Huawei Mate 10 Pro review: the powerful mobile office you've been waiting for

Does a dedicated AI chip make this the smartest smartphone around?

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T3 Verdict

Huawei Mate 10 Pro has a premium design, and is a solid performer in all categories. The battery life is class leading, but we wish Emotion UI looked a little more premium.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Great battery life

  • +

    Useful features

  • +

    Excellent screen

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    EMUI is still the worst Android skin

Huawei's Mate series range of smartphones, the brand's large screen offering, have always been mighty impressive but often overlooked. The latest addition, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, looks to to change that by standing out from the crowd with a number of innovative and useful features.

For example, in addition to a brilliant 18:9 display and great dual camera setup, which most flagship devices feature now, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro also has the ability to turn into a computer when plugged into a display (similar to Samsung DeX, without the dock), and boasts "the first AI Processor with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit".

Are these enough to make the Mate 10 Pro stand out in an increasingly competitive market? We've been using it for a few weeks to find out.

Huawei Mate 10 vs Mate 10 Pro

At the same time as announcing the Mate 10 Pro, Huawei also announced the Mate 10.

While they both have a similar aesthetic, the Mate 10 packs a 5.9-inch LED 1,440 x 2,560 screen, while the Huawei Mate 10 Pro has a 6.0-inch OLED 1,080 x 2,160.

There are also differences in their power and storage, as the Mate 10 Pro can be bought with more RAM and twice the internal capacity, though it doesn’t have a microSD card slot, which the standard Mate 10 does.

The Mate 10 Pro also benefits from water resistance, but elsewhere these are very similar phones, with a similar design, identical cameras and batteries and the same chipset.

So the Mate 10 Pro is certainly the version you'll want, and that's the one we'll be reviewing here.

Depending on where you're reading this you may not even have a choice, as Huawei are only selling the standard Mate 10 in 15 countries and regions including Spain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Crucially though, not the UK or US.

The Mate 10 Pro is available in more than two dozen countries, including the UK, Germany, France and Italy.

Silky smooth design

Huawei is very good a building phones now. The quality on the P10 is excellent, and it's the same story here with the Mate 10 Pro.

This year, Huawei has dropped the aluminium case used in previous Mate phones, and gone with glass casing instead, a trend we're seeing a lot of other manufactures follow in 2017.

The new curved Gorilla Glass back looks and feels super sleek, a big improvement over the previous generations. It's very impressive and easily matches its premium rivals.

That glass back is purely aesthetic though, as Huawei have opted against wireless charging for the Mate 10 Pro. Although, this isn't a deal breaker, as wireless charging is still just "quite useful" rather than "necessity".

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The front of the phone now features a large 6-inch display with a 18:9 aspect ratio and minimised bezels, another major smartphone trend we're seeing in 2017.

The OLED display itself is impressive, with HDR10 support providing beautiful colours.

It's not a class leading display however, we wish it was QuadHD rather than Full HD, and the colours aren't quite as vibrant at the Samsung Note 8.

If we did have to criticise the Mate 10 Pro it would be that the design is slightly generic. This is an increasing problem we're seeing as smartphones move to a edge-to-edge displays.

That isn't a major issue, if this is your business phone for example, we're guessing you won't necessarily want it to stand out. It looks professional, but it's not a lust-worthy design like the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S8.

Overall, the design and look of the Mate 10 Pro is great, finished off with sturdy Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, IP67 water resistance, and four colour options (Mocha Brown, Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray and Pink Gold).

SPECS AND CAMERA

Inside of the Mate 10 Pro you've got a Kirin 970 octa-core processor and either 128GB and 6GB RAM or 64GB and 4GB RAM.

That's plenty of grunt, which puts it right up there with the flagship elite of 2017.

Those specs only tell half the story, because Huawei claims the Kirin 970 is the first AI Processor with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit. Does it make a difference? It's too early to tell, but we certainly couldn't detect AI whizz-bangery while using it.

This should become more apparent over time, as Huawei claims its performance won't degrade like other Android phones.

Unfortuntely, the storage isn't expandable via microSD. The built-in storage should be enough, especially with Google's cloud storage services on board.

Elsewhere the Huawei Mate 10 packs a large 4000mAh battery which will should be able to last two days (depending on usage). This is class leading, and leaves its rivals in the dust.

Also on board is Huawei’s proprietary SuperCharge technology. This will give you 50-percent power from just half an hour of charging. It's a really useful addition.

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On the back of the Mate 10 Pro you'll find a dual camera setup. One is a 12MP color sensor, while the other is a 20MP monochrome sensor.

The colour sensor is optically stabilised, while the monochrome isn't.

It's the familiar setup we've seen on other Huawei phones, but the Mate 10 Pro improves over its predecessor with larger f/1.6 apertures on both lenses.

The images produced by the Mate 10 Pro are attractive, with good white balance and speed. 

The Mate 10 Pro does tend to overexpose images, which is typical of Huawei devices. It's not unattractive, it's just different to anything else that's out there.

The Mate 10 Pro uses the dual camera setup for an 'Aperture Mode', similar to Apple's Portrait mode. Huawei does have several benefits over its competitors, including the ability to change the focus area after the image is taken, and adjust the amount of bokeh.

The camera app is also a real standout here. It's one of the most comprehensive to come shipped with a smartphone, and offers you a lot of control and customisation options.

All things considered, it's a decent setup, but it still lags slightly behind the Google Pixel 2, and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Software

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro comes running Emotion UI, Huawei’s rather intrusive Android skin. It sits atop Android 8 Oreo, the most recent update to Google's mobile operating system.

Emotion UI is about as far away from stock Android as you can get, and it has to be said, even with recent improvements, it's still our least favourite Android skin.

Of course, this can easily be remedied with a little tinkering, either with a material theme from the Huawei store, or by downloading a launcher from the Google Play Store.

Aside from Emotion UI, Huawei has some really intelligent software features.

Perhaps the coolest of which is an included mobile-PC experience when you hook up the Mate 10 Pro to an external display.

It's similar to Samsung’s DeX, but only needs a USB-C to HDMI cable, rather than powered dock. This makes it more portable and as a result, immeasurably more useful.

There are also smaller intelligent, thought-out features. For example, the phone knows when you're presenting a powerpoint presentation, and won't interrupt it with notifications.

It's very smart, and definitely tailored to getting stuff done.

Verdict

The Mate 10 Pro is a real coming of age phone for Huawei. It's got a premium design, and is a solid performer in all categories. The battery life is class leading, but we wish Emotion UI looked a little more premium.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Specs

Dimensions: 154.2 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm
Display: 6.0 inches, 1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9
Processor: Kirin 970 / 6GB RAM
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4000 mAh
Camera: Dual 20 MP +12 MP, f/1.6

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