Huawei chases Apple, Samsung, with AI-powered phones

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Huawei chases Apple, Samsung, with AI-powered phones
The Huawei Mate20 Pro

Huawei has unveiled new flagship smartphones overnight and emphasised an infusion of AI as its play to make further inroads into the smartphone market. 

Apple dominates Australian smartphone sales with around half the market, ahead of Samsung. Huawei's in third spot with about five percent market share.

The company hopes the new Mate20 will improve that. The key new feature is an AI-powered three-camera array that optimises photos by compositing images from the three lenses of different lengths and capabilities. The result is images that can isolate human subjects and desaturate the colours around them in order to highlight people against their backgrounds.

AI is also at work optimising battery life.

Gartner analyst Roberta Cozza said that in a highly commoditised smartphone market of look-alike phones, Huawei is managing to differentiate itself with camera and personalisation features.

"With the Mate 20, Huawei is setting the bar for what users can expect from photography using a smartphone," Cozza said.

Prices are at the premium end of the market: the Mate20 Pros starts at  $1599, which buys a device with 128GB of storage, IP68 rating, a 4200mAh battery and 40, 20 and 8 megapixel cameras. The Mate20 starts at $1099, has a 4000mAh battery, 16.12 and 8 MP cameras and splash resistance. 

Optus has a carrier exclusive on a "midnight blue" Mate20 Pro model that will be sold by Kogan, Harvey Norman, Mobileciti and JB Hi-Fi. Vodafone has the black model all to itself and is the only carrier to offer the Mate20.

Huawei's sweetened the deal with an offer of free "Freebuds", the company's wireless earbuds. Buyers who pre-order will score a bonus Huawei wireless charger valued at RRP $149. 

Localisation by Simon Sharwood. Additional reporting by Sijia Jiang. Editing by Susan Fenton

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