Huawei Mate 10 Pro review

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

The name Huawei is relatively unknown here in the U.S, but globally, it is the second largest phone manufacturer. Now Huawei is looking to make a name for itself in the United States with its new flagship phone, the Mate 10 Pro. But can Huawei get its foot in the door in a market that’s dominated by mobile phone giants like Samsung and Apple? I spent the last few weeks using the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, putting it through the paces to see if it’s a mobile phone that can be my new daily driver.

Design

Right off the bat, this is one beautiful looking phone. The back is made from glass which gives the phone a hint of elegance. It’s nice to see how the phone reflects when it’s hit by light, but one downfall of the glassy back is that it attracts fingerprints. I found myself always having to wipe down the back to get rid of all my smudgy fingerprints. The edges are rounded which creates a nice, almost seamless blend right into the metal frame. The rounded edges also help make the phone very comfortable to hold, contouring nicely with your fingers. On top of that, this phone felt surprisingly light, given that the Mate 10 Pro comes in just above 6 inches and only weighs about 6oz.

On the right side, you’ll find two physical buttons, the volume keys and the power button. On the left, you’ll find your sim card slot and the top you’ll find an IR sensor, which allows you to use the phone as a TV.remote. On the bottom are the speaker and USB-C port. There is no headphone jack, so you’ll have to get a dongle or a pair of headphones that has a USB-C connection. Fortunately for me, I mainly use Bluetooth headphones, so having no physical headphone jack was not a problem. On the back side, you’ll find the dual camera sensors and the fingerprint reader which is lightning fast. It’s faster than any other phone on the market.

Display

The Mate 10 Pro is packed with a 6 inch, 18:9 OLED display (2160×1080, 402 PPI). It’s an edge-to-edge display that transitions nicely into the body. On the highest brightness setting, the display is very bright, giving you clear visibility when using your phone is under direct sunlight. I compared watching videos with the Mate 10 Pro with my current phone, the LG G6, and I found that the Mate 10 Pro was much more vibrant and had a nice color saturation. The contrast was also high, which gave the images and videos deeper and darker blacks.

UI/Performance

Out of the box, the Mate 10 Pro is running Android 8.0, the latest operating system. It comes standard with the essential Google apps with some of Huawei’s bloatware. Android 8.0 is skinned with Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 interface, which it advertises as a smart, intelligent, AI-powered UX. EMUI is designed to run apps faster and to be more responsive and intuitive. When first running the phone, I did realize that by default EMUI doesn’t have an app drawer. Like iOS, it puts all the apps on the home screen. So to find an app I wanted to use, I had to swipe either left or right. It was helpful that it did automatically put some of the top apps in a folder for me.

In the settings, I was able to find a way to turn on the app drawer. Though not a deal killer, I would have preferred to have that at the beginning, instead of the phone laying out all of the apps. Out of the box, the phone has some built-in features that are made to simplify and make your phone more comfortable. One that came in handy was the feature to reduce the amount of blue light that the phone emits, which would help reduce eye strain.

Under the hood, you’ll find the Huawei Kirin 970 processor. Huawei’s new processor features an octa-core ARM cortex CPU, a Mali-G72 12-core GPU, and the first Neural Network Processing unit. Given that I only had this phone for a couple of weeks and didn’t have a lot of apps installed, I still found the phone to be fast. Apps opened up without hesitation and multi-tasking seemed to be a breeze. This was helped by the AI aggressively killing any background apps.

Along with the new, state-of-the-art processor, the Mate 10 Pro is powered by a beefy 4000 mAh battery. On a day where I was using the phone heavily (videos, social networking, photos, navigation, etc…), the phone still lasted for a good half of the day before I had to recharge. When I used the phone moderately, I was able to stretch the phone for almost a day and a half before I had to recharge it. And don’t worry about being without your phone for a long period of time while recharging, because this phone charges up quickly. You can get a full charge in just over an hour.

Camera

When it comes to the camera, it’s probably some of the best hardware you’ll see. That’s due to the fact that the cameras were built in partnership with LEICA, one of the most notable camera manufacturers in the world. The mate 10 is crafted with two SUMMILUX-H lenses, a 12mp RGB, and a 20mp monochrome sensor. Both have optical image stabilization and come with an aperture of f/1.6. The camera app is easy to navigate. On the top of the app, you’ll find a few navigation buttons that will help you enable the flash, switch to a wide photo mode, and switch to the front-facing camera. Swiping up will switch to manual mode to give you more creative control of your photo. Swipe right to access the settings, and swiping left will give you all the camera modes, and it is extensive. Some of the modes you’ll be able to access are video mode, HDR, Monochrome camera, 3D and Regular Panorama, Time-Lapse, and light painting.

The Mate 10 Pro produces some quality photos when taken outside with nice bright lighting. Photos are exposed just right, color balance, shadows, and highlights are nice and even. And photos are not overly sharpened. Where the camera really shines for me is with the monochrome sensor. Black and white photos come out amazing, with just the right amount of contrast that gives the photos a little bit more depth to them.

The camera falls short are in photos taken during low light. Even with a fast aperture, the ISO in low light came with a little bit too much noise. The Pixel 2 processes low light photos much better than the Mate 10 pro, which is disappointing knowing that the camera sensors itself are engineered with the help of LEICA. Luckily the lack of low light photos is all within Huawei’s software and how it processes the photos, so hopefully a future update can help alleviate that problem.

(All photos were taken in auto mode)

Final Reaction

The Huawei Mate 10 pro is an amazing and stunning phone. It’s light and very comfortable to hold in your hand, and it makes you forget that it measures just over 6 inches. But in the end, this phone is not perfect, and at its price point, you wish it were. I wasn’t a fan of the EMUI interface and would have loved to see the phone using the stock Google home launcher right out of the box. And of course, my biggest drawback was the poor performance of the camera in low light settings. With that said, the Mate 10 Pro is a great phone for those who are looking for speed when they multitask, and for the creatives who are looking to get out of auto mode when taking photos.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro can be purchased from Amazon and Huawei’s website here.

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