Huawei Mate 10 Pro review: An amazing smartphone being thrown a lot of curve balls

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With 6GB of RAM and Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 970 and Mali-G72 MP12 this thing keeps up with any flagship phone out there.

TA-ratings-94The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the flagship phone many of you probably never heard of. If you have, it’s likely you have only heard of it through mainstream news reports alongside the company’s relationship with the U.S. government. Huawei has been taking a boatload of curve balls lately brought on by the fact it is a company from China. Relations between the two governments hasn’t been great and Huawei has been caught in the crossfire with carriers and retailers dropping support. That being said, we’re not here to talk politics, we can only let you decide for yourself on that front.

What we will do is take a look at the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and give it a fair shake as a flagship Android device. So read on below for the full Huawei Mate 10 Pro review.

Specifications

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has the following features and specifications:

  • Operating System: Android 8.0
  • User Interface: EMUI 8.0
  • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 970 Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • GPU: Mali-G72 MP12
  • RAM: 4GB or 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB or 128GB
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh
  • Display: 6.00″ 1080p x 2160p – 402 ppi and HDR compliant FHD+
  • Rear Camera: Dual: 12 MP (f/1.6, 27mm, OIS) +20 MP (f/1.6, 27mm), 2x lossless zoom (Leica)
  • Front Camera: 8MP/f/2.0
  • Network:  LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 6(900), 7(2600), 8(900), 9(1800), 12(700), 17(700), 18(800), 19(800), 20(800), 26(850), 28(700), 32(1500), 34(2000), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300)
  • Bluetooth: 4.2, A2DP, aptX HD, LE
  • Sensors: Fingerprint sensor, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Compass, Gravity sensor, Phone status indicator, IR Blaster
  • Water resistant

What’s In The Box

  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Huawei “SuperCharge” power brick
  • USB Type-C cable
  • Earbuds
  • USB Type-C to AUX cable
  • TPU case
  • Pre-installed screen protector
  • SIM card ejector tool
  • Documentation and Instructions

Design

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro isn’t unlike many other 2018 smartphones. It’s primarily made of glass and metal, has an 18:9 aspect ration, a low screen-to-body ratio, and a solid build quality. Our review unit came in the Midnight Blue color which I initially thought would be horrible but after prolonged use, I actually love the color.

The phone feels solid in hand and there is no doubt all of the materials used here are high-quality. The bezels on the front are super small, which is the design most flagships are taking these days.

Around the back of the phone, you’ll find the fingerprint sensor along with the Leica dual-camera setup. The cameras do protrude ever so slightly from the body but not enough to make it look ugly. I was really fond of the banding on the back, I thought it was a thoughtful design cue.

Around the front of the phone, you’ll find the front-facing camera, speaker, and sensors. At the top of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, you’ll find the IR Blaster and one of the noise-canceling mics. On the bottom of the phone, you’ll find the USB Type-C charging port, speaker, and noise-canceling mics.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

USB Type-C

Along the left side of the phone is the SIM card tray. Along the right side of the phone are the power button, and volume rocker. Huawei did the right thing by giving the power button some texture so you can tell which button is which by feel.

Unlike most other smartphones, Huawei included a TPU case and screen protector with the Mate 10 Pro. While the TPU case is fairly cheap, it does offer some protection but also really does a good job of not hiding the Mate 10 Pro’s beautiful design.

Overall, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the nicest looking phone I’ve tested in 2018 so far. I really love the look and feel of this device. It’s balanced and feels nice in the hand. It shows beautifully with nice subtle design cues and is a great departure from the Huawei Mate 9.

Display

Many other phone makers are shoving WQHD (1440 x 2560) displays into their flagships these days. Huawei opted for a slightly lower resolution FHD+ OLED (1080 x 2160) display. There are some strong opinions about smartphone screen resolution and I’ve come to believe that WQHD and higher really isn’t that much better than FHD+, on a phone. In my mind, an FHD+ helps save battery life so fewer pixels isn’t that big of a deal.

I found that the Huawei Mate 10 Pro produced vibrant colors, deep blacks, and clean whites. The viewing angles are superb and brightness is not an issue on sunny days like some other displays. The 18:9 aspect ratio does cut off videos on the left and right but you can pinch to fill the screen on some apps, like YouTube. Doing this does cut a little off the top and bottom but not nearly as bad as on an iPhone X.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Vibrant display

The display is HDR compliant which probably explains why it produces nice vibrant color and deep blacks. Touch responsiveness is insanely precise and the Mate 10 Pro never missed a beat when interacting with gesture controls.

Overall, this is an excellent display. Consuming content on it is pleasurable to the eye and this is just another FHD+ display that convinces me WQHD displays aren’t completely necessary for everyone.

Software

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is running Android 8.0 with Huawei’s EMUI 8.0 UI over top. Android 8.0 runs beautifully here and it’s nice to see Huawei using the latest Google OS and not falling back to 7.0. There are a handful of Huawei-centric apps like a video app, music player app, health app, files app, calendar app, and a few others. Most of these built-in apps are most likely never going to be used as many people already use Google for such things.

The Mate 10 Pro is running Huawei’s homegrown EMUI 8.0 user interface over the top of Android. I’ve seen and read other reviews that basically bash EMUI for being horrible and a bad user experience. Most of these reviewers are well known for loving Google’s “pure Android” experience so they’ve already come in with a bad perception of anything else.

While EMUI is there, you can get rid of it by installing a custom launcher. But I say why? I actually enjoyed using EMUI on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It’s a clean design and the look isn’t that far off from Apple’s iPhone. Huawei gives you the option of having an app drawer or not having one. I think EMUI would appeal to many iPhone users looking to switch, simply because of its close resemblance to iOS.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

EMUI 8.0

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying “pure Android” is a bad thing. What I am saying is that EMUI isn’t bad at all and if you dislike it that much, you can always put a custom launcher over it.

There are plenty of settings to dig into, way too many to get into but Huawei, like Samsung, like to give users plenty of options. Here’s a shortlist of what you’ll find on this phone:

  • Knock on display to take a screenshot
  • MirrorShare
  • Eye Comfort
  • Screen Recorder
  • Ultra Battery Saver
  • Home Screen Style
  • Color Mode
  • One-Handed UI
  • Motion Control
  • Voice Control
  • Smart Cover
  • IR Blaster to control TVs

Overall, Android 8.0 is fantastic and EMUI 8.0 is also a pleasure to use. I never felt I needed to download and use Action Launcher 3 or another launcher to compensate. I’m sure there will be some users who will hate EMUI but I also think its fair to say that many people won’t.

Performance

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a screamer! With 6GB of RAM and Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 970 and Mali-G72 MP12, this thing keeps up with any flagship phone out there. There were no issues navigating the UI, everything was clean and smooth with zero lag.

Browsing the web in Chrome produced a smooth experience. I found no stuttering or lag in scrolling or moving between apps or within apps. Gestures such as pinch to zoom and double tap to zoom all worked flawlessly. Gaming on the Mate 10 Pro is akin to other smartphones. Things move along just fine without any dropped frames or any sort of lag and even more intensive games ran smoothly here.

Overall, the performance is up to flagship standards. You will not be disappointed.

Camera

The dual 12 MP (f/1.6, 27mm, OIS) +20 MP (f/1.6, 27mm), 2x lossless zoom (Leica) cameras on the back are decent shooters. They’re not perfect and they do fall short of some other flagship phones out there. That being said, they still produce great images for the average user.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Dual Leica cameras

Smartphone pixel peepers and fanboys of certain smartphones are most likely going to scoff at the Mate 10 Pro cameras but don’t listen to them. Admittedly there are better camera options, but many of those options are going to cost more money as well.

These rear cameras do a decent job but they do occasionally blow out backgrounds and the color profile is sometimes dirty. Even with HDR on, the colors tend to be flat and washed out. This is not to say all the photos taken with this camera are like this. There are plenty of keepers but you’ll have to be aware of how and where you’re snapping pics.

Portrait mode on the Mate 10 Pro is actually decent.

The front facing camera is probably my least favorite camera on this phone. For some reason, Huawei defaults the camera to “beauty mode” which is just horrible. I am not a fan of software skin smoothing and it took a few snaps to realize that beauty mode was on. After you turn beauty mode off, the pics are acceptable though still a bit flat and backgrounds can be blown out.

Overall, these cameras are good, not the best by any means, but good. Good enough for the average consumer who isn’t pixel peeping and hashtagging every single social share with their preferred smartphone camera.

Speakers/Sound

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro speakers are interesting indeed. When using the phone in portrait mode, the phone uses only the bottom firing speaker giving you mono sound. When you tilt the phone to landscape, the earpiece speaker engages giving you stereo sound.

Now, let me say that I am a fan of the stereo sound in landscape mode but I don’t get why they disable stereo in portrait. The iPhone X’s dual speakers work in both landscape and portrait and I think this is a better user experience. I really think Huawei made a mistake only utilizing the top speaker in landscape mode.

That said, overall, the sound here is fantastic in landscape and just okay in portrait. Maybe a software update could engage both speakers in portrait.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

USB Type-C and speaker

Reception/Call Quality

There’s not much to say here. Reception is fantastic on the Mate 10 Pro and the call quality is top notch as well and it’s what you would expect from a flagship phone in 2018.

Battery Life

One word on this. Fantastic! I consistently got through my day with over 50% battery left on this phone. This is with phone calls, texts, emails, web browsing, video watching, streaming music, and every other basic thing you do with a phone. I also kept the screen brightness at 100% and left Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS all on.

Other reviewers have given the Mate 10 Pro grief for not having wireless charging. I personally don’t mind it not having wireless charging, it would have been nice but this phone should get you through a few days easy depending on use. That said, it does have “SuperCharging” via the included adapter and USB-C cable.

Overall, this is a beast on battery life, top notch and one of the best phones for battery out there.

Price/Value

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro can be had on Amazon for $729USD and frankly, that’s a more than competitive price for a flagship phone. Other phones are pushing the $1,000 mark and the Mate 10 Pro offers up plenty of value at a great price. But do be aware, with what Huawei is dealing with, places to buy this phone are dwindling.

Wrap Up

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has had a rough go since its launch. Initially, it was supposed to launch on AT&T which would have given Huawei its first shot at a carrier branded device. That deal fell through thanks to political fallout. Because of the AT&T issue, other retailers decided to step back and evaluate their own relationship with Huawei, prompting Best Buy to pull out of carrying their devices.

The company is having a rough go in the United States at the moment and I can’t make the call as to who’s right and wrong. I can only say that the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a fantastic device mired in the deep chasm of political controversy. You’ll have to make up your own mind about the political ramifications but I say to you. The phone is fantastic! The camera could use some improvements but overall, it’s fantastic.

*We received a review unit of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro for the purposes of this review.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

$729.90USD
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
9.4

Design

9.5 /10

Display

9.5 /10

Software

9.5 /10

Performance

9.5 /10

Camera

8.5 /10

Speakers/Sound

9.0 /10

Reception/Call Quality

9.5 /10

Battery Life

10.0 /10

Price/Value

9.5 /10

Nailed it

  • Amazing looking design
  • Premium build and quality
  • Great display
  • Smooth and clean software
  • Flagship performer
  • Amazing battery life
  • Great price
  • Fast fingerprint sensor

Needs work

  • The only real complaint is the camera could be better
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