

“I am always confused as to what smartwatches are for when we have smartphones,” he said, declaring he’d never wear one of the devices during a Q&A session at Huawei’s 2017 Global Analyst Summit event in China, according to the South China Morning Post

Huawei recently released the Watch 2, an Android Wear 2.0-based update to its smartwatch line. Our verdict? Meh. Sounds like Xu agrees. 

Xu even doubled down on his statement, dragging the company’s wearable development team a bit for good measure. “Therefore, when the smartwatch team in Huawei presents their ideas to me with great excitement, I keep reminding them to consider whether there are tangible needs [for these products] in the market,” he continued. 

That’s just cold. 

But Xu’s comments aren’t just based on some grudge against the Huawei team: It’s no secret that consumers are struggling to find uses for smartwatches and wearables on the whole, and Apple dominates the space. Wearable companies are stumbling, most notably Fitbit, which laid off 6 percent of its staff to start the year and reportedly has faced major roadblocks in the development of its first true smartwatch. 

For other companies to truly break through the barriers of consumer indifference and Apple’s stranglehold on the market, finding those tangible needs, like Xu demands, could be the only way forward. In the future, we might see Huawei put out some really revolutionary wearable tech — or absolutely nothing at all. 

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