Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro Review: Everything you need and more

A stellar camera, long battery life, AI processor and unprecedented certified safety standards. There's really not much to dislike

What is the perfect smartphone? Huawei tried to answer that question with last year’s Mate 9 series of devices. Both came with stellar cameras, great displays and huge batteries. They weren’t perfect but came quite close to answering the question. This year Huawei succeeded the flagship pair with the new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. Both devices come with a beefy and promising spec sheet. We’ve had the new flagship phones for a month now and we can’t stop admiring these beauties. While the smartphones do have certain differences, they’re largely the same phone so let’s just review them together, shall we?

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: Body and design

The Huawei Mate 10 (and Pro) has a glass body in an aluminium frame (Picture: Vaibhav Pradip)

Most differences between the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro come from their design and aesthetics. Unlike their predecessors, now they have glass bodies with an aluminum frame. The glass is 4-way curved all across the back of the phones.

While the devices don’t have the aesthetic beauty of let’s say a Samsung Note 8 or S8, they do have a very solid feel and don’t feel as delicate as the aforementioned devices. The cameras have a slight bulge but nothing that would have the phones rocking while lying on a table (We’re looking at you, iPhone X).

While the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is IP67-certified, the Mate 10 is only IP53 (Picture: Vaibhav Pradip)

Waterproofing

Both phones have water and dust resistance but to different degrees, something I heavily dislike. The Huawei Mate 10 is IP53-certified for dust and splash resistance and the Mate 10 Pro is IP67-certified (dust and water resistance down to one metre for 30 minutes. Why did Huawei go down this road? I have no idea, but at least the Mate 10 got something.

Fingerprint reader

The Mate 10 has the fingerprint reader squeezed onto its narrow bottom bezel while the Mate 10 Pro has it on the back. Both sensors work at lightning speed and I had no complaints with either.

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: Display

Huawei Mate 10 Pro has a 6-inch Full View AMOLED screen (Picture: Daanesh Kalyaniwalla)

The display is another department where the devices differ. The Huawei Mate 10 comes with a 5.9” Quad HD 16:9 IPS LCD screen. On the other hand, the Mate 10 Pro comes with a 6” Full View AMOLED (2160×1080 resolution) display. Why the Pro version has a lower resolution is beyond anybody, but in no way is there anything bad about these displays.

Both are crisp and clear. When it comes to size, I prefer the Mate 10 since images and video still look amazing on the 16:9 screen ratio. But thanks to the 18:9 display, the Mate 10 Pro is more functional and makes the phone so much easier to hold.

Don’t worry about Dubai’s extreme sunlight – both displays are decently visible even with the sun overhead.

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: Processing power

The vaunted Kirin 970 processor has onboard AI processing

Kirin 970

Now processing power is where Huawei really trumped last year. Both the Mate 9 and P10 came with the lightning fast Kirin 960. The Huawei Mate 10 series devices come with the updated Kirin 970, which is the world’s first to pack onboard AI processing.

The Kirin 970 comes with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which enables real-time AI processes right on your device. The 970 is also said to be 25 per cent more powerful and 50 per cent more energy-efficient than its predecessor.

The Mate 10 comes with 4GB of RAM and the Mate 10 Pro comes with 6GB.

Daily use

During my daily use of both phones, both were extremely fast. While the processor is the same, thanks to a larger RAM on the Mate 10 Pro, you can see a slightly highly buttery feel during use. The Mate 10 did become a little sluggish when a lot of tasks were open but not to the extent where it ever affected the use of the device.

While I have no complains about the AI said to be on the device, thanks to the NPU, I do have one little issue. Quantification of the AI is still difficult. The only time you can see this AI in action is when you’re on the camera app and it can recognise a few things that you point your device at. Apart from that, it’s a mostly invisible process, which made me question it a few times.

“Born Fast”

Another major promise that Huawei made with the Mate 10 (as well as the Mate 9) was the “Born fast, stay fast” slogan. The Mate 9 proved itself over the past year. It never got slow and it didn’t feel old any time we ever picked it up to use it. The Mate 10 and 10 Pro over the past month have done the same. Consistent performance with no signs of ageing anywhere.

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: User interface

Next up is the EMUI. With the launch of this year’s Mate 10 series, Huawei brings us EMUI 8.0. For those of you who don’t know, EMUI stands for Emotion UI. This year the company took a large leap and jumped from last year’s EMUI 5.1 to 8.0.

The 8.0 comes to make it easy for users to equate the UI to Android 8.0 Oreo, which is what the UI is based on. This is one of the best things about the phones. Having Oreo on day one is just such a big bonus.

Customisation

One of EMUI’s greatest strengths is customisation. Want to add another button to your navigation controls? Want to hide them altogether? Do you want to calibrate the colour on your screen? Add knuckle-based gestures? Want a theme that uses icons from another? It’s all possible thanks to EMUI 8.0.

While the UI is highly customisable, I’m not the biggest fan of EMUI. There’s a lot of bloatware and lets be honest, a bloated skin of Android with a great processor and loads of RAM could just be the winning combination Huawei devices need to trump their competition right now. With companies such as HTC and Motorola going completely clean and Samsung slowly clearing up its OS, Huawei needs to figure this one out.

EMUI Desktop

EMUI 8.0 also brings with it EMUI Desktop or Projection. All you need is a USB type-C to HDMI cable and get a full desktop experience on any display. The great thing about EMUI Desktop is that it doesn’t just replicate the display. It creates a separate desktop experience where the phone can be used separately as well as act as your trackpad to scroll through the display.

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: Camera

Both Mate 10 cameras allow the devices’ AI capabilities to shine through real-time scene and object recognition (Picture: Vaibhav Pradip)

Both the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro come with the company’s Leica-powered dual camera with SUMMILUX-H lenses, featuring an aperture of f/1.6. The cameras also come with AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition as well as AI-powered bokeh.

Huawei collaborated with Leica last year with the Mate 9. This is the second major iteration of the partnership between the two companies.

Leica dual camera

The camera features a dual lens set-up where one is a 12MP colour (RGB) sensor and the other with a 20MP black and white (monochrome) sensor – the same combination it had last year. Thanks to this combination the camera is not only able to attain great colour but also far more detail in images captured.

While exposure values indoor and outdoor are great, the cameras provide outstanding dynamic range too (Picture: Vaibhav Pradip)

The camera never lagged or stuttered while I used it. You point and click and 9 out of 10 times you’ll get a great image. Exposure values are great (even in indoor settings). The camera provides outstanding dynamic range too. Thanks to an aperture of f/1.6, low-light is fun to use. Noise reduction in day and night settings works well enough.

Portrait mode

Thanks to the dual camera set-up, the Huawei Mate 10 devices offer portrait as well as wide-aperture mode. The wide-aperture mode provides the much sought-after bokeh effect and thanks to its AI enhancements has excellent understanding of depth in images.

One issue I do have with the camera is that the interface can be quite cluttered sometimes. I do wish Huawei would work on simplifying the UI to a certain extent.

On the overall, this is one of the best smartphone cameras on the market right now.

Here’s some sample shots we’ve taken from the device.

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: Battery life

Both Mate 10 and the Pro pack large 4,000mAh batteries (Picture: Vaibhav Pradip)

This was almost set to be the year of batteries that just weren’t enough. Now, I use my battery quite extensively. Phones like the Samsung Note 8, HTC U11 and iPhone 8 Plus were great, but they just couldn’t keep up for an entire day. I hated to have to watch out for my battery all the time. Rumours began to circulate that even Huawei was dropping the Mate 10 from last year’s 4000mAh to 3,600mAh. I’m not going to lie – I was genuinely worried. But Huawei stuck to its promise of keeping nice large batteries in its devices.

The Mate 10 phones gave me much more than a full day’s charge thanks to their giant 4000mAh battery. I never had to worry about running out of juice on either device. I would leave home in the morning and wouldn’t have to worry about charge until I got back to bed, or even sometimes till the next morning.

TÜV Certification

Keeping their batteries at the same size isn’t the only thing Huawei did this year. In a world where smartphone cells are exploding, the company has gone a step ahead and the Mate 10 duo comes with the world’s first certified safe fast charge. The new devices feature TÜV Safety Certified Huawei SuperCharge technology, which is another first in the world of smartphones. The devices have gone through rigorous tests such as numerous charging cycles, extreme weather tests, effects of chargers from third-party companies as well as inserting and removing the cable 10,000 times. I liked knowing that Huawei is not only creating but also setting the standard with batteries and their charging.

Huawei’s Super charger which comes in the box is a legend. To understand just how fast it charges, watch the videos below.

Huawei Mate 10/10 Pro: Conclusion

I’ve said this before; the perfect smartphone practically doesn’t exist. With every smartphone you buy there is some sort of compromise. The Google Pixel 2 XL has very visible display issues; the iPhone X costs a liver, doesn’t come with a fast charger in the box and has iOS (blech); and the Note 8 is expensive and has very average battery life. However, if anyone in 2017 has come close to creating the perfect package, it has to be Huawei.

At Dh2,299 for the Mate 10 and Dh2,999 for the Mate 10 Pro, you get a stellar camera, long battery life, an AI processor and unprecedented certified safety standards. How exactly does a smartphone get any better?