REVIEW: Huawei Mate 10, A Serious Premium Option
If you thought the battle at the top end of the smartphone market was between Samsung and Apple with their new iPhone, you may want to think again as there is a new contender on the block after Huawei rolled out their all new Mate 10 which packs some interesting technology under the bonnet.
Does the Mate 10 have the best camera, is it faster that the Note 8, or LG V30, does their new Kirin 970 engine deliver superiority over the other contenders which include the Nokia 8 and HTC U 11?
The first thing you notice about the Mate 10 Vs other Huawei smartphones is that it’s not as bulky as previous models.
It’s sleek due in part to its shiny black finish with a body built from glass and aluminium, it also has a contrasting stripe running across the cameras on the back that gives it a seriously professional sleek look.
The same size as Samsung 8 the Mate 10 comes with a 5.8-inch quad-HD LCD screen on the front which is not as bright or as sharp as the Samsung Galaxy 8 but then again, this device is $300 cheaper than the Samsung offering.
But then again one has to ask one’s self, do you really need a screen as bright as the Galaxy 8 because the display on the 10 is totally acceptable and crystal clear especially when looking at images a video or reading content from a web site or book.
The more I played with this device the more I liked it especially as it was super responsive with content and apps opening quickly.
The Key features found in this device are as follows:
A new engine: The Kirin 970 uses an advanced 10nm process to integrate 5.5 billion transistors within an area of only one cm², dramatically improving the actual computing performance of the device.
Another key feature that actually works and is a big feature over several other devices including the LG V30 and the Nokia 8 is the introduction of new SuperCharge technology, the Huawei Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro use a low-charging 4.5V/5A low solution, this allowed me to quickly recharge the device.
The Chinese Company who are among the top 3 manufacturers of smartphones in the world has also partnered with camera maker Leica.
The new Mate 10 has a Leica Dual Camera with SUMMILUX-H lenses, with both featuring an aperture of f/1.6.
The cameras have 12-megapixel RGB + 20-megapixel monochrome dual sensors with an Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) solution, the images we shot were very good but fractionally over cooked when it came to colour saturation.
Huawei claims their new EMUI 8.0 brings AI advancements to life with intelligent updates that allow you to operate at peak performance levels.
EMUI 8.0 includes improvements that learn the way you use your device and know what’s important to you claims Huawei.
During the setup process there were a couple of issues that pop up, especially when you are asked to log into the Huawei cloud service after entering your email and password you are told that a security code has been sent as an SMS message, the only problem is that one cannot log out of the set-up process to get to the message.
What I did was skip this process and then when the device was set up I re-entered the Huawei client service only to discover the service is not available for Australia.
Then there is the issue of apps, the device during the se- up process takes one to a page of apps and what appears to be bloatware.
I suggest that you untick all the boxes and when you do you hit the cancel button to take you to the next stage of the setup process. Initially I was hesitant to hit the cancel button because I was not sure whether it was going to dump me out of the set-up process.
As soon as you have set this device up you immediately notice that speed wise this device delivers a fair amount of clout, in fact with two apps we were able to open and load content quicker with the Mate 10 over the U11 and the V30 as well as the Samsung Galaxy 8.
All of this is because of Huawei’s all new AI-infused Kirin 970 processor that powers the whole thing.
Every aspect of this phone has an artificial intelligence twist, from the way apps open to the how the camera switches modes depending on what you’re shooting.
The Kirin 970 is an eight-core CPU and a 12-core GPU, along with a dedicated ‘Neural processing unit’ that’s supposed to power the AI.
This card slot can also double as a secondary LTE/4G-capable SIM slot.
The Huawei Mate 10 is one of the first phones to be Cat 18 enabled, meaning it’ll work with 1.2Gbps networks whenever those might start to arrive.
What Huawei has got right is the look and feel of their new offering with the new glass body delivering a form factor that is as good as any Apple or Google smartphone offering. I also love the fact that the fingerprint is smack bang in the middle of the device just below the screen.
The SIM slot on the left edge of the device accommodates two 4G SIMs — a world first, according to Huawei.
Out of the box my review handset reported 65GB of internal memory and I am not sure that this is enough as overseas models have 108GB free.
The Kirin 970 processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM. Huawei is hailing the its new SoC as the first AI processor for smartphones, complete with a Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU) and there are features throughout the phone that use its capabilities, from the battery to the cameras.
Huawei even says the AI in the CPU can help improve call quality by boosting low volume calls and invoking ambient noise cancellation when calls are made in loud environments.
When I tested this at a very noisy press conference the technology kicked in worked as designed.
Also built in to the OS is a Microsoft Translator which allows the handset to deliver instant translation in more than 50 languages by bringing the NPU into play.
As for the camera the main rear camera system comprises Leica-branded 20-megapixel monochrome and 12-megapixel RGB sensors, both with f/1.6 lenses. The front camera is an 8MP f/2.0 unit.
The rear cameras can identify some objects, and make automated adjustments to setting for better-quality shots.
While I like the camera the AI capability is still a bit of a gimmick but it’s there and some people will love it, but I doubt whether many will use it.
If you don’t like what the AI does, simply turn on the Pro mode, where manual settings let you play at being a pro.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro runs on Android 8 (Oreo) with a new Huawei overlay — EMUI 8.0. The previous iteration of EMUI was version 5, but Huawei perhaps feels it carries more clout to tally with Android’s versioning.
This device presses all the right buttons, its fast, the camera is good, and it looks smart. More importantly it’s the best value smartphone out there when compared to the likes of the Samsung 8, or the $1,099 LG V30 or the over-priced Apple iPhone 8
At $899 the Mate is the device that delivers the same capabilities as it’s more expensive rivals which is why it’s a contender for value smartphone of the year.