Huawei was a Chinese brand a few years ago that insiders had heard of, but with the general public it was far from the cachet of an Apple or Samsung. How different is that now. Thanks to very nice new devices such as the P20 Pro the brand is working on an advance that seems unstoppable. Huawei is now the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world and the company wants more: CEO Richard Yu has expressed the ambition that Huawei will be the world’s largest smartphone maker by the end of next year.
That seems like madness, but it is not that crazy. Huawei plans to sell 200 million smartphones this year. In July they had already reached 100 million, so chances are that this will work out. The P20 alone has sold ten million units since its launch in March. It is also striking how much the brand is growing in Europe: worldwide growth is 80 percent, but in Europe it is now double.
The Kirin 980: currently the best mobile chip
Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly important in all aspects of us life and technology. Huawei CEO Richard Yu explained during his keynote speech at the IFA that the company wants to run in this development. The most important weapon in that battle at the moment is the own Kirin 980 chipset. Yu is rightly proud of it. The chip is manufactured with the 7 nanometer process, which is unique for a mobile device and ensures that 6.9 billion transistors are in the miniscule chip. Huawei worked there for 36 months with more than 1000 engineers who have built more than 5000 prototypes. Ultimately, it means that the chip uses a third less energy and still has twenty percent more power.
The chip is clustered, which means that there are two large processors in it for the heavy work, two average for the long term and four small ones that can do things very energy efficiently, such as playing music. For hardcore gaming all processors are used simultaneously. The 980 was dropped in the presentations against the recent high-end Android chip Snapdragon 845 and on all fronts Huawei’s new chip won. More bandwidth, less delay in launching apps, it does not stop. In addition, an improved internal modem must ensure that the data connection is maintained even in tricky places (such as the metro or in a fast-moving train). The GPS also gets an upgrade, with two frequencies for better positioning. This can lead to better AR experiences because the software can determine exactly where you stand and as a bonus your Uber driver knows exactly where you are.
Extra power means more AI
Fantastic specifications are beautiful, but they do not do anything in themselves to make a phone better. That is why Huawei also invested in AI to make the use of their phones both visible and invisible better. An example of this is AI based energy and processor management. With the traditional way of that management you are actually always too late. At peak times, not enough is supplied so that the device becomes slower and energy is wasted in valleys.
The deployment of AI ensures that this will occur much less. Then your phone will last longer because no energy is wasted, but especially applications such as games perform better. It also ensures that your smartphone knows what you do a lot and can ensure that the correct processor scores are ‘in the ready’ to catch any peaks.
This AI also helps with the creation and management of photos and videos. Not only does a double signal processor ensure that photos can be made faster, but also the recognition of people in photographs, the cutting out of objects or people, and the organization of photos based on what is done a lot faster and with more detail. . According to Yu, it is even possible to view and adjust real-time video. The progress compared to that Snapdragon 845 speaks volumes: 134 percent faster with only 12 percent of the energy consumed. It is precisely these energy savings that ensure that Huawei Ai can add to our smartphones without sacrificing battery life.
Mate 20 (lite)
In the new Mate 20 smartphone (which comes to the European market mid October) there are also a number of AI applications that will make your experience with your phone better, at least if you call a lot. For example, the device can be a telephone call that, due to a signal failure – for example, if you step into a lift – threatens to drop out. Then the connection is restored and the conversation can be continued. Sound quality is also cleverly improved, among other things by automatic noise canceling or just jacking up the microphone in the device when a speaker needs to be whispered.
The Mate 20 becomes the first device from Huawei to use the Kirin 980 chip, but in order to warm up already, a small brother of the Mate 20 lite was announced at the fair. It runs on the slightly less powerful 710 chip but has, for example, the improved bell experience. The device also has a hefty (3750 mAH) battery, a great camera and space for two sims, making it very suitable for business users who want to make the end of the day with their device. From September 10, it is for sale for a very reasonable 400 euros.
AI Cube, locator and new colors for the P20
There were a number of announcements in the keynote were done, but unfortunately all these products and variants are not (yet) destined for the market. The most important was the AI Cube. That is Huawei’s answer to the HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo, but with a twist.
The AI Cube looks at first glance like all other smart speakers, with a number of microphones to be able to hear from every position and a number of speakers to make music sound as good as possible, but the biggest difference is that the Cube is also an 802.11AC WiFi router at the same time. The Cube initially works with Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant. That immediately explains why the device is not yet in the planning for the market, because Amazon’s smart assistant is only half available in our country.
There is hope, however: the technicians who were allowed to tell about the devices during a pre-briefing also told us that in the long run it will be possible to use the AI Cube (which, surprisingly, does not look like a square at all, but that aside) with other smart assistants like Google Assistant. In addition, the network element is particularly interesting, because we were also confirmed that the AI Cube will be suitable for mesh networks. Details unfortunately remained, but a scenario in which you have different speakers with a smart assistant in it, all of which also optimize your WiFi network sounds very tempting.
The Huawei Locator was also separate. It is a tracker the size of a box of matches that you can use to find objects worldwide. To make this possible, we use Global Roaming network technology that supports all commercial frequencies in the world. In addition, the device is IP68 (so half an hour underwater) certified and can be tracked with a full battery for 15 days to 5 meters. There is an SOS button and you can set a Geofence to 2 kilometers to see if something or someone is outside that area. That makes it a great way to find luggage, children or even pets.
Finally, Yu also announced that there are new colors and finishes for the P20 series. The colors are called Morpho Aurora and Mother of Pearl, both with the gradient that you need to see in order to appreciate it. Both are very tasteful and it is refreshing to have a color that you will notice if you look at your phone for the tenth, hundredth or even thousandth time. Another variation on the finish is the leather look. The P20 also gets two variants of the (real) leather on the back. It felt great with a hands-on in any case, and if there are people who want something different than glass on the back of their phone and do not like covers, this is a very nice solution.
So much news, but in the end the Kirin 920 is the key to Huawei’s new strategy: embracing artificial intelligence as a driver of future success. Expect a lot more from Huawei in that respect in the coming months, especially as we get closer to the launch of the Mate 20.