Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review

Price
Euro450
Pak RupeeRs.74,999

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review


Introduction

Huawei has been recently trying hard to break into the US smartphone market and compete with the likes of Samsung and Google. With the Huawei P10 Pro not making huge waves into the smartphone market, Huawei has introduced its ultimate smartphone which is more than capable of causing some stir in the world of smartphones. With an all new, highly attractive design, minimum bezels display and a combination of one of the most powerful hardware available in the market, Huawei Mate 10 Pro is all ready to contest in the tough world of smartphones. It seems that there's a lot that this phone seems to offer so let's dive straight into finding it.

Design

Being released in 2017, Huawei Mate 10 Pro follows the trend of being a glass and metal sandwich. The front and back of the device is made of glass with a metal frame in between them. Huawei is calling it 'Multi-axis curved glass design' with the edges having a nice subtle curve. The glass back has a slight curve across both axis, softening the feel somewhat. It also seamlessly transitions into the high-gloss metal sides and produces a sufficiently easy to grip shape and texture combination. This also means that light shines back on the glass body of the phone, giving it a unique look and making it visually stunning. There's a strip across the rear, intersecting cameras to add more definition to the back of the phone. This means that Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a really good-looking phone, however, this also means that the phone is a huge fingerprint magnet and you'll have to wipe it off every time you hold the device.

Glass back phones look really good but they are fragile and same is the case with Huawei's Mate series flagship. You can break its glass back with a drop to the ground or scratch it by accidentally rubbing the phone with some keys or coins in your pocket. Huawei has addressed this problem by using a special 6H tempered Gorilla Glass 5, which makes the phone strong and robust. This, however, does not mean that you don't have to be careful with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. A major drop and it will still shatter.

You will not find any physical buttons on the front of the device, as it houses a large bezel-less display. Around the back, you'll find centrally mounted Leica-branded dual cameras. They're placed on a reflective band that goes across the phone, including the flash and laser autofocus sensors. It's a distinctive bit of flair that really lifts the very common glass and metal design. The fingerprint scanner is positioned on the rear, beneath the dual camera setup. The cameras protrude slightly to avoid accidental touches when you try to unlock your device. The fingerprint scanner is placed at the preferred position, unlike Samsung Galaxy S8's placement of the fingerprint scanner, which gives Huawei an edge over its Samsung rival when it comes to design.

At the bottom of the device you'll find bottom-firing speaker, mic and USB Type-C connector, sadly there is no 3.5 mm headphone jack. Huawei's reason for lack of a headphone jack is the phone's dust and water resistance IP67 certification. The volume rocker and the power button is on the right side of the phone, there is nothing on the left side of the phone. The phone comes in three colors: Titanium Gray, Midnight Blue and Mocha Brown. I personally believe that it looks classiest and most eye-catching in its cafe-inspired Mocha Brown version.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro is Huawei's best-looking Mate series flagship to date, and it certainly beats many flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 when it comes to design and built. Much needed, Huawei had to make a phone with a great looking design in order to penetrate US market which I believe they have been successful in doing so.

Display

The next big feature of Huawei Mate 10 Pro is its large 'FullView' display which encompasses 80% of the front of the phone. It is a 6-inch, 2060x1080 OLED Full HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9 and a pixel density of 402 ppi. The ultra-slim bezels mean that screen totally dominates the face of the device. It looks great as there are no excessive bezels on the top and bottom, like you'll find on the chunky Google Pixel 2 XL.

Huawei has joined the major Android flagships by having the 18:9 aspect ratio for its display and with more resolution than Huawei has ever had on a phone, the display on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro looks really good. It's good to see Huawei going for the vanilla experience and not adding gimmicks such as squeezable and curved edges found on HTC U11 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S8 respectively. Instead, Huawei has focused on the display's deep blacks and brightness, thanks to the OLED panel which individually illuminates pixels for a vivid black-to-white contrast. The display is also improved with HDR10 capabilities for a high dynamic range, around 730 nits. This means that screen legibility outdoors in sunlight is good, if not the best.

At Full HD resolution, it doesn't have the clarity to compete with the likes of the Sony Xperia XZ2, Samsung Galaxy Note8 and S8 series, nor is it quite as breathtaking with regards to color reproduction as the latter two. Despite this though, it still fares better than the Google Pixel 2 and LG V30 when it comes to color integrity and viewing angles, positioning it firmly in the middle of the premium smartphone screen hierarchy. There's a lack of any physical buttons to the front of the phone which would make the phone seem odd to operate by many users. Huawei has tackled this problem by introducing a feature called "floating dock" key. It is a virtual home button which floats around the display according to your liking. Huawei has an Apple-like lock screen swipe-from-bottom mechanism which brings up torch, calculator, timer, and so forth and because of that, it is not uncommon for it to appear when trying to unlock the phone, given the absence of a home key.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro features an oleophobic screen coating, so smudging the display with fingerprints won't be an issue like it was on Huawei P10 and P10 Plus. The display is also protected with Gorilla Glass 5 so minor drops and scratches won't cause you trouble. Overall, it's a good display by Huawei, it is bezel-less, feels modern, looks better with punchier colors and it is quite big.

Hardware

Huawei's Mate series latest flagship comes packing with an incredible combination of hardware. The phone is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor and a Mali-G72 MP-12 GPU. You can choose between 4 GB RAM with 64 GB of onboard storage or 6 GB RAM with 128 GB of onboard storage. What's new about the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is its "Neural Processing Unit (NPU)" which is an AI engine developed by Huawei so that the phone can benefit from the power of Artificial Intelligence.

The phone is fast, and with the NPU, it works efficiently while being fast. You might not see a clear benefit that the NPU is providing to the phone, but comparing the phone with other devices with top specs, you'll start to notice subtle difference in the behavior of Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Using applications such as Google Translator, it shows off its predictive ability, all thanks to the brand new NPU.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro achieved a multicore Geekbench 4 score of 6,784, edging out the Google Pixel 2, at 6,282, and Samsung Galaxy Note8, at 6,564. However, Huawei was slightly off the mark in the Ice Storm Unlimited 3D graphics test, in which the device notched a result of 31,908 while the Samsung Galaxy Note8 achieved 39,834. While using the 6GB RAM variant, the phone kept things running fast and smooth, and I didn't encounter any lag when switching between apps, using multiwindow mode or snapping photos. The phone does get quite warm when charging, something you should consider before using it while it is charging.

The fingerprint scanner found on the device is super-fast, faster than the one on Samsung Galaxy S8. There's stereo speaker support with one bottom firing speaker and one in the earpiece, however, there's no headphone jack to be found. You'll find a USB Type-C port, though, which will cater to your charging and music needs. One disappointing thing about the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is lack of wireless charging, even when the phone is made of glass. Other than that, the hardware found on the phone is top notch, which enables the device to perform super-fast and compete with top smartphones in the market at the moment.

Battery

Huawei Mate 10 Pro comes with a 4000 mAh battery, which needless to say, is pretty huge for a smartphone. Even with a big 6-inch display, the phone is more than able to go on for a day at moderate use from a single charge. While testing the phone, I played some videos, social apps and a couple of heavy games and it gave me a screen-on time of 4 hours and 43 minutes, which is pretty decent for a smartphone of this size.

Huawei also introduces its proprietary fast charging technology "Super Charge" with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro which means that only 30 minutes of charging the phone with the included adapter will charge your battery up to 50%. During my charging test, the phone's huge 4000 mAh battery went from 0-50 % in 30 minutes, 0-65% in 40 minutes, 0-85% in an hour and to a full 100% in 1 hour and 42 minutes. This means that Huawei Mate 10 Pro is one of the fastest charging phone, right behind the OnePlus 5T and that keeps Huawei nice and competitive.

Camera

Finally, it is time to talk about that one feature which really sets this beautiful device by Huawei ahead of many of its adversaries. Huawei has included Dual Leica Cameras on its Mate series flagship, which include a regular 12 MP sensor and a monochrome 20 MP sensor, both having an f/1.6 aperture. The 12 MP color sensor has Optical Image Stabilization while the 20 MP sensor doesn't have any sort of stabilization. At the front of the device, there's an 8 MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture capable of recording videos at 1080p with autofocus.

The camera setup is similar to the one seen on the Huawei P10 Plus and with the Leica branding, Huawei Mate 10 Pro brings all the benefits Leica offers. The software offers full color or black and white shooting modes and software controlled aperture modes where it is possible to apply an f/0.95 aperture. This pseudo-aperture works to varying degrees of success, as found in other Huawei devices, but can be good fun for selfies and portraits to blur out the background. Even though both cameras are wide-angle, it doesn't offer an ultra-wide view such as the one offered by the LG G6. Huawei has found a smart way to zoom into shots by cropping into monochrome image and lossless application of the data from the color image to give the perception of zoom, something Huawei is calling "Hybrid Zoom". For autofocus, Huawei Mate 10 Pro combines all four methods: laser, depth, contrast-detect and on-sensor phase-detect focus which delivers some really good and quick autofocus, coupled with a new scene recognition system to adjust settings according to what the camera sees.

This new Scene Recognition system uses the NPU, combining artificial intelligence and machine learning, as the device has been fed over 100 million images from which it defines what it sees to select the right picture profile (a list of 13). It can differentiate between individual faces, group shots, movement for sports/action, and even define the difference between plants and flowers to ensure the exposure and color balance is on point.

While testing the camera against the Samsung Galaxy Note8, I noticed that the portrait shots from the Huawei flagship were more refined and way ahead than the ones shot from Samsung's Galaxy Note8. Perhaps most impressive of all is how quick the shutter is, there's zero lag when taking a shot and the camera being ready to go for the next frame. The camera also works pretty well at night, despite apparent texture and grain given the conditions, and has lots of pop from brighter-lit scenarios. Colors and dynamic range looks better on photos taken from the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, while white balance was also pretty accurate, going towards the warmer side of the color range.

Shooting videos on the phone was a charm, with sharper videos and better dynamic range than the Samsung Galaxy Note8, however, at 4K, there was a massive need for stabilization which is not available with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro's camera. You cannot shoot videos in 4K at 60 fps which is another downer, however, the regular 1080p videos at 60 fps look really good, with sharp colors and stabilization available.

Some of the software features in the camera app are an overkill though, and if Huawei cleans down the interface a bit, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro has a camera setup which more than capable of competing with its counterparts. Right now, Huawei is not winning the best camera race but it is certainly getting there.

Software

In the past, Huawei had to face a lot of criticism for its extremely bloated software on the phones and that has kept Huawei from being the people's choice, especially in US. This time around, Huawei is really trying hard to win the American smartphone market by providing a software experience as close to pure Android as Huawei can manage. Huawei Mate 10 Pro comes with Android 8.0 Oreo straight out of the box, with Huawei's own EMUI 8.0 skin on top. Huawei claims that the EMUI 8.0 is a big leap forward, as it runs close to the pure Android experience and feels more like iOS.

It has some great features, a dock-free PC experience, which functions straight out of the USB-C cable to any monitor while a new split-screen proactive alert notification means you can use apps side by side, making best use of the large display. The 18:9 aspect ratio does cause some apps to operate differently, as not all applications are optimized for that screen aspect ratio. A huge problem that most Huawei users have had in the past was the overwhelming amount of notifications and alerts that EMUI offered, but the EMUI 8.0 is designed to behave more like stock Android 8.0, giving only necessary alerts. These alerts are not out of balance and extremely frequent, which is a victory for this software setup.

The default application icons look vintage, while the rest of the experience is designed to feel modern. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro also gives you the option to completely ignore Android's built-in on-screen navigation bar, and instead use a single, movable floating button that can be pressed, held and dragged for various functions. This allows you to use the device more easily with one hand, but as it is drawn over on-screen content, it is pretty much always in the way. Meanwhile an old feature, App Pair, returns and brings similar functionality to individual apps. With App Pair, you can keep two versions of the same social media app with each one connected to a different account. The phone comes with a feature called "Private Space", which originally appeared on the Huawei Mate 9. Private Space allows you to create an alternate profile that is accessible only through a specific fingerprint or unlock code, but is otherwise completely hidden from the device. Apps, accounts and settings are sandboxed in each profile, making the phone feel completely different every time you access the phone with the private profile.

The software experience on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro isn't perfect though. It is not even close to an amazing software experience. There are many kinds of little annoyances that build as you navigate the phone, and they're made even worse by EMUI's dated and inconsistent design direction. The text scaling fluctuates from the settings menu to the notifications shade to third-party apps, which feels like an inefficient use of all that screen space.

For most people, the software on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro would be a deal breaker, and rightly so, as it has the ability to frustrate the user. However, you need to realize that Huawei isn't working towards making existing features better, it is working on features that no one is working on.

Conclusion

Huawei's latest flagship is available in the market for around $799 in the US, making it a rather expensive phone, almost in the Samsung Galaxy Note8's territory. The phone delivers a complete smartphone experience, as it is a flagship every bit as capable as its Samsung, HTC, LG and Apple competition. This is a serious accomplishment for a company that has been shifting between making affordable devices and flagship devices to compete with the best, over the last couple of years.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro can shine out for its sleek design, considerable power and a bag of exciting features. Battery life is better than you'll get from most, while the software isn't great, but finally is at a point where it feels like a more natural and non-interfering Android experience. The glass back may divide user opinion about the design, lack of any physical home button may not appeal to some people, there's no wireless charging, and no official support by any major US cellphone-carrier is the biggest drawback of all.

However, it's a flagship that the general public can seriously consider buying above and beyond its similar-priced competition. I certainly won't be replacing it with a Google Pixel 2 XL or an Apple iPhone X, but if you're looking for a phone capable of doing things other famous flagship smartphones cannot, then this is the phone you should really consider.