Huawei Mate 10 to challenge Apple

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is banking on its artificial-intelligence-enabled smartphone Mate 10 to counter US tech giant Apple's dominance in the top-end smartphone segment, analysts said on Tuesday.

Jia Mo, an analyst at global consultancy Canalys, said the Kirin 970 AI chipset is the biggest advantage of Mate 10, which was unveiled by Huawei in Germany on Monday.

Huawei Mate 10 to challenge Apple

"It enables better photo-taking and real-time translation capabilities that can help Huawei wrest some market share from Apple in China and cement its position in the premium segment," Jia said.

Mate 10, which starts from 699 euros ($822) in the European market, is the most advanced smartphone launched by Huawei targeting business professionals. The AI chipset enables the new device's cameras to identify 13 sorts of objects, such as people and plants, when being photographed, and to adjust the settings such as correction filters in accordance with the surrounding environment.

Fang Fang, a 24-year-old bank employee from Shanghai, said: "I often take selfies. Thus, the new function of Huawei smartphone is like adding a Doraemon (a popular Japanese cartoon character) as the camera will optimize itself no matter if it is rainy or windy."

Another highlight of Huawei's AI-enabled function is that the new phone copes with the degrading performance of Android system, which has been seen as a bottleneck for years. The Shenzhen-based company said Mate 10 can run smoothly for a far longer time than its previous handsets.

Huawei's new handset came just a few weeks before the much-expected shipment date of Apple's iPhone X, which also boasts a slate of fancy AI features such as using face recognition to unlock smartphones. In comparison, Huawei sticks to finger recognition technology with Mate 10.

Xiang Ligang, a smartphone expert and CEO of telecom industry website Cctime, said smartphones are becoming increasingly similar in both design and hardware, as technology advances are helping vendors access high-end components at affordable costs.

"AI is definitely the next big thing, but handset makers are still fumbling on how to integrate it into existing systems. Huawei's Mate 10, though less advanced than expected, can be a good challenger for the iPhone X," Xiang said.

According to Jia from Canalys, more efforts are needed from Huawei, especially in terms of attractive user cases, when introducing new features, just like what Apple has done with the iPhone X.