Huawei/Honor showed off its 3D facial recognition technology at a recent event in London
It claims that its Point Cloud Depth Camera is ten times more accurate than the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera
Recent leaked documents show that Huawei’s next flagship may include a notch – could the 3D tech be included?
Like it or not, the notch is coming, and it’s all thanks to Apple. Yet while a vast number of budget Android OEMs are expected to include camera cut-outs purely as an iPhone X-aping cosmetic choice, others are reportedly looking to take advantage of the notch and offer their own alternatives to Apple’s TrueDepth camera suite.
The biggest contender in this field that we’ve seen so far is Huawei. We first got a glimpse of Huawei’s take on the technology during the Honor View 10’s launch in China, complete with a brief demonstration of how the system’s multiple sensors combine and, of course, a quick look at how it handles animated animal emojis.
Evidence has since emerged that the Huawei P11 will sport a notch of some kind, but it remains to be seen if the Shenzhen giant’s next flagship will include Face ID-style features. Nevertheless, Huawei is clearly keen on its new tech, as it showed it off again during the Honor View 10 and Honor 7X launch event in London.
While Honor president George Zhao briefly touched on the newly-christened Point Cloud Depth Camera, it also made a hands-on appearance as a prototype USB-C peripheral. Thanks to a new demonstration video by Notebook Italia and guided by Honor device engineer, Matthew Leone, we now know a little more about the 3D imaging tech and how it might fit on a future Huawei or Honor phone.
Leone explains that the accessory uses a structured light near-infrared projector combined with other sensors – an RGB camera, infrared camera, near-infrared illuminator and two RGB LEDs – to create a 3D map of the user’s face.
He then shows this in action as a single photo of his own face taken via the accessory turns into a 3D model. I actually attended the event and managed to give this a try myself and can vouch for how quick and accurate the process is even at this early stage. You can see my ugly mug in 3D in the photos below.
While it’s clearly early days, representatives from Huawei’s Honor sub-brand have made a number of bold claims about its TrueDepth competitor. During the presentation, a slide noted that its Face Unlock biometrics system needs just 400 milliseconds to bypass an authentication prompt. Honor also says that the Point Cloud Depth Camera captures 300,000 points to create an accurate 3D reconstruction of your face – 10 times more so than the iPhone X.
Huawei is targeting Apple, Samsung, and LG with its latest flagship handset, the Mate 10 Pro. This high-quality device features classy hardware, top specs, and must-have tools. The phone includes twin cameras for extra photography firepower, and makes the jump to the 18:9 aspect ratio for the display. With Android 8 Oreo and EMUI 8 from Huawei aboard, the Mate 10 Pro packs a serious software punch. Here is Phone Scoop’s full review.
Is It Your Type?
The Mate 10 Pro is a classy, big-screened flagship device from Huawei. If you’re in the market for an unlocked smartphone and require superior battery performance and enterprise-grade software tools, the Mate 10 Pro is a fine alternative to devices such as the Galaxy Note8.
Huawei designed a modern marvel in the Mate 10 Pro. The device sheds the heavy metal skin of last year’s Mate 9 flagship for a sleek, glass enclosure that ups the wow factor significantly. This brings the Mate 10 Pro in line with the competition. That’s a good thing for consumers, who’ve never had a better selection of top tier devices.
Curved glass covers the front and back of the Mate 10 Pro. A wraparound metal frame forms the central chassis and separates the two glass panes. The rear glass plate is particularly nice. It features gentle curves, a lustrous finish, and a perfectly smooth texture. The metal frame is painted to match the glass. The frame’s edges curve in just a hair to meet the rounded glass edges. The result is a seamless feel; your hand can hardly tell where the glass ends and the metal begins. The shape of the phone is slightly generic, maybe a bit too safe. Our review unit is a handsome-yet-conservative charcoal gray. The phone also comes in a copper tone and a blue hue if you want a bit more personality in your pocket.
Huawei did a good job keeping the size in check, all things considered. The Mate 10 Pro has a 6-inch 2:1 display — just like the Pixel 2 XL — yet it’s noticeably shorter and narrower than Google’s phone. The Mate 10 Pro is much shorter than the Note8, though that device has a slightly bigger screen.
The 10 Pro‘s 2:1 display aspect ratio means the phone has the tall, narrow look common to other phones with the same shaped screen. People with small hands may find it too big; there’s no doubt the 10 Pro is a two-handed phone. But I found the Mate 10 Pro much more comfortable to carry and use over the course of the day than the Pixel 2 XL or Note8. The smooth, rounded shape makes the phone a breeze to drop into and pull out of your jeans.
The materials and build quality are top-notch. All the pieces are fitted together tightly. Double-sided glass devices do double the destruction factor; I’d hate to drop this phone. Gorilla Glass may be protecting both sides, but the Mate 10 Pro is not rugged in any sense of the word and is begging for a case. A thin silicone cover ships with the phone. I’d put it on if I were you.
Huawei did a fine job eliminating the bezels. The Mate 10 Pro‘s display fills the majority of the phone’s face, giving the phone an all-screen look. (The regular Mate 10 has a 16:9 display.) The forehead and chin of the 10 Pro are kept to the bare minimum. There’s barely room for the earpiece speaker and user-facing camera above the screen. Huawei somehow crammed its logo in the sliver of bezel forming the chin. There are no physical or capacitive controls to speak of, as the phone makes use of on-screen buttons.
Huawei placed the screen lock button and volume toggle on the right edge. The screen lock key is a bit small, but it has a ribbed texture and an excellent profile. Travel and feedback are great. The volume toggle has a smooth texture, a pleasing profile, and fine travel and feedback. The SIM card tray is the only functional element found on the phone’s left edge. The Mate 10 Pro supports two SIM cards, but — oddly — not memory cards. The tray is nice and solid.
The Mate 10 Pro‘s top and bottom edges reflect some interesting decision-making on Huawei‘s part. First, you’ll easily notice an IR blaster on the top edge. This was a hot feature on smartphones a few years ago, but then it disappeared. Huawei says customers asked for it, so it brought the IR blaster back. You can use it to control your home theater equipment. It works fine.
The Mate 10 Pro relies on USB-C for charging. The port is placed on the bottom. You see five holes drilled into the bottom edge denoting the speaker’s location. The 10 Pro loses the headphone jack found on the standard Mate 10. The reason, says Huawei, was to make the 10 Pro water resistant. The 10 Pro has an IP67 rating, which means it can sit in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. I plopped it in my sink for a while and found it handles the dunking just fine. The standard Mate 10 is not water resistant, but it has a headphone jack. Pick your priorities, I guess.
Glass stretches from corner to corner across the Mate 10 Pro‘s rear panel. It’s one of the classier glass panels I’ve seen on a phone this year, on par with that of the sultry LG V30. The majority of the glass is one shade, but Huawei created a subtle band in the coloring around the camera module. It helps provide some definition to the rear panel and break up the conservative shape a bit.
Twin camera modules stick out from the rear surface. The individual lenses are rather small, perhaps the size of a pencil eraser. Huawei positioned the fingerprint reader just below the camera module. It’s close enough that you might accidentally smudge the lower lens. The reader is indented and has a nice rim to make it stand out. I had no trouble finding or using it. The glass cannot be removed, and neither can the battery.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro doesn’t quite have the personality that some of its competitors do, but it’s still a fine piece of hardware that anyone should be pleased to own. It’s a well-made device and was clearly designed with care.
The Mate 10 Pro has a 6-inch OLED display that uses the 2:1 aspect ratio with 2,160 by 1,080 pixels. As far as OLED panels go, I’m pleased with the 10 Pro‘s. At 408ppi, pixel density is fine. Surely some will complain that it’s not a 2K / quad HD screen, but I’m not that upset about it. The resolution is more than adequate for browsing the web, enjoying social media, and streaming YouTube videos.
You won’t be able to really enjoy VR, as it doesn’t support Google Daydream for some reason, but the screen’s resolution isn’t quite enough for good quality VR, anyway.
The screen is certainly bright enough for use most anywhere you might take it. I had no trouble using it outdoors when navigating around Brooklyn and taking pictures of the local graffiti and street art. Colors are pushed a little, but they’re not overly inaccurate. Viewing angles are mostly good. There’s a small amount of blue shift when you view the phone from extreme angles. (But it’s much better than the Pixel 2 XL.)
You have incredible control over the screen’s behavior. The Mate 10 Pro allows you to manually adjust brightness, color temperature, blue light, text/icon size, resolution, color modes (normal, vivid), and much more. If you don’t like what you see, chances are you can change it.
In all, the Mate 10 Pro has a screen that competes well with other devices in this class.
The Mate 10 Pro has modest support for U.S. LTE Bands. It includes the core bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile (2, 4, 5, and 12), but not either of the carriers’ newer bands (29 and 30 for AT&T; 66 and 71 for T-Mobile). That means you won’t get the best service when the network is congested, nor will you get the best coverage in boonies with T-Mobile. I tested it on AT&T’s network around NYC and found it ran well enough.
The phone almost always remained connected to LTE 4G. I didn’t see it drop to 3G at all while I tested it. That’s a good start. The phone connected voice calls on the first attempt most of the time but did drop several calls when in a moving car. Data speeds were acceptable though not spectacular. The Mate 10 Pro was adept at loading Instagram stories, streaming Google Play Music, and my favorite YouTube channels. I’ve seen somewhat faster performance from phones that support AT&T’s full set of LTE bands, but for an unlocked device, the Mate 10 Pro gets the job done.
I was very pleased with call quality through the Mate 10 Pro. Calls sounded loud and clear in the earpiece, just the way I want them to sound. I easily tackled several calls while traversing the noisy streets of Manhattan and didn’t miss a word. Clarity is very good, and voices have a generally warm presence via the earpiece. You can certainly take calls at home or the office with no worries. Those I spoke to through the phone said I sounded “right next door.”
The speakerphone does almost as well. Volume is solid for in-the-car calls and even in moderately noise spaces. Clarity was good most of the time, though you will notice some distortion if you turn the volume all the way up.
Ringers and alerts are good enough, but could be better. The vibrate alert works really well.
The Mate 10 Pro doesn’t have stereo speakers, per se, but the earpiece and bottom-firing speaker do work together when you’re listening to music or watching video. The earpiece spits out high frequencies while the bottom speaker pumps out low frequencies. It sounds fine when you hold the phone in portrait orientation, but it is obviously lopsided if you turn the phone on its side to watch a full screen video.
Battery life is, in a word, insane. The Mate 10 Pro packs a huge 4,000 mAh battery that I was never able to drain fully. The phone easily pushed through an 18-hour day of intense use and still had 40% left. I used the Mate 10 Pro throughout a long day to read email, check my social feeds, take/post photos, shoot video, make calls, navigate, send messages, and much more. I ran out of juice long before the Mate 10 Pro did. If you use the phone only moderately, you might see as much as two days from the battery. It’s that good.
Battery saver tools are available in the settings menu, but you won’t need them. Like competing flagships, the Mate 10 Pro is a little too aggressive when it comes to power management. You’ll see lots of alerts about apps draining your battery in the background. You can futz with these settings to find what works best for you.
The Mate 10 Pro supports rapid charging via the included charger, but not wireless charging. That’s a shame, as wireless charging is becoming table-stakes feature for today’s flagships.
Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi
The 10 Pro‘s secondary batch of radios all worked very well. Bluetooth was a cinch to use and the NFC radio helped me pair the 10 Pro with a wide array of Bluetooth accessories. I used the 10 Pro for several calls via my car’s hands-free system and they sounded very good. Music had a rich sound when passed through a good pair of Bluetooth headphones.
You can use the NFC radio for mobile payments via Google’s Android Pay service. I found it worked well.
Google Maps and the 10 Pro‘s GPS radio were fine companions. The phone located me within seconds and was accurate to about 15 feet. That’s about as good as it gets. Real-time navigation between points worked without fail.
The WiFi was particularly speedy.
Huawei was sure to include today’s most popular lock screen feature on the Mate 10 Pro: an ambient display.
The screen shows the time, date, battery level, and notifications when the screen is “off”. I like that this cluster of data moves around on the screen a bit to help avoid burn-in. You can customize what’s shown in the ambient display to a small degree, as well as set an on/off schedule for the ambient display. For example, I set it to switch off at midnight and back on again in the morning.
Oddly, the Pro 10 doesn’t support tap-to-wake, or raise-to-wake gestures. You can flip the phone over to mute incoming calls, or raise the phone to your ear to answer calls. In order to wake the screen you have to press the screen lock button or tap the fingerprint reader. Once you activate the lock screen, you’ll see your notifications in the middle of the screen with the clock and camera shortcut in the bottom left corner.
Huawei has its own lock screen dock that’s somewhat useful. You can access some basic tools (voicemail, calculator, flashlight, and camera) by swiping up from the bottom of the screen in a manner similar to Apple’s iOS. This can be handy, but I often forgot it was there.
The fingerprint reader is quick and reliable. It always unlocked the Mate 10 Pro on the first attempt. You can also use it to lock individual apps, folders, or files. You can also use the fingerprint reader as a trackpad for navigating through web pages, pulling down notifications, and even swiping through your photo library. The settings for all of this are extensive, but somewhat hidden.
The Mate 10 Pro is one of the first non-Google devices to ship with Android 8 Oreo. The phone runs Huawei‘s EMUI 8 on top that. EMUI 8 is a relatively heavy-duty set of software and interface skin. It’s on par with the Samsung Galaxy Note8 in terms of complexity and raw power. The 10 Pro has an unending list of software-based features, but you really have to dig to find them all.
The core home screen experience is what you expect a modern smartphone. EMUI skips the app drawer by default, but you can turn it on if you wish. If you don’t, all the phone’s apps will be stuck on the home screen panels. They support the typical set of wallpapers, shortcuts, and widgets. I like that EMUI includes a handful of screen transitions to choose from.
The notification shade / Quick Settings drop-down works as expected. When you swipe down, the shade reveals five toggle controls, a brightness slider, and notifications. Since the phone is running Oreo, you have lots of options when it come to interacting with incoming notifications. The Quick Settings tool provides plenty of room for customization.
The full settings menu is kind of ridiculous. Every panel is lengthy and has multiple sub-panels that seemingly extend the settings menus forever. It’s best to rely on the search tool.
Then there’s the navigation dock, which is sort of a transparent, floating bubble designed to improve one-handed use. The idea is to put the navigation controls in a single, more convenient spot rather than leave them stranded at the bottom of the display. It has a pretty steep learning curve. Touch once to go back a screen. Touch, hold briefly, and then release to go back to the home screen. Hold and slide to the right to see the app switcher. Touch, hold, and drag to move the bubble around. I like the concept, but the execution is really bad. It’s just too finicky and annoying to recommend.
There are themes, lots of them. I found the default theme to be terribly ugly. I changed it right away. Though there are a dozen pre-loaded, you can download more or create your own. Have fun!
I still don’t like Huawei‘s default fonts and app icons. These are other settings I found myself changing as rapidly as I could.
The phone offers a one-handed mode that shrinks the interface into one corner of the screen. It’s meant to help make the device usable when you only have one free hand, such as when careening between connections in an airport. You can adjust the entire UI to shrink down, or just the keyboard so it’s closer to your thumb.
EMUI 8 includes the latest version of Huawei‘s voice control tool, too, which lets you wake the phone or initiate calls quickly using voice commands. It works, but has a really limited set of actions. (Honestly, Google Assistant does all of these much better.)
Huawei‘s custom Kirin 970 delivers all the juice the Mate 10 Pro needs. It’s paired with a whopping 6 GB of RAM. The Mate 10 Pro absolutely blazes through tasks. It feels every bit as fast as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 when it comes to delivering a seamless, smooth performance on this smartphone. I don’t think anyone can/will complain about the Mate 10 Pro‘s speed and raw power.
Huawei says the chip has artificial intelligence built in thanks to the Power Engine, Vision Engine, Experience Engine, Performance Engine, and Power Management Engine. A lot of these “engines” have parallels in competing chips such as the Apple A11 Bionic. Huawei says moving artificial intelligence calculating powers to the processor will eventually lead to real-time computer vision and low-lower augmented reality. These aren’t available on the Mate 10 Pro in any meaningful or useful way, at least not at launch.
The quickest way to open the camera is to double-press the volume down key. This is a tool called “ultra snapshot” that you need to enable in the camera settings before it actually works. You can also set ultra snapshot to take a picture — even when the screen is off — with the double press action. That’s neat, if not a bit sneaky. You may also open the camera from the lock screen or the home screen. Anyway you choose, the camera springs to life in an instant.
The basic layout is typical of most camera apps. On-screen controls let you quickly flip to the selfie camera, open the filter tool, turn on moving pictures, turn on portrait mode, or toggle through the flash controls. The majority of these tools work as you might expect. For example, moving pictures captures a few seconds of video before and after you take a photo, much like the iPhone’s Live Photos.
The portrait mode puts both camera sensors to work to take photos with blurred backgrounds (a bokeh effect). This is ideal for taking artistic shots of friends and family. The “aperture” tool is somewhat confusing. It also creates bokeh effects, but requires a more hands-on approach. I find it is best left for stationary objects rather than people.
Swipe right from the main viewfinder to access other shooting modes, which include auto, monochrome, video, HDR, pano, night, light painting, time lapse, slow-mo, watermark, and document scan.
The light painting mode is for capturing long exposures of headlights/taillights, flashlights, or other light sources. Audio note records several seconds of sound along with a still image. The document scan mode automatically finds and captures text, such as menus, though it isn’t making the documents into editable text (OCR); it merely enhances the image to ensure text is easily legible. I didn’t have any trouble using these modes on the Mate 10 Pro.
The “pro” photo and video modes, accessible by swiping the shutter button, allow you to manually adjust exposure, brightness, white balance, ISO, focus type, and shutter speed. This is great for those who know what they’re doing. The sliding controls make sense and are easy enough to use. I’m happy that you can set exposures as long as 30 seconds, as this allows for great nighttime shots, including star fields on a clear evening.
It’s worth noting that the selfie camera has a significant number of its own shooting modes. The basic selfie cam lets you apply a blurred-background effect, but you can also take selfie panoramas, selfie timelapses, selfie audio notes, selfie moving photos. and selfie watermarks. The tools may mirror those of the main camera, but stuff like the selfie pano lets you do fun things such as include wide vistas in the background.
A quick word about the Kirin 970’s “neural processing unit” or NPU. Huawei says its flagship processor is putting artificial intelligence to use in the camera application. Boiled down to the most simple terms, the 970 is relying on image recognition to help control camera settings. For example, the camera is able to recognize a core set of 12 items, including blue sky, snow, action, food, nightscapes, plants, flowers, cats, dogs, text, and so on. The camera will recognize these objects and then adjust the camera software accordingly to get the best possible shot for that type of object. The Kirin 970 and Mate 10 Pro are able to do this because Huawei has scanned millions of objects and taught the chip how to do this. Huawei says the Mate 10 Pro will be able to recognize more and more objects over time as it adds them to its database. Does it deserve the loaded “artificial intelligence” marketing moniker? Well…
What’s more important is that the NPU is able to make these calculations without chewing through battery life. It drastically reduces the power needs of the camera application, and that’s something everyone can cheer about.
There’s a lot going on with the Mate 10 Pro‘s set of cameras. The main lens captures full-color images at 12 megapixels with an aperture of f/1.6 (very good), while the secondary lens captures monochrome images at 20 megapixels. The camera can tap into optical image stabilization, and relies on both PDAF and laser hardware for focusing.
The phone takes very good photos that fall just a bit short of being great. Shots that I took outdoors under sunlight looked simply stunning. (See the iron sculpture below, for example, which has incredibly sharp focus.) The Mate 10 Pro shines when it is able to scoop up as much light as possible. Some of the other daytime shots I took, such as the red Mustang, are fine samples that accurately reflect what I saw in real life. The Mate 10 Pro doesn’t do quite as well as I hoped in darker environments. I know concert pictures are challenging, but the Mate 10 Pro introduced a lot of grain in the pictures I took during a recent show. Focus was much less likely to be sharp as well. On the plus side, exposure was nearly always very good whether indoors or out.
Having the option to shoot true monochrome pictures (with the dedicated monochrome sensor) should be a joy for creative photographers. You’ll see good focus and nice contrast in your black-and-whites.
When it comes to the portrait mode, the Mate 10 Pro does about as well as most other modern smartphones, which is to say results vary from decent to really bad. For example, in one shot below you can see a weird patch of wall above my shoulder that’s totally in focus even though the rest of the background is nicely blurred. It’s a jarring imperfection that you can’t unsee once you spot it. Moreover, the software ends up creating an odd halo around your head. In other words, close but no cigar. It’s a fun took to fool around with, but results are often a mess.
The 8-megapixel selfie camera does a fine job. I think most people will be pleased with what they see, particularly if they put the selfie flash and beautification tools to work. Low light shots will be grainy, but the flash helps push some of that grain away if you remember to turn it on.
The 4K video results looked great. Even stuff captured in low-light was sharp and well-exposed. Color looks accurate, but, again, you’ll see some grain.
In all, the Mate 10 Pro‘s camera is a notch or so below what’s possible from phones such as the Note8, Pixel 2 XL, and similar flagships. Still, I think most people who buy this phone will be pleased overall and can get away with using for nearly all their photography.
The Mate 10 Pro has a few other tricks up its sleeve. I’ve already mentioned how you can use your fingerprint to secure files, folders, and apps. Android 8 Oreo offers not only split-screen multitasking, but picture-in-picture support, too.
That’s all well and good, but Projection Mode is the real power user tool aboard the Mate 10 Pro. Projection Mode has two use cases: screen mirroring, and PC-like interactions.
You’ll need to find a USB-C-to-HDMI cable and plug the Mate 10 Pro into a monitor or TV. The default behavior is screen mirroring, meaning people see on the screen what you see on your phone. A few other high-end phones have this, but Huawei cooked in one nice extra feature: you can disable notifications while in mirroring mode. This means those people enduring your PowerPoint pitch won’t know when the boss emails you, or when your significant other sends a text message. All that remains (thankfully) private.
The other mode of operation is to turn the phone into a faux PC. The tool supports both dock and direct connections, meaning you can take advantage of wired mouse and keyboard accessories through a dock, or plug the phone directly into the TV and make use of Bluetooth accessories instead. This mode looks and acts much like a full PC. You have access to all your apps, which run in Android-tablet mode on the screen. You can run multiple apps at a time and multitask like a pro.
The Galaxy Note8 offers similar features through its DeX accessory.
These were smart features for Huawei to include and ensure that the Mate 10 Pro is an attractive option for mobile professionals.
Huawei has a fine phone on its hand in the Mate 10 Pro. It’s surely a star in Huawei‘s lineup, though it could shine just a wee bit brighter were it not for a few small dark spots.
The hardware is excellent. It’s not as distinct as the Note8 or Pixel 2 XL, but it’s smaller, cleaner, and overall easier to use day in and day out. The display is great, wireless performance was good, voice performance took me by surprise, and battery life is among the best available for a device in this class.
I love that Huawei is shipping the Mate 10 Pro with Android 8 Oreo, but it’s so heavily slathered with Huawei‘s EMUI that you’d hardly know Oreo is there at all. The phone’s user interface requires patience and skill to master thanks to numerous settings and controls. However, EMUI 8 is powerful and gives people more options than most other phones. The Note8 is the only device I can think of that rivals the Mate 10 Pro as far as the rich software feature set is concerned.
The camera software is good, though I see little sign of any truly useful artificial intelligence. The phone takes above average pictures, and yet Google and Samsung’s phones have simpler cameras that take better pictures.
If you were hoping to save some green by going with Huawei, you’d be mistaken. The Mate 10 Pro costs around $860, which is only a bit less than Samsung’s $930 Galaxy Note8. You gotta pay to play with the big phones.
I’d recommend the Mate 10 Pro to anyone seeking an unlocked alternative to Samsung, Google or LG. Moreover, if the Note8 or Pixel 2 XL are just too darned big for you, take solace in knowing the Mate 10 Pro is more manageable for most people.
The Huawei Band 2 Pro is a fitness band aiming at the lower end market. It has a vertical 0.91-inch 128×32 PMOLED display for a slim look with three sensors on the back as well as some charging pins.
Inside the band is 256KB of RAM, 1MB of ROM, 16MB of flash storage, a 105mAh battery, and GPS. You’ll also get Bluetooth 4.2, an accelerometer, a cardiotachometer (heartrate sensor), and an infrared wear sensor. On top of that you get 5ATM water resistance, which means it’s safe to use for swimming. If you’re disappointed by the specs, don’t be. It’s a fitness band that’s not running Android and doesn’t need great specs for performance.
Unlike the older and more expensive Huawei Fit, the display on the Huawei Band 2 Pro is backlit and gets washed out in the daytime. It’s also a bit bright in the nighttime, as it doesn’t have a light sensor to adjust brightness. However, it is easily readable in most conditionsMore
Honor’s latest affordable flagship has an 18:9 display and dual-camera capabilities — for (probably) less than you’d expect.
Honor’s “X” series of phones has always toed a fine line in terms of hardware, feature set and price point. The Honor 5X was one of the first handsets to bring metal construction and fingerprint recognition to a cheaper price tier. And a year ago, the Honor 6X added a surprisingly competent dual camera rig to the experience.
As 2017 draws to a close, the Honor 7X makes things even more competitive. The new phone has been soft-announced announced today ahead of Honor’s full launch event on December 5, and assuming it keeps to a price point in line with its predecessors, it could be one of the most compelling sub-€300 phones we’ve seen.
Starting on the outside, the Honor 7X broadly resembles a mash-up between an Honor 8 Pro and a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It boasts a new, taller 18:9 aspect ratio, with a 5.93-inch Full HD+ (2160×1080) LCD panel — a first for what we assume will be something priced similarly to the 6X.
And around the back, a brushed, anodized aluminum chassis that’s almost identical to the much more expensive Honor 8 Pro — including the signature navy blue hue that’ll be the main color for the UK. (There’ll also be a black model for the color-averse.)
You could argue about whether, like the 6X and 5X, the design is a bit derivative. What’s more important is that there’s nothing at all cheap-feeling about this phone. Around the front, the 2.5D glass of the display finally has an oleophobic coating, which sounds like a small thing, but is hugely important in stopping the screen getting gunked up by fingerprints. That’s aside from the tall aspect ratio that gives makes phone just as modern-looking as a OnePlus 5T or LG V30.
The premium design and brushed finish of the Honor 7X takes a step beyond 6X and 5X.
Fortunately, the flagship-like aesthetics of the Honor 7X don’t come at the cost of durability. While Honor isn’t advertising the phone as being drop-resistant in the same way as a Moto Z2 Force, the 7X does boast reinforced corners — the main impact point for any drop — to reduce the likelihood of permanent damage if it hits the floor. I haven’t put this to the test with my unit (yet), but I did witness the phone survive a few impromptu drop tests at a meeting in London ahead of today’s announcement.
On the inside, the Honor 7X runs the latest of Huawei‘s mid-level Kirin chips, the Kirin 659 — an octa-core 16nm part, along with 4GB of RAM and (in the UK) 64GB of storage, plus microSD. Like many other dual-SIM phones, the 7X‘s hybrid slot can support either a single SIM plus SD Card, or two SIMs and no SD card.
For photography, you’re looking at a 16-megapixel main camera with PDAF (phase-detection autofocus), backed up by a 2-megapixel secondary sensor for depth-sensing and portrait mode. (Unlike some Huawei-built phones, the secondary sensor doesn’t capture fine details, it just captures depth.)
A solid loadout of specs — though you'll be dealing with Android Nougat out of the box.
We haven’t spent a whole lot of time with the Honor 7X‘s cameras just yet — look out for our full review for a more comprehensive take — but the handful of indoor shots I took in a dimly-lit breakfast bar looked decent. The Honor 7X‘s photos looked a little smudgier than pics from a Huawei Mate 10 Pro I was also carrying — nevertheless, the cheaper device managed to hold its own.
Around the front, there’s an 8-megapixel setup that’s also capable of capturing portrait mode shots — a feature that’s only just starting to gain prominence in the Android world.
There are a few compromises hidden away in the 7X‘s attractive chassis, though. It charges over microUSB, a decision which presumably saves money, but seems bizarre for any phone in late 2017. And quick charging is limited to 5V/2A with the built-in plug.
There is at least a 3.5mm headphone jack, which supports audio enhancements through Huawei‘s HiSten tuning technology.
And the 7X promises at least decent longevity, thanks to the same 3,340mAh internal battery capacity that served the 6X well. That’s nothing to write home about in the flagship space, but should be plenty for a device like the 7X, running lower-powered silicon.
On the software side, the compromises of running a mid-range chip are also apparent: The Honor 7X runs the older EMUI 5.1, based on Android 7.0 Nougat, as opposed to the newer EMUI 8 found in Kirin 970-powered handsets. Visually, this doesn’t make a whole lot of difference, and Honor has even ported some of EMUI 8’s more useful features back to the older software. Apps that don’t support 18:9 natively can easily be scaled up to fill the full size of the display. And some messaging apps can (optionally) open messages in a split-screen view if you’re watching full-screen video.
Besides that, this is EMUI 5.1 just as we’ve seen it on a number of phones over the past twelve months. It’s an improvement on what came before, with a clean blue-and-white color scheme, but there’s still some software weirdness, including a suboptimal lock screen notification system.
We’ll learn more about pricing and availability for the Honor 7X on December 5.
Any device shipping with Nougat at this stage is less than ideal, though in the case of what (likely) will be a cheaper handset, it’s not the end of the world. Honor says it’s planning to update the 7X to Android 8.0 Oreo and EMUI 8 in the first quarter of 2018, but it’s not going into specific dates just yet.
Honor isn’t announcing pricing details for the 7X until the December event, but considering the starting price of the 6X, and the hardware included in the new phone, you might expect a price comfortably within the sub-€300 ballpark.
Stay tuned for our full Honor 7X review, along with coverage from the launch event on December 5.
It’s been over two months since Google officially released Android Oreo and only a small subset of Android devices have actually received the update so far. Last month’s Android distribution numbers revealed that Android Oreo was running on 0.2% of Android devices. While this may sound like really slow progress, the numbers will likely ramp up as more OEMs start rolling out the new version to their smartphones in the coming months.
In the past couple weeks, we have already seen quite a few OEMs announcing their own beta tests of Oreo for their flagship devices. OnePlus was the first to announce such beta program with its announcement of OxygenOS Oreo beta for the OnePlus 3/3T, followed by Nokia with its Beta Labs announcement for the Nokia 8, and Samsung who launched Oreo beta program for the Galaxy S8/S8 Plus just yesterday. Now it appears Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has also begun conducting Android Oreo beta software tests for its flagship lineup, at least in China.
A beta version of Android Oreo-based EMUI 8.0 is now available for the Chinese variant of Honor 8 Pro, the Honor V9. If you are rocking an Honor V9, you can try out Android Oreo beta now by enrolling your device in the beta program. The software is currently only available for closed beta users so there are no direct download links available for the firmware. The full details about the closed beta program and how to enroll your device in it can be found in this thread (in Chinese).
Speaking of the update, all the new features introduced in EMUI 8.0 are available in the beta software, including new Smart Resolution feature, navigation bar customizations, ambient display, improved camera app and more.
As for the Android Oreo specific changes, you will be happy to know that Project Treble support has also been added in this update. As you can see in the screenshot below, running getprop ro.treble.enabled command in the terminal emulator returns a true value which basically confirms that Project Treble is up and running.
Finally, Bluetooth audio codec customization features are also available in the software and can be accessed from within the Developers Options.
So there you have it, Android Oreo beta for the Honor V9. While the beta software program is limited to the Chinese variant Honor V9 for now, it could be a good sign that its international variant, the Honor 8 Pro, may also get a taste of Oreo through a similar beta program in the near future.
For those wondering whether they can install this firmware on their Honor 8 Pro, the short answer is yes, you can. But to do so, you’ll first need to rebrand your Honor 8 Pro to the Chinese version using a third party service like FunkyHuawei.
There were rumors that Huawei was planning an Android Oreo release for the Honor 8 Pro by the end of this year. Though, those rumors later tuned out to be inaccurate. But given that Android Oreo is already in the beta phase, it’s still possible that we might see an Android Oreo release by the end of the year.
Huawei has been teasing the launch of their two new flagship smartphones for a few months now and today the company has officially unveiled them. We’ve heard a lot of rumors about Huawei launching three devices at this event, being the Huawei Mate 10, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and lastly the Huawei Mate 10 Lite. There has been some miscellaneous chatter about the company making a Porsche Edition again just like they did last year, and they spoke about it today as well.
There’s been a lot of focus on AI from Huawei as well as other smartphone OEMs this year. The 2017 trends have mainly been about shrinking the bezels of our devices, but there has also been a growing trend for artificial intelligence. Silicon vendors including Qualcomm and Huawei have started to integrate dedicated hardware into their SoCs specifically for AI and over the next few years we’ll see various smartphone makers taking advantage of this hardware.
Huawei made it a point to talk about the AI capabilities of its latest Kirin 970 SoCearlier this year and this is something the company touched on at the launch event for the Huawei Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro. Huawei has said the Kirin Neural Processing Unit (the NPU) that they’re using is capable of 1.92 TFLOPs of FP16 which is said to be twice as much as Apple can do with their new Neural Engine, and in today’s event they showed the Mate 10 handling computer vision tasks 20 times faster than the Galaxy Note 8. This type of performance will depend entirely on the application itself though, and right now we have yet to see something that truly takes advantage of this dedicated hardware. Huawei is focusing its AI capabilities to ensure speedy performance and to improve its camera experience, with the phone being able to recognize subjects and tweak image quality to create the best shot for each scenario.
Mate 10 Pro
With the launch of the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro, the company is sticking to their beliefs that they need to focus on the high-end, premium sector of the smartphone market. So when creating these two new devices they said the team worked on design and performance the most. Compared to the iPhone 8 Plus, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro have a larger screen built inside a compact design. So here are the specs of the two new smartphones announced today…
So as you can see, Huawei is doing a ton of work to put its best foot forward when it comes to both design and performance. They’re putting a lot of focus on comparing the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro with other smartphones on the market today. This was done with the NPU in the Kirin 970 versus the Neural Engine that Apple offers. They took time to compare the screen ratio of these new phones to what Apple offers in the iPhone 8 Plus, showing every dimension and improvement. They even spoke about how they could fit a 4,000mAh capacity battery while the iPhone X has a much smaller one — Huawei sure loves battery capacity.
It’s true that the regular Mate 10 has an LCD panel while the Mate 10 Pro has an OLED panel. However, they feel the new RGBW panel in the Mate 10 does its best to keep the battery usage low with backlight power savings of up to 14% compared to regular RGB displays, and the panel is oddly of higher resolution to boot. Samsung has their Infinity Display for the curved screen technology that they have been working on while Huawei is calling their edge to edge display tech “FullView”. The Mate 10 Pro’s OLED panel is FHD+ 2:1 with HDR support, and a 70000:1 contrast ratio, and it’s targeting NTSC for color saturation. The RGBW panel on the Mate 10 is slightly smaller at 5.9″ instead of 6″, but boasts of a higher resolution (2560×1440) in a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, and it can achieve 730 nits of brightness for outdoor visibility.
Along with packing these phones with tons of hardware, Huawei has also done a lot of work to improve the software used in them. They will ship with EMUI 8.0 and they’re betting on improved performance thanks to AI optimizations over time as well as general speed improvements from the hardware. The company says this will increase system response time by up to 60% and smoothness of operation by up to 50%, as it learns your habits and usage patterns and adjusts various performance-related parameters to ensure a fast experience. Once more the company is trying to ensure performance won’t degrade over time: Richard Yu called this philosophy “start fast, stay fast” and showed us a comparison of how the Huawei P10 Plus only saw 10.6% performance degradation over time versus the S7’s 195% decline in application response time (however, no more specifics were given). Not only will this help to improve performance, but it also helps tune the device for improved battery life as well.
The batteries in the new Huawei Mate 10 series are certified by TUV Rheinland, one of the companies that helped Samsung when assessing the Note 7’s battery faults, and they’re the first to include a certified fast charger from them as well. Huawei’s SuperCharge fast charging technology, which we found to be excellent in the past, enables the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro to charge 50% faster than the iPhone 8 Plus with promises of filling the battery to 58% on a 30 minute charge. While there are some benefits to wireless charging for some, Huawei feels their SuperCharge technology charging our phones four times as fast is ultimately better for the customer.
The software has a feature that will let you use your device as a virtual touchpad and keyboard for a PC, and they will also support Android’s neural network API to let developers make full use of hardware acceleration for machine learning applications. All of the devices will be shipping with Android 8.0 Oreo and they’ll be the first in a wave of devices that support Google’s zero-touch provision. This enables them to offer enhanced enterprise security and efficiency thanks to global enterprise mobile management vendor partnerships.
The Huawei Mate 10 will be available in November 2017 with a starting price of €699 for 4GB+64GB of storage, while the Mate 10 Pro will cost €799 for the 6GB+128GB variant. Finally, the Porsche Design Mate 10 will cost €1395 — while seemingly absurdly expensive, Huawei did indicate that their previous Porsche model sold out, so there’s definitely demand for such an exclusive phone. As always, stay tuned to the XDA Portal for more coverage and in-depth analysis once we get our hands on these devices!
Huawei’s sub-brand Honor unveiled the Honor 7X in China – an affordable dual-camera smartphone which comes to replace last year’s Honor 6X.
The Honor 6X was launched in the US back at CES 2017, so we expect the Honor 7X will land on the American market at some point in the next few months. In what follows we take a look at the improvements the new Honor 7X brings to the table in a bid to determine whether they are enough to warrant an upgrade from the Honor 6X.
Display and design
The Honor 6X looks quite fine for a device priced around $250 (at launch). It has a metal back, plastic top and bottom edges and a fingerprint sensor located on the back. The front is plain and all-glass – nothing more, nothing less. However, the Huawei 6X belongs to the old school of smartphone design with its prominent bezels and standard 16:9 aspect ratio.
The Honor 6X in the sunlight
But the Honor 7X makes the transition to modern design, and it offers it on the cheap too. The Honor 7X is the first smartphone in the company’s portfolio that comes boasting an edge-to-edge panel, really thin bezels and 18:9 aspect ratio. The phone also takes advantage of a metal body and in combination with the design, you’ll feel like you’re holding onto a pretty premium phone.
The Honor 7X features a larger display of 5.93-inch variety with 2160 x 1080 resolution. In contrast, the Honor 6X bundles a 5.5-inch LTPS IPS LCD panel with fullHD resolution.
Under the hood
The Honor 7X relies on a Kirin 659 processor, an octa-core chipset clocked at 2.36GHz, while its predecessor took advantage of a Kirin 655, also an octa-core SoC clocked at 2.1GHz.
The newcomer will be offered with 4GB of RAM on board and either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. The Honor 6X includes a choice between 3GB and 4GB of RAM and 32GB/64GB of storage. Both take advantage of a microSD card slot for memory expansion up to 256GB.
The Honor 7X relies on a 3,340 mAh battery, while the Honor 6X includes a similar unit. Both phones have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Unlike last year’s model, the Honor 7X is IP67-certified which means it is water-resistant.
Naturally, the Honor 7X continues the dual camera legacy and packs a 16-megapixel+2-megapixel combo with phase detection autofocus, LED flash on the back, as well as an 8-megapixel selfie snapper on the front.
This is an improvement from last year’s model which features a 12-megapixel+2-megapixel arrangement on the rear. However, the selfie snapper is the same as on the newer model.
The Honor 7X with Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box will be first launched in China with prices starting at $200 for the 32GB model. The 64GB version will cost a bit more around $260.
Hopefully, Honor will bring the handset across the pond in the upcoming months. Who knows, it might launch it during the next CES event, as it did with its predecessor. Speaking of which, the Honor 6X is currently available for purchase from Amazon with a discounted price. Interested parties can get it as low as $179.99 for the 3GB of RAM+32GB storage variant.
Back in August, a concept design of the Huawei P11 surfaced, courtesy of DBS DESIGNING, well, now we have a new concept Huawei P11 to show you, and this time around it has been designed by the Concept Creator. This design comes in a form of a YouTube video, as it’s usually the case when it comes to Concept Creator’s creations, and if you’d like to check out the whole introduction video, it is embedded down below.
Having said that, this smartphone actually looks quite sleek, as it’s usually the case with concept designs. The Huawei P11 that is shown off in the video down below sports no bezel on the sides, while its top and bottom bezels are extremely thin. The device is made out of metal, while it sports a dual camera setup on the back, next to which you’ll notice a dual-LED flash, dual-tone flash, and a laser autofocus. The device sports a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, where you’ll also notice its loudspeaker, and a Type-C USB port for charging. Huawei’s branding is present on the bottom of the device, and the phone’s fingerprint scanner also lies on the back. Leica branding is also visible on the back of this phone, it’s placed in the upper right corner of the phone’s back side. The phone’s antenna lines are also noticeable on both the device’s top and bottom. This smartphone comes in four color variants, Black, Blue, Red and Green, while all the physical keys are placed on the right-hand side of the phone.
It’s also worth noting that this concept phone sports two front-facing cameras as well, which means it comes with a quad camera setup. The device seems to be quite thin, though exact measurements were not mentioned by the source. The phone’s main camera sensors do not protrude on the back, and its power key comes with a pattern applied on top of it, which means it should be rather easy to locate it by feel, and differentiate it from the volume up and volume down buttons. The designer envisioned 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage for this smartphone. That’s more or less it, the Huawei P11 is not scheduled to arrive for another couple of months, it will probably arrive in February, so stay tuned for some actual rumors and leaks which will start arriving in the coming weeks / months.
Rip your own DVDs and you won’t have to worry about Wi-Fi or the cloud!
There are a lot of Android tablets that have an amazing screen. The Huawei Mediapad M3 is a great example. A 2560×1600 display is awesome for a lot of things, but it’s really great for watching movies. It’s like holding a cinema in your hands.
There are also a lot of movies to watch! Places like Netflix, or Google Play Movies or HBO are filled with movies you can stream or download, but a lot of us have movies on disc. While you can attach some portable DVD players to the USB port on some tablets, that’s a pain to set up and makes for another thing to carry around. There’s an easier solution. Rip the movies you already have so you can watch them on your tablet. And the easiest and best way to do it is absolutely free.
If you have done any searching about ripping DVDs for Android, you’ve seen people talk about Handbrake. It’s a free, open-source program for Windows, Mac or Linux that can convert video from one format to another. There are a ton of options if you’re the type who likes to fiddle with things, but it has a built-in setting to take a DVD (either an actual disc or an image of one) and convert it into a file that plays on your Android. It also works great!
To get started, you need to install Handbrake on a computer. A faster computer is better, but it will work on almost any PC or laptop. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on a Chromebook unless you’ve installed Linux on it.
Your computer will need a DVD drive. Since the people who make laptops would rather they be thin than have a DVD drive built-in, you might need to pick up an external USB DVD drive. The good news: they’re cheap! There are plenty to choose from, and I can recommend LG’s Super Multi Ultra Slim Portable DVD Writer Drive. It has a ridiculous name but a low price, and I use one with my MacBook Pro because it was $50 cheaper than the one from the Apple Store. You can snag it, or any of the hundreds of other models, at Amazon.
Next, you need to download and install Handbrake. You’ll find a bunch of different websites that you can get it from but stick with the official site because most of the others have added garbage programs in the installer. Nobody wants or needs browser toolbars or ad filled video players. Once it’s downloaded, you install it like any other program.
Now you need a DVD. And you need to know that the companies who distribute movies think copying a DVD you paid for shouldn’t be legal. I think those companies need to stay out of my business and can stuff it if they think they get to tell me what to do with things I paid for.
I can’t decide what you think, so I’m just telling you that a guy in a $1,000 suit might say you’re stealing if you copy a $15 DVD you bought. You can also use a copy of a DVD (the ones with folders and a bunch of files) or a previously ripped DVD video. I don’t want to know where or how you got those, but they work just as well as the original.
Now the easy step-by-step:
Put the DVD in the drive, and close any video player that might have opened.
Open Handbrake. On the screen, you see when it starts, it asks you for a source file. That’s your DVD.
On the right side of the Handbrake window is a list of presets to transcode the DVD into playable formats. Scroll down and you’ll see several presets for Android.
Choose the quality you want your copy to use. I suggest you use 1080p at 30 fps. The copy will look almost as good as the original does with this setting.
In the middle of the Handbrake window, you need to tell the program where to save the copy. Click the Browse button and choose a place on your computer. This is just like saving any other file so you can save it anywhere.
At the top of the Handbrake window is a Green play button that says Start Encode. Click it.
Wait while Handbrake converts your DVD into a movie you can watch on your tablet.
There are a few things you should know. For starters, this might take a while. Some of it depends on the computer you’re using and how powerful it is, but it just takes time to go through every frame of a video and convert it to another format. You can still use your computer while Handbrake is doing its thing, but if you try something like playing a game or working with big files in Photoshop, you can cause Handbrake to error out.
For reference, I used my gaming rig to test things. An 84-minute DVD (Cloverfield, if you’re curious) took about 18 minutes from start to finish. The computer has an overclocked Intel Core i7, 32 GB of RAM, and two NVIDIA 980Ti video cards. A better computer will be able to transcode a DVD a little faster, and a computer with specs that aren’t as good will take a little longer. But don’t worry, even something like a MacBook Air will be able to do this. It will just take five or ten more minutes.
There’s a setting in Handbrake that tells the computer what to do when the transcoding is finished. You can set it to shut everything down so you can go do other stuff while it’s working. When you come back you’ll have a copy of your DVD to play on your tablet and your computer will be shut off.
Handbrake also has a ton of settings. If you use one of the Android presets, you don’t need to touch any of them. Unless you want subtitles, that is. Before you start encoding, click the tab in the center of the Handbrake windows that says Subtitles and look through the dropdown list to see what choices your original DVD offers. Choose one and you’re good to go.
All that’s left is to copy the new video file to your tablet or an SD card so you can watch it with your favorite video player!
Yesterday’s Google event finally brought us the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, the Pixelbook, and the Home Mini/Max but even though the Google fervor is now dying down, there’s still much for Android enthusiasts to look forward to in the coming weeks. The mighty Huawei Mate 10 will soon make its debut on October 16th at a press event in Munich, Germany, and it will be the first public look we will have on Huawei’s upcoming EMUI 6 based on Android 8.0 Oreo. Ahead of this event, we have obtained access to a pre-release firmware build of Android Oreo/EMUI 6 for the Huawei Mate 9, and there are quite a few interesting changes to note for this upcoming update.
The Huawei Mate 9 was unveiled in only November of last year with top-tier hardware specifications, so it’s unsurprising to see this device receive an Android Oreo update. There were hints of early work being done on an Android 8.0 update even as far back as April of this year, though the build that was leaked at that time was fairly barebones. Now, the build that we have obtained is fully functional and can actually install right on top of MHA-L29C432 (the international Huawei Mate 9 variant) so we did just that to start digging in to what’s new in the EMUI 6 update.
EMUI 6 based on Android Oreo for the Huawei Mate 9
The Things You Would Expect
For starters, let’s get the uninteresting details out of the way. As you would expect, most of the required Android Oreo features are available in this build. That means picture-in-picture mode support, the strict background app limitations, notification channels, and even that annoying “app is running in the background” notification that you can thankfully still hide using an app.
We should note that although Huawei implemented notification channels, their notification importance controls is actually a holdover from EMUI 5 and not based on the AOSP version that you may be familiar with. I see this as a boon because it means you don’t need a third-party app to bring back notification importance controls for apps that don’t target Android Oreo.
EMUI 6 Updates
Here is where things get a little bit more interesting. Overall, I would say there aren’t many changes between EMUI 5 and EMUI 6 on the surface, but there are a few new software additions that should make some people happy.
First up, there is a new “screen resolution” option in display settings. This builds upon EMUI 5’s dynamic screen resolution feature called “smart resolution” (which is also present in EMUI 6). While smart resolution would automatically switch between 720p and 1080p in order to conserve power, this new option allows you to manually change between the two resolutions. This method likely beats using the ADB “wm size” command, as that ADB command only adjusts the virtual resolution rather than actually having the display render at a lower resolution.
Next, there is a new button that can be placed on the navigation bar. When the button is enabled, it adds a small arrow to the left side of the navigation bar. Pressing this button will temporarily hide the navigation bar until you swipe up from the bottom. For those of you who like having the stock navigation bar but want to occasionally make use of the full-screen real estate on-demand, this new button beats the ADB command that permanently hides the navigation bar or enables immersive mode. This button isn’t technically new as it is present on the Chinese Huawei Mate 9 firmware, but it’s new to the international variant.
If you aren’t a fan of the software navigation bar, then there is another new navigation option available for you to try. It’s called navigation dock and what it does is it places a movable floating button that can replace the navigation bar for all back, home, or recent button presses. This is distinct from EMUI 5’s “floating dock” as that feature acted like a pseudo-pie control wherein pressing the button would expand a list of available navigation options. EMUI 6’s navigation dock instead uses gesture controls such as slide up to go home, slide right for recents, and touch to go back.
Lastly, in developer options, there is something strange that we found. The usual Bluetooth audio codec customization features are present, as is the ability to switch between various Bluetooth audio codecs—including aptX and aptX HD. aptX and aptX HD are proprietary Bluetooth audio codecs that are owned by Qualcomm, so companies that wish to use them must pay licensing fees to Qualcomm.
We’re not sure why Huawei even made it a selectable option as it doesn’t even work here (picking either of these options simply reverts the selection back to SBC), but then again this is a pre-release build so it’s possible these options will disappear in the final release. Perhaps with root access and a Magisk Module we can enable support for it much like Google Nexus 6P owners can.
You might be wondering by this point why we haven’t yet shown a screenshot of the “About Phone” section. That’s because, like every beta/testing build that Huawei releases internally, the software version is changed to mitigate leaks. Fortunately, it’s rather easy to verify the true software build by taking a peek at the build.prop file. In it, we can see that the following:
and from a separate command, we can find the Linux kernel version
Linux version 4.4.23+(android@localhost)(gcc version 4.9.x 20150123(prerelease)(GCC))#1 SMP PREEMPT Thu Sep 14 04:10:43 CST 2017
So, it’s pretty clear from this information that the Huawei Mate 9 build we have obtained is indeed based on Android 8.0 Oreo (SDK level 26). The Linux kernel version is 4.4, updated from 4.1 in the Nougat-based EMUI 5 on the Mate 9. Furthermore, the security patch level is September 2017 which means that the Mate 9 is safe from the Blueborne vulnerability.
Finally, there are a few things we discovered that are especially interesting to Android enthusiasts. First, Project Treble support is there. Though the kernel sources for the Mate 9 have been available for several months, there aren’t any custom AOSP-based ROMs available for the device. Maybe Project Treble support will change that, maybe not. This is still interesting as it is the first confirmed device that has Project Treble support even though it did not launch with Android Oreo.
Last but not least, here’s a thing that nobody expected to happen: Substratum support in EMUI. Yes, Substratum themes work on EMUI 6. This is all thanks to the Overlay Manager Service (OMS) commits that Sony made to AOSP that have finally made their way in a fully working state in Android Oreo. It’s thanks to this that Google Nexus and Pixel users are able to enjoy full custom theme support using the Andromeda add-on for Substratum. We tested both the command line interface as well as a dark theme in certain apps and can confirm it does indeed work.
Project Treble Support
Substratum support may not seem as interesting at first glance since Huawei already has its own theme engine, but it should be noted that Substratum will allow you to theme more than just system applications as can be seen in the above screenshot of the Google Messenger application.
That’s all we’ve discovered in this internal, beta build of Android 8.0 Oreo for the Huawei Mate 9. Stay tuned to the XDA Portal as we have more to share about upcoming Huawei and Honor devices. The best way to follow the Portal is by installing the XDA Labs application!
The firmware was discovered by FunkyHuawei.club, a service which lets you install pre-release Huawei firmwares, recover bricked devices, and rebrand/convert China region phones to international variants. The service will support the Mate 10 upon release.