Huawei has been steadily moving onward and upwards in the high-end smartphone segment. Where they started a few years ago with the Huawei P6 and where they are at now with the P10 and Mate 10/Pro is so different, it’s hard to imagine they are even the same company.
Disclaimer: Huawei flew us to Munich for the launch of the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, they provided us with this Mate 10 Pro for review, but have no bearing on the outcome of this review. This Review was conducted on the Three network here in the UK, is the Southeast of the UK. the Mate 10 Pro has had numerous Software updates since me getting it nearly a month ago, but at the time of writing, the currently installed version is BLA-L29 184.108.40.206 (C432).
- 6.0” 2160x1080p OLED display (2:1 Aspect Ratio)
- Kirin 970 SoC
- 4x Cortex A53 @ 1.8Ghz
- 4x Cortex A73 @ 2.4Ghz
- Mali G72 GPU MP12
- 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM
- 128gb of UFS2.1 Storage
- 4000mAh Li-Ion Battery
- “Next Gen” Leica camera setup
- 20mp Monochrome sensor f1.6
- 12mp RGB Sensor f1.6
- 8mp Front Facing Camera.
For a more comprehensive list of Specifications head on over to the GSMArena page for the Mate 10 Pro, here.
Huawei hasn’t had a problem with external hardware in a while on their high-end phones. If you look back all the way to the P7, Huawei has had a knack for making nice looking and solid devices, and that doesn’t change with the Mate 10 Pro.
Starting around the front we have the absolutely glorious 6” OLED display, this is one of the more beautiful OLED displays I’ve seen that is not on a Samsung device (though I have heard conflicting reports of whether or not it is a Samsung Panel) It’s nice and bright, the Mate 10 Pro has a display that when in Auto mode can hit over 600 nits out in Sunlight, plenty bright, and due to the insane contrast OLED displays have, my Unit is usually set up in auto mode but my normal brightness is below 50%, because I find that enough.
Below that insane display is a small chin with the Huawei Logo, one that I really think didn’t need to be there. You’re reminded you bought a Huawei phone when you turn it on and when you look at the back, you don’t need it on the front as well and it just ruins an otherwise slender front.
Above the Display, we have the earpiece, which is a flush metal grille, not recessed or proud, and not a fabric that can be pulled out, neat! To the left of it there is the ambient light and proximity sensor, and to the right is the 8mp front facing camera.
Taking a look on the right-hand side of the device, along the beautifully polished Aluminium chassis, we have a slightly rigged power button and a volume rocker, they’re tactile enough and don’t take too much force to depress, so I can’t really complain there. Doing a 180 to the left-hand side we have the SIM tray, which on my unit is Dual SIM Dual LTE capable
Up top, we have a secondary noise-cancelling microphone and an IR blaster, useful for controlling appliances in the home, like TVs, speakers etc. Down below we have a USB-C port flanking what appears to be 2 microphone slots, and then on the right a speaker grille. Whilst in portrait the Mate 10 pro does use than the singular speaker, in landscape it utilises the earpiece as a speaker for a pseudo-stereo setup, and it works remarkably well.
Lastly we get to look at the back, Huawei has this year introduced what they call the “Signature stripe” to call attention to their camera setup. It’s not my favourite, but it’s barely noticeable in daily use, and if you get the Blue or Titanium models, you have to really look for it. Sadly on Mocha Brown, like I have, it’s a little easier. In the middle of this signature stripe, there is the fancy new Leica dual Camera setup, a dual 20+12mp Mono+RGB setup, and it works really well. Either side of the camera we have the dual colour LED flashes on the left and the laser autofocus module. Below the Camera modules but outside of the stripe is the blazing fast fingerprint scanner, in perfectly the right place, and I will fight anyone that says otherwise.
The “glass sandwich” approach here isn’t new, nor is the curved glass and polished aluminium frame, but I still like the design, the glass is soft without being too slippery, and if you really don’t like it, there is at least one company working on vinyl Skins for the Mate 10 Pro, and there is also a silicone case in the box, neat.
An area that is not usually one of Huawei’s Strong points, but with the Mate 10 it does feel like things are starting to change, for one, The Mate 10 Pro ships with Android 8.0 Oreo and is on the November Security Patch, so I can’t ask for any more there, and Huawei has publicly confirmed they’re working on 8.1 for the Mate 10 series, once again, I’m happy with that and can’t ask for more.
Moving on to EMUI 8.0, whilst it’s just from 5.1 to 8.0 in just a few months, it’s much smaller of an upgrade than you’d think. Picking up my P10 (Review here) with 5.1, there is very little different that I can’t chalk up to Android Oreo. I think the main reason for the number jump was to bring it to number parity with Android, something I’m not opposed to, but let’s just be clear here, if you have used EMUI 5 or 5.1, you’ve mostly used EMUI 8.0 from a UI perspective.
Speaking to Huawei, a lot of the differences come in the underpinnings, EMUI has been cleaned up and slimmed down it is resource requirements, and they’re leaning more into the AI aspect of the Kirin 970 and the who “born fast, stay fast”, and I have to say the Mate 10 Pro is fast, when I got the first OTA that claimed to improve the performance I was skeptical, and every OTA has consistently improved performance in ways I didn’t think was possible.
Let’s be real here though if you don’t like EMUI, you still won’t like EMUI, things are slowly getting better, a lot can be changed, and a lot of things are no longer broken for seemingly no reason, most importantly, notifications. I’m not going to pretend I like EMUI because I really don’t, but when I can change as much as I can, due to how Android itself operates, there is very little of EMUI from a consumer perspective that I actually have to interact with. Would I prefer stock/Google Android with the Huawei Camera stuff? Hell yes, but that is not going to happen, and at least what we have here is a really good experience, whether you theme it, go to a different launcher, or change pretty much all the defaults apps to their Google counterparts, you’re getting a solid phone.
With a 4000mAh Battery, you’d hope that the Mate 10 Pro has some seriously great battery life, and you’d be right. The Mate 10 Pro rarely goes to bed on day one with less than 50%, and I’ve only ever had it die on me once, and that was at an event where I had no signal, poor Wifi and shot over 300 pictures and 5 videos, so that was kinda expected.
I’ve stopped really looking at Screen on time as a metric since I’ve started using smartwatches more and more and notifications can be mirrored to desktops so easily nowadays, but the one time I did check my Mate 10 pro it was in the 5-6 hour range, which is super good, and I can’t wait to see how it ages, and whether Huawei’s claims of the “Born Fast, Stay Fast” AI stuff working to keep battery degradation from being too rapid holds true, that’ll be interesting to me.
So it doesn’t die easily, that’s pretty good, how about charging? Well, with the 5v/4.5a 4.5v/5a Supercharge tech, you’d be forgiven for thinking this has a miniscule battery because of how quickly it charges. And because of the low 5v current, it doesn’t heat the phone up all that much past ambient, which is once again good for the longevity of the battery.
Not every cable works with Supercharging though. The Included charger in the box does (of course) and I have found one replacement on Amazon here. the way to check if the cable is SuperCharger capable is to a)ask the manufacturer, but also b) look inside the USB-A port, if it is a light purple, you’re good to go. Huawei also introduced a SuperCharge Car charger, and a SuperCharge 10,000mAh battery bank, both of which I am trying to get in the office to Review.
I touched on this a little earlier, but Huawei really hit it out of the park here on the Mate 10 Pro with performance. I’m sure it is partly to do with how well EMUI is optimised for the Huawei specific chipset in here, but I’d be lying if I said that the Kirin 970 is not at least part of the reason this device is insanely fast.
Huawei has once again gone for Cortex A73 and Cortex A53 4+4 setup, and it works here. The A73’s are clocked at 2.4Ghz and can of course dynamically clock themselves up or down depending on the situation. The A53’s are running at up to 1.8Ghz and can do the same thing. HiSilicon also incorporated HMP or Heterogeneous Multi-core Processing, meaning that if you’re using the A53 cluster, you can still use the A73 Cluster without having to shut off the prior one, neat.
We also have a 12 Core Mali G72 GPU here, the first in a mobile device, which was a big thing that Huawei wanted to keep beating the drum about in the IFA press conference we were at. And Is manufactured on the 10nm fab, we don’t exactly know who yet as Huawei aren’t being too forthcoming, but my guess would be TSMC seeing as they have manufactured HiSilicon chips for a while, including the 16nm FF+ Kirin 950/955 and the 16nm FFC Kirin 960.
Huawei also incorporated something called the NPU here, the NPU is a Neural Processing Unit, an AI co-processor of Sorts, and whilst it’s being used somewhat sparingly now, with Android 8.1, a lot more applications are going to be able to take advantage of it. The applications that currently make use of the NPU are the camera app, and the custom Microsoft Translator. Both of which are insanely fast and able to do things not only orders of magnitude faster than before on just pure CPU or GPU accelerated compute, but also with lower power consumption, neat.
For those of you still obsessed with benchmarks though, here are a few screenshots of those.
This is something I’ve spent more time on with this review than I thought I would, mainly due to the fact that I enjoyed taking photos on the Mate 10 Pro. I’m not a big camera guy, I tend not to take that many photographs, not because I’m an “I Like to live in the moment” type person, but because I’m too lazy to just take a photo because “that might look nice” now I take photos of things because I’m almost 100% sure the result is going to be something I’ll like, and that, is impressive.
I’ve already spoken briefly about the camera hardware here, two sensors, 20mp monochrome and 12mp RGB, both with insane f1.6 lenses and the RGB sensor with OIS as well. The different resolutions of the sensors allow Huawei to do a 2x “Zoom” which is a near loss-less looking crop, which I’ve found works really well in daylight and even quite well in dimming light, but in low-light, even the f1.6 lens can’t really help that.
As always with Huawei Phones, you can’t take RGB full-colour photos, as well as Monochrome only ones, and I must say, one of the reasons I prefer the Huawei dual camera setups to their Honor counterparts is the software, the extra tuning that Leica does, or that Leica allows Huawei to do, really do improve the images, in my opinion, especially the Monochrome ones, something of a Leica speciality.
Anyway, here are some of my full-colour shots from the Mate 10 Pro.
Also, some of my favourite Monochrome shots. As I said, Huawei does some great stuff here, and it’s really fun to play with.
I also took a fair few selfies this time around as well, for science, obviously.
Lastly, Video. Huawei phones rarely take amazing video, and sadly that’s kind of the case here as well. It is far from poor video, but there are lots of areas for improvement, I’ll post 1080p and 2160p samples below.
Radio and Connectivity
Huawei has upped their network game with the Mate 10 Pro, the radio and modem in the Kirin 970 is nuts. Category 18 download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps and Category 13 uplink speeds capable of up to 150mbps.
All of this is also helped by the use of 4×4 MIMO (Multi-Input Multi-Output) Radios, 256QAM, and 3CC Carrier Aggregation, basically, this radio is so far ahead of what your network supports, that it’s going to be a long long time before this is the bottleneck.
That is also on top of the Dual SIM, Dual LTE model that I have, meaning that both NanoSIMs can have active LTE at the same time, unlike all other Dual SIM devices where it is either 4G main and 3G secondary, or 4G Main and 2G backup. Huawei also allows the first SIM to be VoLTE enabled whilst still using the second for 4G purposes. Once again, this Radio is so far ahead of what the networks offer, you’ll be fine for a while.
My experience of actually using the Mate 10 Pro as well has been absolutely solid, not least of all because my Carrier of Choice, Three in the UK, has been working with Huawei to get their “open market” firmware baked into EMUI, meaning that whereas before, if you wanted to get access to 4G SuperVoice (Three’s branding of VoLTE and 800Mhz) you had to buy a phone from Three with that alteration done to the firmware, but now, my unlocked, Dual SIM, European model Mate 10 Pro, has 4G SuperVoice (barf) and WiFi Calling on Three out of the box, I didn’t have to enable anything, it just worked, and that is awesome.
Now, the miscellaneous section of my reviews tend to come in and out, on whether the device has anything noteworthy I didn’t speak about earlier, and on the Mate 10, that feature is called Desktop projection, not a very cool name, but a very cool feature.
Desktop projection makes your Mate 10 Pro, a desktop-like experience, and it works so incredibly well. In fact, I’ve written this entire review on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, using desktop projection, plugged into a USB-C monitor and using a keyboard and mouse. With the beefiness of the Kirin 970, the Desktop projection software is really quite fast and very usable, something that I genuinely enjoy using. I’m not using it to write this review to make a point, the last 4 reviews I’ve written have been done like this, because it works, it’s not a pain in my rear end, it isn’t blisteringly fast as my PC, but it’s not slower than an arthritic dog either.
Just like Continuum and DeX, Desktop projection does have some limitations. Not all applications are made to be run in windows and dynamically adjusted, so some only work in phone mode, some only in tablet mode etc. and a lot of applications don’t even show up in the launcher, despite them being on my phone, they can still be launched, but it is harder than it should be. For instance, to get YouTube to show up, I went into Chrome, went to youTube, and tried to navigate to the desktop site, and then the app popped up, when that happened I pinned it to my dock, so I could launch it anytime I wanted, but there are multiple limits like this, thankfully they can all be fixed via software OTAs in the future.
Another, less useful feature for me at least is screen mirroring. You can do a near 1-1 screen mirroring session when connected to a display device, but I haven’t found much use for it yet, and because the screen isn’t the standard 1920×1080, there is black bars letterboxing or pillarboxing the display, for what it is worth, it works better than Chromecasting my screen to my TV, but then again, it is a wired connection, it should be better.
So, should you buy it? It’s a tough question…only kidding…
Huawei has made a stellar phone here, it is pretty, it is well built, it is fast it has a great battery, it doesn’t die easily, it charges up incredibly fast, doesn’t get hot, can be a pseudo computer when you need it and it is currently up to date with Android. There is very little I’d ask Huawei to change about this phone, and even the price tag, which is set at £700 in the UK, doesn’t seem too outrageous here, because you are getting a lot for your money, and I’m happy to keep using it.
Huawei Mate 10 Pro£699
- Absolutely gorgeous Screen
- Stellar Performance
- Cracking Battery Life
- Great camera
- Desktop projection mode is great
- £700 might be hard to swallow for some
- EMUI is still not for everyone
- Despite being 2:1 screen ,it's still a big phone