Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League


The Mate 10 Pro is Huawei’s top-of-the-line model this year, designed to rival the Galaxy Note 8. With its large screen, powerful processor and good camera, it is indeed very close to it.  

But it’s not as richly endowed as Note 8, which has a stylus, expandable storage and a virtual assistant. Sold for 799 euros in 128GB version (only available in France), it is not cheap, but compensates this price by its very good performances which make it a valid option for who wants a very nice widescreen smartphone without the Samsung logo or the stratospheric tariff of Note 8.

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League

Better to have big hands

Who says big screen says big hands to be able to hold this giant properly. We had some difficulty typing with one hand, as the somewhat slippery glass surface on the rear facade did not help. If you have small hands, you will have to move them to reach the fingerprint reader. To make it easier to use one hand, Huawei has provided a virtual button called Navigation Dock that floats over and acts as a navigation bar. 

The Mate 10 Pro’s slim design is due in part to the location of the fingerprint reader under the rear camera, which is accurate and fast. The screen occupies the entire front panel for maximum immersive effect. At 2160 x 1440 pixels the resolution is a little lower than the Galaxy Note 8 (2960 x 1440p), but this is not noticeable in common use. OLED screen obliges, the smartphone offers infinite contrasts, the panel is especially well adjusted and bright.  

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League

Huawei has created several gestures to control certain actions at the tips of the phalanges. For example, you can take a screenshot by tapping on the screen or start split screen mode by drawing a horizontal line. Not really useful in everyday life.

Huawei was inspired by Apple with the glass back. But where the apple company has made this choice in order to be able to integrate the wireless charge, in the case of the Chinese brand it is a purely aesthetic option. We really liked the elegant design even though the rear panel takes all the fingerprints, but these can be wiped off without any problem thanks to an oleophobic coating. The Mate 10 Pro is a smartphone that you’ll be proud to display to catch the eye of the curious.

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League

A very good colour and monochrome camera

The same dual photo sensor handset as on the P10. A 12-megapixel sensor handles colour photos while a 20-megapixel sensor handles only black and white shots. In both cases, the sensors open at f/1.6, an opening rarely seen on a smartphone. In fact, only the LG V30 is so good on the market.  

In both cases the result is excellent. The colours are rich with a very good balance of exposure between the dark and light parts. The white balance seems to lean slightly to the cold side. A small pitfall that can easily be corrected with manual adjustments. Low-light performance is also good with clear, bright photos and minimal noise. To attenuate it Huawei tends to force a little on the smoothing, which makes you lose some details. 

Portraits provide correct blurring of the background to make the subject stand out. The contour is not always sharp, but it is more than enough to feed Instagram.

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League
 

The black and white shots are also superb, with levels of black that offer a rich contrast that is usually obtained by reworking the photo with a Snapseed type application. The result is as good as the P10 and if you own this model, you don’t need to consider the Mate 10 Pro for photo quality. The DPA settings (white balance, ISO…) are easily accessible from the main window of the photo application. 

The 8-megapixel front camera takes good self-portraits and does well in low light. The wide-angle lens makes it easy to take group photos and you can even apply portrait mode to selfies, an option only found on a few smartphones today (Pixel 2 and 2 XL, iPhone X).

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League

Sealing at the expense of the headphone socket

Huawei has followed the path taken by Apple, Google and Motorola by removing the headphone jack. You will have to rely on Bluetooth wireless headsets or wired models with a USB-C adapter. An annoyance for those with a good wired helmet. Huawei justifies this choice by explaining that this is the sacrifice to be made for a waterproof smartphone (IP67, submersible to 1.5 m for 30 minutes). Yet Samsung has managed to seal the headphone jack of the Galaxy S8, the same for LG with the V30. So Huawei could have made the effort for the Mate 10 Pro. 

On the performance side, we find the latest eight-core Kirin 970 processor developed by Huawei supported by 6 GB of RAM. The speed is logically there with smooth navigation, applications that load without delay and demanding games like Asphalt : Xtreme turning smoothly. The Mate 10 Pro is a match for Note 8, except for 3DMark.

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League

At the time of the smartphone presentation, Huawei announced that its processor was also designed for artificial intelligence. For the moment, the only optimized application is the Microsoft Translator instant translation service, which works well but did not seem faster than Google Translation on the iPhone 8.

The Kirin processor is also supposed to intervene at the photo level to help recognize a scene and adjust the settings accordingly. It works fairly quickly, but we would be hard pressed to say what difference it makes on the end result. But the processor has just been released and it is possible that more optimized services will arrive. 

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League
 

In addition to the headphone jack, the Mate 10 Pro also bypasses the need for expandable storage, which it compensates with 128GB of internal memory that will be enough for most users. However, this is still missing on a mobile phone labelled “Pro”.

Test: Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Enters the Big League
 

Large autonomy

The Mate 10 Pro is equipped with a 4000 mAh battery, which Huawei says should provide at least two days of battery life. An ambitious statement that is not far from being borne out by the facts. It lasted 19 hours on our endurance test, which is better than the Note 8, the Pixel 2XL and the OnePlus 5. Of course, the autonomy in real conditions will depend on the use. But let’s just say that moderate use (too much brightness, avoid streaming and video games) should allow you to get through a full day and part of the next day without any problems.

So we can see that the Huawei Mate 10 Pro has just about everything to please. With Mate 10 Pro, Huawei is finally coming of age. If it gets bogged down in a few features that sometimes seem superfluous, the firm achieves a near flawless performance on the points that really matter: design, screen, autonomy, photo (in most cases) performance. So the Mate 10 Pro has little to envy from the other big names in the market.