Huawei's new iPhone XS rival lets you charge your phone wirelessly from another phone

  • Huawei launched new flagship smartphones called the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro on Tuesday in London.
  • The Mate 20 Pro features the ability to charge your phone wirelessly from another phone.
  • Huawei surpassed Apple as the world's second-biggest smartphone seller after Samsung last quarter.
  • Huawei also launched a new smartwatch called the Huawei Watch GT.
Huawei released new Mate 20 series smartphones Tuesday in London.
Elizabeth Schulze
Huawei released new Mate 20 series smartphones Tuesday in London.

Huawei launched new flagship smartphones Tuesday packed with the company's top technology, in a bid to step up its challenge to Apple and Samsung in the high-end market.

The Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Mate 20 RS are the names of the new phones. On the more expensive Pro model, the Chinese tech giant touted a key new feature — the ability to charge your phone wirelessly from another phone.

Huawei calls this 'reverse wireless charging' where one smartphone can turn into a charging pad for another wireless-charging capable phone. That could help people on-the-go get some charge from friends if they can't get to a plug point or don't have a power bank.

With a price tag of 1,049 euros ($1,215), the Huawei Mate 20 Pro will be one of the tech giant's most expensive smartphones on the market. The Porsche Design Mate 20 RS will also bear a hefty price tag starting at 1,695 euros.

Huawei is starting to play in the segment of the market currently dominated by Apple and Samsung and is looking to show its ability to create innovative premium devices. Huawei has been quickly developing a strategy to bring out cutting-edge features.

So far it appears to have helped them grow market share very quickly. Huawei surpassed Apple in smartphone shipments for the first time in the second quarter of this year, capturing 15.9 percent of shipments, according to research firm IDC. Samsung held 20.9 percent of market share in the second quarter.

In addition to reverse wireless charging, Huawei's Mate 20 Pro includes a 40-Watt "supercharge" battery. The company says it can charge the phone to 70 percent of battery life in just 30 minutes.

Huawei's released new Mate 20 series smartphones Tuesday in London.
Elizabeth Schulze
Huawei's released new Mate 20 series smartphones Tuesday in London.

Other features of the Mate 20 Pro include:

  • 6.39-inch screen
  • In-screen fingerprint technology
  • Android operating system with Huawei's own software on top
  • Leica triple-camera system

The camera set-up includes a new 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens that allows users to capture closer and wider images. The phone's Leica camera system also contains a 40-megapixel wide angle lens and an eight-megapixel telephoto lens. Huawei said the lenses will capture stronger, bolder pictures.

High-quality cameras are becoming increasingly common not just in high-end smartphones but in mid-range phones, too. Last week Samsung unveiled its latest smartphone, the Galaxy A9, featuring the world's first rear camera with four lenses.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 both include a memory card slot that is the same size and shape as a Nano SIM card. The company said this would allow users to use two Nano SIM cards at once if desired. Apple introduced dual-SIM capability on its iPhone XS and XS Max last month.

The new smartphones were unveiled at a product event in London on Tuesday. The Mate 20, which has a starting price tag of 799 euros, and the Mate 20 Pro will be for sale immediately. The other phones will be available over the next month.

Huawei did not specify the countries where the smartphone will go on sale. It's unclear at the moment if the U.S. will be a target, particularly after top intelligence officials in the country cautioned Americans earlier this year against buying Huawei phones, warning the phones could conduct undetected espionage.

New A.I. Chips

The Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 will include Huawei's new artificial intelligence chipset called the Kirin 980, which includes a so-called seven-nanometer processor. The chipset is smaller than previous 10-nanometer chips, allowing it to take up less space in devices. Despite their smaller size, Huawei says the chips are faster than ever with the ability to recognize 4,500 images per minute, more than double the capability of its previous chipset.

The Kirin 980 is just one example of how the world's biggest smartphone-makers are increasingly competing over chip technology. Samsung has its own chipset called Exynos, while Apple introduced its own A12 chip in its latest iPhone XS.

The new Huawei Watch GT 
Elizabeth Schulze
The new Huawei Watch GT 

Huawei's new smartwatch

Huawei also launched a new smartwatch, the Huawei Watch GT, Tuesday in London. The company said the watch is designed to compete with Garmin or Fitbit experiences to track activity.

Huawei said the normal battery life for the watch, including heart rate monitoring and exercise for 90 minutes per week, is a full two weeks. The company said its double chipset architecture is behind the ultra-long battery life.

The Huawei Watch GT includes multiple modes including indoor, outdoor and training, and monitors sleep alongside daily activity.

—CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.