Huawei's latest flagship smartphone contains no world-shaking silicon surprises

Kirin 9010 SoC powering the Pura 70 is impressive, but doesn't indicate unforeseen prowess

When Huawei debuted its Mate 60 smartphone in mid-2023, it turned heads around the world after teardown artists found it contained a system-on-chip manufactured by Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) using a 7nm process.

SMIC was thought not to be able to build that sort of thing. So while the Mate 60 didn't differ markedly from every other modern smartphone, its very existence called into question the effectiveness of US-led efforts to prevent advanced chipmaking tech reach the Middle Kingdom.

Much speculation has therefore concerned what Huawei would deliver next, and this week the world got its answer – in the form of the Pura 70.

Chinese media report that early users of the device have posted details of its innards, naming the SoC as Kirin 9010 with four efficient cores running at 1.55GHz, half a dozen performance cores at 2.18GHz, and a couple of high-performance cores zipping along at 2.30GHz. All cores are Arm v8. A third-party spec sheet suggests it's a 7nm chip – meaning Chinese chipmakers appear not to have made another unexpected advance.

Early tests suggest it outperforms the Kirin 9000 found in the Mate 60, but independent assessments are yet to emerge. The crowdsourced evaluations currently available are sometimes dubious.

What we can say with confidence is that the Pura 70 has a 6.6-inch OLED display with 120Hz refresh rate and resolution of 2,760 x 1,256. It has 12GB RAM aboard, and buyers can choose from 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage.

The three rear-facing cameras on the base models can capture 50, 12, and 13 megapixels apiece.

The Pura range derives from Huawei's P-Series handsets that stretched from the midrange to the low-end of premium, but are now focussed – pardon the pun – on photography enthusiasts. The device comes on four variants, each priced to match the four editions of Apple’s iPhone 15.

The screen on the high-end "Ultra" model grows to 6.8 inches and 2,844 × 1,260 pixels, with two rear cameras that shoot at 50 megapixels and one at 40. One of the 50MP snappers is retractable, to enhance its zooming powers.

Importantly, all models of the Pura 70 run HarmonyOS 4.2 – Huawei's not-Android operating system.

China is all-in on HarmonyOS as the nation pursues indigenous alternatives to Western tech. In recent weeks Chinese media and government agencies have noted the growing proliferation of native HarmonyOS apps, trumpeting that developer enthusiasm for the platform means local buyers now have a more patriotic alternative.

That alternative appears to be welcome: after the debut of the Mate 60, analyst firm IDC saw Huawei's smartphone market share improve by 36.2 percent. ®

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