The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is one of the more exciting smartphones announced at this time of the year. My first experience with a flagship Huawei phone was a year ago, on the Mate 9. I was thoroughly impressed with the smartphone that I listed more than 30 useful and unique features on the Mate 9 run on EMUI OS.
The next Huawei phone I reviewed was the P10 Plus, continuing the good work of the P9 and Mate 9 and improving on the Leica dual camera, plus introducing gesture-based fingerprint sensor that eliminates the need for the 3 Android soft keys, thus providing a lot more display space.
Following that, I reviewed the Honor 8 Pro, a sub-brand of Huawei. This model is basically similar to P10 Plus with same processor while cutting down on other hardware, and at half the price.
The Mate 10 Pro is heavily hyped prior to the official announcement, in the midst of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 and iPhone 8 launches. Huawei boldly teased that the Mate 10 series will be more intelligent. The day finally arrived and the Mate 10 series was unveiled with the following features:
- Higher Screen to Body Ratio
- 6-inch OLED HDR10 Display
- IP67 Water Rating
The phone bears DNA remnants of Mate 9, where the side metal is brushed instead of anodised. It also feels slightly chunkier than P-series.
The rear glass has oleophobic coating, which is great for preventing oil smears from fingers. The drawback is that the glass gets very slippery. In fact, if you place it on any surface with an angle, the phone will surely slide off. The irony is that the pre-applied screen protector does not have oleophobic properties, resulting in dirty display panel.
There is no 3.5mm audio port, an excuse by Huawei to achieve IP67 rating, though LG and Samsung has done it easily. There is also no micro SD slot, though the built-in 128GB internal storage hopefully makes up for it. Personally, I never use micro SD slot, because it slows down the phone.
- Neural-network Processing Unit (NPU)
- A.I. technology that aims to maintain system response speed and operation through machine learning.
- Dual 4G, Dual VoLTE, “4.5G” 1.2Gbps LTE Cat. 18
- 4000mAh battery capacity and TUV Rheinland safety certified for the SuperCharge
The Huawei Mate 10 series boasts a new intelligent processor that learns your usage behaviour. Over the short week-plus of usage, the phone did not show me clearly how it has improved my phone usage through learning.
The SuperCharge is the fastest among the smartphone charging standards, and Huawei offers great assurance by getting it certified by TUV, a smart move. The 4000 mAh battery comfortably delivers full-day use for my heavy social network activities, remaining 20% after 16 hours.
- Dual f/1.6 SUMMILUX-H Lens, 12MP RGB OIS + 20MP Monochrome
- Intelligent automatic camera settings that recognise 13 objects and scenes
Technically-speaking, the Huawei Mate 10 series is slightly improved from the P10 series, with its slightly brighter f/1.6 Leica lens. The image characteristic is consistent with previous Huawei series, which is excellent in capturing contrast and shadow details.
Images at extreme low light are astounding, I was not expecting that phone to be able to adjust the exposure to capture the bedroom scene with a single Philips Hue LED colour bulb.
Food pics are just so delicious, thanks to the extra sharpening and the wide aperture mode with a tinge of vibrancy without appearing too bleeding saturated.
Front camera lacks the natural colour tone, favouring a more “meitu” look.
While Huawei is proud of its ability to recognise scenes, some other camera manufacturers have done so even without A.I. chip. Sony Xperia already has this scene recognition capability even on their budget smartphones like XA1 series.
EMUI 8.0 + Android 8.0
- Latest Android Oreo
- Slim bezel, 18:9 display, improved UI to make use of multi columns
- Hi-Res Audio 32-bit/384kbps
- USB Type-C audio
- EMUI Desktop
The most exciting feature in the list has got to be the EMUI Desktop. With just USB Type-C adapter, no special dock required, the phone continues to work independently from the desktop view, and the phone can also be used as a trackpad and keyboard. That is something that every phone manufacturer should emulate immediately. When Samsung thought they had it figured out, Huawei did it better. It even works with portable USB Type-C monitors like Asus ZenScreen.
But being their first attempt, there are some bugs. The list of installed apps displayed in the desktop are not complete, e.g. Gmail, Facebook, Instagram. But there is a way to add the app icons to the desktop: when there are incoming notifications belonging to the missing apps and I click them, it will load on the desktop. Then at the task bar, right click the app to add to desktop.
And the bugs do not stop at the EMUI Desktop.
The Mate 10 Pro lacks the overall positive experience I got from Mate 9 and P10 Plus. There are things that do not work here and there. Wi-Fi performance seems to fluctuate when connected to D-Link COVR, the notification card for Gmail does not respond when I press the ‘Delete’ option, Bluetooth pairing does not go smoothly with Beoplay E8. I suspect the NPU is just too advanced to work well with Android OS and other apps. I reckon it will take a few software cycles to get it right. Incompatibility issues are not uncommon for Android, but when Huawei uses proprietary chips, it creates more problems.
This has always been a constant observation ever since I reviewed their smartphones. It is something that consumers must approach with an open mind and expect some apps or devices to not work as easily as other smartphones running on Snapdragon or iOS. Having said that, I have not quite encountered any show-stopping problems, just minor issues that I could live with, given there are more benefits in gaining the phone.
On the whole, the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro definitely brings a new level of mobile experience to everyone. Adopting a full glass design is also keeping in line with the recent popularity of this form factor, though I do not favour that for its fragility. Similarly, there is a trend towards thin bezel, 2:1 aspect ratio screens, which again I felt was just design gimmicks rather than genuine functional advantages.
Apart from design updates in line with 2017 themes, advancements in the processor, and a new EMUI Desktop, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro feels less exciting after having reviewing several other flagship Huawei phones. I could not offer any more opinions having given only 10 days to review, but do check my other Huawei phone reviews that are more detailed and generally reflects my views in Huawei smartphones. If you have never experienced Huawei smartphones before, you should, and you might be impressed.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro retails S$1098, while Mate 10 goes for S$888.
Mate 10 or Mate 10 Pro?
At the Huawei briefing, I tried on both phones, and a few things are very clear:
- Mate 10 Pro is narrow and feels more comfortable on hand. Mate 10 is not that big, certainly less handful than Mate 9.
- Mate 10 Pro has the 2:1 aspect ratio display and OLED, while Mate 10 is the standard 16:9 aspect ration and LCD. Technically, Mate 10 has higher pixel count.
- Mate 10 fingerprint sensor is in front, and will unlock more conveniently without lifting up the phone.
- Mate 10 Pro has IP67 rating, Mate 10 has IP53.
- Mate 10 Pro does not have micro SD card.
My recommendation: go for Mate 10 if you value your money and happy with the existing aspect ratio. Get Mate 10 series if you are future-looking at the expense of fewer pixel and no micro SD slot.