Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro Hands On Preview

20 October 2017

Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro

What's the Mate 10?

The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are Huawei's latest flagship phablets. Much like past Mate series devices, the pair tout large displays (starting at 5.9-inches) and equally large batteries said to last up to two days. Despite the large displays, the devices have fairly slim bezels, especially in the case of the Mate 10 Pro.

Both the phones share a Leica-branded dual camera configuration. This is made up of a 12MP primary camera and a 20MP secondary monochrome camera used to capture extra detail and simulate DSLR-like bokeh. Both lenses have an aperture of f/1.6, which Huawei says lets in 90% more light than the Mate 9.

Thanks to the dedicated Neural Processing Unit found in the Mate 10's Kirin 970 processor, the camera is able to recognise 13 different scene types and adjust settings accordingly. These include night, day, plants, food, flowers, cats, dogs, portraits, the beach, and sunsets.

Huawei says the NPU offers up to 25 times better performance and up to 50 times greater energy efficiency for AI-related tasks.

Key specifications for the Mate 10 include a 16:9 5.9-inch 2K screen, a Huawei-made Kirin 970 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of expandable storage, and a 4000mAH battery

Key specifications for the Mate 10 Pro include a 6-inch 18:9 1080p display, a Huawei-made Kirin 970 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of non-expandable storage, IP67 water-resistance, and a 4000mAH battery. The Mate 10 Pro is the world's first smartphone to feature a "category 18" modem. This means it could theoretically achieve download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps over 4G networks.

What's the difference between the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro?

The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro might look quite similar, but there's plenty of differences of between the two. These start with the screen; the Mate 10 has a traditional 16:9 display, while the Mate 10 Pro has an extra-tall 18:9 display as found in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6. The extra-tall screen means the Mate 10 Pro's fingerprint reader is on the back, while the Mate 10 has it on the front, under the screen.

The Mate 10 Pro is also Huawei's first water-resistance flagship smartphone, with a rating of IP67. This means it will survive depths of up to one metre for as long as a half an hour. The regular Mate 10 has no IP rating.

While the Mate 10 has a headphone jack, Huawei's followed Apple and Google's lead in axing the classic 3.5mm connector when it comes to the Mate 10 Pro. You'll get USB Type-C bud in the box, but there's no dongle included for using your existing wired headphones.

What did we think of the Mate 10?

Both the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are smaller than you'd expect, given the massive displays. If you've got presidential hands, the Mate 10 might be a touch unwieldy, but I found the phones quite comfortable despite their screen size. While the two are familiar similar in overall shape, the Mate 10 is a little shorter and wider than the Mate 10 Pro.

As is the trend with most 2017 flagships, Huawei's ditched aluminum for glass. It certainly looks and feels nice, but it does tend to gather fingerprints, and we're guessing it could be a bit more fragile. Unfortunately, neither Mate 10 has wireless charging.

Huawei's done a great job with cameras in its last few smartphones, and we're hoping this trend continues with the Mate 10. The camera produced great looking photos in a well-lit indoor environment, but we weren't able to grab these off the demo phone for closer inspection. The scene detecting smarts also seemed to work reasonably well, with the Mate 10's camera picking up food, a toy dog, and flowers quickly and accurately. We're curious to see the camera handles in low light, but the move to a wider aperture of f/1.6 is certainly promising.

While we're pleased that Huawei's started embracing water-resistance, it's a shame that only the Mate 10 Pro has earned an IP-rating. It's also a bit of a bummer than the Mate 10 Pro's water-resistance seems to have cost it a headphone jack and expandable storage, but 128GB should be generous enough for all but the most demanding of power users. And hey, if Apple and Google can get away with it, why not Huawei.

One of Huawei's more controversial long-standing design decisions is shipping its smartphones with a highly customised version of Android dubbed EMUI. Huawei has certainly refined EMUI a lot of the past few years, but the experience can be off putting to Android purists. We didn't have enough hands on time to see how different the latest of EMUI is to previous iterations, but we're hoping it won't get in the way of a good user experience.

With flagship prices relentlessly rising, the Mate 10's $899 starting pricing is quite compelling, especially if the camera delivers. The $1,099 Mate 10 Pro is easily the more exciting phone thanks the extra-tall display, water-resistance, and extra storage, but nonetheless manages to undercut a lot of its competition.

When will the Mate 10 be available?

The Mate 10 will go on sale on November 15 and you'll be able to get it through JB Hi-Fi and Vodafone. The Mate 10 Pro will follow on December 4 through Optus.

If you buy either Mate 10 before the end of the year, you'll get a bonus Huawei-made 360-degrees camera worth approximately $180.

How much will the Mate 10 cost?

The Mate 10 will retail for $899 outright, and the Mate 10 Pro will be slightly pricier at $1,099. On contract pricing through Vodafone and Optus has yet to be confirmed.

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