The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has an interesting history in the United States. It was rumored that it was supposed to have been released on AT&T and Verizon during CES 2018. The release on these carriers was swiftly cancelled mere hours before the announcement was set to occur. Although we may never know how the Mate 10 Pro would have sold had it have had a successful release on two of the US’s largest carriers we can look at how this device holds up in its current state as an unlocked device. With that history lesson out of the way, lets talk about if the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is worth your hard-earned cash.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is an unlocked device that works on AT&T and T-Mobile and can normally be had for $799 USD. I used the Mate 10 Pro for 7 days on AT&T’s network in southern New Jersey switching between Wifi and mobile data regularly. The Mate 10 Pro comes equipped with a Kirin 970 processor with 4 A73 cores running at 2.4 GHZ and 4 A53 running at 1.8 GHZ. This paired with 6GB of ram, 128gb of storage (with no micro SD card slot), IP 67 dust and water resistance as well as a 4000 mah battery. This phone isn’t as much of a power house in performance as it is in longevity. In my eyes this device wasn’t meant to stand out in how fast it could boot up applications, or how many frames per second it can push but how long it can keep those frames pushing. It was meant to fulfil all the tasks in a given day without needing a mid-day charge.
Speaking of pixels, let’s talk about that display, shall we? That display consists of a 6 inch 18:9 2160x1080p OLED display running at 60hz. The display itself isn’t the highest resolution, nor is it the most amazing looking in terms of quality however if you’re not looking at it next to a Samsung made device then I don’t think you have much to worry about. The display gets bright enough for you to see it outdoors and it does this without demolishing your battery life which is a nice change from other devices. Given the circumstances the display is good, it may leave you wanting more in the next year but for April 2018 it’s a good, bright, and detailed display. Huawei did a good job, especially choosing OLED over LCD, especially for the battery saving capabilities.
Let’s move onto the UI which, I’ll be honest, didn’t bother me as much as I was told it would bother me. Were there parts I didn’t like? Of course, there were, but it wasn’t as offensive as some of the skins other Chinese manufacturers put on their devices. Before we get too far into this let’s talk about what exactly is living on this device. This device has Android 8.0 Oreo with the December 1st, 2017 security patch and EMUI 8.0. I’m disappointed with how far back the security patch is and without any updates being pushed yet I hope they at least get that part updated sooner rather than later. Regardless the user interface is nice. EMUI has an app drawer as well as quick access to your Google feed like the Pixel Launcher has therefore I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to change it. The whole device even has a nice UI wide dark mode which not only looks nice but also helps with battery life.
The software itself did have many drawbacks, I’m going to cover the ones that can’t be easily replaced with a new launcher or something like that. I first want to comment on random reboots. I had about 8 or 9 over the 7 days I was using the device. This is completely inexcusable. I am assuming that I am running on finalized software even though this is a review device. In saying that some of my more minor complaints are with how the device handles notification. There were many occasions I would not receive notifications from apps like Allo (which I use regularly). From what I understand it was a battery saving measure but it still doesn’t excuse how bothersome it was missing days’ worth of messages because I forgot to open the application. The lockscreen caused me a few problems as well. First off, there isn’t an always on display mode, something that is standard in Android itself. There’s no reason a device with an OLED display shouldn’t have one. You also cannot expand notifications in the lockscreen. This was annoying in multiple occasions where I wanted to see what a notification said before unlocking my device. These are minor annoyances however it interrupts the fluid interactions Android has spent years tailoring.
Cameras and Fingerprint Scanner:
I want to now discuss the sensors of this device you will probably be using daily. Those are the fingerprint sensor, rear cameras, and front camera. The fingerprint sensor was in the perfect position on the back of the phone for me. I didn’t have to search for it and it was a nice round shape. The fingerprint sensor was fast and accurate. I cannot overstate this enough. I have type one diabetes and my fingertips are beat up from having to prick them often. This is the first fingerprint sensor to accurately read my print without fail. The fingerprint sensor even has the notification shade swipe feature. This is always a nice feature to see, not an uncommon one, but still nice to see.
The cameras on this device are, to say the least, excellent. You have two sensors, a 12mp color sensor, and a 20mp black and white senor, both with f1.6 apertures. These cameras were a joy to shoot with and created some amazing shots. I was incredibly impressed with the black and white pictures the device took. It’s more than just putting on a tacky filter. I took a lot of black and white pictures in the snow and I must say they looked almost professional. I was very impressed. The device also prides itself on its AI capabilities within the camera. It would intelligently know what subjects I was trying to take a picture of and change some settings however I didn’t notice a huge difference.
What I was not impressed with was the camera software. There were just far too many different modes to perform fairly basic tasks. Want to shoot HDR? You must enter a different mode. Want to take video? Enter a separate mode that takes 3 extra steps to get into. Want to take monochrome pictures? Get ready to go into a whole different mode. It took me a few minutes of mindless swiping to even find out how to change the aspect ratio of the pictures I was taking. The pictures the camera took were excellent but is it too much to ask to get some intuitive software in 2018? If you’re willing to put up with a little bit of extra work then you won’t be disappointed, however be ready to take some time to get through the learning curve.
The battery life is where this device will really get you. The capacity is 4000 mah which is really good, but I really think Huawei’s software is what makes all the difference. I’m not sure what wizards Huawei employs but they seem to make my battery last nearly twice if any other device I use. I’m a heavy player of Pokemon Go and user of Snapchat so I’m used to my phone dying in 2 ½ to 3 hours, the Mate 10 Pro regularly lasted me 5 hours of screen on time with the display brightness consistently at 75%, Facebook, Snapchat, Pokemon Go, and YouTube. This is amazing however with this amazing battery life you may have to dig through settings to ensure you’re getting all the notifications you’re used to getting as I mentioned previously. If you’re all right with putting in a little bit of time and energy to configure the settings to your exact likings I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
My final few comments will be on a few miscellaneous aspects of the device. The call quality on the device was pretty good. I didn’t notice any unusual crackling and people on the other end said I didn’t sound any different than I did on my first-generation Pixel XL which I’ll take. The phone does hold onto a signal very well. In my work place I normally have no service as I work in an office with no windows. Normally I never get cell service, I’m not even able to send a text. With this phone I can hold onto a weak HSPA+ signal which is better than nothing. It was a nice surprise from a device not officially on AT&T’s network.
The speaker on the device isn’t great. The Mate 10 Pro doesn’t take advantage of the earpiece as a speaker like the iPhone 8 or Galaxy S9 do which is a bummer. It would have been very nice to have at least one speaker facing you. The Mate 10 Pro still has an IR blaster which is nice, however I didn’t use it. Lastly, the device doesn’t have a headphone jack. The reason I didn’t harp on this much is because you most likely won’t need to charge the phone while using headphones. If you do have to use wired headphones the in-box adapter sounds good as well. I don’t blame you for not being happy with the lack of a headphone jack, however, if you must get a phone without it, try to get one with the best battery life possible.
What are my final conclusions on the Mate 10 Pro? Do I recommend you go against the current trends and pick one of these bad boys up, or should you pick up something more mainstream like a Galaxy S9 or iPhone 8? If I was putting my money down right now I would not put my money on any of them. I would pick up the Mate 10 Pro up in a second, but I feel it’s a little bit too expensive for what you lose, however if I were to buy a Galaxy S9 or iPhone 8 I think I would feel myself still wanting the Mate 10 Pro. The device has been seen on sale for $650 which I feel is a much fairer price. If you see this on sale for $100 or more off I say don’t hesitate but to grab it up. Huawei has done some awesome stuff with the battery life and cameras on this device that I do not think are worth missing and if you’re in need of a change of pace Huawei is a really good company to look at however, make sure you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile when you’re picking it up.
What do you think of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro? Are you a fan of its shiny glass and metal construction? Do you think they should have kept the headphone jack in? What about the camera arrangement? Most importantly, do you think you’ll pick up a Mate 10 Pro or have you already? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear your thoughts!
We would like to thank our friends at Huawei USA for supplying us with this review device.