Huawei Kirin 970 Review: Learn The Main Changes Coming Via AI

On September 2, Huawei announced its new chip dubbed as the Kirin 970 in Germany at IFA 2017. Not accidentally, it was titled as the ‘IFA 2017 Best Product Award.’ The Kirin 970 is the first mobile SoC coming with AI. We’ll figure out what this means later. The first device to sport this amazing chip will be the Huawei Mate 10. It should be unleashed on October 16. But even now we are informed about myriads of features it will come with. Recently, when Apple announced the iPhone 8/Plus and the iPhone X, it made the world learn about its features with mouths open. Moreover, the Cupertino based company didn’t shy when announcing it’s the fastest chip in the planet. Yesterday, Huawei held a conference in China and introduced this awesome creation in its homeland as well. Now we have seen everything with our eyes, and we can state there is nothing identical to this chip. To prove this we decided to list all of its key features and the innovations it brings to the market.

Kirin 970

Huawei Kirin 970 Architecture

When talking about the Kirin 970 the manufacturer liked to say it uses the most advanced TSMC 10nm process manufacturing and there are over 5.5 billion transistors. For example, the Snapdragon 835 comes with 3.1 billion transistors, while the A11 has 4.3 billion transistors.

Kirin 970

In comparison to the previous-gen the Kirin 960, which uses a 16nm process node, the overall process efficiency has been increased by 37.5%. It comes with an octa-core architecture using A73 and A53 cores and 12-cores GPU (Mali-G72). The energy efficiency has been improved by 50%, while the overall performance is better by 20%.

Kirin 970

Seems the process technology, as well as the cores number, are not astonishing. I mean the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 comes with similar features. But the secret is that Huawei has chosen the energy-efficient heterogeneous computing architecture to greatly enhance the AI power. It’s a specially designed HiAI mobile computing architecture with the first built-in independent NPU (Neural Network Processing Unit). Thanks to it, the image recognition speed can reach 2005/min, which is the way higher than the industry level. Say, the iPhone 8 Plus is packed with an A11 processor that provides 889/min; the previous-gen iPhone 7 Plus with the A10 chips reaches 487/min; and finally, the Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with an image recognition speed of 95/min.

Kirin 970

Huawei Kirin 970 Connectivity

Connectivity has been always one of the strongest features of Huawei chips. The Kirin 970 also made a huge breakthrough. We know currently we are using the 4G network, the 4.5G is partly used and tested in many regions, and finally, the 5G network will be available in many markets soon. Thus the mobile network has reached an unprecedented complex spectrum fragmentation affecting the user experience. To solve all the problems related with this, Huawei comes in with three major signals technical improvements. It comes with a 4 × 4 MIMO multi-input, 5CC CA carrier aggregation, 256QAM signal modulation, and other innovative technologies.

Kirin 970

  • 4×4 MMIO (multi-user input and output): the same broadband compared to 2×2 MIMO, cell edge experience upgrade;
  • 5CC CA (Carrier Aggregation): Peak rate increases linearly with carrier number;
  • 256QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation): can achieve higher band utilization, performance increased by 33%.

This chip is also the first to support LTE Cat.18 (download) and Cat.13 (upload). That’s why it provides the industry’s highest peak download rate of 1.2Gbps. These are not words. Rohde & Schwarz has successfully tested and verified 1.2Gbps LTE-A-Pro download speed with the newly released Kirin 970 smartphone SoC from Huawei. It showcased amazing results of 1.17Gbps, which is too close to the announced number. Say, the Snapdragon 835 comes with a Cat.16 that provides up to 1Gbps speed. As for the measured value, the Australia Telecom shows the best result of 979Mbps (download) and 129Mbps (upload).

Kirin 970

The Huawei Kirin 970 is also a pioneer in using a new technology allowing users to use the first SIM card to surf via LTE and use the VoLTE in the LTE network via the second card.

Kirin 970

In addition, Kirin 970 also supports AI noise reduction technology. It uses a depth learning algorithm to suppress unsteady noise, enhance voice signals, and enhance speech recognition in harsh environments.

Huawei Kirin 970 Camera Enhancements

One of the most attractive improvements that can be found on the Kirin 970 is the quick capture option. When testing it on the upcoming Huawei Mate 10, it showed unbelievable fast response time, focus and motion detection. So even the iPhone 8 Plus couldn’t compete with it. As you can see, the Mate 10 powered with the Kirin 970 takes the way more clear photo even for a moving object, while its predecessor, the Huawei Mate 9 blurs the edges. Thanks to the integrated response time of 30%, the Kirin 970 provides better camera performance.

Kirin 970

The second camera enhancement refers to the night shots. The chip supports an automatic dark mode, which simply means the AI automatically identifies the night (you can notice the moon icon on the right bottom corner of the screen). Once the lights go on, the SoC automatically turns off this mode and gets back to the standard mode. In comparison with the iPhone 8 Plus’ identical features, we can notice each of them has its advantages. Say, the Kirin 970 focuses on the front-end scenes, while the iPhone 8 Plus pays more attention to the background.

Kirin 970

Third, the Kirin 970 comes with an AI component, and this feature is capable of doing more than you imagine. One of its most useful features is the automat recognition of food calorie. Just keep the camera on a food, and it will identify the food name, calories and calculate the weight. It will take only 0.3 seconds.

Kirin 970

There is an integrated exclusive hardware face detection module. It comes with optimized different skin colors, hats, eyes, masks, and other complex facial scenes.


The Kirin 970 is the first step in a long journey. It comes with revolutionary features that mean if everything is thought correctly, this SoC will affect the whole development of mobile devices. Besides the aforementioned improvements the chip comes with, there are also a few ones we didn’t talk about at all. Say, it comes with a complete USB Type-C solution. Thus the decoder has been changed, the audio DSP has been replaced with a USB controller, it supports high-definition lossless playback as well as up to 32bit @ 384K sampling rate. Another enhancement, the Kirin 970 comes with a separate inSE 2.0 financial level security chip certified by the central bank. The chip supports on-chip voice data encryption, eSIM, and many more.

Kirin 970

As you understand, all these changes made at the hardware level should be accompanied by the software improvements as well. The best solution for this is going to be EMUI 6.0 based on Android 8.0. Huawei doesn’t refuse this. Moreover, it says the first phone in China to come with Android 8.0 pre-installed will be the Huawei Mate 10. But it will ship only in November. So we’ll be able to test this software on the Mate 9 first.


Argam Artashyan

Back in 2010, he was dismissed from his position as a lecturer at the university. This made him get another job at his friend’s digital marketing company as a blog writer. After a few years, when he was thinking the article writing is his mission, Google pushed the Panda update and affected the company and websites he was working at. (Un)fortunately and surprisingly, he got an offer to head a large knitting factory. In 2016, he got his Ph.D. and resumed teaching at the University … and writing tech-related articles following his passion.

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