Recently Android Authority named the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro the best Android flagship of 2017, but what makes it the best? Great design and top notch specifications are certainly part of the phone’s winning formula. Another key aspect? This magic little Kirin 970 chip that lets the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro and the HUAWEI Mate 10 do things the competition can’t.
This chip is unlike others because it has a dedicated NPU that can improve many aspects of your smartphone experience, including the quality of the images you take.
Next level NPU
Both of these advances allow the Kirin 970 to integrate seamlessly into the camera on the phone and make it even more powerful.
The NPU stands for Neural Network Processing Unit. It allows the HUAWEI Mate 10 Series to perform AI-related tasks directly on the phone. Android Authority previously explained how NPUs work in great detail, but the short of it is that an onboard NPU helps the HUAWEI Mate Series Pro quickly and intelligently understand certain user behavior patterns to improve various parts of the user experience, all without needing to access the Internet.
Because the HUAWEI Mate 10 Series doesn’t rely on the cloud for these special AI tasks, it has much lower latency than offloading to an external AI processor. It’s much more efficient at AI tasks than flagships from companies like Samsung, LG, and Apple, all of which rely on remote servers for AI related tasks.
One area where the NPU particularly shines is photography. Combine this NPU with the HUAWEI Mate 10 Series’ 12-megapixel RGB + 20-megapixel monochrome dual sensor setup and you have a recipe for some great photos.
The NPU on the Kirin 970 allows for intelligent photo processing in real time. Huawei taught the AI engine to recognize 13 different scenes — text, food, performance (theatre, etc.), blue sky, snow, beach, dogs, cats, nightscape, sunrise/sunset, plants, portraits and flowers. These 13 scenes arguably encompass the majority of photos average consumers will take on a daily basis.
With all this information, the NPU adjusts basically everything on the camera from focus, focal length, brightness, contrast, and color to give you the perfect settings for any scene. The viewfinder for the camera will even show an icon letting the user know what scene it detects, giving users the assurance that the camera is doing what is needed.
Thanks to the NPU, the camera can also process language translation in real time. This is done completely on the phone itself, making the transition seamless, and requiring minimal battery power. Simply hold your phone up to a sign, or a paper written in the language you want to translate, and you’ll see the translated text superimposed over the image, as fast as you can scan it. It will eliminate translation issues the next time you travel abroad.
The Kirin 970 further enhances the camera experience with its dual ISP (image signal processor), which allow it to process images, data, and light information faster.
All these little touches make for a smarter camera experience. Even novice users can create nearly DSLR-level results. Of course, there’s also still a manual mode for those that have mad photography skills already.
Night and day
Not only does the NPU allow for a frustration-free experience, it actually enhances the experience, even for amateur shutter bugs.
One great example of how AI makes your image experience better is the camera’s ability to differentiate between a snowy background and an overcast sky. Both are similar colors, but they each require different settings to get the best photo possible. The NPU is capable of processing up to 2000 photos per second. It uses that speed to adjust settings as needed and learn what each different scene looks like, so the next batch of photos can be even better.The hard part is that all this needs to be done transparently in the background, so as to not ruin the photography experience; slow cameras can ruin the picture taking experience. Bringing the AI onto the phone alleviates that concern.
Local processing is faster than cloud processing by a wide margin. If the cost of this photo processing was speed, most users would become frustrated with the phone. Not only does the NPU allow for a frustration-free experience, it actually enhances the experience, even for amateur shutterbugs.
AI is the future and it’s exciting to see at least one major smartphone manufacturer on board with this trend. It shows a commitment to the consumer and the foresight to see where our phones are taking us in the future.
If you want the kind of enhancements that an NPU brings to the table, you won’t find it anywhere but Huawei and the HUAWEI Mate 10 Series.