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Huawei Revealed Mate 10 Photo Samples While Announcing Its New AI Chipset – Forbes

Richard Yu at MWC earlier this year. Photo: AFP / LLUIS GENE

Huawei consumer business group CEO Richard Yu announced the company’s upcoming new SoC (system on a chip) today at IFA in Berlin. Yu gave this new chipset, Kirin 970, several superlative descriptors, including “world’s first mobile device with a Neural Processing Unit” and “world’s fastest mobile modem.”

Now Kirin 970 is a very interesting story and a big step towards A.I — Huawei says the NPU means the chip will have A.I. inside the chip, as opposed to all phones now that rely on connecting to the cloud/internet to interact with A.I. I attended the keynote and interviewed Yu after his speech, so I’ll explain more in-depth the “intelligence machine learning” later in this post, but first I want to talk about the things that the general consumer may care about more: the upcoming flagship Mate 10.

Ben Sin

The Mate 10 is looking like it’ll have a full bezel-less front.

During his speech, Yu offered a glimpse of the Mate 10’s look, hinting at a completely bezel-less front (meaning not like LG and Samsung’s offerings but more like Xiaomi’s Mi Mix) and also confirming the Mate 10’s unveiing date as October 16 in Munich. What’s more interesting is that Yu also showed two photo samples at the keynote, one an action shot of a girl in mid-jump, and the other of the Shanghai skyline. Both images were shown side-by-side with significantly shots supposedly taken with the Samsung Galaxy S8. The point of these shots were to show how the Kirin 970’s NPU allows the camera to take superior photos because it’s got two ISP (image signal processor), thus it could process image, data, light information faster.

Ben Sin

Yu confirmed to me later the image on the left was taken by the Mate 10.

On stage, Yu didn’t name the source of Huawei’s photos, merely stating, “look what the Kirin 970 can do.” But when I asked him later, he confirmed that those two shots were taken with the Mate 10. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Huawei has implied the Mate 10’s superiority over a Samsung flaghip. A week back the Twitter account of Huawei’s Australian leg tweeted a photo teasing the Mate 10, with a caption stating “beyond the Galaxy.” Now this could be referring to the Mate 10’s bezel-less display, but it sure is an interesting choice of words.


Huawei’s Twitter

So, onto Kirin 970. Yu said on stage the chip, about the size of your thumb’s nail, is built with a total 5.5 billion transistors, (2.5 billion more than that of the Snapdragon 835), and is the first chipset in the world to have a dedicated NPU, meaning it has an A.I. on the device itself, without needing to connect to an internet server. On the Mate 10, we can expect, as mentioned earlier, significantly better camera performance because, according to Yu, the device is smart enough to analyze data in real time.

“It can tell the difference between a cat or a flower when you’re trying to take photos, and the ISPs wil adjust accordingly,” he said.

Since the average joe thinks of A.I. as fully sentient machines like the Terminators or Ultron in the Marvel universe, just having a “smarter” camera that is aware of context and understands lighting and background information better may be disappointing, but rest assured this is just step one in the new breakthrough, according to Yu. As the tech develops, it will be able to do more important things than providing better lighting in photos. Yu gives a futuristic example: “A.I. that rely on cloud can suffer from latency. This delay of milliseconds isn’t a big deal when you’re trying to get your washing machine to start up, but for advanced machinery like self-driving vehicles, it’s the difference between life or death.”

Yu said Huawei has spent “billions of yuan” developing A.I. the past five years, and the NPU on the Kirin 970 is a breakthrough in the field. “The NPU can think and actively work to provide you the best user experience, whereas other A.I. assistance like Google Assistant only works reactively.”

Even if all this hi-tech sci-fi talk won’t matter (for now) to the average joe consumer, the Kirin 970 brings plenty of useful features that should immediately impact our lives. The chip, for example, has made great leaps in wireless capabilities (Huawei, after all, is a telecommunication giant first and foremost). The Mate 10 will support Cat 18 and reach download speeds up to 1.2Gbps, that’s twice as fast as the Kirin 960 found on the Huawei Mate 9 and P10. Also the Kirin 970 can support 4G data on both sims at the same time (this is very useful for people in Hong Kong and some parts of Europe, not so much in the U.S. or Japan/South Korea). The Kirin 970 should bring better battery life too because it’s suppposedly “50 times” more efficent than a standard CPU.

The Huawei Mate 9 Pro was my favorite smartphone of 2016, and the Mate 10 has me excited.


Huawei Revealed Mate 10 Photo Samples While Announcing Its New AI Chipset – Forbes

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