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Huawei Mate 10 Review - The new FLAGSHIP killer!

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Last November, the Huawei Mate 10 stunned us with its beauty and power out of the box. Today, after more than a month of using it, here's our full review! 
Huawei Mate 10 review
Huawei Mate 10 review

For our review part 1: Huawei Mate 10 Unboxing and First Impressions

Is it as good as advertised? Let's see!

Display Quality

Big 5.9-inch screen
Big 5.9-inch screen

First, the specs, the Mate 10 has the smaller yet sharper screen versus the Mate 10 Pro. It has a 5.9-inch QHD IPS screen with HDR10 compliance which is easily one of the best screens on paper.

Beautiful and big 1440p screen!

Quality-wise, it is truly superb! Colors are just a bit colder than AMOLED panels (obviously), but detail, sharpness, and resolution are outstanding and flagship worthy.

Those colder colors are also more accurate than expected. Yes, even if it has a bit of blueish hue on default mode. Blacks and viewing angles are excellent like the ones found on the P10 Plus.

Speaking of the color modes, Huawei allows users to choose from default, warm, or cold. You may even custom it to your liking. It even has normal and vivid modes. 

In addition, it also has eye comfort mode that filters out blue light to relieve visual fatigue.

Moreover, the Mate 10 also has a "Smart resolution" feature that automatically lower the screen resolution to help save power. That's one of the abilities of Mate 10's A.I. chip.

The screen can also go very bright up to 730 nits according to Huawei. So, outdoor legibility even under direct sunlight hit was never a problem during my time with this phone.

Lastly, it has 10 points of touch.

Audio Quality

The Huawei Mate 10 has two speakers. One on the earpiece and one below for the real stereo sound effect on a phone. It is louder and fuller sounding versus most of the older flagships with only one speaker setup. It is rich and crisp as well.

Yes, like nearly all the other phones right now, it still has distortion, airiness, and hissing on max loudness. But, it is lesser versus most phones we tested.

For headphones, output is top notch! It is really clear sounding and has nice balance!  The audio output coming from the Mate 10 is easily one of the richest around. Layering is outstanding too.

This is a very capable music player! It can also drive and pair nice with most of our favorite headphones and in-ear monitors. It isn't just the loudest around, but it gets the job done!

Audio recording is good too. It can even record in stereo while on video mode. Noise is there, but not that much. 

Battery Life

Battery scores
Battery scores

Like its predecessors, the Huawei Mate 10 still has the trademark 4,000mAh battery for an extra long battery life.

In our test, battery life is just on par with other phones that has lesser battery capacities at around 9 hours and 30 mins. Screen on time is also just average at 4 hours and 35 mins. It is also lesser than its predecessors, Mate 8 and Mate 9.

Maybe, the Mate's bigger screen resolution is the culprit here. But, before we experienced something like this with the P10 Plus. Then, Huawei improved its battery after a month of use.

In addition, Huawei stated that the A.I. of the phone will improve the battery performance over time. (We'll do a battery re-test soon.)

Overall, battery life for a flagship phablet with big screen and powerful specs is decent. But, we expected it to be a bit better.

The good news?

Charging time is blazing fast when you use the stock TÜV Rheinland safe charge certified 5A Super Charge USB wall charger. It only took us 1 hour and 15 mins to fully charge its 4,000mAh big battery from 0 to 100 percent.

Camera

Summilux f/1.6 lenses!
Summilux f/1.6 lenses!

The best of Huawei on paper yet! Coming from the 20MP mono + 12MP RGB sensors of the P10 Plus, Huawei has upgraded the Leica dual camera lenses of the Mate 10 to a pair of f/1.6 lenses.

It means that its lenses would be a wider and faster lens which should perform much better in lowlight.

Huawei also combined it with 4-in-1 Hybrid AF, OIS, 2x zoom, and dual tone LED flash.

In addition, the cameras of the Mate 10 series are now assisted by A.I. using the dedicated NPU of its Kirin 970 chip.

Huawei claims that it can detect 13 different objects and scenes to intelligently optimize picture settings. For example, it knows if you are taking a photo of a cat or if you are shooting at night.
Huawei's robust camera software
Huawei's robust camera software

Moreover, like the rest of their flagship line-up, the Mate 10 has a robust camera software for your enhanced mobile photography experience. Huawei just changed the user interface a little by moving the 2x hybrid zoom toggle at right an easier reach.

It still has modes like:

1. Wide aperture mode - It allows users to artificially adjust the aperture size from f/0.95 to f/16 and create a closer to "realistic" bokeh effect thanks to its A.I. chip. To be fair with Huawei, its bokeh blur is now deeper and edges are cleaner. This mode also allows users to refocus and adjust the background blur even after taking the shot.
2. Portrait mode - Like the wide aperture mode, it can capture images with creamy background blur. But this time, Huawei added some skin smoothening effect that you can adjust.
3. Hybrid Zoom - Like the Mate 9, the Mate 10 still has the good up to 2x lossless digital zoom that can match even real optical zooms from other phones. This time, Huawei claims that it would make the zoom better because of its A.I. tech.
4. HDR - It is the usual HDR that stiches multiple photos together for a more detailed shot in conditions that needs it. We just wished that Huawei will put an auto HDR toggle in the main camera interface sometime soon.
5. Leica filters - Change the color tones from standard, vivid, and smooth colors.
6. Monochrome - This mode will use the dedicated monochrome sensor of the phone. You may also use it while on portrait, wide aperture, and pro modes.
7. Pro - Adjust ISO from 50 up to 3200, shutter speed from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, EV from -4 to +4, focus, and WB from 2800K to 7000K. 
8. Night shot - Auto long exposure, but you can still adjust ISO and shutter. It even has up to 32 seconds shutter count.
9. Light painting - It allows users to have infinite shooting time to capture tail light trails, light graffiti (painting), silky water shots (even without ND filter), and star tracker. The star tracker is now better than ever as it has brighter exposure.
10. Others - Panorama, 3D panorama, time-lapse, filters, watermark, good good, and slow mo.
The Pro mode
The Pro mode
Light painting mode
Light painting mode

Note: We also like that Huawei's camera interface has nice metering mode and grids for guides including fibonacci spiral left or right. It even has RAW format when on manual mode.

In terms of picture shooting quality, overall performance is extremely impressive for a smartphone.

Shooting speed is crazy fast and focus is always on point. Auto focus is really quick, tap to focus is also fast, and it can closely focus on subjects and automatically give a nice background blur even when not on wide aperture or portrait mode.

Amazing camera performance for a phone!

Daylight camera experience is also outstanding. Noise is almost non-existent. It is a bit colder in tone versus the Huawei P10, but details are a bit sharper. Contrasts is still great and hints of saturation are still nice.

Dynamic range is also better than ever. Its monochrome mode with fantastic details is easily the best in the business right now.

In terms of lowlight shooting performance, this phone is a beast! Details are resolved, dynamic range is great, and it has less noise versus any other flagship smartphone we tested. Yes, even against the iPhone X. Stay tuned for our full camera comparison!

Using the manual and night modes of this phone would unleash its potential further. There is no need to use the flash most of the time.

Note: We liked it better when shooting on 12MP mode versus 20MP mode a little due to faster image saving time and shooting speed. It eats less space too. Only use it when needed.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Daylight
Gloomy lighting in HDR
Gloomy lighting in HDR
Auto close-up focus
Auto close-up focus
Cropped image
Cropped image
Indoor
Indoor
Indoor close-up
Indoor close-up
Indoor lowlight
Indoor lowlight
Night close-up
Night close-up
Auto night 1
Auto night 1
Auto night 2
Auto night 2
Auto night 3
Auto night 3

Special Camera Samples

Wide aperture mode
Wide aperture mode
Portrait mode
Portrait mode
Night mode
Night mode
Star tracker
Star tracker
Mono 1
Mono 1
Mono 2
Mono 2

For selfies, the cameras were downgraded on paper coming from the P10 Plus. It is still at 8MP, but aperture size is down to just f/2.0 coming from f/1.9. In addition, it doesn't have tap to focus and auto wide angle feature for groufies anymore.
8MP selfie cam!
8MP selfie cam!

It has a new feature that comes with the portrait shooting mod though, the A.I selfie. The A.I. recognizes the cases in the shot and will blur the background. This is great for groufies.
Selfie cam modes
Selfie cam modes

Fortunately, quality of selfies is just as good if not better than P10 Plus. Shooting and saving speed is fast. Plus, colors are great and details are okay. It is arguably more consistent than P10 Plus in delivering great results.

Tip: You'll find the face beauty feature in the portrait selfie mode.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie with Silver of Happy Cat Cafe
Indoor selfie with Silver of Happy Cat Cafe
Portrait selfie
Portrait selfie
Indoor selfie with face beauty
Indoor selfie with face beauty
Harsh lighting selfie
Harsh lighting selfie
Selfie screen flash
Selfie screen flash

The Huawei Mate 10 can shoot up to 4K at 30fps. It also has nice 1080p modes at 30 fps. The 60 fps 1080p mode is still not that great. OIS only works in 1080p modes, but fortunately, the 4K mode is still not that shaky.

AF speed is nearly as fast as taking normal photos. It even has modes where you can beautify your videos and add bokeh effect on it.

It shoots images with great sharpness and colors. Contrasts and overall detail is decent too.

Aside from its higher-end sibling, the Mate 10 Pro, the Mate 10 is only other Huawei phone that can shoot really good videos.


Video Samples


Performance

Benchmark scores!
Benchmark scores!

Everything inside the Huawei Mate 10 is top notch or close to top notch! The heart of this phone is the new and better 2.36GHz 64-bit Kirin 970 octa-core processor w/ NPU (dedicated A.I. chip) and i7 co-processor. Then it is paired with the top notch Mali-G72MP12 GPU to handle most of the heavy graphics with ease. It also has ample 4GB RAM and more than enough 64GB expandable storage up to 256GB.

Monster grade performance!

As a result, benchmark scores are top notch! AnTuTu score is over 170K and the multi-core score from Geekbench is one of the highest in the world today. Actual performance is almost as smooth if not smoother than the iPhone X.

See also: 
Top 5 practical uses of Huawei Mate 10 / Mate 10 Pro's A.I.

Huawei even has the promise of optimizing this phone automatically with the help of A.I. and keep it fast all the time. It has an improved type of deep learning that studies user behavior to ensure speedy operation always.


Gaming is also outstanding. We tried NBA 2K18 on all high settings with cloth simulation to ultra high settings. Frame drops and throttling are almost nonexistent even after 30 minutes of playing. Thermal management is great too, much better than the P10 Plus.
EMUI 8.0!
EMUI 8.0!

On the user interface part, Huawei is one of the first Android makers to have a flagship running on Android 8.0 Oreo operating system out of the box. In addition, Huawei jumped into EMUI 8.0 skin as well.

The skin looks cleaner than ever, themes are still customization, and you can still choose the app drawer mode. It still has the phone manager, health app, gestures for shortcuts, screen recorders, twin apps mode, and Huawei Share (Huawei to Huawei speedy file sharing feature).

The fingerprint scanner of this phone it is easily one of the fastest and most accurate as of this writing. Fingerprint gestures also work even if the virtual navigation bar is switched on.

Unlike the competition from Apple and OnePlus, the Mate 10 has no facial recognition that can be used for unlocking though.
The built-in translator
The built-in translator

But, unlike other phones, the Mate 10 has an intelligent type of language translator with voice to help you understand foreign sentences.
Desktop mode
Desktop mode

Huawei also has a promising and actually nice desktop mode for the Huawei Mate 10 series. You can turn any monitor with HDMI into a Linux like PC for browsing, watching videos, and playing browser games. All you need is a USB Type-C to HDMI cable. You won't need to buy an extra dock like Samsung's DeX to make this feature work.
Desktop controls
Desktop controls

Moreover, you can use the Mate 10 as the trackpad and keyboard at the same time. Plus, unlike other phones with PC mode, you can still use the Mate 10 as a phone even while on Desktop mode. Clever!

To complete this review, we are happy to say that Huawei's connectivity options are top notch from WiFi, 4G+, and telephony. As a matter of fact, Mate 10's signal is always stronger than my iPhone X. Bluetooth would have been better if it is at version 5.0 though.

Telephony is outstanding. WiFi, LTE, Bluetooth signals are strong and stable. 4G+ works and speedy as well. 

In telephony, the experience is even better than usual. GSM signals are strong, WiFi connectivity is stable, and Bluetooth 4.2 has good distance and speed. LTE-A also works here.

This phone is compatible with most non-Samsung VR headsets as well.


Pros - Top notch build quality, sharp and vibrant LCD, Kirin 970 is blazing fast, the dual f/1.6 Leica branded cameras are no joke in camera performance, best video recording performance on a Huawei phone yet, strong signal reception, headphone jack, microSD card slot, A.I. is promising, EMUI is better than ever, desktop mode is cool
Cons - Water resistance is not on par with competition, selfie camera has no tap to focus feature and gridlines, screen aspect ratio is not 18:9 yet?

Verdict

The Huawei Mate 10 is the new flagship killer! For so much less compared to competing flagships, the Huawei Mate 10 can compete or even edge some them in craftsmanship, performance, and cameras.

In comparison, all competing top of the line smartphones from Apple, Sony, Samsung, and LG are priced in the over PHP 45K bracket.

On the other hand, the Huawei Mate 10 is priced at just PHP 32,990.

Having said that, the Huawei Mate 10 is easily one of the best value for money smartphone in the world right now.

Build / Design - 4.75
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4.75
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.58 / 5
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