Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review: A solid winter flagship that cribs from the best

Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Outstanding battery life
  • Exceptional camera

Cons

  • Pretty conventional flagship form-factor
  • Lacks wireless charging

Bottom Line

If you’re not swayed by Samsung’s return to form, Apple’s ultra-expensive iPhone X or Google’s funky Pixel 2, then the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a pretty solid alternative.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 1,099.00 (AUD)

Design

The design of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro feels like a “best-of” mash up of Huawei’s P10 and HTC’s “U” range, minus the squeezable sides.  There’s no home button and all the buttons have been shoved to the rightmost edge of the device. The fingerprint sensor sits relatively flush on the back - though it’s location leaves it unlikely to convince any skeptics.

Despite earlier speculation by some, there’s no sort-of facial recognition akin to the iPhone X’s FaceID. Likewise, the IP67 certification on the Pro is nice but notably short of the IP68 that’s been the standard for Samsung, HTC and LG flagships for a while now.

Credit: Huawei

Still, whether you use it with the clear plastic case it's bundled with or not, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro feels good to hold in exactly the way you’d expect a device of its weight-class to. It’s neither the lightest nor the heaviest flagship around but feels expensive and slim enough that it’s easy to like. After a few weeks with it, we had minimal complains about the Mate 10 Pro’s form and feel-factor.

In fact, despite the sizable the 6-inch FullVision display, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro really doesn’t all feel that large. Unfortunately, the ultrasmooth backside of the device does suffer from the all-too-common problem of sliding off things whenever you put it down for a moment. That said, the Mate 10 Pro did prove refreshingly resilient to the usual fingerprint and scuff marks that often saddle these sorts of ultra-glossy aesthetics. Not immune, but it definitely felt like it was able to keep its luster a little longer than most.

Performance

While previous Huawei devices have leveraged machine-learning techniques to improve performance, the difference has rarely been quite as pronounced as it is in the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. Opening and closing apps is immediately, noticeably and sometimes even startlingly faster and smoother than you’d expect.

These advantages can be seen in the benchmarking results for the device. Despite being cheaper than both the Galaxy Note 8 and Pixel 2, the Mate 10 does a great job of keeping up.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

In Antutu, the Mate 10 Pro scored a strong-but-not-quite-category-leading rank of 176941. Both here, and in the wider benchmarking, it shows that while the Kirin 970 is definitely up to the task of keeping pace with the best that Samsung and Qualcomm can offer - it doesn’t exactly provide too strong of an argument that Huawei’s AI-accelerated performance is that much better than them. It's still a big leap forward for the Chinese brand just maybe not the silver bullet or game-changer that their marketing might suggest.

Unfortunately, we did encounter some infrequent stability problems with the phone. Once every few days it would suddenly freeze up and reset itself with no clear cause. Whenever this happened, the Mate 10 reset itself fast but it was still pretty worrying regardless.

Nevertheless, a key part of the proposition that Huawei are making with the Kirin 970 is that the device's NPU will allow it to maintain the level of out-of-the-box performance seen above for much longer than the competition. Where other Android smartphones lose their edge over time, Huawei say the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro will stay sharp by comparison. Obviously, our ability to assess this is a little tricky, so we’ll have to take the company at their word on this. At least, for now.

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Read more on these topics: Huawei, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Huawei Mate 10, HTC U11
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