Huawei’s new smartphone will be smart, or it won’t be: at least that’s the promise the Chinese manufacturer made when it unveiled its Mate 10 Pro in October, which is marketed in France. After a few weeks with the smartphone, here is our test.
On 16 October 2017, Huawei officially launched its new models: the Mate 10, and its “professional” version, logically named Mate 10 Pro. At this event, you had to have blinders on to miss the message that the Chinese manufacturer subtly (no) tried to get across: on all points, its phones would be better than Apple’s – especially the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus – and Samsung’s – especially the Galaxy Note 8.
It must be said that the effect of surprise that the manufacturer was probably hoping to create by unveiling its new range was not there. A few days earlier, the device had indeed been leaked, which turned out to be rather faithful. Huawei probably felt compelled to add another layer and make his ambition to compete with the American and Korean a leitmotif of his announcement.
The smartphone of all promises
The Mate 10 Pro being the only one of the two models to be marketed in France, it was logical that I went to meet him that day, with one question in mind: is the Mate 10 Pro really able to steal the spotlight from Apple and Samsung? It is difficult to answer this question by only holding the beast in my hands for a few minutes. However, this first contact confirmed that the Mate 10 Pro was definitely the phone of all Huawei’s promises.
Ratio between screen size and smartphone size, battery life, location of the fingerprint sensor, unlocking time… When Huawei announced its new device, it hammered home the fact that it had enough in its belly to compete with the European market leaders. But not only that: Huawei has also promised the “ ultimate smartphone experience”, making the integration of its Kirin 970 technology – which is expected to boost the Mate 10 Pro with artificial intelligence – the cornerstone of its differentiation strategy.
To find out if the “, the world’s first trueIA smartphone” is living up to all these great promises, you had to spend some time with it. It’s now done: after almost three weeks of daily use, it’s time to take stock of my experience with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which still sold for €800.
One should not judge by appearances, as the saying goes; nevertheless, the encounter with a new device necessarily begins with the discovery of its design. And it would be a shame not to mention the Mate Pro 10: with this model, Huawei has succeeded in offering a phone that is both elegant and sober. During this test period, I was not the only one to think so: it happened several times when I took the phone out in front of other people that it was complimented.
The “new Huawei FullViewscreen” is probably the first thing that catches the eye of the Mate 10 Pro viewer. This is the first time that the manufacturer has integrated this type of screen into one of its machines, choosing to opt for with a resolution of 6 inches and an 18:9format.
Smaller than the Mate 9, but with a larger screen.
The device also achieves a challenge compared to its predecessor: it is narrower and shorter than the Mate 9, but has a larger screen diagonal. Although I’m not used to using such a large smartphone, I’ve gotten used to this size – much more so than the colossal Galaxy Note 8.
Huawei also praises the merits of his screen presented as borderless: if the total absence of edges is obviously a mirage, I must admit that the two thin strips on each side are almost imperceptible. In this respect, Samsung and the curved screen of Note 8 can hardly be dethroned by the Mate 10 Pro, but it must be given justice by highlighting this effort.
With its slightly curved back and rounded edges, the smartphone is also very comfortable to hold. The aluminium back of the Mate 10 Pro, which I tested in Mocha Brown, is harmonious. The brand chose to integrate a stylistic element of its own, a horizontal band framing the camera and christened “Signature Stripe“: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this detail particularly struck me, but I haven’t found any reason to criticize its presence either.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that the back of the phone is quickly adorned with fingerprints that even the most fussy users will probably find unsightly. It’s not too serious, but it’s annoying enough to make me want to regularly wipe the smartphone with a rag.
Like Samsung, Huawei made the bold choice to place the fingerprint sensor close to the camera of the Mate 10 Pro. More precisely, this one is located in the vertical alignment of the two objectives, just below. Surprisingly, my finger did not slip on the camera when I unlocked the phone, and I did not have any unsightly marks to deplore in my photographs. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I used the phone a lot with the shell provided by Huawei.
No jack plug
Even though the smartphone comes with an adapter, I regretted that Huawei limits itself to offering a USB Type-C port, without accompanying it with a jack connection. Furthermore, the phone does not allow the integration of a microSD card; however, the 128GB of storage offered by the device seemed to me to be more than enough – the smartphone is also available in a 64GB version.
As for the buttons on the Mate 10 Pro, there are three, all located on the right side of the smartphone. To distinguish the volume buttons from the touch lock button, Huawei has chosen to strip the touch lock button. However, this didn’t stop me from pressing the lock button several times by mistake while I was trying to turn down the volume.
Overall, Huawei’s design of this new model shows a real desire to move up the range. Both sober and elegant, the Mate 10 Pro is a beautiful phone, pleasant to hold and which you never get tired of after several weeks of use.
Now that the introductions have been made, it’s time to see what the Mate 10 Pro has in store for you. Is Huawei’s new smartphone as smart as the manufacturer claims?
The device ships with the latest version of Android by default: Oreo comes with the interface created by Huawei, EMUI 8.0. This interface is presented as a way to make your life easier, thanks to “smart updates that allow you to achieve high levels ofperformance. “Beyond the somewhat gobbledygook style effect, overall efficiency was there, and the phone was rarely asked to quickly perform the tasks I asked it to do.
A high-performance smartphone
In terms of the visual experience, the 6-inch OLED screen in 18:9 format has unveiled its quality. Those who pay close attention may regret that the pixel density is less satisfactory on the Mate 10 Pro than on the Mate 10 – which will never see the light of day in our country.
The Mate 10 Pro’s interface is organized in a consistent manner, and it’s easy to understand how to navigate between applications using the three buttons at the bottom of the screen. The traditional Android display is there: the square key allows you to display all open windows, and to scan them one by one to close them. The screen is large enough to accommodate a large number of icons on a single panel, which will not displease iOS users.
The 6GB of RAM coupled with the Kirin 970 shows its efficiency in this smartphone; without any problem, I was able to open different applications simultaneously without fearing the slightest slowdown or warm-up, even for the most power-hungry apps – which would probably have slowed down a less powerful phone.
Note, however, that some applications do not use the full screen of thesmartphone by default. Although this display is not the most pleasant, it is nevertheless not a fatality: when you open the application concerned, the smartphone offers you to switch to “full-screen display“, which will relaunch the app. Alternatively, you can change the functionality directly in the Mate 10 Pro settings.
A surprising PC mode
The phone also comes with a feature that initially caught my eye: a PC mode, allowing the smartphone owner to connect it to a screen to project a desktop. The phone’s screen can then be turned into a touchpad, but this feature seemed to me to be somewhat of a gadget.
The most interesting is to find its different apps visible on the screen connected to the smartphone thanks to a USB C to HDMI dongle, and to be able to work in a wider interface.
A small but important detail that is a lot nicer than the Samsung solution: while you work on this desktop, the smartphone continues to work independently. In other words, there’s nothing stopping you from making a phone call or answering a message while continuing your current tasks on the desktop.
Arriving on the French market with a 4,000 mAh battery, the Mate 10 Pro did not disappoint me either as far as itsautonomy is concerned. The Kirin 970 processor is indeed supposed to optimize the phone’s battery management; by analyzing its daily use, the NPU (Neural Processing Unit, soberly called IA by marketing) of the device should contribute to an adjustment of the energy consumption. For my part, the autonomy of the smartphone has never failed me in three weeks.
Quick recharge keeps its promises
While it is unfortunate that Huawei does not provide wireless charging, the battery life compensates for this choice. What’s more, the quick charge kept its promises: charging the phone for thirty minutes, I could easily last a whole day without bringing the Mate 10 Pro near a power outlet.
Regarding the waterproofing of the phone, unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to immerse it in water up to one meter deep. This is the test passed by the Mate 10 Pro, the first Huawei smartphone to be certified by the IP67standard. Nevertheless, I can say that I have used it many times in rainy weather, without noticing any particular problem.
A pleasant interface, a surprising PC mode, a more than satisfactory autonomy: for a phone with a maximum price of 800 € (exactly 799 € for the 128 GB version), the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is clearly an interesting option to consider for Android. Although expensive, its price remains below that of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and of course the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8, both of which exceed the highly symbolic €1,000 mark. Its arrival in our year-end guide is not too much doubt.
Probably the most important promise of the Mate 10 Pro lies in its camera, which has also been upgraded to include “artificial intelligence”, as the saying goes. But whatever one puts under the term, at the time of the takeover, this prospect had something to seduce.
Indeed, Huawei has chosen to renew its partnership with Leica for this new model. The German manufacturer has put its expertise into the design of the two lenses that adorn the back of the Mate 10 Pro. As the leak before Huawei’s announcement suggested, the object combines a 12 MP sensor with another 20 MP sensor. The first is RGB, the second is monochrome.
A promising dual sensor
In addition, the camera has optical image stabilization (OIS) and offers a double f/1.6 aperture. It is the digital zoom that contains the “artificial intelligence” that ensures the recognition of scenes and objects, in order to immortalize them in the most adequate way possible. Basically, the smartphone is supposed to know what it’s taking (face, landscape, night shot, macro…) and adjust its lens settings accordingly.
So, does it work? The conclusion is clear: yes. Whether you’re close to your subject, or capturing a landscape, the Mate 10 Pro ‘s camera is pretty amazing inauto mode. Faithful, without being too generous with colours and contrasts. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
The Mate 10 Pro can easily capture bright, sharp shots in a variety of conditions. Image recognition worked particularly well with all the food photographs I was able to make; whether I pointed the lens at a greengrocer’s stall, a freshly served dish in a restaurant or any other dish, the AI always recognized that I was about to photograph food.
As for the wider landscapes and scenes, the smartphone has managed to capture them with colors close to reality, like the slightly pinkish sky at the end of the day visible in the last image. Same observation in the rain, or in good weather. Without being a professional photographer, the Mate 10 Pro is a phone that allows you to capture very satisfying shots.
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Indicative note : 4/5
Just a few weeks with the Mate 10 Pro is enough to prove it: with this model, Huawei is taking a big step forward. Announcing this device as a smartphone doped with artificial intelligence was a risky gamble, especially for the pipedream that surrounds the notion, but the challenge is globally taken up.
Even though the Mate 10 Pro doesn’t border on perfection, and its intention to compete with Samsung or Apple is ambitious, Huawei shows with this smartphone several of its strong points. The camera is probably the phone’s number one asset: the Mate 10 Pro is an option to consider if you value this feature.
- The camera
- A beautiful design
- No jack plug
- Fingerprint sensor close to the camera
- No wireless charging
Article originally published on 21 November 2017