Huawei has a way of surprising me with their handsets, and the new Mate 10 Pro is no exception. I had the privilege of trying the new handset out and walked away impressed.
Looks Aren’t Everything, But They’re Something
The physical design of the Mate 10 Pro doesn’t stray too far from their usual quality. My blue model actually reminded me a lot of the Honor 8 I fell in love with. There’s a great AMOLED screen that just pops. Note: This screen is slightly lower resolution than the original Mate 10’s LCD screen (a 1,440 x 2,560, 5.9″ screen with 499 pixels per inch), but the 6.0″ display had an impressive 1,080 x 2,160 display. If 402 PPI are too few for you and you really see a difference, then you have much better eyes than I.
You’ve got a USB-C port, IR blaster (how old school), power button, volume, and a SIM tray. Interestingly enough, the SIM tray is single SIM and has no space for a MicroSD card – a big shift for Huawei. Although, with 128 GB of storage (and an insane 6 GB of systems RAM), you might not need anything else. Continuing modern trends, the Mate 10 Pro does not have a headphone jack. Thankfully, it does include a pair of USB-C Headphones as well as a USB-C to traditional headphone adapter dongle.
Picture Yourself Using The Mate 10 Pro
There’s a crazy responsive fingerprint scanner on the back, as well as the lenses for the Leica camera system. Dual cameras are now basically standard for high-end and even upper mid-range phones. These do not disappoint. I reviewed this at the same time as another phablet and I was unable to tell which photos were from which phone without looking at my notes. That’s a good thing.
Some of this may be due to the optical zoom in both lenses or a heavier use of AI with the camera software (it will adjust settings using object recognition and control auto-focus, for example). Personally, I think the wider aperture lenses (f/1.6) are a big difference as well. Huawei isn’t the first company to use that wide an aperture, but they are the first to do it in both lenses of a dual-camera system. I think it shows.
Note that only the rear cameras have the AI treatment though. The front is just a darn good 8MP shooter.
Beware of Software
Those who have read my reviews before know what’s coming now – slamming the customized Android skin. EMUI is an interface I have grown used to, but I have also grown tired of it. Android 8 (aka Oreo) is a good, solid operating system with a great user interface. Why hide it? And why bury what it can do with duplicate functions? Huawei is trying to make their EMUI smarter by typing into their AI (the dedicated NPU chip on the Mate 10 Pro) but I honestly cannot say I notice a difference.
The NPU chip is also supposed to help the phone learn my habits and prioritize tasks based on my use. Honestly, in just 3 weeks of use, I don’t think I had enough time to notice any real difference between it and any other high-end phone in day-to-day use.
As an aside, I suspect it’s this NPU that has people wigging out about Huawei (most recently leading to Best Buy no longer stocking their phones). It’s outside the purview of my article, but I think there’s a touch of misapplied paranoia. Your phone is tracking you and your habits. Brand doesn’t matter.
Power to Spare
You’ll notice I did not touch on battery life yet. That’s because I was saving the best for last. The 4000 mAh battery in the Mate 10 Pro is massive and wonderfully balanced my needs. I had Bluetooth headphones connected regularly and consumed media for hours on it and saw a tiny dip. There were a few nights I was able to leave it unplugged all night.
The Bottom Line
The list price for the Mate 10 Pro is $799. They originally were offering a $150 coupon and as I write this there is a promotion for $100 off, making it just $699. This sale was supposed to be only until 3/24 but it’s continued. Huawei is pushing the Mate 10 Pro aggressively.
I have to say, $699 is much cheaper than that Other Phablet. Having reviewed them both I can tell you there’s no reason to pay more. Huawei beats Samsung on price and performance, does not saddle you with the essentially useless Bixby assistant, and is just as stylish. Add cameras of equal or greater quality and I really have no idea why you’d buy the Samsung. Is it the stylus? Do you need one that badly? A few more pixels per inch? OK, then.
Note: Huawei lent us the Mate 10 Pro for way too short a season. My smaller everyday smartphone feels like a toy now.