Huawei Mate 10 Pro is just now reaching the USA, so it’s high time we showed you its finalized text review. We did a video review at the end of 2017 and 2018 starts with the text one, so here we go. Unveiled last fall, the device is part of a series of Mate 10 models, that includes the Mate 10 itself, the Mate 10 Lite and the Mate 10 Porsche Design. Huawei Mate 10 Pro is still the star of the show, with the best specs of the bunch and it’s a 6 inch phablet priced at $900. Let’s check it out!

On the design front we get the new fangled (for Huawei at least) 18:9 aspect and a Full View Display upfront. At the back rest a special band in the camera area, like the band raccoons have over their eyes. Cute? Yes, I thought it was a cute comparison too. The back is covered with a curved glass panel, quite the difference from the all metal Mate 9 and Mate 8.

That glass panel is heated at 700 degrees in the production process, in order to create its look and give it the required abilities. The device is IP67 certified, being resilient to dust and water. It measures 7.9 mm in thickness and weighs 178 grams. Compared to the Mate 9 Pro, it’s thicker and also heavier, since that model measured 7.5 mm in thickness and weighed 169 grams.

It was also smaller in diagonal, at 5.5 inches. By the way, this device and the Pixel 2 XL are very close in size, with identical waistlines and just 4 grams difference in weight. The Mate 10 Pro has comfy buttons with OK feedback, offers good grip and provides great one hand usage. The back side tends to draw fingerprints and grease, though, so you’d better use a case.

I liked the symmetry of the phone, an area where it feels superior to Samsung models, for example. All the elements are perfectly lined up. The device may feel slippery at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. Available in blue, gray or brown, this phablet comes with a sturdy metal frame, a premium build and it’s one of the prettiest Huawei phones ever, if not the prettiest.

Moving on to the screen, it’s a 6 inch FullView OLED panel with 18:9 aspect and a 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution. I don’t quite understand why Huawei chose to have the Mate 10 Quad HD and the Mate 10 Pro Full HD, but that’s life, you can’t have them all. The screen shows 16.7 million colors, it’s got NTSC color saturation of 112% and the contrast here is 70.000:1.

The screen to body ratio is 80.9% and the screen supports HDR10 and also has Gorilla Glass protection. The viewing experience brought us a Pop Up Play enabled video player, very vivid colors, OK brightness, OK contrast and wide view angles. Pixels have a Pentile Matrix arrangement and the luxmeter showed us a value of 382 LUX. It’s close to the level we like, 400 LUX, but for a flagship we wanted more, something like 450 LUX maybe.

However, in real life it does feel like more. It beats the Xperia Z5 Premium with this value, as well as the LG G5, while also being the equal of the Huawei Nova and ZTE Nubia N1. At least we surpassed the Huawei Mate 9 Pro’s 354 LUX, but we clearly placed below the LG G6 and HTC U11. Settings for this screen include Brightness (auto too), Sleep, Eye Comfort (cooler or warmer slicders), View Mode, Text Size, Color Mode (Normal or Vivid), Screen Resolution (HD+, FHD+) and a Color Palette to choose from.

It’s a solid panel all around, but should be brighter. As far as the CPU is concerned, we’re dealing with a Kirin 970 here, an octa core unit, with 4 Cortex A73 cores and 4 Cortex A53 ones, as well as the i7 coprocessor. The GPU is a Mali G72 MP12 unit and there’s also an NPU, for the AI tasks. There’s also 4 or 6 GB of RAM here and we have the 6 GB RAM version actually.

There’s also 64 or 128 GB of storage, plus NO microsD for some reason. We didn’t experience any lag on the device and it was quite snappy. Performance was great all around and Riptide GP Renegade looked shiny and had great frame rate. We also did benchmarks, achieving a surprisingly good result in AnTuTu 6, which beats the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8, but scoring below the HTC U11 and Xiaomi Mi 6.

In 3DMark Slingshot Extreme we went past the iPhone 8 Plus and HTC U11, but below the Xperia XZ1 and Galaxy S8. In GeekBench 4, the multi core test we scored past the Galaxy Note 8 and Xiaomi Mi 6, but also below the iPhone 8, iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus. It’s certainly a top 5 2017 performance device, but there’s one caveat: the temperature. While things are OK when gaming, with a 34.8 degree Celsius temperature in Riptide GP Renegade, when we ran GFXBench we got to 43 degrees Celsius, which is clearly overheating.

During day to day usage we didn’t find any real overheating.

If you’re wondering about the battery, we also tested that. It’s a 4000 mAh unit, the exact same capacity as the Mate 9 Pro and above the Pixel 2 XL’s 3520 mAh battery. We also promised one day of use with 20 minutes of charging. We did a video playback test and achieved 13 hours and 37 minutes, which is great, basically one full season of Netflix.

It’s superior to the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, iPhone X and Mate 9 Pro, but inferior to the Huawei P10 and Huawei Mate 9. In PCMark the result was more modest, at 7 hours and 47 minutes, which is placed 63rd in our top 200. I expected more… It may beat the Xiaomi Mi 5 and Huawei P10, but it’s no match for the Mate 9’s huge 11 hours and 4 minutes. Mate 9 Pro was also better.

Charging is excellent, at 1 hour and 22 minutes, 10th spot in our top. It beats the Xiaomi Mi 6 and HTC 10 for sure. We also did step by step charging tests, reaching 9% in 5 minutes or 21% in 15 minutes. After 30 minutes we were at 52% and after one hour at 90%. Settings for the battery include WiFi on During Sleep, Power Saving Mode, Ultra Power Saving Mode and screen resolution setup.

You can also darken the UI and perform one touch optimisation.

Time to see what the acoustics are like. There are dual stereo speakers here, with 5 holes at the bottom for the lower area one and the earpiece serving like the second one. There’s no audio jack here and no equalizer in the music player. The listening experience was loud and clear, with a deep bass and good surround from the two speakers. The back slightly vibrates, there’s no distortion and you will not cover the speaker easily in landscape mode, which is nice to hear.

An interesting aspect is that the speakers kind of overlap each other as the playback goes on. They can also cover each other for some reason. While an EQ is not present in the music player, there’s one in the Settings, with 3D Audio, Histen Effects and more tweaks. Stereo+ and Mega Bass are also here. Headphones are a bit rigid, made of plastic, not very comfy and they’re clearly Apple EarPods clones.

The volume was OK with this accessory, bass was nice and the voice was well rendered. We did a decibelmer test and achieved 82.8 dBA at the bottom and 71.7 dBA at the top, with our typical acoustic sample. We surpassed the iPhone 6S and Honor 8 and scored below the Huawei Nova and Xiaomi Mi A1. In Riptide GP Renegade we got to 99 dBA, which is very good and beats the Huawei P10 and Mate 9 Pro quite clearly. Still, it’s not in the 100 decibel territory of the Motorolas.

So, here we are finally, in the camera department. At the back sits a dual camera, with a sensor setup similar to the Huawei P10 and Mate 9. There’s a 20 MP monochrome shooter and a 12 MP color one, the latter with OIS. There’s F/1.6 aperture here and no less than 4 (FOUR!) focus technologies: laser autofocus, depth detection, contrast detection and PDAF.

Leica Summilux-H lenses are included, plus a dual ISP and the AI is able to identify 14 types of scenes. There’s AI-optimised Bokeh and at the front there’s an 8 MP camera for selfies, with its own Bokeh feature. The camera app starts up fast and the picture taking is also fast. Focus is pretty fast too, not Samsung fast, but close, very close. Zoom was easy to handle via pinch.

Camera Modes are plenty and generous like:

  • Monochrome
  • HDR
  • 3D Panorama
  • Night Shot
  • Time Lapse
  • Light Painting
  • Slow Mo
  • Filter
  • Document Scan
  • Watermark
  • Manual

The Manual mode lets you access options like white balance, focus, shutter, ISO and metering. Colors can be tweaked to Standard, Vivid and Smooth, plus you can take a moving picture, like the Apple Live Photo. There’s also the Portrait/Bokeh mode and Wide Aperture, for post photo refocus. RAW capture is obviously available. Moving on to the day time gallery, we tested the Huawei Mate 10 Pro on a cloudy December day, achieving a pretty OK zoom, great focus and colors all around.

I loved the zoom on that flag, with decent details at 4X and more. We have a solid Portrait capture of flowers, plus wide aperture for those colorful tiger and bear toys. They all look great and all, but I’d be hard pressed to find differences from the Huawei P10. Maybe better colors?

You can also refocus after the shot, by the way. Selfies were also very nice, when it comes to skin texture, hair texture and clothes. The Beauty mode kind of exaggerates with the wrinkle removal and other tweaks. The Portrait Selfie feels evolved from the P10 days and it’s dangerously close to the excellent Pixel 2 XL Portrait selfies. HDR is also good, lighting up dark areas and fixing all contrasts.

Panorama has a modest resolution for a flagship, 9728 x 2368 pixels and a side note related to details: this camera tends to lose details faster than the Galaxy Note 8 and Xperia XZ1 when zooming in. Closeups were picture perfect and I loved the lighting, particularly in the monochrome shots. If you zoom into landscape shots, they look OK, but I’ve seen better.

Colors are flawless in their sRGB calibration and the black and white ones have a ton of details (higher res camera used). I recommend you check out the metal objects were photographed to try and take in the texture we achieved here. I’ve praised texture before, but this is certainly a higher level than usual. Overall, I found the Huawei Mate 10 Pro delivering similar clarity, quality and colors as the Galaxy Note 8, Xperia XZ1 and Pixel 2 XL, maybe with better greens than the latter.

Details are less impressive than the Note 8 and Xperia for sure. Selfies were very good, past the Note 8, I’d say. The Mate 10 Pro is way superior compared to the Huawei P10, amazingly so even. It’s superior to the Mate 9 Pro by about 10 to 15%, especially in light and colors. Low light capture offered us great texture and lighting, even in tougher conditions.

Colors excel again and street light halos were the perfect size. Clarity is great, there’s no strange yellow or blue hue out there. I find that the black and white photos become a bit underwhelming during the night. The flash is great, bright and it doesn’t saturate the image too much. Once again, brightness was fantastic, sometimes feeling like you were taking day time shots, not night time ones.

Things are much better than the Mate 9 Pro, where colors were way too vivid and things were too yellow. This is definitely a top 3 2017 low light capture phone, above the Galaxy S8 and it’s able to fight the Note 8, Xperia XZ1 and Pixel 2 XL. It beats the iPhone 8 Plus a bit and it’s the best Huawei picture taker in history. Imagine if you also used the Manual mode and knew what you were doing… magical!

When it comes to video capture, we shot MP4, Full HD at 13 FPS and a pretty low bitrate of 13 Mbps. Zoom is OK, colors once again, but there were some “flaky” areas. There’s refocus even, a bit of it and some flicker when walking around and moving around. The selfie video featured a crisp face, but the background was a bit too blurred for a vlogger.

The 4K filming was very crisp, had an OK dynamic range and great colors. Things are clear and clean, but not as bright as expected. Details are poor in the distance and the sky’s blue is surreal. I loved the inflatable bouncy castle I shot, because it was so vividly color and “alive”. You may well call it a benchmark video.

Exposure change was subtle and efficient. Even though I criticized the details, somehow the zoom delivered. Some areas were unnaturally bright, I have to say. Overall details felt soft, stabilization was “meh”, as the kids say and I feel that Huawei can’t quite film like a Sony or Samsung yet. At least they upgraded their game from the Mate 9 Pro.

Also check out this great slow mo video, that even shames an iPhone:

We also filmed during the night, in low light conditions and things were pretty bright, but also a bit yellow. Halos were huge, there was also some refocusing and the zoom was rather poor. We also registered motion blur, some flicker, but the integrated microphones were quite solid. Colors felt too warm this time around and I would recommend focusing on the 4K capture only, as the Full HD doesn’t win awards.

One mean thing that comes to mind is a statement I sometimes use: Huawei usually films worse than they photograph and this applies to low light conditions. It’s certainly worse in this case, but once again compared to the Mate 9 it’s a slight jump. Moving on to the web browser, it’s Chrome obviously and it’s rather fast, with solid benchmarks associated.

We’ve got a SwiftKey keyboard in the mix, with the ability to swipe over keys to get words written. On the connectivity front, we’ve got a dual SIM setup or a single SIM one, GPS, Glonass and Beidou. There’s WiFi a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, BLE support and aptX HD. LDAC HD, USB Type-C and even support for DisplayPort 1.2 are here, you name it.

Infrared and NFC complete the list. The Mate 10 Pro actually also brought a premiere, inaugurating the LTE Category 18 modem, with 3 carrier aggregation. On paper it offers download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps. There are also 21 LTE bands supported and one can hook the device up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, in order to use it like a regular PC. Calls were loud and clear and I felt that the noise cancelling microphone was great.

We also did a Speedtest, achieving 102 Mbps in 4G downloads and 66 Mbps in uploads. On WiFi we got to 377 Mbps in download, which is impressive, plus 25 Mbps in upload, all of them solid results. Time to focus on the software for a bit. We’re running on Android 8.0 Oreo here, with EMUI 8.0 on top and at first sight nothing is really changed from the previous EMUI.

You can press and hold apps to trigger shortcuts, multitasking happens via carousel and split screen and if you pinch the homescreen you can trigger the following options: wallpapers, widgets, transitions and settings. Widgets are minimalistic and standard, settings offer options like layout, align and badge icons. There’s also a Google Feed on the leftmost homescreen.

The dropdown section is a bit more elegant now, with notification and Quick Settings included, the most useful of which is probably the screen recording feature. The actual Settings area is now tighter and we addressed the fingerprint scanner right away, with its many features. It lets you take a picture or video, answer a call, browser pictures and it has an 11 step setup for fingerprint authenticaton.

It also offers instant unlock it’s very fast and accurate. Other settings worth mentioning are DND, Play Protect, WiFi+, App Twin (use two instances of the same app, Facebook in this case), One Hand UI, Gloves Mode, Voice Control and Motion COntrol. There’s also the usual knuckle gestures and other features related to touching the screen in certain manners. The list of preinstalled apps includes 52 names, which is quite a lot, but the most interesting of them is Translation.

It leverages the device’s NPU and AI to translate in real time from text, image and voice. It’s maybe not as fast as I’d like it to be, but it’s pretty accurate. There’s also a Weather app, Booking.com, a Notepad, Health app and so much more. I’ve reserved this section of the review to the AI. Thanks to it and the NPU apps will start up 12% faster than on previous Huawei phones.

You can do translation, camera recognition (12 or 14 scenarios) and much more. The camera is able to tell between a cat or a dog, between the picture of a baby, food and a landscape shot in a vacation. There’s cloud and AI in action here. Apps that need AI, like Prisma or FaceApp are now much faster. Also, thanks to the NPU, Huawei Mate 10 Pro learns from your usage patterns and uses less resources as you start apps at certain times of day and certain places.

Resources are allocated better, so the future proofness of the device increases. By the way, the initial test of the device, in labs involved recognizing 2000 images and that happened faster via its AI than other rivals with their own AI solutions. It’s certainly something that can evolve over the next years.

And now let’s see the verdict.

Pros:

  • elegant and well built
  • crisp screen, OK colors
  • top 5 performance
  • great battery, especially in video playback and charging
  • loud speaker
  • perfect pictures and selfies
  • solid Bokeh
  • fast and snappy
  • Projection mode (use like a PC)
  • nice AI features

Cons:

  • draws fingerprints
  • Full HD screen only
  • not a very bright screen
  • unimpressive continuous battery usage
  • the back tends to vibrate a bit
  • speakers overlap
  • not that good details in pictures and videos
  • OIS doesn’t impress
  • EMUI is the same even if it’s a new version
  • can’t feel Oreo
  • bloatware
  • no microSD
  • no audio jack

Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the prettiest and most powerful Huawei phone to date, it’s got the best camera and design from all the P and Mate models. It will be bought by people who had a Huawei before, maybe two generations ago. It’s got the AI at the core, thanks to the NPU, a solid camera, but also with some imperfections. The front camera delivers like a real flagship, but the main camera has some drawbacks especially in the video capture.

Basically this phone only has two flaws: screen brightness and battery continuous use. You can live with the rest of the package for sure and the design is very pretty. I would place this phone somewhere in between the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 quality wise, above the LG G6 and it can definitely compete with the Pixel 2 XL, although it can’t quite beat it.

You can get the Huawei Mate 10 Pro here.