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Huawei presents four phones, a watch and a new memory card
At the press conference for the launch of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Huawei is allowing us to take a glimpse at their work. Dominik Bärlocher reports from London.
Huawei has been setting the tone in this year's smartphone scene. Huawei made a point by using last year's hardware with the P20 Pro to demonstrate that with clever engineering and lean software, the Chinese company can present a device that easily tops the competition.
A few months and weeks ago, the competition presented the last flagships of the season that will mark the Christmas business.
And Huawei replied «Hold my beer» – just to reveal something that made the competition swallow hard.
Huawei pulled off the exact same stunt in spring. And it worked again. With just the tech specs in mind, all competitors fall short. I’m going to write about my experience testing the phone in a future article. For now, here’s basic information and a first impression of it.
The reason: The London event location Excel is packed with people. The press conference is desperately overbooked and even with my «All Access» badge, I can't get anywhere else than to the sidelines of the hall. I still manage to take notes – using a chair as a table. Huawei Mobile's CEO Richard Yu is on stage, mangling his presentation. Despite the language barrier, he couldn’t look happier. He knows that he nailed the «Hold My Beer» moment.
Huawei introduces new memory card format
Huawei has invented a new memory card format – for reasons that are not entirely clear. The dual SIM slot is still a hybrid slot, but the current micro SD cards no longer fit the Mate-20 series. Doesn’t sound convincing at first, but hey, we have Nano SD now. Although from a form factor point of view the Nano SD makes sense, but as I said, I'm not convinced of its necessity. The Nano SD looks like a Nano SIM card, is 12.3 mm long and smaller than a fingernail.
...and the Nano SD in the correct proportions
It will be exciting to see the speed of this new SD card, as leaks of the past months as well as the press conference have promised «read speeds of 90 MB/s». That's fine and dandy, but if you're recording in 4k, you're not interested in the read speed. You want to know about the write speed. That’s what decides how fast the data of your videos is on your SD card. If the write speed is 4k compatible, it's somewhere between 30 MB/s and 60 MB/s according to the official SD card standard. If Huawei is planning ahead and anticipates 8k, it could go up to 90MB/s.
CHF 56.–was 62.901
NM Card Nano SD (128GB)
The Huawei NM Card was specially developed for the flagship of Huawei.
Let me investigate.
The smartwatch is dead, long live the Watch GT
The world has been missing that one good reason why you need a smartwatch. But Huawei isn’t giving up. Recent press reports speak of the Huawei Watch 3, which is supposed to be in progress. But this time around, Richard Yu isn't in London to present the Watch 3, but the Huawei Watch GT.
The display on the dial of the Watch GT has a diameter of 1.39 inches, i.e. 3.53 centimetres and has a resolution of 454x454 pixels. This watch shows notifications on the miniature display and doesn't only tracks your position with GPS, it also measures your heart rate and the quality of your sleep.
According to the data sheet, the watch's battery lasts up to two weeks. That’s a long time compared to most other smartwatches that need to be recharged every few or even every single day.
The default activities this smartwatch – which is also waterproof to 40 metres – tracks are:
The Huawei Watch GT comes with a black/red strap and a dark brown leather wristband.
Watch GT (ceramics, Silicone)
Ready To Explore
The star of the show: The Huawei Mate 20
This is what the audience at the Excel hall have been waiting for. Richard Yu reveals the Huawei Mate 20. In spring, I said the Mate 20 Pro would be the only phone this year that could compete with the Huawei P20 Pro. The specs are definitely promising.
Mate 20 Pro + Watch GT (6.39", 128GB, Dual SIM, 40MP, Black)
Welcome to a
Mate 20 Pro + Watch GT (6.39", 128GB, Dual SIM, 40MP, Midnight Blue)
Welcome to a
Mate 20 Pro + Watch GT (6.39", 128GB, Dual SIM, 40MP, Twilight)
Welcome to a
CHF 599.–was 688.–1
Mate 20 (6.53", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Black)
Mate 20 (6.53", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Midnight Blue)
Mate 20 (6.53", 128GB, Dual SIM, 12MP, Twilight)
Android 9.0 and Huaweis user interface Emui 9.0 run on the Kirin 980 System-on-a-Chip (SoC). Emui has improved in the past years and is quite okay, but I'm still not a fan. My advice is to switch to another user interface.
Schönere Icons für Huawei EMUI
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The Mate 20 has a smaller battery with 4000mAh; the Pro version features 4200mAh. If the software behaves similarly to the devices launched in spring, the Mate 20 will easily last one and a half days. As the manufacturers says, the charging technology has been significantly improved thanks to the new Kirin.
Both models are equipped with three rear-facing Leica lenses:
- 40 megapixels, f/1.8, wide-angle
- 20 megapixels, f/2.2, ultra wide-angle
- 8 megapixels, f/2.4, tele, autofocus
Even without Master AI, which is still installed but is deactivated by default since a recent update, this smartphone sis supposed to take stunning pictures and videos. Both models feature a 24-megapixel selfie cam. In a notch. The Mate 20 Pro has a much larger notch than the Mate 20, as the Pro is equipped with a camera with a 3D depth sensor. This sensor is designed to recognise you easily – with Face Unlock, it unlocks your phone in less than 0.6 seconds. Plus, it’s supposed to perform better when you’re in selfie mode. And of course, the depth sensing camera is also a 3D scanner. This isn’t new – we know it from Sony – but Huawei claims to offer improvements.
Scanned objects can be displayed in an augmented reality environment alongside real people or objects. Richard Yu and a helper demonstrate this in London with a plush panda. It doesn't look convincing from the distance I'm at. I’ll scan something tonight and see what happens. If you have any suggestions on what I should scan, write a comment. I’ll see what I can do – I can’t promise anything though.
The system performance of the Mate 20 is restricted – the platform only has 4GB of RAM, while the Pro version has 6GB. What does this mean for power users? If you’re getting a Mate 20, go for the Pro version. Both versions of the phone feature a Dual Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which is designed to make sure the device's intelligence is not only faster, but also more efficient and less power-intensive.
Without a SIM card, the Mate 20 weighs 188 grams; the Pro version weighs 189 grams.
And of course, there’s a Porsche design version again. Presented by Porsche itself, it promises many adjectives with a German accent: «It's a product of passion and ingenuity… a testament to accomplishment by teamwork… we're collaborating, inviting, innovating...» and so on. You know what I’m getting at. But I must admit, it looks pretty darn fancy. The front of this phone is almost entirely covered by the screen and the bezels are even smaller than with the Mate 20 series. The back of the phone is made of leather and glass. The German car still is the source of inspiration. The back of this phone is completely flat. There’s no camera bump or anything. On top of this, the device boasts 8GB RAM and 512GB internal memory.
Huawei's getting smarter but more intrusive
Richard Yu presents the new artificial intelligence (AI) features of the phone. These include not only greatly improved face recognition, but also the ability to connect to a wide range of online services. A direct connection between retailers and apps – over 200 worldwide. Point the camera at your food and there's an app that will tell you how many calories you're about to eat.
Sounds like a cool gadget, but leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Do we really need a phone that calculates our calories or goes shopping for us? What if we actually want to choose ourselves where we buy what? And what are Huawei's strategies when it comes to connecting retailers? Is it simply about money? Because if this is the case, then retailers can just throw money towards Huawei and make massive sales, because the device goes on semi-autonomous shopping sprees. The result? Smaller shops will suffer. Inevitably. They can't afford this connection and miss out on sales. This scenario would be a real pity. In my mind, it would only make our world more boring, albeit more convenient.
On the other hand, the Mate 20 Pro boasts better security features. Face Unlock is now depth sensitive and directly embedded in Android. This makes sure your phone can't be unlocked with a photo. As a consequence, face recognition now serves as a further authentication factor to trigger payment transactions.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro features Android 9.0, which means Digital Wellbeing and all the other features of the new Android version.
Android Pie: a quick look at the Android revolution
What’s more, Huawei is reaching out to business customers. It’s all about Android Enterprise Recommended.
Huawei Mate 20 X: one more big thing
Richard Yu is topping Apple founder Steve Jobs. He has «One More Big Thing» instead of Jobs' «One more thing». The Mate 20 X has a screen-to-body ratio of over 80 percent. The X version is said to support the Huawei Pen with 96 pressure levels and allow for better media quality and a 5000mAh battery. «You'll never worry about this phone's battery,» Richard Yu says and shows a slide that can be understood as another dig at Apple. If you're consuming media on a flight across the Atlantic, the latest iPhone still leaves you with 10 percent battery. The Mate X with 46 percent.
But the applause isn't overwhelming, to say the least - even when Richard Yu introduces the cooling system with the Vapor Chamber, which uses steam or condensation to cool the phone. To make this possible, the phone features a graphene film, which ooffers additional cooling support. For gamers, there will be a gamepad that allows you to game on the go.
«By the way, the screen is larger than the Nintendo Switch,» Richard Yu adds.
The press conference makes a clear statement: Huawei is braver, has decided which course to take and is not holding back any longer. And the course they're going for is called attack. Their competitors better watch out, put in an effort and show courage. This is exactly what Huawei did during the last year and it has obviously paid off.
And that’s it from my side. I’m trying to get out of this crowd and just hoping the people behind me will stop pushing me in the back all the time. I'll go test the phone and will get back to you tomorrow with my first impressions.
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