• Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review - Smart photo machine

Introduction


Are you eager as much as we are to see what the new Mate 10 Pro brings us? Stay with us to find out!

Once again, Huawei aims for the very top! This time, contender is named Mate 10 Pro, and it represents Huawei’s vision of what a flagship should be like. Everything we could see in all other 2017 flagships is here – amazing display with minimal bezels, brutal chipset, and something Huawei have perfected in the past years – the camera segment. There is no doubt that Huawei have positioned themselves as top camera manufacturers. On the first sight, the Mate 10 Pro seems to be an obvious opponent to the Samsung’s flagship, the Note8, and in order to spar with it, the Mate 10 Pro needs to show some real “muscle”.



Another big news in the Mate 10 Pro is the new chipset – the Kirin 970 which brings machine learning to Huawei devices, but more on that a little bit later. Even before we got to test this device, the DxO Mark placed the quality of the main camera among the best 3 out there, side by side to the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2. Alongside the Pro version, Huawei also shipped out the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Lite with different specifications. The Pro version comes in several color options: Midnight Blue, Mocha Brown, Pink Gold and Titanium Gray which we have for our test. Inside the factory box, we have: a Huawei fast charging adapter, USB Type-C cable, Type-C headphones, Type-C to 3.5mm adapter, a SIM tray tool, some paperwork, and as icing on the cake, a gel case for your Mate 10 Pro.

Video review


Unboxing


Display


The first thing that strikes the eye on the Mate 10 Pro is definitely its enormous display. Although the resolution of the display is lower compared to the base model, the Mate 10 Pro brings some improvements on that field. It can boast with a slightly bigger display than the base model, because the front panel provides housing for a 6” display. This display combined with minimal side bezels offers the screen to body ratio of 80.9%. Another difference compared to the baseline Mate 10 is the resolution of the panel – FHD+ as opposed to QHD in the Mate 10. As these two devices are hardware wise completely the same, smaller resolution display backed by the same power means better results, which we like very much. We’ll speak of performances later, now let’s go back to the display. The FHD+ resolution with the aspect ratio of 18:9 combined with the 6” diagonal translates to 402 PPI, which is, sharpness wise, comparable to the OnePlus 5T that we have reviewed earlier. This is an AMOLED display, and this matrix guarantees excellent black color reproduction as well as very vivid colors in general, and it can show up to 16.7 million different shades.


Speaking of the color reproduction and the brightness of the display, the values depend on preset settings: Normal or Vivid. In the Normal mode, the brightness can go up to 440 nits, while the Vivid mode offers, well, more vivid colors, and the brightness on the direct sunlight, alongside the Auto mode can go up to 720 nits. The visibility on the sunlight is great, which is to be expected of an AMOLED display. It is also possible to adjust the color temperature, so next to the classic color display, you can go with slightly colder or warmer shades.


This whole story about the display is complemented and enhanced by the HDR10 certificate which is one of the must have options in the top class. Although HDR materials are scarce, the HDR10 compatibility represents an excellent future proofing point, and it is definitely not an overkill. Additional options offer the option to change the resolution of the display (as seen on the Samsung devices) to HD+ (1440 x 720) in order to reduce the battery consumption, and the Eye Comfort mode is also there as something that will help you reduce the stress on the eyes while using the device in the dark. View Mode offers an option to adjust the size of the displayed material, including the size of the text, which will certainly be very helpful to persons having issues with seeing. The display is protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which protects the front and the back of the device. Oh yeah, we must not forget this! The Always On display would be amazing, but sadly the Mate 10 Pro does not support this function.

 

Hardware and OS


In the sea of Android devices powered by the strongest Qualcomm chipset, Huawei, like Apple, chose a different path, and developed their own smartphone chipset. This is a chipset developed by HiSilicon, Huawei’s daughter company, and they are to “blame” for making a new chipset capable of machine learning. The exact type of the chipset is Kirin 970, and it is a perfect competitor to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and Apple’s A11 Bionic chipsets. 10nm manufacturing process offers great conditions for longer battery life. Huawei’s previous devices all had their own chipsets. They were mostly very good, but they all had a flaw in the GPU, which simply couldn’t cope with the FullHD displays. Kirin 960 fixed this to a great extent, and Kirin 970 makes it even clearer that Huawei is very serious in making chipsets.



The main news is machine learning through the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) which serves to “teach” the Mate 10 Pro to perform tasks like image and sound recognition much faster. Huawei calls this artificial intelligence, but it is far from truth. Machine learning found many more applications in this Huawei’s device that in new Apple’s devices, which is a great start.

The chipset consists of completely the same CPU we could see in the Kirin 960 chipset. It is an octa core CPU, with the cores divided into two quad core clusters. The first cluster has 4 Cortex-A73 performance cores clocked at 2.4 GHz, while the other cluster has 4 power saving Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz. Something that is completely new in this Huawei’s chipset is the GPU – Mali-G72 MP12, a 12-core monster which is a perfect competitor to Qualcomm’s Adreno 540, and it is a perfect choice for the resolution of the Mate 10 Pro.
Another difference compared to the baseline Mate 10 is that the Pro version is, at least is Europe, more commonly available in 6GB RAM / 128GB ROM memory configuration, but also the 4GB RAM / 64GB ROM version is available. Luckily, the 6GB version is more common, and we think it is the more logical option for the Mate 10 Pro and everything following it, since the microSD slot we could see in the Mate 10 is this time missing. The system works very harmoniously, with no signs of stuttering of bottlenecking. Screen transitions are executed with ease, and applications are started almost instantly. Whether you’re starting a demanding 3D game, Lightroom or any social network application, the Mate 10 Pro will show top notch performances comparable to, or even better than anything Android devices have to offer. On the AnTuTu Benchmark, the Mate 10 Pro scored a result of 176 068 which sets it side by side to the S8 / S8+ / Note8 and other flagships powered by the Qualcomm’s chipset. We did not notice any overheating of the device, so there was no drops in performances.



The lack of the microSD card slot is a minus, as is the removal of the 3.5mm port, but Huawei was considerate enough to include a Type-C to 3.5mm port adapter. Stereo speakers are an excellent addition, and they are always welcome, but this time stereo sound is produced by one speaker at the bottom of the device and another that is used for talking. The sound is loud and clear, with pretty good basses, and you’ll only notice it is stereo when you cover one of the speakers. The device is waterproof and it has the IP67 water and dust resistance certificate, which guarantees submerging in 1m of water for 30 minutes. The fingerprint scanner is a staple part of every modern flagship (except the iPhone X), and in the Mate 10 Pro, it is located on the back, just below the main camera setup. This is another difference compared to the Mate 10, where the fingerprint sensor is implemented into the Home button on the front of the device. It works great, and it is positioned wonderfully!



When we’re speaking of software of the Mate 10 Pro, everything runs great as well. Huawei shipped the Mate 10 Pro with the Android 8.0 Oreo preinstalled, and onto it placed their own EMUI 8.0 user interface which we all know very well, and in this iteration it looks even better. Something that the average user will notice first is the lack of the classic app drawer – everything is located on the desktop, you just need to swipe left and right. This, however, can be changed through the settings, so there is an option to set the app drawer. Security patches are dated to November, and the current software version is 8.0.0.127(C432).



 

Camera


Top notch photos have become synonymous with Huawei, and this time as well we encounter an amazing photo shooting machine. The double main camera setup has become standard for the premium class in 2017, and Huawei, as usual, implemented one RGB and one monochrome sensor. These are two sensors with different resolutions: the RGB sensor is capable of “distinguishing” colors, and it is a 12MP sensor, while the monochrome sensor has the resolution of 20MP. Both of them have the aperture of f/1.6 which guarantees great night time photos. The RGB sensor has optical image stabilization, while the monochrome sensor is in and off itself more sensitive, so OIS is not that necessary. As before, the sensors work in pair as they patch several different frames in order to produce better photos. They are, as usual, signed by Leica. The width of both sensors is 27mm. Another important thing is the 2x optical zoom with no loss of quality, which is possible only in 12MP quality. Auto focus is made possible by using 4 different systems: laser auto focus, depth sensor, contrast detection and phase detection auto focus. Although it is perfectly fast and precise, Samsung is still ahead of the competition with their Dual Pixel auto focus. Great auto mode is helped by the NPU which we have mentioned before, and which can recognize up to 14 different scenes, and adjust the settings accordingly. New chipset and machine learning have improved the picture quality as well. Plenty of details and incredibly low levels of noise is something Huawei is very proud of. Also, machine learning should improve the portrait mode, just because it can distinguish better between the object of the photo and the background.



Results are: remarkable day time photos with a number of details, low levels of noise and very good color reproduction. The dynamic range is also on par, and it can be even better through the HDR which has the auto mode. Night time photos are also excellent. First, there is the amazing aperture, and second, there is the monochrome sensor which is sure to bring better contrast in low light scenes with more details and less digital noise. The PRO mode is one of the best we’ve had a chance to see, so you can adjust:
  • Field of focus
  • ISO values
  • Shutter speed up to 30s
  • Scene exposition settings
  • Auto focus system mode
  • White balance


There is also the option to save the photos in .raw format. Next to all this, you can also find an option to add a watermark, backup focus light and focus grid, and the volume rockers can be programmed to take photos or focus the picture through them. The variable aperture is something we especially liked, as well as the portrait mode, and it offers the range of f/0.95 to f/16. It brings pretty good photos with a nice feel of depth, but if you zoom into the parts of the photo where the object and the background are separated, you will notice some artifacts. Anyway, this is more than just good as far as social networks are concerned. In order to easily access the camera and snap a quick photo, all you need to do is press the volume down button twice while the device is in the sleep mode.

The camera interface has remained the same as it was in the P10 and the Honor 9.



If the device is in the landscape mode, swiping from left to right you get the following modes:
  • Photo
  • Monochrome (uses the 20MP sensor; 2x optical zoom unavailable)
  • Video
  • HDR
  • 3D panorama
  • Panorama
  • Night Shot
  • Light Painting
  • Time Lapse
  • Slow Mo
  • Filter
  • Watermark
  • Document Scan


Swiping from right to left opens up a menu with basic camera settings (resolution, AF light, watermark etc.)



The double two tone LED flash is located to the left of the camera sensors, it is pretty strong and it will do an amazing job if, for example, you’re taking a photo of a document in low light environments.


The video segment is also great! The Mate 10 Pro can capture extraordinary 4K videos at 30 frames per second, with plenty of details, low levels of noise and great color reproduction. Next to the 4K 16:9 stereo recording, the following shooting options are available:
  • FHD 1080p (16:9, stereo, 60fps)
  • FHD 1080p (16:9, stereo, 30fps)
  • HD 720p (16:9, stereo, 30fps)
  • VGA 480p (4:3, 30fps)
  • QVGA 240p (4:3, 30fps)
  • MMS 144p



There is also an option to follow the object in focus, and the OIS is available only in FHD resolution at 30fps and lower. Slow-Motion videos are captured in FHD 1080p resolution at 120fps or in HD 720p resolution at 240fps.
The front facing camera has the resolution of 8MP and the aperture of f/2.0. Photos taken by the front facing camera are pretty good, with the addition of software portrait mode and the beauty mode. At best it can take 1080p FullHD videos at 30fps with stereo sound. Group portrait selfie videos are also supported, and this way all faces on camera will be sharpened while the background will get blurred. Huawei call this AI Selfie and it represents another part of the Mate 10 Pro where we can see the implementation of machine learning. Video mode is also stabilized. The flash is made possible through the software.




Connectivity


Huawei Mate 10 Pro that we have for our test is BLA-L29 version which comes with a DualSIM tray, and that supports nanoSIM cards. The lack of the 3.5mm headphone port is supplemented by a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter that comes inside the factory box. This means that the port used for charging and data transfer is Type-C version 1.0 with the 3.1 speed certificate.

The list of wireless connections consists of:
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth v4.2 (A2DP, aptX HD, LE)
  • A-GPS; GPS; GLONASS; BDS
  • NFC
The only downside that we could find is that the Bluetooth version is only 4.2, while the competitor flagships, which have the Qualcomm’s hardware, all have Bluetooth v5.0
The modem built into the Kirin 970 supports theoretical maximum in download speeds in 4G networks up to 1200 Mbps, while the upload speeds go up to 150 Mbps.

Supported network frequencies are:
  • 2G: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • 3G: 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
  • 4G: 700 / 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2000 / 2100 / 2300 / 2600 MHz
 

Battery


Another great thing in this whole package is the battery capacity – 4000 mAh. This is a non-removable Lithium-Polymer battery, so you won’t be able to freely swap between batteries. All this is the same as in the Mate 10, and if we compare these two to their main contender, the Note8, they bring 700 mAh more! Amazing! Fast charging is, of course, supported, and it is implemented through the 4.5V/5A adapter that offers up to 58% of the charge in just half an hour. We charged the device to 100% in 1 hour and 15 minutes, and results we got with one full charge are: around 23 hours of moderate use with active mobile networks and WiFi and with brightness set at around 70%. SoT (Screen on Time) time is tad under 7h. The power saving mode is also here, and it gets activated once the battery percentage drops down to 15%. Wireless charging is sadly not here, although the back of the device is built of glass, which is a basic prerequisite that makes the implementation possible.



All in all – great results for such a powerful device with an excellent display! Great job Huawei!
 

Final words


Huawei made it again! This is an excellent flagship device that will easily spar with the competitors, and in some areas (camera, battery) even emerge victorious! Amazing cameras that in several occasions made us think if we even needed a DSLR camera and a top notch AMOLED display simply leave no room for error. The IP67 certification is here, however the IP68 would be even better. Also, we have somehow “swallowed” the removal of the 3.5mm port. The market price of the Mate 10 Pro seems perfectly reasonable. Huawei has found its place on the smartphone market, so if you’re searching for an alternative to, for example, Samsung’s Note8, which is a little bit more expensive, the Mate 10 Pro is more than just a good substitute.

Do you like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro? We’d like to see your opinion in the comment section below. If you have any suggestions, or you would like to see a specific device being reviewed soon, feel free to write to us either here or on our Facebook page. If you liked this review, subscribe to our YouTube channel and like us of Facebook while we’re bringing you more good stuff!

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Specifications
 

Advantages and disadvantages

Reasons for and against it

Remarkable Kirin 970 with NPU
Amazing display that supports HDR10
Extraordinary cameras
Design
Build quality
Android 8.0 Oreo OS out of the box
Price compared to other flagships on the market
No 3.5mm headphone port
Only IP67 certification
AlwaysOn display still unavailable
MicroSD card slot removed
A little bit hard to use with one hand