Huawei Mate 10 Review
Huawei’s latest flagship devices, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, has landed in the Philippines and they’re bringing a different perspective on how a flagship smartphone should be.
The Mate 10 is the more affordable one, retailing for just Php32,990, yet does not compromise in terms of design and hardware.
The difference between the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, aside from the RAM/storage combo, are mostly aesthetic and it has got to do with user-preference.
Design and Construction
The Mate 10’s design language is consistent with that of its predecessor, the Mate 9, but with quite a lot of improvements. The Mate 10 has a very forward-looking design up front, keeping its bezels slim, even despite the fact that it still retains a physical home button at the front.
On top of the display are the 8MP f/2.0 front camera and the call speaker, while below are the on-screen capacitive navigation buttons along with the fingerprint scanner that managed to fit in a 10mm bottom bezel.
Moving to the back, right away you notice the very smooth finish that wraps around the curves on the sides, making it feel great in the hands. The main feature you will find at the back though is the 12MP + 20MP dual Leica optic rear cameras and their accompanying Dual Tone LED flash.
The left side houses a hybrid SIM tray (2 nano-SIMs with the 2nd SIM doubles as a microSD card tray), while the right side has the volume and power/lock buttons.
Finally, down at the bottom, the device has its main microphone, loudspeaker, and a USB Type-C port handling power and data. The Mate 10 retains a 3.5mm audio port, a feature that a majority of users still look for and regularly use. The IR blaster is also a welcome addition and a rare feature in many phones these days.
It’s a little disappointing that the Mate 10 is only IP53 rated (splash resistant), unlike the Mate 10 Pro that has an IP67 rating, like many other flagships from Samsung, Apple, Sony, and LG.
Display and Multimedia
The Huawei Mate 10 comes with a 5.9-inch IPS LCD panel with a 2K resolution or 2560 x 1440 pixels. That’s about 499ppi in pixel density, giving it sharp and crisp look. The resolution is actually set to FHD (1920×1080 pixels) by default, so you still actually need to set it to QHD (2560×1440 pixels) manually, or even lower to down to just HD (720p). This approach helps in conserving battery life depending on your usage needs.
The Mate 10 retains the older 16:9 aspect ratio and not the 18:9 that most flagships carry, including the Mate 10 Pro. Despite that, Huawei still managed to increase the screen-to-body ratio to about 81.6%, also giving it the FullView Display monicker. It’s also protected by Gorilla Glass 3 both at the front and back.
(In an interview in Munich, Germany last October, Huawei executives explained that any of their smartphones having more than 80% screen-to-body ratio will be labeled as having FullView Display).
The Mate10 also supports HDR 10 which means it will benefit from the video enhancements from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
The Mate 10 has a single speaker grille at the bottom end that produces very good audio. Sound quality is top notch with deep bass, the volume is very loud but does not distort even if you set to max. This is one of the nicest speakers we’ve tested in a smartphone this year.
It also came with good quality earphones that can handle the HiFi output of the handset. You can configure the audio quality in the settings depending on the type of earphones you use, set an equalizer or enable 3D audio. We have to say, the sound via the earphones are really nice, loud yet clear and crisp even at the highest volume level.
The Mate 10 uses a 4th-generation Leica optics. There are still two cameras at the back — one is a 12-megapixel RGB sensor with a f/1.6 aperture and optical image stabilization and the second one is a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor the same f/1.6 aperture and image stabilization. These are Summilox-class lenses if we’re going to talk about the Leica heritage.
The same dual camera setup uses the combined images of the two cameras to produce one single, high-quality image of the subject.
The wide f/1.6 aperture opening allows the camera to shoot very well in low-light environments and reduces blur by coupling it with the image stabilization. As such, photos taken with the Mate 10 are sharp and accurate with lots of detail, colors are vibrant with natural saturation.
Video recording can go up to 4K at 30fps or full HD in either 30fps or 60fps. There’s also support for slow-motion at FHD and time-lapse.
The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, just good enough for selfies. The camera app also includes beautification level that you can set your own preference.
OS, Apps and UI
Huawei managed to get Android 8.0 Oreo in the Mate 10 right out of the box. This puts the Mate 10 at an advantage over most other flagships this year (though the Google Pixel 2 also got Oreo as well).
Curiously though, they also skipped to EMUI 8.0 from the current EMUI 5.1 that’s running on Huawei smartphones this year. We didn’t see any significant cosmetic changes in the UI although there are some subtle improvements once you really dig deeper into the system.
The system is almost bare with no 3rd-party apps or bloatware included. A few native apps are present — Compass, Huawei Health, HiCare (After-sales support), Smart Controller (for the IR Blaster), and a Phone Clone app that assist you in transferring your personal information and files from an old phone.
The fingerprint scanner doubles as a navigation pad.
The EMUI 8 offers a floating navigation dock for easier usability, Smart Split Screen to allow two apps to share a single screen, and Smart Multi-Column Display for certain apps when positioned horizontally.
The 64GB storage is enough but if you want more, you can just add via a microSD card. Of the total, around 12.13GB is used by the system so you’re left with 51.87GB of space for apps and other media.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Mate 10 is the HiSilicon Kirin 970 which is composed of a quad ARM Cortex A53 1.8GHz and another quad ARM Cortex A73 running at a top speed of 2.36GHz. This is coupled with a Mali G72MP12 GPU and an i7 co-processor, making the device one of the best performing Android smartphones this year.
The Kirin 970 is a powerful processor that can slug it out with even the more popular chips like the Snapdragon 835 or the Exynos 8895.
In our weeks of using the device, the Kirin 970 performed very, very well. We’ve never experienced anything that remotely comes close to lags or sluggishness in several weeks we’ve had it. The UI is buttery smooth and responsive, apps and games load pretty fast and the phone practically chows down everything we throw at it while keeping a steady, cool operating temperature.
Antutu benchmarks gave it a score of 175,064, among the highest scores we’ve recorded in an Android device.
Compared to the Mate 10 Pro, the Mate 10 is slightly toned down in some of the hardware aspects — specifically the 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. It’s enough but still below the 6GB/128GB combo of the Mate 10 Pro.
Even the internal UFS 2.1 storage got very high scores in the read and write tests, reaching up to 786MB/sec in sequential reads and about 206MB/sec in sequential writes.
Call Quality and Connectivity
The Mate 10 uses a hybrid dual nanoSIM setup with the second SIM able to support a microSD card as well. Both SIM slots are also 4G LTE capable. They’re also the first LTE Cat. 18 modem that supports 6 carrier bandwidth aggregation to achieve 1.2Gbps downloads speeds.
Huawei uses AI-advanced ambient noise cancellation along with two primary mics at the bottom end to pick up better audio along with a 3rd mic up top for noise-canceling. This resulted in better audio quality and reception when making calls or even just voice recording.
Call quality is excellent, SMS are sent and received fairly fast. Wireless reception for WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G/LTE are very strong. The IR Blaster is something we really loved especially when you have tons of appliances at home.
One native feature of the Mate 10 series that we saw was the ability to directly hook up the device to a monitor or TV via a USB Type-C cable. The Mate 10 has native DisplayPort 1.2 support so you don’t need any dock in order to sync it to an external display like a TV or large monitor.
The device features the same huge 4,000mAh Li-Ion battery with SuperCharge capability. On heavy use, the Mate 10 lasts us well the entire day. With light to moderate use, the phone managed to last two full days before it asks to be re-charged.
With the Kirin 970 being more power efficient, Huawei claims the Mate 10 will offer around 30% more battery life than the previous Mate 9. However, since the phone comes with a higher 2k resolution, this might not be the case as we’ve tested in our benchmarks.
In our PCMark Battery Test, the device scored 8 hours and 26 minutes at 50% brightness and in Airplane mode. Using our standard video loop test, the phone also lasted about 13.5 hours playback running a full HD movie at 50% brightness, zero volume and in Airplane mode. It’s not as long as the 25.5 hours on the Mate 10 Pro primarily because of the 2K resolution that’s eating up a lot of the battery.
PCMark Battery Life Test at Quad HD and Full HD.
However, when we set the resolution to full HD, the results significantly improved. PCMark showed a score of 9 hours and 26 minutes while the video loop test resulted to 18 hours and 15 minutes of playback time.
The charger that came in the box is the standard Huawei Supercharge switching power adapter that has an output of 5A (4.5V) or 4.5A (5V). The Mate 10 also features its own SuperCharge technology which only takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to fully charge the 4,000mAh Li-Ion battery.
Unfortunately, there’s no wireless charging here. Huawei claims people don’t really use wireless charging over wired charging and besides, the latter is much faster. We can personally attest to this — that despite using phones with wireless charging, we’re still using cables to charge the devices.
With a suggested retail price of only Php32,990, the Huawei Mate 10 is one of the most affordable flagship smartphones in the market today. You’re getting a premium device at a not-so-premium-price.
There was only one compromise though and that is the lack of IP67 water-resistance, something that is present in the Mate 10 Pro. In hindsight, the Mate 10 actually has more to speak for itself than its sibling, the Mate 10 Pro, like a hybrid SIM/microSD card slot and the presence of the 3.5mm audio port.
Taking all things into consideration, the Huawei Mate 10 offers a complete set of features at a price point not many brands can match. It’s beautiful, powerful and a great alternative if you’re considering to upgrade to the latest flagship smartphone.
Huawei Mate 10 specs:
5.9-inch 2K IPS LCD display @ 2560 x 1440 pixels, 499ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass (Front and Back)
HiSilicon Kirin 970 2.36GHz octa-core
4 x ARM Cortex A73 2.36GHz + 4 x ARM Cortex A53 1.8GHz
4GB LPDDR4 RAM
64GB UFS 2.1 internal storage
expandable via microSD card up to 256GB (uses SIM2)
12MP + 20MP dual Leica optic rear cameras with Dual Tone LED Flash: f/1.6, OIS, 2x lossless zoom
PDAF + CAF + Laser + Depth auto-focus
8MP f/2.0 front-facing camera
LTE Cat. 18 (1.2Gbps)
Dual SIM, Dual Standby (hybrid)
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, DLNA
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
384k 32-bit Hi-Fi Audio
IP53 Splash resistance
Android 8.0 Oreo with EMUI 8.0
4,000mAh Li-Ion battery
150.5 x 77.8 x 8.2mm (dimensions)
186 grams (weight)
What we liked about it:
* Impressive performance
* Gorgeous 2k display
* Great design and build quality
* Impressive camera, especially in low-light
* Long battery life
* IR Blaster
* Android Oreo right out of the box
What we did not like:
* No IP67 water resistance
* No wireless charging