Huawei Mate 10: Hands-on review

Alex Kidman 17 October 2017 NEWS

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Huawei's Mate 10 offers an impressive array of features at a very competitive price point.

Huawei has just announced its Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro at its launch event in Munich, but we've already had the chance to have a quick hands-on test of the Chinese maker's latest flagship products ahead of their launch here locally in November for the Mate 10 and December for the Mate 10 Pro.

As such, these are just early observations and not a complete review of the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. The complete review will come in time, so stay tuned, but if you're keen on a bit of upfront observation, read on.

 

Huawei Mate 10: Early upsides

  • Intelligent camera. The Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro both run on Huawei's new Kirin 970 SoC, running alongside a local and a cloud-based AI "neural processor" that Huawei claims gives it up to 50% better performance than if it were just leveraging the 970 alone. That's a tough call to assess in a short review period from the perspective of apps (which I couldn't load onto the phone in any case), but where it did show its smarts was in the camera app. It will automatically detect 13 different scene types, including cats, dogs, flowers, food and night scenes. In quick tests with a supplied dog model and some flowers, the Mate 10 was quick to pick up its target and adjust accordingly, taking clean-looking photos along the way. With dual Summilux Leica lenses at the rear, essentially the same fitout as the already impressive Huawei P10 Plus, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro should be serious photo contenders in the very crowded 2017 premium camera crowd.
  • Big battery life promise. The Mate 10 Pro is powered by a 4,000mAh battery that Huawei claims is good for up to two days of real-world usage. Huawei representatives did qualify that a little by stating that its testing was on Chinese networks via its testing labs, so local figures may vary. Still, for a large screened phone, that's a bold claim, and one that the Mate 10 can hopefully live up to. As you'd expect, it's compatible with Huawei's own "SuperCharge" fast-charging standard as well.
  • Inexpensive desktop dock option. Samsung's Note 8-compatible DeX dock is a nice enough option for mobile workers, but it's not exactly inexpensive. Huawei's equivalent is less showy, in that it's a roughly $15 Easicast cable. Still, it gets the job done if you want to pair up a keyboard and mouse for simple Android-based productivity work. While I wasn't able to extensively test the Easicast's full productivity chops, and I suspect it may have the same limitations as the DeX, paying a fraction of the price gives it a lot more leeway for office workers.
  • Solid design. With full-screen phones becoming the premium norm, it's tougher for individual designs to really stand out. The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro look most like Sony's excellent Xperia XZ Premium with its essentially conservative looks, although I was only able to test the black Mate 10 and not the blue Mate 10 Pro.
  • Competitive price points. Huawei has typically priced its phones to sell, but we live in an age of the $1499 Note 8 and $1829 iPhone X. The Mate 10 is a premium handset, but it will cost just $899 outright when it goes on sale in November, while the Mate 10 Pro tips the scales at $1099.

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Huawei Mate 10: Early downsides

  • EMUI can annoy. Where most Android vendors are tending towards clean pure Android, Huawei continues to add its EMUI overlay onto its phones, including the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Plus. It's something of a taste matter, but it does make me wonder how much faster the Mate 10 would be running pure Android.
  • Neural network processing unit will need developer support. Huawei wants developers to leverage its neural processor to improve performance, providing open development tools to do so. But will they? If you build a neural processor into a phone and nobody taps its potential, is it even there? Philosophical queries aside, Huawei's claims around the Kirin 970's performance are bold, especially up against the high performance of the many Snapdragon 835 options, not to mention the exceptional performance we've seen from Apple's A11 Bionic iPhone models.
  • Bye bye headphone socket. The Mate 10 has a headphone socket, but it's entirely absent from the Mate 10 Pro, which has replaced the headphone socket with a pair of USB C connected headphones. Admittedly, others have gone down this route, including Google with the Pixel 2 and Apple with the iPhone X, but that doesn't make it an automatically good feature, even if you do get IP67 water resistance along the way.

With a relatively short gap between announcement and availability, we expect to get cracking on a full review of the Huawei Mate 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro directly. Stay tuned for our full review.

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Huawei Mate 10 Specifications

Product Name
Huawei Mate 10
Display Size
5.9 inches
Resolution
2560x1440
PPI
499ppi
Processor
Kirin 970
RAM
4GB
Storage
64GB
Operating System
Android 8.0
Front camera
8MP f/2.0
Rear camera
Dual lens 20MP Mono f/1.6, 12MP RGB
Battery
4000mAh
Dimensions
150.5mm x 77.8mm x 8.2mm
Weight
186g
Price
$899

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Specifications

Product Name
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Display Size
6.0 inches
Resolution
2160x1080
PPI
402ppi
Processor
Kirin 970
RAM
6GB
Storage
128GB
Operating System
Android 8.0
Front camera
8MP f/2.0
Rear camera
Dual lens 20MP Mono f/1.6, 12MP RGB
Battery
4000mAh
Dimensions
154.2mm x 74.5mm x 7.9mm
Weight
178g
Price
$1099

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