The Mate 10 Pro was announced in October 2017 and went on sale in November, so it’s only a couple of months old. But technology marches on and Huawei is poised to launch more flagship phones in the coming weeks.
The company is expected to announce new products during a MWC press conference on Sunday 25 February (2pm CET, 1pm GMT), and again at a Paris launch event on 27 March. Don't hold your breath for a Mate 11 announcement at either, though.
At MWC we'll likely see a new MateBook, while the latter event is for the successor to the P10. Those who prefer a larger screen will have to wait until much later in the year for the putative Mate 11.
When is the Mate 11 release date?
Huawei has been developing the Mate range for a number of years now, so there’s no reason to suspect it won’t continue its annual release schedule in 2018.
The Mate 8, 9 and 10 have all launched during November in successive years, so expect the company to announce the Mate 11 range sometime in October, with an on sale date in November.
Rewind a few years and Huawei had a bad track record of announcing products which didn’t go on sale for months afterwards. In the case of the Mate 8, it was almost impossible to buy in the UK.
Recently Huawei has partnered up with UK operators which has also meant phones have been available as promised. Expect this to continue with the Mate 11.
If you’re in the US, then so far you’ve been out of luck as Huawei hasn’t really pushed its phones there. The Mate 10 Pro was supposed to be available via AT&T, but that didn’t work out so it’s now over to retailers.
Pre-orders are only just going live on Amazon and Best Buy, for the 128GB / 6GB model. Don’t bet on a 2018 release date for the Mate 11 in the States, then.
How much will the Mate 11 cost?
Huawei managed to keep the Mate 10 Pro’s price under £700, despite rumours that it would be £800 or even £900. In the US, pre-orders start at $799, with the Porsche Design model costing $1255, although big discounts are already being offered.
It’s impossible to say how much the Mate 11 will cost as we simply don’t yet know the upgrades it will have.
Assuming there’s nothing radical, such as a 4K screen, it may well be a similar price to the Mate 10.
Don’t forget that there are likely to be several models in the range, with the Mate 11 itself being the cheaper version and the Mate 11 Pro being the true flagship.
What are the Mate 11 rumoured features?
Information is thin on the ground, just as you’d expect 10 months ahead of launch. However, there is some speculation that it will be powered by the Kirin 980 chip.
This is the same chip rumoured (via GizmoChina) to be in the upcoming Huawei P20 phone, though, so it’s possible there will be an even more powerful processor ready by the time the Mate 11 launches.
The 980 is reportedly manufactured using a 7nm process, which is highly advanced. It’s unconfirmed but thought that it will retain the AI features (the Neural Processing Unit) of the 970, which is used in the Mate 10. A Chinese forum post also told readers to expect surprises in the “graphical part”.
In terms of the screen and overall design, we’re not expecting a whole lot to change. The Mate 10 was the first model to break from the traditional Mate design, complete with a glass back, IP68 water resistance and even slimmer bezels.
The bezels may shrink even more for the Mate 11, and if Huawei sticks with the glass back, it’s possible it will add wireless charging. Don’t hold your breath though, as the firm defended its decision to omit the feature from the Mate 10 because “wireless charging is too slow”.
Expect the screen tech to remain OLED, and there’s a chance resolution will climb a little higher from 2160x1080, which the Mate 10 Pro got. We’d be surprised if the diagonal changes from 6 inches, though, as all Mate phones so far have stuck with this size.
Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has been churning out a lot of new phones recently, but one trend which could carry over to Huawei’s phones is quad cameras. Essentially, that means adding a second front-facing camera as the Mate 10 already has a dual-camera setup at the rear.
Having a second camera at the front will allow the Mate 11 to take selfies with a believable depth effect, but other rumours suggest it could also be used for a face-unlock feature.
The rear cameras could get a small upgrade, perhaps more megapixels for both sensors. But the Mate 10 Pro already has dual f/1.6 lenses so don’t expect even faster lenses on the Mate 11.
Assuming the main processor has similar AI features, the Mate 11 should have the same scene recognition as the Mate 10, automatically selecting the best settings according to the scene detected.
Ultimately, though, we’d simply like to see better image quality and optical stabilisation for video at all resolutions including 4K. The Mate 10 Pro takes decent photos, but its video isn’t a patch on what the latest iPhones offer.
We might see some minor hardware updates, such as the latest version of Bluetooth and an even faster LTE modem. In other respects, things could well stay the same: 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and microSD expansion. Don’t expect the return of a 3.5mm headphone jack either.
Huawei made sure the Mate 10 shipped with the latest version of Android, so expect the Mate 11 to come with Android 9.0 and the company’s own EMUI 9 software.
EMUI tends to polarise opinions, but even if you’re not the biggest fan of the iOS-style interface and the floating dock button, Huawei adds a selection of useful features.
Some of these you won’t see as they’re hidden away behind the scenes. They also work in conjunction with the hardware, so the NPU is used for such things as increasing battery life and making apps load faster by monitoring which apps you tend to use at specific times of day.
We also expect Huawei to develop its desktop interface for EMUI 9. With the Mate 10 Pro and EMUI 8, you can use a USB-C to HDMI cable and turn the phone into a mini PC by using a standard monitor as the screen and the phone’s display as a controller both for the mouse and keyboard.
It’s impressive, but it would certainly benefit from some refining. It could be a compelling feature for those who want their phone to double up as a PC or a presentation device.
When other Mate 11 rumours surface, we’ll be sure to add them to this article.