For the past few weeks, my primary phone has been the Huawei Mate 10. The company’s last model was the Mate 9, which amazing only came out in February this year, which speaks to how aggressive the manufacturers are about shipping new product based on the latest available hardware. The new model iterates on an already solid platform, to be faster, smarter, better.
There’s 2 models to choose from, the Mate 10 (reviewed) and the big brother Mate 10 Pro (expect a review soon). The Mate 10 follows a familiar improvement model by iterating on performance with a new processor, more RAM, better cameras, thinner, lighter, the list goes on, but its just outright better.
One of the biggest promotions for this phone is that it has AI on-board with the new Kirin 970 processor, built on a 10mm architecture and features a Neural Processing Unit. The chip combines a 8-core CPU, a 12-core CPU with a total of 5.5 billion transistors in something around the size of your thumbnail.
2017’s smartphone designs have been all about minimising the bezels. The sides are non-existent, with the top and bottom of the Mate 10 optimised to house the camera at the top and the home button at the bottom. Let’s start with the back, its a hard plastic back that curves ont the sides to feel great in the hand. The back picks up a feeling of quality with a feature strip to wrap the rear camera section, housing the dual cameras, LED flash. The lens surrounds protrusions ever so slightly from the body to protect the glass.
Around the sides of the phone are just the essentials, the SIM card(s) / SD card slot, speakers, USB-C charging port and importantly, for those that still love it, a 3.5mm headphone port.
Its the front of the device that’s absolutely the hero. With a a stunning new 5.9″ 16:9 display, the HUAWEI FullView Display is the first phone I’ve used with HDR10 and boy does it look fantastic with vivid and bright colours.
In terms of size, the phone is 77.8 mm x 150.5 mm x 8.2 mm and tips the scales at a tiny 186 grams. It comes in Black (reviewed), Champaign Gold and Mocha Brown.
Hardware and performance
That Kirin AI processor enables the phone to monitor how its being used and respond to it, for users, that means a faster, reliable seamless smartphone experience. The Kirin 970 processor boosts speed, responsiveness and efficiency. This delivers an efficiency boost of 50x and performance boost of 25x thanks to the NPU operating independently from standard cloud-based processing, your privacy is ensured.
The Kirin 970 is engineered to understand how you use your HUAWEI Mate 10, predicting the most efficient modes and optimizing performance to keep it in good condition.
The Mate 10 also packs in 4GB RAM + 64GB of storage. Make sure if you expand that storage, you throw in a high-speed U series SD card.
This display is gorgeous, it may be the best display I’ve layed eyes on so far. The 5.9″ FullView Display features HDR10 and the included video shows it off nicely. Content looks amazing on this display, full rich colour and deep blacks, its exactly what you look for from the big TV in your living room, but this is in the palm of your hand. You can grab more content from online services like Google Play Video or Netflix.
The 2560 x 1440 resolution display compared to its size correlates to a stellar 499 ppi. None of that really matters, you’ll forget about the numbers when you see the content you buy or capture, play back on the screen.
The Mate 10’s new camera tech was developed in collaboration with photography expert, Leica. The dual cameras on the rear are made up of a 20MP Monochrome, and 12MP RGB or colour camera that captures the world with an f/1.6 aperture. This not only lets it capture colour with amazing accuracy, but also enables it to be a great performer in low-light situations, one of the classic environments to separate good from great cameras.
Thanks to optical image stablisation, photos are generally crisp and clear, although it is still possible to snap blurry photos if you really try.
The camera also benefits from that on-board AI, with the Bokeh effect in the camera, using AI to recognise what the humans look like and to separate human heads from the background, allow the focus to be exactly where you need it, on the person.
The front camera will be more or less important to each of us. If you’re someone who loves to take the best selfie and stick on Instagram, then you’ll want the best quality possible and look for the highest front camera spec on the market. A very competitive 8MP f/2.0 camera may not top the chart spec wise, but is more than capable and will avoid having to awkwardly position the phone to use the better rear camera. For Skype or other video calls, the front facing camera will do a great job, even without dedicated lighting.
When it comes to video, the Mate10 ticks an important box, in capturing the world in 4K at 30fps. I do wish all 4K options provided at least 60fps at the end of 2017, but seems 30fps is still relatively common.
Getting through the day for moderate or even high usage is possible with the Mate 10, thanks to the effecient use of the included 4000mAh battery. There’s days were my usage changed rapidly and I moved from a moderate user to an intense user. As an average, getting through the day is easy, and even made it to lunch time the next day after forgetting to charge one night.
When you need a quick hit, the phone’s fast charging (Huawei call it SuperCharge) mean you can grab almost an entire recharge in as little as 20-minutes. Charging is done through the phones USB Type-C port at the bottom of the phone, a modern inclusion far too many competitors have missed on their spec sheets. The proliferation of USB-C in devices is arriving and you should be able to expect your phone is capable of charging from a newish laptop using the same type of cable.
In Australia, we get the ALP-L29 variant which supports a 2nd sim card in place of the Micro SD card (up to 256GB) in the sim tray. Another variant, the ALP-L09 only supports a single SIM card. This is handy for those who have to split home and work lives and a great feature I wish more phones supported. Ideally this wouldn’t consume your MicroSD card slot, but in a time we’re making things smaller, this is a reasonable compromise.
There’s a laundry list of connectivity options with this phone. With WiFi you get the standard dual-band 2.4G and 5G frequencies so as more home routers support this setup, you can take your pick as to which you connect your phone to. In terms of speed, the device supports everything from 802.11a right up to the latest 802.11ac and also supports Wi-Fi Direct.
Bluetooth versions won’t matter to most as headsets will kind of just work, but those who pay attention to technology versions, the Mate 10 has Bluetooth 4.2, support Bluetooth Low Energy.
The Mate 10 runs on EMUI 8.0 which builds on top of Android 8.0. As with all Android customisations, this does mean updates delivered by Google will take longer than those on stock Android.
Personally I’ve been trying out the Microsoft Launcher (one of the great attributes of running Android), but the default Huawei is more than capable. Huawei like to customise icons and wallpapers but as far as customisations go, its not too bad. The great thing is, if you don’t like it, just download another launcher and you still have a great piece of hardware.
The sample photos below show off some stitching errors in the panorama feature of the camera.
Price and Availability
The Huawei Mate 10 is available now and is available at Vodafone on an $80.95 per month over 24 months. Right now they have a promotion which includes a Huawei 360 camera for free if you buy before 25/12/17.
The movement of the fingerprint sensor from the back to the front home button, certainly takes getting used to. Once you do, you’ll notice the Mate 10 is a serious improvement in virtually every single way over the Mate 9.
Right now the smart phone market is flooded with great flagship phones like the Note 8, iPhone X, Pixel 2 and the Mate 10 is certainly a worthy contender among them. Each have their benefits and drawbacks and with phones being such a personal decision its up to you to make the call as to which best suits your needs.