We take a look at the Huawei Mate 10, the company’s trump card in the flagship market this holiday season.
Thanks to the Nova 2i, the majority of the consumers are now under Huawei’s spell. If you’re not aware, the said midrange device capture everyone’s hearts because of its good overall value for money.
And that’s what they’re trying to recreate with their latest flagship — the Huawei Mate 10. The heir of the Mate series aims to take on other flagship giants but at a fraction of the cost. If Huawei gets it right again, we might see the company continue this streak for a longer time.
With that, we’re excited to see if the Huawei Mate 10 has what it takes to carry the brand further. Check out our full review of Huawei’s newest flagship device down below.
Huawei Mate 10 Specs
- Android 8.0, EMUI 8.0
- Dual SIM, Hybrid
- 5.9-inch FullView IPS display, 2560 x 1440 resolution, ~499ppi
- 16:9 aspect ratio, HDR10
- 2.3GHz Huawei Kirin 970 octa-core processor
- Neural Network Processing Unit
- 4GB RAM
- Mali-G72 MP12 GPU
- 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
- 8-megapixel front camera, f/2.0
- 12-megapixel (RGB) + 20-megapixel (Monochrome), OIS, dual-LED flash
- Fingerprint scanner
- 4G LTE
- WiFI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
- Bluetooth 4.2
- GPS, GLONASS, BDS
- USB Type-C, DisplayPort 1.2
- Infrared Blaster
- Dimensions: 150.5 x 77.8 x 8.2mm
- Weight: 186g
- 4000mAh battery
In our hurry? Watch our video review of the Huawei Mate 10
Design and Build Quality
I’ll state this right away — the Huawei Mate 10 is one of the most gorgeous looking smartphones around. It’s a step up from last year’s Mate 9, and a real contender that can go against the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 or even the V30.
Huawei joins the bandwagon by sandwiching the Mate 10 with glass in the front and back. The addition of “stripe highlights” at the back also gives it a unique and signature look. This design touch also features the device’s dual-camera system, which was developed together with Leica — a popular brand in the camera industry.
The Mocha Brown color variant we have here looks really incredible and a pleasure to look at. But not until it gets bombarded with fingerprint marks and smudges. You can either wipe it every 10 minutes, snap on the included protective case, or just ignore it completely.
The Huawei Mate 10 is being held together by a metal chassis, which runs from the inside, all the way through the metal band that wraps around it. This also makes up for its industrial look and build.
The metal band houses the antenna bands on top together with an infrared blaster, a noise-canceling microphone, and a headphone jack.
On to the left side, we see the SIM tray that can house two micro-SIM cards, or have the extra slot open for a microSD card storage expansion (up to 256GB). Meanwhile, on the right-hand side, we have the lock/power button. The buttons are tactile enough and responsive when pressed. However, it does wobble a little, but nothing too alarming.
But since the HuaweiMate 10 was built with nothing but the most high-end of materials, it led to a pretty substantial weight. At 186g, it’s still not as heavy as the Note 8 which weighs 10 grams more at 196g.
The handset feels a bit large in the hands, probably because of its 5.9-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio display. Coming from devices like the OPPO F5, Galaxy Note 8 and even Huawei’s own Nova 2i, the new and trendy 18:9 aspect ratio mad the Mate 10 feel surprisingly wide.
“Surprising” in a sense that 16:9 smartphones used the be the standard in the industry. I’m quite astonished how quickly I’ve adopted the 18:9 devices to have an alienated feeling when holding devices like the Mate 10.
But still, I gotta hand it to Huawei for making the side bezels almost non-existent. The top and bottom corners were just slim enough to house all the necessary hardware like the camera, sensor, and home button.
And speaking of the hardware, the chin of the Huawei Mate 10 has a sheet of glass, circled by thin metal. This acts as a capacitive button and doubles as a fingerprint scanner. But unlike Apple’s implementation with the iPhone, the button is not pressure-sensitive. It can only register taps, swipes, and gestures that can be configured as an alternative to the on-screen navigation buttons.
To sum it up, I do think the designers behind the Huawei Mate 10 really did their homework. The device does not only look good, but it also feels well-made and durable.
As stated earlier, the Huawei Mate 10 does have a 5.99-inch IPS display with a QHD resolution and approximately 499 pixel density. The device also has the “FullView display” with its 16:9 aspect ratio, almost border-less screen and HDR 10 support.
Most smartphones of this caliber utilize the more premium OLED panel but Huawei opted to stick with IPS. The panel used might appear inferior to the competition, but it still has some advantages.
For one, IPS panels look a bit brighter than OLEDs, making it more visible outdoors. And like I said earlier, they are cheaper to produce. But on the downside, OLED screens deliver better color, consumes less power, and has good contrast.
The IPS panel on the Huawei Mate 10 still looks impressive. The colors are great with good vibrancy, the contrast is also top-notch for an IPS screen, and the sharpness is on-point.
And since it uses the standard 16:9 aspect ratio, there are no black bars present when watching videos — something that’s common on 18:9 screens.
It’s no surprise that the Huawei Mate 10 is an entertainment powerhouse. For this price range, consumers already expect it to be fully-equipped, even in the audio department.
The loudspeakers at the bottom deliver loud volume which can even fill up an entire room. The bass levels are also audible, although there’s a large emphasis on the treble. The earpiece at the top also doubles as a loudspeaker which automatically powers on when you’re watching videos in landscape mode.
WIth the earpiece enabled, the Huawei Mate 10 provides stereo sound instead of the typical smartphone mono. The sound separation is really noticeable, giving an extra immersive experience on any audio or video being played.
The headphone jack can also output impressive audio. Together with the built-in Histen sound effect, the Mate 10 can provide a better listening experience, despite only being at the software level.
Sony’s LDAC and Qualcomm’s aptX wireless technologies also make an appearance here which ensure that the audio transmitted wirelessly to your earphones/speakers sound great.
Performance and Hardware
It looks like Huawei is taking some notes while watching Apple’s move. No, copying Apple’s design is not my point. What I’m talking about is the way Apple tries to develop every component of the iPhone, so everything works seamlessly together.
Unlike most flagship smartphones from competitors, Huawei is using their own chipsets on their devices. And with the Huawei Mate 10, the company is using their new Kirin 970 octa-core CPU partnered with 4GB of RAM and Mali-G72 MP12 GPU.
The chipset also comes with an integrated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) which handles all the AI capabilities of the Huawei Mate 10. The NPU is said to provide 50x efficiency and 26x performance boost when compared to 4 x Cortex A73 CPUs.
So, how did the Huawei Mate 10 perform in the real world? Well, for a flagship-status device, performance should be already out of the question. I can’t remember experiencing any stuttering or lags during my time with it. Flicking through social media apps, browsing through different websites on Google Chrome, going around the interface, and using essential apps offer a smooth experience.
Its multitasking prowess was also spot on. You can switch between different apps and go back where you left off without a hitch.
The Huawei Mate 10 also did handle gaming apps well. Titles like NBA Live, Survivor Royale, Mobile Legends, and Hitman: Sniper was playable at smooth frame rates and I really enjoyed its standard 16:9 aspect ratio. And together with its large, sharp screen and a good pair of stereo speakers, the gameplay experience was really immersive.
Software and User Interface
Since it was launched in the last quarter of the year, the Huawei Mate 10 was one of the first devices to come with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. It’s dressed with Huawei’s own skin which I find to be really good.
Other than their own icon designs and redesigned areas in the interface, the EMUI 8.0 is one of the cleanest manufacturer-made skins that I have seen. The lock screen looks minimalistic, all the functions of the control center are neatly tied together, and the settings menu are grouped into appropriate sections.
EMUI 8.0 also adopted Android Oreo’s notification dots. This lets you see if a certain app has a notification if a tiny dot is present above its icon — just like what iOS is doing for years now.
You can also choose to have an app drawer or not. Huawei lets you hide the on-screen navigation bar to fully utilize the screen real-estate. As a substitute, you can use the home button for your navigation needs. A single tap acts as a back button, tap and hold brings you to the home screen, a swipe to the right brings the recent apps button, and a swipe up from the side summons the Google Assistant.
The EMUI 8.0 also has the usual features you’d expect from a 2017 flagship smartphone. There’s the mini screen view for using the device single-handedly, motion controls, and a feature called App Twin that duplicates a compatible app for easy multi-account management. And lastly, Smart Split lets you use two different apps side-by-side, so you can fully utilize its large screen.
Huawei Mate 10’s interface really does compliment both the device’s looks and capabilities. The software works surprisingly well, without much quirks along the way.
The Huawei Mate 10 has a fast and reliable fingerprint scanner. However, there’s not much choice here as there’s no facial recognition security in sight. Huawei recently claimed that they have developed a more high-tech facial recognition hardware that may blow the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera out of the water.
But until that comes out, I think we’d just have to make do with the only available security feature.
The device also has some privacy features built-in in the software. You can encrypt files, even apps, using your fingerprint. You can also instantly access different users by unlocking the device with their respective fingerprints. Each user can have their own interface, app accounts, etc. I find this feature to be really intuitive but people don’t usually share smartphones, so it’s only usable on rare occasions.
The Huawei Mate 10 boasts 12-megapixel RGB and 20-megapixel monochrome sensors. Both have a wide f/1.6 aperture, with the 12-megapixel one getting an optical image stabilization treatment. This is also another fruit of Huawei’s continued partnership with Leica, a prominent camera manufacturer.
I’m still not sure if having a dedicated monochrome sensor is more practical than having an extra wide-angle or telephoto lens. But I personally love taking pictures in black and white so I really enjoyed shooting with its 20-megapixel sensor.
The monochrome effect looks pretty authentic. The contrast has just the right blend to bring character to the images and the sharpness is really incredible.
On the other hand, the 12-megapixel sensor can also produce stunning images. The colors look vibrant, the contrast is impressive, and the dynamic range is one of the best that I have seen in a while.
But other than the cameras itself, the device’s AI-powered features should also share the credit. Thanks to its NPU, the camera can indeed the subjects on the frame in real-time, and instantly adjust the settings to match the scene. To give an example, when I pointed the camera to a pizza, a garlic bread, and even sisig, the camera app displays the utensils icon at the bottom — which suggests that it knows you’re taking a picture of a food. It adjusts the settings accordingly so your next #foodstagram post looks lit.
I also tried pointing it to a flower, and even a fake plant, and it instantly displayed the Flower icon.
However, I did notice that the shutter speed is really slow, especially during a low-light scenario. If you’re walking and you want to snap a photo, you have to stop and stay still for a second or two before hitting the shutter button. But don’t worry, this is a common thing for most smartphones.
Lastly, the device can also take up to UHD 4k resolution with stereo audio and FHD 1080p at 60fps. However, you’re losing the OIS support on these resolutions. The stabilization only works from 1080p at standard frame rates and later.
The video quality is great. They have good colors and contrast, the dynamic range is also acceptable. It’s perfect for casual use, or if you’re just starting to create contents for the web.
The Huawei Mate 10 bokeh mode feature also offers a pretty believable shallow depth-of-field effect. You can adjust the blur in real-time, or reconfigure it after the shot was taken. But just like most devices that have this feature, the effect would sometimes produce a cut-out look. It would sometimes struggle to completely isolate the background to the foreground, leaving some parts of it in focus.
But in most cases, Huawei Mate 10’s bokeh mode really works well. Unless you zoom in all the way in, the subject isolation looks really believable which in return provides a pretty cool effect to your portraits.
Speaking of which, the Bokeh/Portrait mode also works on the 8-megapixel front camera. The selfies taken have great details, good colors, and decent dynamic range. The details might be a little soft, but it’s still good enough for most use cases like social media posting.
The wide f/2.0 aperture of the Huawei Mate 10 also helps when shooting in low-light. The camera app also uses the screen as a flash, which I think is more effective than using a real one. The large screen can evenly light up your face, plus its subtle brightness doesn’t make the lighting look harsh — problem that you’d usually get in an LED flash.
The Beauty Mode feature also provides a more realistic effect. I found that it’s best to have the intensity at 50% only, and going further would only make it look fake as the entire image gets really soft.
Huawei rigged the Mate 10 with a 4,000mAh battery — an acceptable capacity for the QHD display and octa-core processor that it needs to power. It might be the Kirin 970’s power-efficiency prowess, but the battery performance in this thing is pretty impressive especially when compared to the Note 8.
Out of the box, the display resolution is set to Full HD only. Since most people would barely notice the difference in resolution, Huawei opted that its best to prioritize the battery longevity. With that said, the Huawei Mate 10 had a screen-on time of around 8 hrs and 19mins in FHD with PCMark’s battery test.
I then tried maxing out the resolution to QHD, and quite surprisingly, the difference in battery longevity is almost insignificant. Screen-on time lasted for 7 hours and 57 minutes.
The device also left me with around 25% of charge after a day of real-world use. That’s a day of social media browsing, web surfing, sending SMS, and casually taking photos. I consider myself a power user and I often deplete the battery of other handsets I take out for review, but the Huawei Mate 10 was able to withstand my heavy usage so I find it really impressive in the battery department.
The Huawei Mate 10 has 4G LTE and all other connectivity options known to smartphones today. The connection with my ISP was seamless and I was often on LTE. I never experienced any drop in connection unless there’s an ISP maintenance or downtime in the area.
The device also provides good call quality. As per Huawei’s website, the device’s AI can analyze the quality and volume of your voice call. It will then determine if it needs to isolate background noise, increase the microphone volume, and what not. Pretty handy when you’re in a noisy environment (like a party).
It also sports dual-band WIFI a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.2. Both of which showed no problem in all my testing. Huawei also adopted the USB Type-C standard on this one, which also has DisplayPort 1.2 compatibility.
So, did Huawei Mate 10 kept the momentum going for the company? The answer is a definite yes. It might not be the best flagship smartphone around, but if you consider all the aspects, especially the price, the Mate 10 is one tough competitor.
Right off the bat, I was immediately captured by its design. Huawei was able to design this smartphone magnificently and it’s not like anything we have seen before.
The company might have reserved the 18:9 aspect ratio screen to the Pro version, but the wide display on the Mate 10 still look stunning. Combined with a powerful processor and a pair of stereo speakers, playing games or consuming any kind of media is an enjoyable experience.
And thanks to Leica, the Huawei Mate 10 also has one of the best cameras in the industry today. The good battery longevity and updated software were also a nice bonus.
l still think that the use of an OLED panel, instead of IPS, would have been way better. That’s not saying the screen is bad, but it’s more of a personal preference. Huawei is also being left out in the “Face ID” race as well. But since the fingerprint scanner works as it should, I have no real complaints here.
But at the end of the day, the Huawei Mate 10 is a great, all-around device. And if you’re thinking of upgrading your current Android smartphone or jumping ship from an iPhone, then you might want to consider the Huawei Mate 10. It’s a serious contender in the flagship level, and I highly recommend checking it out in person before deciding between an Apple or Samsung smartphone.
Pricing and Availability of the Huawei Mate 10
The Huawei Mate 10 is now available in the Philippines for a price of Php32,990 — Php7,000 more affordable than the Samsung Galaxy S8. You can get it at any Huawei Concept stores or third-party retailers nationwide.
- Gorgeous Design
- Impressive cameras
- Solid battery life
- IPS panel instead of OLED
- No facial recognition