Huawei is trailblazing the landscape of photography with AI


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[su_spoiler title=”Editorial co-penned by” open=”yes” style=”simple” icon=”plus-circle”]Giancarlo Viterbo, Chief Editor Emman Tortoza, Editor-at-Large[/su_spoiler]

Why use AI?

Just a couple of years ago, smartphone photography was just about who has the higher MP count (or at least that’s what most people think of), or whether a dual cam is better than a single cam, or who can take the better selfie.

Now though, we’ve come to a point that smartphones are becoming even smarter in so many ways. AI or artificial intelligence is seen as the new trend and is already incorporated in some of today’s flagships, enabling the device to proactively learn from its user’s habits, and intelligently adapt. It can now also manage the phone’s resources without any external intervention.

P20 Pro 6Now, it’s possible for the phone to automatically close applications that are eating up RAM or battery. It can also now proactively increase or decrease the ringtone volume depending on the environment, and many many more.

So why use AI you ask? Well, the only key point that we could think of, is ease of use. Companies like Huawei strive to give users a phone that can bring out their creative juices without having to fiddle so much with an avalanche of settings. All they have to do is point and shoot, and the phone will take care of everything else. Suddenly, AI has become a major complementing aspect of a smartphone with an impressive set of camera specifications.

That makes life a lot easier, does it? When your phone can do so much that you don’t have to intervene at all. As a user, your only job, is to use it, and not get confused with it or find it a bit too complicated.

With Huawei taking the lead, how is AI Changing the Landscape of Mobile Photography?

We’ve personally used the P20 and P20 Pro to an extent, and if asked, “does AI really help you take better photos?” we’d say, a straight up YES, it does. How? Well, the P20 series phones (except for the Lite) are powered by the Kirin 970, which is basically the core of all the AI features embedded into the device.

As a system-on-a-chip developed by Huawei, Kirin 970 is made with performance and AI in mind. Part of Kirin 970 is an NPU or neural processing unit, which is dedicated to processing specific actions related to managing the phone’s performance in relation to its limits, and photography.

P20 Pro 2Master AI is one of these features – it can automatically detect 19 different categories or to put it simply, It knows what you’re pointing your camera at, to an extent. And if it matches any of those, it will automatically adjust the camera’s settings to line you up for that perfect shot. For example, point the camera to an area with a lot of trees, and it will adjust for Greenery, point it to the sky, and it will adjust for Blue Sky, and so on.

The thing is though, it doesn’t force its setting to the user, but merely suggests that “Hey, I think this is a forest, so I’ll put more emphasis on the green colors.” You have that freedom of taking the shot on that setting, and you can still take the photo using manual settings. In short, it’s a value added feature that helps those who aren’t professional photographers to capture good quality images without having to worry about how much white balance they should have, etc.

But then again, most of a picture is all about what the person behind the camera does, we think. You’ll still have to take care of your angles, lighting, and things like that. This is where Pro comes in, where the user is basically free to whatever he wants without their decision superseded by the AI’s suggestions. Photographers can even shoot photos in RAW format to give them more leeway to modify their photo on post.

Improvements to AI

Huawei first implemented its AI platform on the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, which also houses the Kirin 970 chip. Back then, the camera also had features such as scene detection, and AI-assisted depth effect.

Now with the P20 and P20 Pro, the company has taken measures to improve its AI capabilities even further, utilizing advanced algorithms to be able to detect more categories and deliver more color accurate photos.  They also added AI stabilization, which allows the user to take 4 second long exposure shots without a tripod.

IMG 20180425 184433

This photo was taken with Huawei P20 Pro, without a tripod.

The Kirin 970 was originally designed to support more than 2 cameras, and with the P20 Pro, Huawei finally took the chip to its utmost capabilities, by putting in 3 cameras – RGB + Telephoto + Monochrome. How they enabled the three to work together to produce those magnificent shots, is just beyond what anyone was expecting.

You also get 5x hybrid zoom, with all three lenses working hand in hand to give you that unprecedented level of detail even in such magnification.

IMG 20180425 161131Other manufacturers are also moving up on their AI game. For instance, one company is not only focusing on photography per se, but on other aspects of the phone such as an intelligent assistant for example. Others are now even implementing AI so that it learns the users charging patterns. Huawei streamlined their efforts to photography – at least for now – as smartphones are the best and immediate way of treasuring memories.

What is certain is that as far as mobile photography and AI is concerned, the P20 and P20 Pro are game-changers in one way or another. There’s no telling what’s next for Huawei and for the mobile phone industry, but we can’t help but be excited about the future.

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