Huawei's new smartphone fully embraces artificial intelligence

Updated 2017-10-18 10:01:54 Global Times

China's leading technology group Huawei Technologies Co launched its latest smartphone in Germany on Monday, with its flagship product kicking off the new era of intelligent phones that use artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the company said.

The Kirin 970 chipset, which is the AI platform that the unveiled Mate 10 flagship uses, made its debut in Germany on September 2. The chip is embedded with a neural processing unit (NPU), a set of processing cores designed to carry out AI-related tasks, such as helping users translate between languages, choose the most appropriate camera settings and organize files or photos.

With the NPU as its new framework, Huawei's chipset has been enhanced 50 times in energy efficiency and 25 times in performance when dealing with the same AI tasks, the company said, reported Tuesday.

For example, it takes the new Mate device only five seconds to complete the recognition of 100 images, "faster than its competitor by 20 times" at an event, the report noted.

"Huawei has made a breakthrough in injecting AI into the processor in-stead of only staying at the application level," Fu Liang, a Beijing-based independent analyst in the IT industry, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

In addition to the strengthened AI abilities, the higher-end Mate 10 Pro features a full-screen OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio while the Mate 10 retains a 16:9 ratio.

"Huawei did research on the development of full-screen displays last year, yet it has chosen to offer two options in this new phone launch," Sun Yanbiao, head of Shenzhen-based research company N1mobile, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"The full screen will be an attractive selling point in the latter half of this year or next year," Sun said, noting that many domestic smartphone vendors are training their staff about the new feature.

Huawei's new Mate has not adopted the Face ID's 3D scanning to unlock the phone, as distinguished from Apple's initial exploration of AI on its iPhone X.

As AI's application in smartphones is just at the beginning, full screens and facial recognition haven't become the standard configuration, but they are the trends of the future, Fu said. Besides, the rapid catch-up of Huawei with Apple and Samsung is posing a big challenge for the two international giants, he noted.

Apple's market share in China has fallen to about 10 percent this year from 14 percent in 2015, while Huawei's has risen to 18 percent from 14 percent in that period, Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The Mate 10 will start at 699 euros (6) in Europe, and the higher-end Mate 10 Pro will be priced at 799 euros. Prices for China and other markets will be released later.

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