Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review
Huawei’s Mate series of smartphones have been around a while now, catering to the end of the market that wants to supersize their smartphone. I’ve used the last two in the Mate series, the Mate 8 & the Mate 9 and each time Huawei have managed to take what was a fantastic phone and make it better. This time around I was lucky enough to go up another notch and receive the Mate 10 Pro ahead of its New Zealand launch. After putting the phone through its paces for the last week I can say that not only is this the best Mate phone made by Huawei, it is their best phone to date and one that deserves to have a place at the table as one of the best Android flagship smartphones on the market.
The Mate 10 Pro will be available in New Zealand in a Mocha Brown colour that is eye-catchingly striking. The overall dimensions on the Mate 10 Pro are 154.2×74.5×7.9mm and a weight of 178g. Those dimensions are surprisingly small considering the Mate 10 Pro boosts a 6 inch OLED HDR display that has a resolution of 2160×1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18:9. Unfortunately the display isn’t the sharpest out there and is bested by the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 and even Huawei’s own P10 Plus, it’s a shame that the screen isn’t up to that 2K standard set by the P10 Plus. All things considered though the move from an IPS screen to OLED has been absolutely spot on and even with a lower resolution the screen pops with vibrant colour that actually trumps quite a few QHD screens out on the market.
Huawei have gone away from the all-Metal body design and instead gone down the road of a metal-glass design which looks good but doesn’t serve any other purpose as the Mate 10 Pro doesn’t feature wireless charging. That being said the hand-feel of the Mate 10 Pro is remarkable, it really doesn’t feel like a 6 inch phone, sitting comfortably in the hand. In the Mate 10 Pro, Huawei have created a phone that has the best hand-feel of any phone I’ve had the pleasure of using and that is no easy feat for a device that has a 6 inch screen!
Inside the impressive feat of design engineering, Huawei have really put their tech engineers to work cramming so much into the Mate 10 Pro. The phone features Huawei’s cutting edge AI and machine learning capable Kirin 970 Octo-core processor that is backed up by a Mali-G72 12-core GPU. You’ll find a whooping 6GB of RAM inside and storage capacity of 128GB. All this runs on Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 which sits atop Android 8.0. Keeping all of that tech running is a gigantic 4,000mAh battery that will keep going like a kid in a cake shop.
Missing features (if you can call them that) are the headphone port, yep they’ve gone down the Apple road and removed that so you’ll need Wireless headphones and this time around you won’t be able to use a MicroSD card to up the storage but come on 128GB is a hell of a lot of storage and if you really need more than that you should probably think about investing in a tablet or computer because you are doing and storing waaaaayyyyy too much on your smartphone!
EMUI 8.0 is not too dissimilar to previous versions of Huawei’s still Apple-centric OS. Some people love it some people hate it. I’m one of the people that love it, it is simple and intuitive without sacrificing the customisation that comes with being an Android user. There is no app tray by default by you can turn that on by going into settings which brings a more Android-esque feel. It’s the sort of OS that makes it easy for people to switch from Apple to Android to retain a level of familiarity to the converted.
When it comes to day-to-day operation the Mate 10 Pro is a beast! All that processing power and RAM making use of Android 8.0 make for an incredibly fast and responsive phone. Opening apps is VERY quick and you’ll be able to switch between them just as fast without the device starting to get confused and throw a melt down at you. The Kirin 970AI is also designed to learn how you use your phone and over-time respond accordingly by prioritising performance based on how you use your phone and allocating resources accordingly. A week isn’t enough time to really test the AI side of things but in reality it’s a feature that is quite hard to validate. If things are happening behind the scenes it’s not something the casual everyday user will notice but could come to the fore for a discerning tech-nerd who has spent weeks and months using the device.
The Mate 10 Pro can also simulate a PC experience by hooking the phone up to a monitor or TV, quite useful if you need to get something out urgently and need a desktop-like experience but in your travels forgot to bring the laptop with you, you’ll just need to badger someone into letting you borrow their monitor or TV.
When it comes to playing content this is an area where the OLED HDR screen shines. The use of HDR10 means that replaying HDR content from the likes of Netflix will result in an experience that has genuine wow factor. The results are sharp and vibrant proving that resolution is not everything when it comes to video playback. Yes greater resolution can make a difference but when we are talking about a 6 inch screen vs a big-screen TV, you can get away with holding back a bit on resolution and let the colour palette that HDR10 offers do the talking for you.
Gaming is also a snappy experience thanks to the Kirin 970 and 12-core GPU. The 18:9 ratio is well optimised for gaming and the wide-colour gamut will also make for a rich mobile gaming experience. The Mate 10 Pro is easily going to handle any mobile game you throw at it and I suspect it will comfortably handle any yet-to-be released resource intensive games for a great deal of time to come yet.
Whether your using the phone for emails, web browsing, watching videos or playing games the 4,000mAh battery is going to get you through the day with ease. A heavy user, and I mean a REALLY heavy used is going to need to find a charger by the evening but if you had any other phone that type of user would have been out of juice by early afternoon. If you are a “lite” user then expect that battery life to get you 2 days, possibly even into a third day. If you do find yourself getting low on juice and have Huawei’s charger near-by then you are in for a treat. The fast charging tech Huawei is using on the Mate 10 Pro will see you gain 50% battery life in half an hour!
OK now for the other major feature which you will note has not been mentioned anywhere at all, the camera. Huawei has once again made use of dual-leica lenses on the rear of the Mate 10 Pro. One camera is 20MP monochrome and the other is a 12MP RGB, both feature an aperture of f/1.6 but only the RGB camera has Optical Image Stabilisation. The camera on the Mate 10 Pro was something I was really excited about, having the combined widest aperture camera in a smartphone should have delivered exceptional performance, the reality is a bit of a mixed bag. The camera is the first area of the phone where you will find AI really showing itself, aim at a pet and it will identify the source is a pet an optimise the image for it, point at a person and you get a similar acknowledgement of the subject and so on. How that actually translates into optimisation is something that is a bit tricky to gauge and results can be mixed depending on the amount of light.
In low light, as you would expect with the aperture, the phone has very solid low-light performance. In low-light images come out well processed with good detail retained in the image; you will inevitably find some grain is evident but certainly not to the extent you can get from competitors cameras.
Surprisingly it is in good sunlight that the Mate 10 Pro struggles a bit. Thanks to the focusing technology on board like laser AF, phase detection AF and solid depth perception, the Mate 10 Pro camera will lock on and focus faster than any phone I’ve used. The weak point here is the quality of image that is taken which does have good colour accuracy but can have a tendency to overexpose shots. Also in direct comparison to the camera on the iPhone 8 Plus or the Galaxy Note 8 images just don’t look quite as sharp. There isn’t a lot in it but the camera does come up just short of the competition. It is still a premier camera let’s get that straight but at the moment there are two phones that deliver exceptional picture quality in good light and the Mate 10 Pro just doesn’t quite match them.
Overall the Mate 10 Pro is an exceptional handset. Couple that with a price tag of $1,299 which is significantly less then the Galaxy Note 8, iPhone 8 Plus or soon to be released iPhone X and you have a phone that is very hard to beat when you look at what you get for your money. In fact I’d go so far as to say at $1,299 there is simply no better phone on the market today. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro packs the best hand-feel of any phone on the market and fills its innards with a superfast processor, massive on board storage and a great amount of RAM to deliver exceptional performance that is backed up by the best battery life you will find. There is a reason why Huawei has surpassed Apple and become the second biggest smartphone maker in the world, they don’t rest on their laurels and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in a smartphone whilst doing it with prices competitors just can’t match. Make no mistake about it, this is the best phone Huawei have made.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro was given to CultureJam by Huawei New Zealand to review.