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The phone will be called ‘Mate 10’ outside of China.
Huawei has lost no time in releasing its smartphone to catch up with and compete against Vivo’s X20 and X20 Plus launched just a couple of days back.
Huawei’s new phone is named ‘Maimang 6’ (it will be called ‘Mate 10’ outside of China). The phone has a 5.9-inch IPS full HD display, its screen resolution being 2160x1080pixels. It’s a least bezel display with the aspect ratio being 18:9. Under the hood, Huawei has fitted its in-house CPU, the octa-core Kirin 659. The phone comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory. Further expansion of the storage is feasible through a microSD card.
The optics department is unique on the Huawei Maimang 6 since it has four cameras, a double camera setup in the rear and a double camera setup in the front as well. The rear camera setup has a 16MP plus a 2MP camera. It is capable of capturing images even in blurred backgrounds. On the front, the combination of 13MP plus 2MP sensors with a f/2.0 aperture lens. In addition, the front camera is supported by the spotlight flash and bokeh effect as well.
The operating system is the Android Nougat version 7.0 with Huawei’s UI EMUI 5.1 skin riding over it. The battery fitted on the Huawei Maimang 6 or Mate 10 is 3340mAh.
The phone has all possible connectivity options, including compatibility for 4G LTE networks. A fingerprint sensor is also present on the rear panel of the phone.
Huawei will make the phone available in three colors, black, gold and blue. Priced at CNY 2, 399 (approx. Rs. 24, 000), the phone will start shipping for Chinese customers from September 30 while the rest of the world may see its equivalent launched in October.
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A mid-ranged phone with a huge selfie camera
The original Huawei Nova Plus was decent but not necessary a memorable phone. With the follow up, Huawei is focusing on the front camera and audio capabilities.
At AED 1,399 (US$375), the Huawei Nova 2 Plus is cheaper than the likes of Honor 9, but it’s also not at the same performance level as that or the Nokia 8.
Packaged in a white box that looks very much like the one we saw on the Honor 8 last year, the Nova 2 Plus comes with a fast charger, a USB Type C cable and a headset along with the quickstart guide.
Less is more
The Huawei Nova 2 Plus can be seen as a cheaper version of the Huawei P10 Plus. It has almost identical dimensions and a slightly less premium, yet, a beautiful design.
Instead of the glass strip found on the top of P10 Plus with Leica brand, the Nova 2 plus has a smooth all-metal back.
It’s available in three colors- Graphite Black, Prestige Gold and Aurora Blue. We got that last one for review and it has a nice zen like finish that is achieved by moving the antennae lines on the top and bottom.
HUAWEI NOVA PLUS SPECS
Dimensions: 153.9 x 74.5 x 6.9mm
OS: Android 7.0
Screen size: 5.5-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 1920
CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 659
Rear camera: Dual 12 + 8 MP
Front camera: 20MP
Even though the screen size is 5.5 inches, the Huawei Nova 2 Plus sits comfortably in your hand. And with a weight of 169g, it’s easier to handle than other phones with similar screen sizes.
Huawei has placed the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. Although we prefer a fingerprint sensor on the front, the positioning of it on the Nova 2 is well thought out. It sits reasonably below the cameras and in the center making it very easy for your index finger to reach it.
Like the Huawei P10, the fingerprint sensor is extremely quick to recognize and unlock your phone – among the fastest we’ve used. It also allows for gestures such as pulling down the notification shade or browsing your photos. You can even answer calls and take photos by tapping it.
The 5.5-inch screen on the Huawei Nova 2 Plus is FullHD in resolution which is expected from a device at its price point. It’s LED in technology and is bright enough to be used in the outdoor sun, though you will need to crank the brightness levels all the way up when using it outdoors in a place like Dubai. Huawei has also done a good job with colour reproduction, especially when you use one of the bundled theme that brings out the best the screen has to offer.
Design and display
- Subtle and elegant design
- Display is bright and sharp
While the Huawei Nova 2 Plus has an elegant design, it won’t necessarily turn heads. It’s definitely more premium than what is expected out of a phone in it’s price range, but it’s a phone that will disappear among all other phones that look like it.
At just 6.9mm thickness, the phone sits comfortably in your hands and is easier to use that other phones with a similar screen size. Although there are bezels present on the top and bottom, they don’t feel oversized though most of us will need to use the phone with two hands.
The left side holds the SIM tray which can take one nano SIM and one micro SIM, or a MicroSD card. On the right, you can find a textured power button was well as volume keys that are easy to reach. Moving to the bottom, the Nova 2 Plus features a USB Type-C port along with a 3.5mm jack.
The back holds the dual camera setup along with a flash on the top and the fingerprint sensor below it to the centre. The front of the phone is very generic- a large glass slab with noticeable bezels on the top and the bottom.
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Huawei has been teasing the upcoming Mate 10 line up since the end of last month. Since then, details have slowly been coming in thanks to various rumors and this has given us an idea of what we can expect from the upcoming flagship series from Huawei this year. Today, a new rumor from Evan Blass (better known as @evleaks) at VentureBeat has shed light on one of the smartphones in the Mate 10 series: the Huawei Mate 10 Lite.
Last year, Huawei launched 4 different variants of their Mate 9 device which included the regular Mate 9, Mate 9 Pro, Mate 9 Lite, and the Mate 9 Porsche Design Edition. This year we have only learned details about three devices that are said to be a part of the Huawei Mate 10 series, though. We first heard of these three devices through their codenames, but the retail names have since been revealed to be the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, and the Mate 10 Lite.
Today’s report from VentureBeat tells us just about everything we can expect to learn about the Huawei Mate 10 Lite. Although it is called “Lite”, it is not expected to be sold as a budget smartphone at all. Instead we’re looking at a device with a 5.9″ FHD+ (2160 x 1080 pixels) with a 2:1 aspect ratio. This display is said to be housed in a full-metal, unibody enclosure and looks to be carrying a price tag of €379 (so around $455).
Huawei is also said to be advertising the Mate 10 Lite as as the company’s premiere quad-camera smartphone. We have previously heard rumblings about this in a device released in China called the G10/Maimang 6 and that’s because the Mate 10 Lite is said to be a re-branded version of it. This means the device will have two cameras on the front and two cameras on the rear. The back will have a 16MP sensor while the front will be equipped with a 13MP sensor, and both sides will have a secondary 2MP camera.
Internally, the Huawei Mate 10 will feature the HiSilicon Kirin 659 SoC with 4 x Cortex-A53 @ 2.36GHz and 4 x Cortex-A53 @ 1.7GHz, 4GB of RAM, 64GBs of internal storage, and a 3,340mAh capacity battery. The expected official announcement of this device is during Huawei’s Munich event on October 16th.
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Huawei is set to unveil the Mate 10 flagship on 16 October at an event in Munich, but it now seems that’s not the only phone the smartphone manufacturer has for 2017. Photos of a G10 smartphone have appeared online via PhoneArena, which also claims the phone will be officially announced in a few days on 22 September.
The G10 is likely only destined for China, which is a shame, as not only does it feature an 18:9 display, a design element chosen by a fair few manufacturers in 2017, but it also sports four cameras.
That’s right, four; two on the back and two on the front. It will certainly be the first Huawei phone to sport such a high number of snappers, and possibly one of the first phones in general. We certainly haven’t come across a similar device before.
The images of the G10, which first appeared on Chinese site Weibo, show the front and back of the phone and it looks pretty big. PhoneArena says it’s expected to come with a 5.9-inch full HD display and considering there’s still a fair amount of bezel by 2017 standards, it will likely be tricky to operate one-handed.
The dual-lens rear camera is clear to see on the back, in a vertical array, while the front-facing lenses could be either side of the top speaker, or both on the right.
Other specs for the Huawei G10 are said to include a Kirin 659 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a 3,340mAh battery. While the G10 may not ever come to European or US shores, it could shed a light on some of the features of the Mate 10.
We won’t hold our breath for a dual-lens front camera, but an 18:9 display would be well received.
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Images have leaked for the Huawei Maimang 6 Android phone in three different colors, including Black, Blue, and what appears to be a Gold color option. Worth noting is that these are just dummy phones, which you will often see inside retail stores or at mall kiosks for wireless carriers. They show off the phone design but don’t have any of the internal components, which means the phones don’t power on, can’t be interacted with, and are essentially just an outside shell. Despite all that though they still do a good job at showing you what the phone looks like.
Even though these aren’t real models of the device that Huawei will be launching for consumers, the images show off the device from every angle needed to get the full picture of the device’s design, and the images do match up with previous leaks of the phone which also showed off the phone design. You get another close up look at the back of each phone, where you can see Huawei has gone with a sort matte look for the colors. The Mang 6 will come with a dual camera module and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, both of which are lined up with the center of the phone.
While many manufacturers seem to be getting rid of the 3.5mm audio port these days, Huawei has kept it on the Mang 6 it seems and it’s located on the bottom which is where you will also find the charging port, though it is micro USB and not USB Type-C. The speaker for the phone is also bottom-firing, and looking at the phone from the front Huawei has used dual front-facing cameras as well, giving this phone four camera sensors total, something which is much less common for smartphones. The phone is supposed to be announced at an event Huawei is having on September 22nd, which is this Friday, and it’s rumored to come running on Android 7.0 Nougat, though at this time there aren’t any rumored price points for this device. The Maimang 6 will more than likely be released in China only but it is possible that Huawei could launch it in some international markets.
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LG will reportedly manufacture OLED displays for Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo. The OLED displays are said to be shipped by early 2018.
LG is the second largest manufacturer of OLED panels in the world and according to a report by Business Korea, the South Korean company will soon start supplying its OLED panels to Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo. We can hope to see the above-mentioned companies using LG’s new OLED panels in their upcoming flagship smartphones.
About 20 to 30 percent of the small and mid-sized LG OLED displays have already been ordered by the above-mentioned companies and the company is said to start shipping the OLED displays in early 2018. LG has been using its OLED panels on its smartphones for quite some time now. Both of LG’s flagships this year, the LG G6 and LG V30 will come with FullVision OLED screen
With the launch of the iPhone X, Apple has also adopted the OLED display whereas Samsung has been using OLED panels in its smartphones from quite some time. Samsung’s flagships Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus and the recently launched Galaxy Note 8, all featuring an AMOLED display.
A recent report confirms that Google’s upcoming flagship smartphone, the Pixel 2 XL will be manufactured by LG.
OLED displays are less power consuming than traditional displays and result in longer battery life for smartphones. OLED displays have significantly better refresh rate compared to LEDs or LCDs. OLED panels also support the Always-On feature as seen on the Samsung Galaxy S8.
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Apple’s 2017 iPhones will inevitably influence the top end of the smartphone market. Here’s how it looks at the moment, with a number of key launches expected soon.
Smartphones are the focus of most people’s digital lives these days, and are likely to remain so until computing becomes truly ‘ambient’ — probably involving some seamless combination of wearables (particularly augmented reality [AR] goggles), IoT devices, cloud services and artificial intelligence (AI).
Following the launch of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, it’s a good time to take stock of the current state of the smartphone market by examining the vital statistics of leading vendors’ flagship handsets.
Apple‘s new iPhones, and Samsung‘s Galaxy S8/S8+ and Galaxy Note 8, show the general direction in which top-end smartphones are heading: powerful, attractive (and expensive) handsets whose user experiences increasingly leverage AI and AR, integrated with an ecosystem of add-on devices and services in various sectors including gaming, AR and VR, smart home, healthcare, shopping and office productivity.
Following last year’s well-publicised Galaxy Note 7 debacle and strong fourth-quarter performance from Apple, Samsung briefly ceded first place to its main rival in the Q4 2016 smartphone market. However, the Korean company swiftly returned to the number-one spot in 2017 (see chart). Apple‘s new iPhones face stiff competition from Samsung, Huawei and other top-five vendors, and from several manufacturers in the ‘Others’ category — including Google, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus and Sony — that also offer premium smartphones.
“Despite some key launches in the second quarter from some well-known players, all eyes will be on the ultra-high-end flagships set to arrive this fall,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, when the Q2 2017 figures were released at the beginning of August. “With devices like the iPhone 8, Pixel 2, Note 8, and V30 in the pipeline, the competition will be fierce come September. We expect all the key players to promote their latest and greatest flagships with an assortment of deals, bundles, and trade-in offers across a variety of channels in most key markets,” he added.
Here’s how the flagship smartphone market looks following Apple‘s 2017 iPhone launch, presented as far as possible in graphical form. (Note: we’ll update this article as new handsets from Google, Huawei, LG and any other leading vendors are released.)
Screen size & Pixel density
Screen size — measured in inches across the diagonal — is a smartphone’s defining design characteristic, and the range on offer from leading vendors is now very wide. BlackBerry‘s 4.5-inch keyboard-equipped KEYone is the smallest, while Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 currently leads the field at 6.3 inches, with 16 out of the 25 handsets covered here falling between 5.5 and 6 inches. Display technologies are split between IPS LCD (Apple, BlackBerry, Huawei, HTC, LG [G6], Sony) and various species of OLED (Apple [iPhone X], Google, HP, Huawei [Mate 9 Pro], LG [V30], Motorola, OnePlus and Samsung ).
Recent developments in smartphone displays include curved minimal-bezel screens with on-screen home buttons, 18:9 aspect ratio, Gorilla Glass 5 screen protection and — in the HTC U Ultra — a small secondary screen for notifications and other useful information (an idea recently dropped by LG when updating the V20 to the V30). Samsung‘s Note 8 is the only handset covered here that offers a stylus (the S-Pen). Apple‘s 2017 iPhones add True Tone technology (first seen in the 2016 9.7-inch iPad Pro) that automatically adjusts colour temperature and intensity to the ambient light, while the iPhone X made more space for the screen by removing the home button (and Touch ID) altogether.
The other key statistic here is pixel density, measured as pixels per inch (ppi), which factors in the display resolution. The graph below shows that Samsung (Galaxy S8) and LG (G6) lead the mainstream field with pixel densities of 567 and 564ppi respectively. The outlier is Sony‘s 5.5-inch Xperia XZ Premium, which offers a maximum 4K resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 for a massive 807ppi. This looks extremely impressive, but note that, for much of the time, the Xperia XZ Premium works at 1,080p resolution to save battery life, resulting in a much more mundane 403.5ppi.
Not everyone is comfortable with a large-screen handset, but if you want a leading-edge device, that’s increasingly what you’re being offered. If you’re happy with a large screen (>5.5in.) and also want high pixel density (>500ppi), you should be looking at Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8+, LG‘s V30 or, if you’re happy to run Windows 10 Mobile, the HP Elite x3. If your hands are on the small side, the 5.3-inch Nokia 8 offers a good combination of moderate screen size and high resolution (550ppi).
Screen-to-body ratio & Thickness
Another key smartphone design metric is the screen-to-body ratio, which measures how much of a handset’s fascia is occupied by screen compared to non-display elements like bezels, camera lenses and control buttons.
If low screen/body ratios are ‘old-fashioned’, then Apple’s 2016 iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were showing their age at 65.5 percent and 67.5 percent respectively — and their 8 and 8 Plus successors have done nothing to change that. Apart from BlackBerry‘s KEYone, only four other handsets have sub-70 percent ratios: Google Pixel, HTC U Ultra, Nokia 8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The 4.5-inch KEYone is an outlier at 55.9 percent because, of course, it has a hardware keyboard, which decreases the screen-to-body ratio (and also increases the thickness compared to touchscreen-only handsets — see below).
At the other end of the scale, Samsung‘s Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8 handsets, with their curved Infinity Display screens and on-screen home buttons, lead the field with screen/body ratios of 83-84 percent. LG‘s V30 and Apple‘s new iPhone X are the only other flagship handsets with screen/body ratios over 80 percent.
Smartphone vendors often make much of the slimness of their handsets, and it’s clear from the chart below that Huawei is particularly keen on this design feature. Conversely, Samsung and Google (and BlackBerry) deliver notably thicker handsets:
Motorola‘s modular Moto Z2 Force, at 6.1mm with no Mods fitted, is the thinnest handset here. There are trade-offs though: the camera lens housing protrudes from the rear, and the device’s body is too thin to accommodate a 3.5mm headset jack. With the increasing use of glass on both the front and back of premium handsets (to accommodate wireless charging), most people immediately put their expensive and shiny new handset in a protective case, which renders the quest for extreme slimness somewhat pointless.
Volume & Weight
As you’d expect, there’s a clear relationship between a smartphone’s physical volume and its weight, although the variation around the trendline is interesting.
For example, the handsets that are thick for their screen/body ratio — notably the HTC-designed Google Pixel and Pixel XL, HTC U Ultra and U11 — are also relatively light for their volume, suggesting that there’s plenty of room for components inside the case. Another handset that’s below the weight/volume trendline is Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 — evidence, perhaps, of design changes following the Note 7 debacle (especially as the Note 8 also packs a smaller-capacity 3,300mAh battery than its ill-fated predecessor, which ran on a 3500mAh unit). Conversely, it’s noteworthy how Apple‘s iPhone 8 Plus is particularly heavy (at 202g) for its volume, that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are slightly bulkier and heavier than their predecessors, and that the 5.8-inch iPhone X is considerably lighter and more compact than Samsung’s 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 8.
Dust and water resistance
Another key smartphone design factor is resistance to the ingress of foreign matter, as commonly indicated by a two-digit IP rating: the first number describes dust resistance on a 1-6 scale, while the second describes water resistance on a 1-8 scale. The highest rating among the flagship handsets covered here is IP68, where ‘6’ indicates that the device is ‘dust tight’ and ‘8’ signifies that it can withstand immersion in water (usually at least 30 minutes to depth of at least 1m).
An IP rating of 5 for dust means the device is merely ‘dust protected’, while 7 for water means it can withstand immersion in up to 1m for 30 minutes, 4 means it can resist ‘splashing water’ and 3 means it can handle ‘spraying water’, both of the latter for at least 10 minutes.
IP ratings are not available for the BlackBerry KEYone, Huawei (and Honor) handsets, HTC U Ultra, Motorola Moto Z2 Force (although it does claim a ‘water repellent nano-coating’) and OnePlus 5. However, two of the flagship smartphones — the LG V30 and HP Elite X3 — also boast a military-grade MIL-STD 810G ruggedness certification.
Somewhat surprisingly, Apple‘s 2017 iPhones did not bump up their IP ratings from IP67 to IP68, to match Samsung‘s Galaxy S8/8+/Note 8. Looking ahead, it will be surprising if Google‘s second-generation Pixel handsets don’t move beyond IP53.
Chipsets, CPU & GPU performance
A flagship smartphone should do its job — launching, running and switching between apps, and displaying on-screen content — quickly and smoothly, without any delays or glitches that would mar the user experience. It shouldn’t become uncomfortably hot in operation either — or, of course, burst into flames.
Chipsets from four main vendors power the handsets covered here:
- Apple‘s 4-core A10 Fusion (iPhone 7/7 plus) and 6-core AI- and AR-optimised A11 Bionic(iPhone 8/8Plus/X)
- Samsung‘s 8-core Exynos 8995 in the Galaxy S8/S8+/Note 8 (worldwide versions)
- Qualcomm’s mid-range 8-core Snapdragon 625 (BlackBerry KEYone); 4-core 820 (HP Elite x3) and 821 (Google Pixel/XL, HTC U Ultra, LG G6); and top-end 8-core 835 (HTC U11, LG V30, Moto Z2 Force, OnePlus 5, Galaxy S8/S8+/Note 8 [US/China versions], Sony Xperia XZ Premium)
- HiSilicon’s Kirin 960 in the Huawei and Honor handsets.
Here’s how these platforms shape up in terms of processor and graphics performance, as measured by the Primate Labs’ multi-core Geekbench 4 (Gb4) and Futuremark’s 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited (ISU) benchmarks respectively:
The top-performing chipset — on these measures at any rate — is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, with Gb4 and ISU scores of up to 6500 and 40000 respectively. Note that the Exynos 8995 versions of the Samsung S8 and S8+ deliver better CPU results but weaker GPU performance (benchmarks are currently only available for the Exynos 8995 version of the Galaxy Note 8).
Apple‘s A10 Fusion-powered iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were strong performers, with scores of around 5400 (Gb4) and 37000 (ISU), and the new A11 Bionic-powered iPhones are sure to see a significant speed bump when benchmarks appear (here’s a leaked report). At the 2017 launch, Apple claimed that the A11 Bionic’s two performance CPU cores are 25 percent faster than the A10, while its four high-efficiency cores are 70 percent faster. Apple‘s 2nd-generation performance controller is reportedly 70 percent faster for multithreaded workloads, while the A11’s GPU is 30 percent faster and delivers A10-level performance at half the power, according to Apple.
Also prominent are the Kirin 960-powered handsets from Huawei and Honor, which cluster around the 6000 (Gb4)/27000 (ISU) mark. Again, we expect to see a performance boost when the AI-optimised Kirin 970 chipset becomes available in the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro in October.
The remaining Snapdragon 821-powered smartphones on this chart — notably Google‘s Pixel and Pixel XL — are well behind the 2017 curve, and will certainly be updated with the 835 chipset in due course. Very much in last place in this company is BlackBerry‘s KEYone, which is powered by Qualcomm’s mid-range 8-core Snapdragon 625 SoC.
RAM & Storage
When it comes to memory, the clear leader of the pack is the OnePlus 5, which is currently unique in offering 8GB or 6GB of RAM. Next come seven flagship handsets with a maximum of 6GB, all of which bar the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 also have a 4GB variant. The most common RAM complement is 4GB, which is the only choice with 11 handsets and the maximum for BlackBerry‘s KEYone (which also comes with 3GB).
Apple has always fitted less RAM in its iPhones than the Android competition, and that hasn’t changed with its 2017 handsets: the iPhone X and 8 Plus have 3GB (like the iPhone 7 Plus), while the iPhone 8 has 2GB (like the iPhone 7).
As far as internal storage is concerned, Apple‘s 2017 iPhones stand out with their maximum complement of 256GB — a feature that betrays the company’s disdain for external storage expansion via a MicroSD card slot. Samsung‘s Galaxy Note 8 also offers a maximum of 256GB (in some territories), but has a MicroSD card slot too, making it the top choice for the data-hungry.
Google‘s Pixel handsets and the OnePlus 5 also lack MicroSD expansion and, like the previous-generation iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, provide up to 128GB rather than 256GB of internal storage.
The most common maximum internal storage complement is 128GB, which is offered by 13 of the 25 handsets covered here.
Cameras have become a key battleground for smartphone makers, and several approaches are currently on view among the flagship population. Although it wasn’t the first to do so, Apple kick-started a trend last year by offering dual rear cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus: a primary 12-megapixel (MP) camera with an f/1.8 wide-angle lens and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and a secondary camera with an f/2.8 telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom but no OIS.
As well as adding telephoto capability, Apple‘s dual-camera system allowed depth information to be calculated, enabling features like bokeh — sharp foreground and blurred background — to be supported on portrait shots that were previously the province of expensive digital SLR cameras with high-end optics.
Apple‘s 2017 dual-camera phones, the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, remain at 12MP but the sensors are bigger, faster and deliver better low-light performance, according to Apple. The iPhone 8 Plus has the same basic lens specs as the 7 Plus (f/1.8 wa + OIS, f/2.8 tele), while the iPhone X has an f/2.4 aperture on the telephoto lens and implements OIS on both cameras. Apple also takes advantage of A11 Bionic chip’s machine-learning optimisation and custom ISP to deliver a (beta) Portrait Mode feature called Portrait Lighting: here, depth sensing and facial mapping are combined to deliver real-time analysis of the light on a subject’s face and provide alternative lighting schemes — either pre- or post-capture.
For dual-camera handsets, the top bar is the wide angle or colour camera, while the bottom bar is the telephoto or black-and-white camera.
Huawei‘s Leica-branded camera system pairs 12MP RGB and 20MP monochrome sensors with 27mm f/2.2 lenses (f/1.8 in the P10 Plus), supporting OIS on the primary colour camera. As well as enabling true monochrome shooting and adding detail to blended RGB/mono shots, the 20MP secondary camera supplies depth information for bokeh-style images. The Honor 8 Pro has a similar (non-Leica-branded) system, but the secondary mono camera is 12MP rather than 20MP and there’s no support for OIS.
LG uses two 13MP sensors on the G6, one coupled with an f/1.8 autofocus lens with OIS and the other with an f/2.4 wide-angle lens lacking both OIS and autofocus. The LG V30 takes a similar approach, but uses a 16MP primary sensor with an f/1.6 lens (with AF and OIS) and a 13MP secondary sensor with an f/1.9 lens (no AF or OIS).
Both Motorola and Nokia take the Huawei approach, with colour and monochrome cameras: the Nokia 8’s Zeiss-branded system supports OIS on the colour camera, but the Moto Z2 Force does not offer OIS on either.
OnePlus and Samsung (Galaxy Note 8) go for the wide-angle/telephoto dual camera design, OnePlus with 16MP (wa) and 20MP (tele) cameras and electronic image stabilisation (EIS) rather than OIS, and Samsung with two 12MP cameras, both with OIS. Samsung also introduces a couple of neat dual-camera features: Live Focus lets you adjust the bokeh effect pre- and post-capture, while Dual Capture simultaneously captures photos from both the wide-angle and telephoto cameras.
Single rear cameras are an increasing rarity among the flagship population, but are headed (in resolution terms) by Sony and HP, with 19MP and 16MP units in the Xperia XZ Premium and Elite x3 respectively.
The fashion for ‘selfies’ and authentication via face recognition means that front-facing cameras, once something of an afterthought with a nod to video calls, have seen significant recent evolution.
Samsung, for example, offers both face recognition and iris scanning on its Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8 handsets, as well as a capable 8MP camera, while the Nokia 8’s Dual Capture feature lets you take pictures with the front and rear camera simultaneously (a.k.a. ‘Bothies’). Even more recently Apple more than matched Samsung’s functionality with the front-facing TrueDepth camera system and Face ID on the new iPhone X:
Apple’s True Depth camera system occupies a notch at the top of the iPhone X’s OLED screen.
To analyse your physiognomy, the flood illuminator detects your face, the infrared camera takes an IR image, and the dot projector places than 30,000 IR dots on your face. These data are fed into a neural network (in the A11 Bionic chip) to create a mathematical model of your face, which is then checked against the stored model on the handset — all in real time. The True Depth camera also enables Portrait Mode selfies with Portrait Lighting, and animated emoji called ‘Animoji’.
Here are the front camera megapixel counts for the 25 handsets under consideration, 12 of which are 8MP units:
Video capture is becoming an increasingly important smartphone camera feature — witness the fact that all bar one of the handsets covered here can record 4k (2160p) video with at least a frame rate of 30fps. The exception is BlackBerry‘s KEYone, which doesn’t support 4k video capture at any frame rate. Apple‘s new iPhones just upped the ante by supporting 4k video at 60fps, which will doubtless kick off another round of feature catch-up.
Slow-motion video is another popular feature, and Sony‘s Xperia XZ Premium leads the field here, supporting HD (720p) video capture at a startling ‘super-slo-mo’ 960fps. The current ‘standard’ for slo-mo video is 720p at 240fps, although Apple has again pushed the boundary by supporting full HD (1080p) video at 240fps in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X.
As resolutions and frame rates rise, image stabilisation — either optical or electronic — will become ever more important. It’s noticeably absent from Motorola‘s Moto Z2 Force, for example.
As flagship smartphones pack in faster processors, more memory, larger and higher-resolution screens, and ever more functions, so the toll on the handset’s battery increases. There are multiple trade-offs here: no smartphone user wants to have to recharge during a typical day’s usage, but manufacturers cannot simply fit ever higher-capacity batteries into designs that need to be as lightweight and elegant as possible in order to keep buyers interested. Get it wrong and a vendor can have a Galaxy Note 7-style debacle on its hands.
The state of the art in smartphone batteries is currently around 4,000mAh, while 14 of the 22 handsets charted here have battery capacities between 3,000 and 4,000mAh. Apple has not divulged the battery specs for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, and we’re awaiting the teardown analyses that will supply them.
A bigger battery obviously means longer battery life, as the chart below clearly shows. But given that design and safety constraints preclude the shoehorning of big batteries into tight-fitting cases, manufacturers also need to make it as convenient as possible for users — especially ‘power’ users who subject their devices to heavy workloads — to recharge their handsets.
Following LG‘s decision to drop the removable battery when updating the V20 to the V30, this feature is now absent from all of the top-end smartphones covered here. Fast charging is supported on all but the now-outdated iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, while wireless charging is available on Apple‘s new iPhones (8, 8 Plus and X), HP‘s Elite x3, the LG G6 and V30, and Samsung‘s Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8.
High-end smartphones are never going to be cheap, but Apple‘s newly launched iPhone X has broken new ground — the combination of Apple‘s historically high margins and a significant amount of new technology have seen to that. The entry-level 64GB iPhone X configuration costs $999, and if you must have the top-end 256GB model, be prepared to part with a princely $1,149 (and the same figure in UK pounds).
That’s a record for a mainstream flagship handset, although you can spend even sillier money on specialist secure/luxury devices like Sirin Labs’ Solarin if you really want to (although, as it turned out, few did).
Here are the list prices in US dollars for most of the premium handsets covered in this feature:
Notes: the LG V30 prices are converted from Korean won; the Nokia 8 price is converted from euros. The following handsets are not officially available in the US: Honor 8 Pro, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. Where available, prices for entry-level and top-end configurations are shown.
Recent launches from Samsung and Apple have highlighted the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and augmented reality in high-end smartphones, with the underlying chipsets and developer resources evolving appropriately. At least for now, the smartphone will remain the portable hub for your digital life, and the flow of new devices will continue apace.
We aim to keep this roundup updated as new products, specification details and benchmarks appear. The next big launches expected are Google‘s second-generation Pixel handsets, Huawei‘s Mate 10 and 10 Pro, and LG‘s G7. Check back for updated information on these and other devices.
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Powerful chip will give new phone, Mate 10, faster performance and longer battery life
Visitors look at the remotely controlled R2-D2 robot from the Star Wars movies at the IFA Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin. Photograph: Getty Images
Huawei aims to use artificial intelligence-powered features such as instant image recognition to take on rivals Samsung and Apple when it launches its new flagship phone next month, a top executive said at the weekend at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin.
Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business, on Saturday revealed a powerful new mobile phone chip Huawei is betting on for its upcoming flagship Mate 10 and other high-end phones to deliver faster processing and lower power consumption.
Huawei will launch the Mate 10 and its sister phone, the Mate 10 Pro, in Munich on October 16th, Mr Yu confirmed.
He declined to detail new features, but the phones are expected to boast large, 6-inch-plus full-screen displays, tech blogs predict. Artificial intelligence (AI) built into its new chips can help make phones more personalised, or anticipate the actions and interests of their users, Mr Yu said.
As examples, he said AI can enable real-time language translation, heed voice commands, or take advantage of augmented reality, which overlays text, sounds, graphics and video on real-world images phone users see in front of them.
Mr Yu believes the new Kirin 970 chip’s speed and low power can translate into features that will give its phones an edge over the Apple iPhone 8 series, set to be unveiled on September 12th, and Samsung’s range of top-line phones announced this year.
Huawei is the world’s number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple. “Compared with Samsung and Apple, we have advantages,” Mr Yu said in an interview during the annual electronics fair in Berlin.
“Users are in for much faster [feature] performance, longer battery life and more compact design.”
The company asserts its newly announced Kirin 970 chip will preserve battery life on phones by up to 50 per cent. Huawei describes the new chip as the first Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for smartphones. It brings together classic computing, graphics, image and digital signal processing power that have typically required separate chips, taking up more space and slowing interaction between features within phones.
Most importantly, Huawei aims to use the Kirin chips to differentiate its phones from a vast sea of competitors, including Samsung, who overwhelming rely on rival Snapdragon chips from Qualcomm, the market leader in mobile chip design. Among major phone makers, only Apple and Huawei now rely on their own core processors.