The biggest point of divergence between these two handsets is the screen but, on both counts, it’s a similar story. Both are sharp enough that you won’t be able to see the pixels, but the OLED screen is my favourite purely because of its size and shape and superb contrast.But technically, neither display is the best in the world. The Pro’s OLED display covers 98.7% of the sRGB colour gamut in normal mode but isn’t very colour accurate. You can choose “vivid” if you like, but it’s a little over-vibrant for my tastes. The regular Mate 10 covers less of the sRGB colour gamut at 92.2% and also isn’t very colour accurate.
The displays on both phones are bright enough to be readable in all conditions, though. The Pro peaks at an impressive 727cd/m2 with a small patch of white displayed against a black background, and 570cd/m2 when the screen is filled with white, though beware, it only hits these heights in auto-brightness mode. Switch to manual and you’ll get peak brightness of below 400cd/m2. The Mate 10 is slightly less impressive in this regard, peaking at 538cd/m2 in auto-brightness mode and below 300cd/m2 in manual mode. The Mate 10 should nonetheless still be readable in most conditions if left in auto-brightness mode.
On the inside, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are the first devices to be powered by Huawei’s own octa-core 2.36GHz Kirin 970 chip backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. In the case of the Mate 10 Pro, a 64GB/128GB option also available.The chip itself is also the first, says Huawei, to have an integrated hardware AI element – the so-called neural processing unit – designed to speed up tasks such as intelligent photo analysis and language translation.You can see this in action in the camera app, which does live scene analysis on-device, recognising things like people, food and scenery, tweaking camera settings on the fly.Otherwise, the Kirin 970 lends both the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro a fair turn of speed. General UI operations feel fluid and responsive – perhaps not as snappy as on the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, or as fluid as the Razer Phone – but quick enough for most people.
As for photography, the Mate 10 is equipped with a pair of wide f/1.6 aperture rear-facing cameras, complete with Leica branding, optical image stabilisation (OIS), phase detect and laser autofocus and a dual-LED flash. And it’s exactly the same camera across both models of phone.The main 12-megapixel camera utilises an RGB sensor, while the secondary camera uses a 20-megapixel, monochrome-only sensor, which helps to capture finer details.
The end result is a camera that’s a brilliant performer but one that can’t quite match the best in the business; that’s the Google Pixel 2, in case you were wondering.In good light, the Mate 10’s shots are excellent. There’s loads and loads of detail, images are well exposed and colours are both accurate and well saturated. It’s slightly annoying that you have to enable a separate HDR mode to enable the feature – there’s no HDR shortcut on screen so you can switch it on while in other modes – and that there’s no auto HDR facility either.
The phone also runs the latest version of Android Oreo, although you won’t see much of it as it’s slathered with a thick layer of custom manufacturer launcher software, in this case, Huawei’s Emotion UI 8 (EMUI).EMUI certainly divides opinion, but one thing you can’t deny is that it packs in the features. Thanks to the phone’s new neural processing unit, the camera has more advanced scene recognition than ever before, and there’s a new DeX-like feature that will let you run a desktop-like environment when you connect the phone to a monitor.Unlike Samsung’s version of the system, though, the Huawei Mate 10 requires only a USB Type-C cable to work and doesn’t need a pricey docking station. It works reasonably well, too, and you can use the screen of the phone as a touchpad, saving on the kit you need to carry around with you. However, it comes across a lot less polished than the Samsung version. In particular, many of the apps I had installed on the phone simply didn’t show up in the desktop mode’s start menu and couldn’t be launched.
The Huawei Mate 10 is a big phone with an excellent camera, striking design and plenty of power under the hood. Given its size, it won’t be for everyone, but with very few shortcomings it’s a definite contender for best value for money big phone of 2017.
- Premium design
- Quality camera
- Powerful chipset
- No real waterproofing
- EMUI not for everyone
- No wireless charging